Sean Scott's Blog

www.preachingjesuschrist.com

Love the Church

with 17 comments

OK..so that’s not the actual banner for a conference that was just recently held (I modified the bottom line to make a point).  The actual banner says “Love the Church – Christ bled for the church. So should you”.  The topics discussed at the conference and the description of it, taken directly from the website, were:
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“At this conference we will cast a vision for church life that is presented in scripture. Our prayer is for a rising number of churches dedicated to the glory of God alone. We will communicate the biblical doctrine of the church, explain her importance, her calling and her destiny. We will show how you and your family fit in to the church of Jesus Christ and how He has called you to love and serve her. We will bring messages on evangelism, missions, church planting, and discipleship through local churches. We will be explaining particularly important church practices such as singing, scripture reading, the Lord’s table, baptism, Sabbath keeping and church discipline. We will explain the importance of the sufficiency of scripture for the government of the church and how to apply the “regulative principle” in church life. We will even bring messages regarding the way that churches should treat their elders and whether or not they should pay them.

We live in a day and age where people seem to be confused about the practices, structure and importance of the church. Christian nomadism, church hopping, neglect, and broken relationships are legendary in the modern church. People often leave their churches without even notifying the leaders or their brothers and sisters. They just disappear and never return. Sometimes this confusion is seen in the neglect of the discipleship program of the church, and the meetings of the church. Is it that we don’t understand the nature of the church? Is it that we don’t understand Christ’s love for the church or His sacrifice? Is it that our love for Christ is low so our love for the church is low? Is it possible that some even despise the church by their nonchalance?” (Emphasis added)

http://www.heartcrymissionary.com/updates/171-love-the-church-conference-coming-soon

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I haven’t been able to find the audios for the conference but when I do I plan to listen to them.   Also, before I make my comments I also want to say that I have been blessed by much of what I’ve heard from Paul Washer and others that are associated with Heart Cry (especially some messages by Charles Lieter).  But what I find is that when many discuss the importance of the church and it’s practices they leave out one of the most foundational practices that Christ gave for the growth of His body – that would be body participation/ministry.  Many of the churches that will go to this conference have a Baptist background or affiliation.  The fact is a lot of Baptist churches already practice most of the topics listed in the conference description.  The ones that I’ve been to do practice singing, scripture reading, the Lord’s table, baptism, sometimes church discipline…etc.  Yet even in this their people are often stunted in their growth and they still do not have a true expression of the body of Christ in their Church life.  Many of these churches will, like the description above, say they believe in “the sufficiency of scripture for church government” and then at the same time deny and forbid the instruction in scripture for what should be allowed to take place when the saints come together.  They want to talk about all the practices that fit into their unbiblical model of church and then not allow the body participation that the scripture says is a command from the Lord…and all the while talking about the sufficiency of scripture for church government and practice.  A basic reading of 1 Corinthians 14 will show that the Lord had in mind a body that was participatory in nature as opposed to spectator in nature.

26How is it then, brethren? when ye come together, every one of you hath a psalm, hath a doctrine, hath a tongue, hath a revelation, hath an interpretation. Let all things be done unto edifying. 27If any man speak in an unknown tongue, let it be by two, or at the most by three, and that by course; and let one interpret. 28But if there be no interpreter, let him keep silence in the church; and let him speak to himself, and to God. 29Let the prophets speak two or three, and let the other judge. 30If any thing be revealed to another that sitteth by, let the first hold his peace. 31For ye may all prophesy one by one, that all may learn, and all may be comforted. 32And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets. 33For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints. 34Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience as also saith the law. 35And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church. 36What? came the word of God out from you? or came it unto you only? 37If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord. 38But if any man be ignorant, let him be ignorant.

The Corinthian Church was a church that to some degree was in a mess.  They had open fornication in their midst, the Lord’s table was taken in a disorderly manner, and you get the impression that they were using their spiritual gifts in a disorderly manner. Yet even amidst all this mess going on Paul did not do as many churches do today.  Paul did not forbid the exercising of spiritual gifts when the body came together.  Instead he gave guidelines, commands, that were to be followed in the exercising of these gifts in the fellowship.  The above passage speaks of what should take place when the believers come together.  You will notice that the gathering of the saints is to be a gathering in which many members, as led by the Lord, are able to participate in the fellowship and mutual edification of the Saints.  To be sure that this isn’t merely a suggestion Paul says in verse 37 that what he has just written “are the commandments of the Lord”.  Yet today the commandments of the Lord regarding the participation of the saints are totally disregarded and explained away by men who think they know better than the Lord as to what is beneficial for the saints and what should take place in the church.  They do this by disregarding this passage of scripture and setting up a weekly service that is foreign to the word of God.  Instead of allowing the body to function as 1 Cor 14:26 says they have set up their own rules for what should happen when the saints meet.  It primarily involves singing, one or two men rotating preaching, and the saints sitting in pews through the hour and a half service.  And almost always, prophesying and speaking in tongues are forbidden in the fellowship (practices that many explain away with their doctrine and confessions) .  This too goes clearly against what Paul (by the Spirit) says in the concluding verses of Chapter 14.

