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Posts Tagged ‘Church’

(Also, “Marks of the Church”)

The Four Marks describe a belief in Christendom that the body of Christ—the church—is characterized by four “marks” or distinctives. These marks are found in the early church and found their way into the Creed of Constantinople in 381, “‘[We believe] In one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church.’” 1) One: this describes the unity of the body of Christ. It is not many, but one. 2) Holy: This describes its nature as being “set apart” unto God, his possession. It also describes its aspiration to be like God in its character. 3) Catholic (universal): this describes its universality. The body of Christ is not limited to a time, place, race, or culture. 4) Apostolic: This describes its origin and beliefs. The church’s teaching are apostolic in that they find their roots in the teachings of the Apostles.

 

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The Myth of the “Institution-less” church

Jason Clark has a great post up at Deep Church that challenges the notion that we can avoid institutions in the church… he doesn’t deny the problems and inertia that institutions create, but also argues that to simply throw out any form of institution would be the same kind of action as closing all hospitals (because hospitals struggle with the same institutional problems churches do)… here’s a quote:

 

What we need is not the absence of institutions, but an articulate institutional imagination, something more than the incapacity of being ‘anti-institutional’. For if we get rid of hospitals, we might remove the problems they produce as institutions, but with it we also remove the provision of medical care from all those who had access to it before, or we restrict it to only a few who are in proximity to those who can provide it with no institutional support, or those who know how to provide to themselves. Which is what much of the ‘institution-less’ church has come to look like.

 

The question is not whether you can avoid being an institution; the question is what kind of institution can we imagine that will support the purposes of who and what we are trying to bring to others?

 

Jason’s whole post is not long, and worth a read. View article…

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toolboxHow to Invite Someone to Come to Church or to a Church Event with You

Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters… Isaiah 55:1

 

Remember to get as many people as possible to pray for the person, neighborhood, or area you want to evangelize. The more people involved and the more time spent in prayer, the more effective your efforts will be, and more glory will be directed to our Lord.

 

Ask:

1. Are you at a point now that you want to know what church is all about?

2. Would you like to know if church would be a fit for you, perhaps what you are looking for?

3. I would like to invite you to my (church/event.) May I take a couple of minutes to tell you what it is about?

4. I would love to help you understand why I go to church, and what it is and is not all about. Would you like to get together and discuss our basic beliefs?

5. Would you like to come to my church?

 

After you have brought a friend to your church or a Christian event, then ask:

1. What did you think of my church?

2. Did you feel welcome?

3. Did it make sense to you?

4. Do you have any questions about it?

5. Would you like to know more about the wonderful discovery of knowing God personally?

 

These questions need to be put in your own words so they match your conversational style and do not sound canned or rehearsed. So, feel free to modify them to fit your needs and culture. Do not be discouraged if the person does not want to answer or if they are not interested. Move on. Keep the peace and friendship and pray for another opportunity. Research from Campus Crusade says that it takes eight encounters with Christian witnessing before a person receives the Lord. This just may not be the time. View article…

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 This is a long article and while it is a slam against the church, it is a war raging in every believer who has asked, “what am I doing and why?”

A Refusal to Shun the World – John MacArthur

Part of an essay by Dr.John MacArthur called ” The Rise of Reckless Faith

 

 

“We have already hinted at another factor contributing to the decline of discernment in the contemporary church. It is a preoccupation with image and influence. Many Christians have the misconception that to win the world to Christ we must first win the world’s favor. If we can get the world to like us, they will embrace our Savior. That is the philosophy behind the user-friendly church movement, which I have evaluated in an earlier book.11

 

The express design of this user-friendly philosophy is to make unconverted sinners feel comfortable with the Christian message. People won’t come to hear the Gospel proclaimed? Give them something they want. Put on a show. Entertain them. Avoid sensitive subjects like sin and damnation. Accommodate their worldly desires and felt needs. Slip in the Gospel in small, diluted doses. The whole point is to make the church a place where non-Christians can enjoy themselves. The strategy is to tantalize non-Christians rather than confront their unbelief. That is altogether incompatible with sound doctrine. It is compromise with the world. James called it spiritual adultery (James 4:4).

