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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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