39Wherefore, brethren, covet to prophesy, and forbid not to speak with tongues. 40Let all things be done decently and in order.

If one had never been to a church before and had no idea of what a modern “church” service looks like, and they only read the word of God, they would never come to the conclusion that what goes on in church each Sunday was taken from the bible.  Men today have taken what God has established for the growth of His church and replace it with something that, while appearing holy and spiritual, actually stunts the growth of God’s people.  Sure, people can be edified when the word is preached in a modern “service”.  They can be filled with joy as they sing unto the Lord.  Yet all this falls short of God’s intended  purpose for His people when they come together.  God has not intended the coming together of His people to be a “service” but rather a living, functioning body where believers can exercise their God given spiritual gifts for the edification of all.  This body participation inspires and promotes spiritual growth in believers in a way that simply “watching “& listening” to someone preach can never do. If people were really concerned with “bleeding for the church” as the conference banner says, then they would die to their model that hinders the growth of God’s people.  They would see that their preaching and championing of correct biblical doctrine is NOT enough.  If that was all that was really important then we would not have such clear commands from the Lord as to what should take place when we meet together.  But I have seen how this current system finds its root in people.  Once I was talking to a dear brother in the Lord about this very subject.  His objection to this open/semi-open meeting was that preaching the word is important and those with “teaching” gifts need to have a way, an outlet, to exercise their spiritual gifts (implying that it’s ok to have fellowship meetings where other gifts are not exercised for the sake of teaching).  That is how it all starts – preferring one gift over the others.  Teaching the word of God should have a primary place in the body ministry to the saints.  But it should never come at the expense of the rest of the body of Christ and their being able to exercise the gifts that God has given them.  That’s what many churches do.  They trumpet the preeminence of preaching God’s word and then fail to do the word they preach!  They see the importance of God’s word and therefore reason that the practice of body participation and other giftings should not take place because it might distract from their preaching.  This is a false reverence for God’s word.  It appears to be reverencing God’s word above all things but fails to practice the word they say they so reverence.  And because of this God’s people are stunted in their growth.  They never come to the full expression of “Christ” in His body that God intended to have.

This brings me to one of the statements found in the conference description.  It says;  “People often leave their churches without even notifying the leaders or their brothers and sisters. They just disappear and never return.”  People wonder why that is.  The conference description leaves you to think the cause of this is one of these two:  1) It it because certain things aren’t understood such as, singing, scripture reading, the Lord’s table..etc.  or 2) as the original banner says you haven’t “bled for Christ’s church”.  Meaning you have not given enough for the church of Christ because you either do not understand its importance or simply don’t care.  But I would say that much/most of the time neither of these are the reason people just leave fellowships.  I think the answer to this question can be found in a passage in 1 Cor 12:17:

17If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling?

And we could just as well say “If the whole body were a mouth, where would the rest of it be”.  The answer to that question would be that, many times, the rest of the body walks right out the door without notifying their leaders or their brothers because they don’t see a body they are part of.  They see some disfigured mess called a body that is lacking most of the parts a normal body would have.  They see a body with a few mouths and many ears.

So where does the solution to this problem lie?  Do we need to teach the body of Christ that they need to “bleed more for the Church”?  Do we need to lay the responsibility on the weekly attenders of the Sunday service and show them their apathy towards Christ’s body?  I’m sure some people need to be shown this.  But I think the real solution for this problem, as found in my modified banner, lies in taking the elders and teaching them the truth. They, above all people, should understand the foundational teachings regarding the body of Christ.  They are the ones that need to repent for stunting the growth of God’s people.  They need to repent for doing what they enjoy instead of what was commanded.  And they need to repent for loving their tradition more than God’s word.  They need to love Christ’s church by allowing it to grow and function in the manner God has prescribed.  Until they do this their church life/expression will always fall short of what God intended, and they will personally be responsible for stunting the growth of Gods people.

May Pauls words in verse 38 cease being the testimony of so many elders today:  38“But if any man be ignorant, let him be ignorant”.   I’ll end with the thoughts of two well known commentators regarding this verse:

John Gill:

1Co 14:38  But if any man be ignorant,…. Of “these” words, as the Arabic version adds, and does not know and own them to be the commandments of Christ; though he may profess himself to be a prophet, or a spiritual man, he is a very ignorant one, and has not the Spirit of God he pretends to: and if he will not be convinced, but goes on to doubt, and call in question the truth of these things, and obstinately persist in his ignorance,

let him be ignorant: let him be treated and despised as an ignorant man; and let his ignorance be no hinderance to any in receiving these rules and directions as the commandments of Christ; for no regard is to be had, or pity shown, to a man of affected ignorance, and wilful obstinacy; such a man is not to be known and owned, but shunned and rejected.

