Posted tagged ‘Church’

Where Do Such Ideas Come From?

July 3, 2013

Recently there has been a lot of discussion among missions-minded people about something called the “Insider Movement.”  To quote from a great summary article available here,

Fundamentally, Insiders are those who profess faith in Christ but remain members of their original religious communities; Muslims remain Muslims, Hindus remain Hindus, and Buddhists remain Buddhists. In the Muslim world that means they must acknowledge one exclusive God, Allah, and that Mohammed is his final and greatest messenger. They remain members of the mosque, practice the five pillars of Islam, live openly in their cultures as Muslims, participate in Muslim sacrifices and feasts, and identify themselves as Muslims. In many cases, I’m familiar with baptized Christians who are persuaded to re-enter the mosque after renouncing their Christian identities. In the case of Muslim Insiders, most acknowledge four sacred books: the Law, Psalms, “Gospel” (as a book originally given to Jesus, but no longer in existence), and Koran. Of these texts, many assume that since the Koran is the latest, it is still the greatest, though others see both containing God’s Word. Insiders typically claim the Bible as inspiration for their view,  at least part of it.

As we discussed at our noon study today, this view hardly does justice to the Gospel.  The Gospel calls us to forsake our worldly ties and ways and follow Christ alone.  Certainly, we aren’t to leave our family or home, but we are to be identified with Christ and His people, the Church.  After all, the early church, at Pentecost, did this very thing and grew because of  obedience.  There were not to be secret Christians.

So, where do missionaries get this kind of thinking?  I think it begins at home–in the very churches were they grew up.  Yep, here in America we really do the same thing.  Want to become a Christian, but ignore what the Bible says about God specially creating man?  No problem.  The same goes for wanting to be active in homosexuality and still be called a Christian.  Have trouble with gender roles as God created them?  We just issue new translations that are gender neutral.  Want to be a part of God’s Covenant community without actually committing to join the community?  Okay, no membership, no responsibilities, no obligation.  Just come when you want.

The word we translate, “church,” in the Bible is, ecclesia.  While it means a congregation of believers, it literally means, called out.  ‘We have a real ecclesiology problem in the US.  We don’t look like the New Testament Church.  We don’t even look like a Country Club; even they have membership requirements and some rules and obligations.  We are afraid of running people off if we have standards.  Why does the Country Club flourish with standards?  Perhaps it has something worth belonging to.  When we water ourselves down so that everyone will be happy, we have nothing worth belonging to.

Part of our problem is that we see our salvation much more as a personal thing than a corporate one.  We forget that God sees us as a part of the body, not as a solo act.  (See Paul’s lecture to the Corinthians in his first letter, chapter 11.)

The other part of the problem is that we want to grow in numbers at whatever cost.  By the second  or third generation of doing things this way, it seems normal.  So, we presume, since everyone does it, it must be right.

So, when we throw stones at the missionaries who err so obviously, we need to remember the old truth, canonical or not, “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone!”

Coming to a Church (and courtroom) Near You?

August 7, 2008

There is an interesting case before the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals right now.  You can read about Canyon Road Baptist Church here.  The bottom line is that a Pastor scheduled a movie one Sunday evening, dealing with the fight for one man/one woman marriage in the political area.   The movie came at the issue from a biblical perspective.  After the movie, petitions to support an effort to get the issue on the ballot were in the back of the church.  The church got dinged for not filing as a political committee under Montana law.

The church cited First Amendment religious grounds for not filing as a committee; every issue has religious overtones.  For a Christian, worldview means knowing how God thinks about everything.  The court lost in the Administrative Court, the Federal District Court, and is now before the appeals court.
One could argue that a more legally savvy Pastor could have gotten around the whole thing by moving the petitions outside–announcing that a separate organization was handling them.  But, shoud he have to?  How far a reach is it to imagine that even if there were no petitions, some group might bring an action against the Pastor and Church for political rhetoric on any issue such as marriage, divorce, abortion, or even theft!  Where does it stop?

Lest you think this is far-fetched imagining, Pastors have already been taken to criminal court for “hate speech” in Canada and Scandanavia.  So, when does a Sermon or teaching become a court case?  The answer for me is, I don’t know any longer.  The bigger question is, will this threat or perceived threat silence the church.  No!  That I do know.

Valedictions

July 5, 2008

You probably don’t know them by the name, “valedictions.”  In fact, due to email and other brief forms of communication (texting, etc.) you may not use them as frequently as you did in the past.  Valedictions are the “goodbyes” at the end of a letter (sincerely yours) or, at the end of a school year (the valedictory address).

While graduation speakers, usually the highest ranking student in the class, may put more time into their valediction, the words, like endings on a letter, are quickly forgotten; few remember what a validictorian said, or whether you ended your letter with a “sincerely yours” or a “very truly yours.”

Having said that, it may seem strange that I am preaching on the valediction which Paul gave in his letter to the Ephesians.  After all, he has stopped teaching and it is just a “goodbye.”  Well, in the “old days,” it seems that a goodbye was a real valediction.  So, we will actually spend some time looking at how Paul says goodbye.  I think when we are done, you will see that it was much more than a “;sincerely yours.”

