How Do We Do Church?

If you keep up with national and international events you know that the world seems to be changing at breakneck speed.  Ever since our president came out of the closet, in a way, the world seems to be following.  The challenge of same sex marriage is being felt worldwide, as one example.  Negative behavior is the only thing on which he has had an impact, if you attribute that to his influence.  Other worthwhile influences, if there are such, have been ignored or laughed at.

At our house church recently I mentioned that the word “sin” is being steadily removed from the lexicon.  To the contrary, several in our group were concerned about their pastor constantly preaching about sin.  Granted, some, especially in days of yore, seem to be fixated on the topic, which probably revealed something of their own problems.  But now few talk of sin, in fact it seems to be avoided often.  I’m referring to Christians of course, because others don’t acknowledge such backward constricting things.  Karl Menninger, M.D., of the famed Menninger Clinic, was prophetic in his book decades ago titled, “Whatever Became of Sin.”

During my rotation I’ve been trying to teach some of what David Platt wants desperately to get across in his latest book “Follow Me.”  He created quite a controversy when he stated that simple recitation of the “sinners prayer,” that is so often used for new converts, is not only un-Biblical, but does not have the saving power that the Bible teaches.  Consequently new converts may not be converted at all but given the false idea that they are now “right” with God.  If that view is true, it would help explain the heretical beliefs recorded among many “Christians” these days.  Of course we don’t know a person’s heart so caution is important.

The common idea that most people have of “sin,” is something that one does, that being behavior.  That is correct for obvious sins of the flesh, and the Bible spends a lot of time teaching about the avoidance of such sins.  However, when one repents, truly repents, the sins of the flesh are not the “real sin.”  The real sin is that of pride.  Pride that will not submit to God being Lord of our life, and instead worships self.  It is very difficult to admit to that kind of pride and it’s companion self-righteousness, simply because it is not obvious.  We’re pretty sure we can see it in others, but not so much in ourselves.

When one repeats the “sinner’s prayer,” and some nationally televised preachers use it all the time, the issue of brokenness over rebellion to God’s claims over us often is not the focus.  And that is what being born again is all about.  With a renewing of our minds (Rom 12:2), having old things pass away and all things become new (2 Cor. 5:17), our lives should show a radical change, a 180 if you will.  Even a “good” person, one who does not lie, cheat or steal, will experience that new birth.  The real sin within the depths of our soul and spirit, which if touched and forgiven by God, should change us forever.

Well, after all of that then we go to church.  It used to be twice on Sunday and once on Wednesday.  It was said that you could tell when someone began to backslide; they started missing Wednesday night prayer meeting.  After a while, in my young Christian life, I would really feel guilty if I missed a service.  That was part of a “works” religion that seems fairly common.  Surely God saw me every time I was in church and He was pleased with me, no?  Actually, in my first years of being a Christian, and beyond, I loved to go to church.  I was soaking it all in and learning some extremely valuable theology and adjusting to life with my new brothers and sisters.  I was in awe of everyone who knew so much more than I, and they all were better Christians, too.  Incidentally, we wore our Sunday best for church.

Fast forward to the next generation or so.  Everyone dresses down for church, or so it seems.  Casual is in, meaning many look like they’re lounging around on their day off.  Oh yes, and there is now only one service a week, which means that everyone probably is really backslidden.  Then there is coffee and maybe breakfast before the service with people sitting in the sanctuary sipping something.  This is prevalent mainly in large non-denominational churches, but the Baptists won’t be far behind.  Then the rock band starts to play “praise and worship” music.  One church we attended began with a Beatle’s song.  With “vain repetition” the 7/11 performance tries to work everyone up to an emotional high much like a rock concert or school pep rally, as I remember them.  Most of the music is contemporary and with few exceptions lacks Biblical truth and sometimes contains outright heresy, but it rocks.

If you attend one of these churches with only the above you may be fortunate.  This amount of cultural conformity is bad enough considering why it is done, but it could be much worse.  Along with this “being of the world,” is the move toward heresy in beliefs permeating many churches.  Since there is little oversight in non-denominational gatherings, the ease with which it can occur is, well, easier.  While denominations are not immune, there are checks and balances that stop or slow it down.  The discredited Hegelian dialectic philosophy of social engineering is now the theology of the Emergent church, which is present in varying stages seemingly everywhere.  It never comes in like a whirlwind to be rejected outright, but in small doses like the frog in water.

In light of the “state of the church” today, here is what I would like to find.  A gathering where everyone “contends for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints” (Jude 1:3), and the Bible is taught and believed to be the inerrant Word of God.  Money isn’t spent on modern buildings, rather it is given to mission work, each other’s needs and the poor.  Numbers are not the focus but souls are.  There are no “owners” of the church who insist on their way. Prayer is abundant; the love of God permeates the body and the Holy Spirit moves among the folks.  People accept each other and really forbear with one another.  Searching for God’s will is not mysterious, He tells us in His Word to evangelize the world.  I’m sure I’ve left something out, but I’d settle for this.  Does anyone attend one of these churches or know where to find one?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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