 

Look at the effect of this philosophy on the church. In order to entice sinners, preaching has been replaced with entertainment. The preacher who once took his stand for truth and made the biblical message clear is now asked to take his seat. He’s a problem. He’s an embarrassment. He’s an offense to non-Christians.

 

But if the truth cannot be fearlessly proclaimed in the church, what place is there for truth at all? How can we build a generation of discerning Christians if we are terror-struck at the thought that non- Christians might not like hearing the unvarnished truth?

 

And since when has it been legitimate for the church to woo the world? Didn’t the apostle John write, “Do not marvel, brethren, if the world hates you” (1 John 3:13)? And did not Jesus say, “The world … hates Me because I testify of it, that its deeds are evil” (John 7:7)? Biblical Christians have always understood that they must shun the world. Here are our Lord’s own words:

 

If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose vou out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, “A slave is not greater than his master.” If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute vou; if they kept My word, they will keep yours also. But all these things they will do to you for My name’s sake, because they do not know the One who sent Me (John 15:18-21).

Does that sound like it gives any latitude for an evangelistic strategy that soft-pedals the offense of the cross?

 

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The Church must never be in any sense a little huddle of pious people, shutting their doors against the world, lost in prayer and praise, connoisseurs of preaching and liturgy, busy mutually congratulating themselves on the excellence of their Christian experience.

    … William Barclay (1907-1978), In the Hands of God [1967]

 

 A conversion is incomplete if it does not leave one integrated into the Church. By this we do not mean any particular part of the Church; what we do mean is that conversion must leave one linked in loving fellowship with one’s fellow believers. Conversion is not something simply between a man and Jesus Christ, with no other person involved.

True, it may start in that way; but it cannot end in that way.

Conversion is not individualistic. It is, in fact, just the opposite. It joins man to his fellow men, and certainly does not separate him from them. (Continued tomorrow)

    … William Barclay (1907-1978), In the Hands of God [1967]

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PDF / Doc

Prayer
An Article
By: J. C. Ryle
Webpage PDF Word

MP3

8 Winning Insights

Show Summary: How can you WIN in this battle for sexual purity? There are so many challenges and obstacles in our culture and around the world to living a daily life of purity. This broadcast will help our listeners to fight well against lust and cross the finish line as winners.

Download the FREE mp3 at http://www.puresexradio.com/mp3/psr20081122.mp3.

Podcast

The latest White Horse Inn is a talk between Baptist, Reformed and Lutheran ministers on what makes up the signs of the true church. The minsters discuss the common Reformation idea of the church against the idea of the church in many other American churches

Other

If you visit Jerusalem on Google Earth now and go to “Jerusalem Ritmeyer composite” under “Places”, you will see an overlay with the map that I provided to create plans of Jerusalem in the various periods for the ESV Study Bible. The exciting thing is that you can see the walls of Jerusalem in 3D and change the perspective as you wish. Here is a snapshot of the walls of Jerusalem seen from the north-east:

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Martin Luther King Jr.’s Dream for the American Church

What the election says about our progress and decline.
by Skye Jethani

Amazing. How else can you describe what happened last week when Barack Obama became the first African American elected President of the United States? However you voted, whatever your politics, the election reveals something about the progress of our society. As George W. Bush said the morning after the election, it “showed a watching world the vitality of America’s democracy and the strides we have made toward a more perfect union.”

Read the rest of the incredible article here

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healthy-church

The Marks of the True Church

We believe that we ought to discern diligently and very carefully, by the Word of God, what is the true church– for all sects in the world today claim for themselves the name of “the church.” We are not speaking here of the company of hypocrites who are mixed among the good in the church and who nonetheless are not part of it, even though they are physically there. But we are speaking of distinguishing the body and fellowship of the true church from all sects that call themselves “the church.”