The Two Seeds

April 27, 2008

In Genesis 3, God, as part of the curse, puts hostility between the seed of the serpent and the seed of the woman; then he promises redemption to the woman.

Today in church we were reviewing the conflict that the movie, Expelled creates.  Anti-God “seed” and those who claim Him as father argue over intelligent design.  Did God create us?  We say He did, they say He didn’t.

I asked why there aren’t more conflicts representative of the seed conflict.  Why don’t we see more “spiritual warfare?”  The conversation concluded, through Jim’s comment,  that we don’t because we have made peace with so many ideas that are contrary to a Christian worldview.

Cindy said that she thinks that most of us lack the training needed to go on the defensive (offensive) and take on those who speak loudly against God.  Yet, Peter says that we are always to be ready to “apologize” for our faith.

My suggestion was that we use our minds to point out the inconsistencies in other worldviews.  For example, I read from Darwin’s The Descent of Man, and showed where he, within five pages of explaining how the survival of the fittest applies to civilized man, and where he says it doesn’t (pp.182-187).  That is an inconsistency we need to talk about.

At the same time, we should expect that the natural man won’t understand our worldview, but at least we will have taken the first step to get him to question his.  That may create conflict, but it is a kind act towards preparing others for the Gospel.

Always, when doing apologetics, use the Railroad Sign” approach; stop, look and listen.  Stop before you barge right in.  Look and listen to see if this is a good time to do this.  Will your making your point humiliate your friend in front of others?  Is he so angry that he won’t hear what you say?  Can you plan a follow up conversation?

Finally, don’t be surprised by conflict.  Spiritual conflict is what Jesus promised us.  It is what He uses to reach others through you–the seed.

New Thoughts from Bill Deiss

April 15, 2008

So I am here at work with the TV on in the background and Fox news is broadcasting the arrival of the Pope. As he steps off the plane, the crowd erupts in cheers and praise for this man who is acclaimed as deity. This was not the somber, reverent, even woeful greeting one would expect of such a leader in the religious community. It was a cheerful, joyful welcoming of a person who has wisdom, power, and compassion for his congregation.

Now I have to ask myself why is our “praise and worship” in the church so somber, woeful, even mournful. It is almost like we don’t believe that our sins are washed away so we can come boldly to the throne of grace. We are no longer wretches or lowly worms in the sight of an angry God but have been adopted as His beloved children.

When we come together to greet each other and welcome God into our presence, I believe that we should do so with a heart of gladness and rejoicing. Or do we only think that celebrities are deserving of our accolades and praise? Does God only get to see our sad hanging head? Or does he desire our shouts of joy and thanksgiving.

This last week Kathleen Neve got so excited about how well Nick did in singing his part during the special music. Her face just lit up like a beam of light. She was so proud of him and sang his praises. Indeed he did well and I am very proud of him as well as all my kids. When our kids are deserving of praise we shower them with positive accolades and sometimes special gifts for a job well done.

Just think about how you praise others for things that they do well. What is your facial expression? Do our eyes light up when we offer them accolades? Do we “High Five” them and tell others how wonderful they did? Doesn’t God deserve to be treated the same or better? That my friends is real appropriate worship to God. It isn’t in our careful choice of words or music, but in our hearts and attitudes toward Him who delivered us and set us FREE!!!!!!

My 2 cents worth…..

Bill Deiss

The Missing “The”

March 31, 2008

Sunday morning we talked about the fact that in Acts 2:42, there are four activities which the early church participated in when the met at the temple.  Each one, in the original language, starts with the definite article–the.  There is THE Apostles teaching, THE fellowship, THE breaking of THE bread and THE Prayer.  I mentioned how strange it is that today, in many churches, the liturgy includes the THE in several elements of the service.  For example, many bulletins refer to THE Pastoral Prayer, THE Lord’s Supper, THE Preaching of the Word (or THE Sermon).  What you don’t find is, THE Fellowship.

Interestingly, THE fellowship is not only missing from our services today, so is the “gladness and singleness of heart” which is mentioned in the following verses.  We will talk more about this on Wed. evening at our “outing.”

I also asked the question, where in the Bible do you find the mission of the church?  Most people believe it is in the Great Commission.  Wed. evening we will talk about why the Great Commission is more a method to fulfill the mission that it is the mission itself.  Check out Ephesians 3 for a better statement of the mission.

How Do You Know?

March 12, 2008

The topic for tonight’s “outing” is, how do you know that Christianity is true?  The short answer is, because God reveals it to you.  John, in his letter we call 1 John, says,

¶ I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life. (I John 5:13 ESV)

Notice that he says, to those who believe.  He presupposes what Paul says in I Cor. 2:14,

The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned . (ESV)

Tonight, we will talk about what this means.  After all, lots of people are “sure” of their beliefs, whatever they may be.  Why is Christianity different?