The true church can be recognized if it has the following marks: The church engages in the pure preaching of the gospel; it makes use of the pure administration of the sacraments as Christ instituted them; it practices church discipline for correcting faults. In short, it governs itself according to the pure Word of God, rejecting all things contrary to it and holding Jesus Christ as the only Head. By these marks one can be assured of recognizing the true church– and no one ought to be separated from it. As for those who can belong to the church, we can recognize them by the distinguishing marks of Christians: namely by faith, and by their fleeing from sin and pursuing righteousness, once they have received the one and only Savior, Jesus Christ. They love the true God and their neighbors, without turning to the right or left, and they crucify the flesh and its works. Though great weakness remains in them, they fight against it by the Spirit all the days of their lives, appealing constantly to the blood, suffering, death, and obedience of the Lord Jesus, in whom they have forgiveness of their sins, through faith in him.

As for the false church, it assigns more authority to itself and its ordinances than to the Word of God; it does not want to subject itself to the yoke of Christ; it does not administer the sacraments as Christ commanded in his Word; it rather adds to them or subtracts from them as it pleases; it bases itself on men, more than on Jesus Christ; it persecutes those who live holy lives according to the Word of God and who rebuke it for its faults, greed, and idolatry. These two churches are easy to recognize and thus to distinguish from each other.

From the Belgic Confession

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5850_half_shorn_sheep

FEEDING SHEEP OR AMUSING GOATS?…when righteousness is turned into recreation

Steve Camp

An evil is in the professed camp of the Lord, so gross in its impudence, that the most short-sighted can hardly fail to notice it. During the past few years it has developed at an abnormal rate, even for evil. It has worked like leaven until the whole lump ferments. The devil has seldom done a cleverer thing than hinting to the Church that part of their mission is to provide entertainment for the people, with a view to winning them. From speaking out as the Puritans did, the Church has gradually toned down her testimony, then winked at and excused the frivolities of the day. Then she tolerated them in her borders. Now she has adopted them under the plea of reaching the masses.

My first contention is that providing amusement for the people is nowhere spoken of in the Scriptures as a function of the Church. If it is a Christian work why did not Christ speak of it? “Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.’ That is clear enough. So it would have been if he had added, ‘and provide amusement for those who do not relish the gospel.’ No such words, however, are to be found. It did not seem to occur to him. Then again, ‘He gave some apostles, some prophets, some pastors and teachers, for the work of the ministry.’ Where do entertainers come in? The Holy Spirit is silent concerning them. Were the prophets persecuted because they amused the people or because they refused? The concert has no martyr roll.

Again, providing amusement is in direct antagonism to the teaching and life of Christ and all his apostles. What was the attitude of the Church to the world? ‘Ye are the salt,’ not the sugar candy—something the world will spit out, not swallow. Short and sharp was the utterance, ‘Let the dead bury their dead.’ He was in awful earnestness!

Had Christ introduced more of the bright and pleasant elements into his mission, he would have been more popular when they went back, because of the searching nature of his teaching. I do not hear him say, “Run after these people, Peter, and tell them we will have a different style of service tomorrow, something short and attractive with little preaching. We will have a pleasant evening for the people. Tell them they will be sure to enjoy it. Be quick, Peter, we must get the people somehow!” Jesus pitied sinners, sighed and wept over them, but never sought to amuse them. In vain will the Epistles be searched to find any trace of the gospel of amusement. Their message is, ‘Come out, keep out, keep clean out!’ Anything approaching fooling is conspicuous by its absence. They had boundless confidence in the gospel and employed no other weapon. 

After Peter and John were locked up for preaching, the Church had a prayer meeting, but they did not pray, “Lord, grant unto thy servants that by a wise and discriminating use of innocent recreation we may show these people how happy we are.” If they ceased not for preaching Christ, they had not time for arranging entertainments. Scattered by persecution, they went everywhere preaching the gospel. ‘They turned the world upside down’. That is the only difference! Lord, clear the Church of all the rot and rubbish the devil has imposed on her and bring us back to apostolic methods.

Lastly, the mission of amusement fails to effect the end desired. It works havoc among young converts. Let the careless and scoffers, who thank God because the Church met them half-way, speak and testify. Let the heavy laden who found peace through the concert not keep silent! Let the drunkard to whom the dramatic entertainment had been God’s link in the chain of their conversion, stand up! There are none to answer. The mission of amusement produces no converts. The need of the hour for today’s ministry is believing scholarship joined with earnest spirituality, the one springing from the other as fruit from the root. The need is biblical doctrine, so understood and felt, that it sets men on fire.

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