Albert Barnes:

1Co 14:38  But if any be ignorant … – If anyone affects to be ignorant of my authority, or whether I have a right to command. If he affects to doubt whether I am inspired, and whether what I utter is in accordance with the will of God.
Let him be ignorant – At his own peril, let him remain so, and abide the consequences. I shall not take any further trouble to debate with him. I have stated my authority. I have delivered the commands of God. And now, if he disregards them, and still doubts whether all this is said by divine authority, let him abide the consequences of rejecting the law of God. I have given full proof of my divine commission. I have nothing more to say on that head. And now, if he chooses to remain in ignorance or incredulity, the fault is his own, and he must answer for it to God.

Written by Sean Scott

December 22, 2010 at 11:12 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

17 Responses

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  1. What people say they believe really doesn’t have too much relevance until we see how they live.

    This is not to blame people whose natural and spiritual circumstances prevent them from having the opportunity to come more fully into agreement with God. (We are living in an apostate time.)

    These conditions really serve to strengthen our faith [for Christ said this time would come]: the church is full of those like Diotrephes (3 John 1:9-10); and so rejection is often confirmation of righteousness (2 Timothy 3:11-12).

    The description of the Babylonian whore in Revelation is full of [false] religious symbolism, and Jesus told us (John 16:2) that the time will come when those who cast us out of houses of worship and kill us will think that they are doing service to God.

    It’s a strong delusion, the roots of which are even now in the churches …

    Mark and Vicki Finger

    December 23, 2010 at 5:16 am

    • Hi Mark,

      Good to hear from you again. I hope you and your family are doing well in Christ.

      If I can ask, what do you mean by this?

      This is not to blame people whose natural and spiritual circumstances prevent them from having the opportunity to come more fully into agreement with God

      What circumstance would prevent someone from having the opportunity to come more fully into agreement with God?

      Sean Scott

      December 23, 2010 at 3:21 pm

  2. Well, as just one example, take your own topic: 1 Corinthians 14 assembling.

    I do this in part.

    Why only in part?

    There are only a few I know who practice the Spirit-led sabbath {lifestyle], where assembling is concerned.

    Of these, some also participate in a traditional church {but are dissatisfied in many respects]; others in the traditional setting are attacked by the false spirits there.

    Some find better opportunities than others [depending upon their geographic location].

    Here’s another example: living in Christian community.

    Others [in my area] have to want to do so. My wife has to believe it is possible [wise] in an age where everyone is trained to live for self; she doesn’t believe it is possible without more persecution.

    It’s great to have the mind of Christ: but who knows the mind of God?

    It is He who must build these things.

    Just because we have been tutored in various aspects of the truth [like relational living, which is core to the believer’s heart], it doesn’t mean that we can just suddenly make it happen.

    We live these truths in varying degrees, as God allows us to come into greater agreement with Him.

    This isn’t to blame God for what man does, but rather, to acknowledge that only He is ABLE to build and purify His church.

    It’s kind of like my relationship with my wife: one one hand, I am RESPONSIBLE for listening to and following God FIRST; on the other hand, even if she is desirous of coming into agreement with me [which she is], we have to wait upon God’s timing and direction in how to specifically act upon [live out and come into conformity with] the general revelation He has given us [to move into a more remote location].

    It’s all GRACE.

    Therefore, I must be thankful in all things, trusting and believing that God is ABLE to do all things.

    To be more specific: we have the natural ability to change our living situation, but we still have to wait upon God to do the work IN THE SPIRIT.

    Hope my heart in these things shines through ….

    P.S. I enjoy and am encouraged by the work of the Lord in your family.

    Peace,

    Mark

    Mark and Vicki Finger

    December 23, 2010 at 6:38 pm

    • Ok.. I see what you are saying.

      Sean Scott

      December 23, 2010 at 7:02 pm

  3. P.P.S. I have 1 Corinthians 14 interactions with other families all the time: but what I would like to see probably isn’t really possible without a greater commitment to one another, which would probably necessitate a more communal lifestyle.

    In that sense, the seminar your referenced is teaching the right things: only in the wrong [non-relational] context [I’m guessing; I don’t know them and may be wrong].

    Mark and Vicki Finger

    December 23, 2010 at 6:43 pm

    • In that sense, the seminar your referenced is teaching the right things: only in the wrong [non-relational] context [I’m guessing; I don’t know them and may be wrong].

      Yea.. I’m not sure. I haven’t heard the audios as I haven’t been able to find them online. I plan to listen to them and am sure I’ll be edified by some of it. It’s definitely the wrong context though. I think that is one is to “love the church” then one must first understand the foundation of relational fellowship and “body” ministry. Building on a wrong foundation, with other “truths” that are right, doesn’t do much to solve the problem they are seeking to address… or the problem that we see prevalent in the church today.

      Sean Scott

      December 23, 2010 at 7:08 pm

  4. Amen.

    Mark and Vicki Finger

    December 23, 2010 at 7:38 pm

  5. “But I think the real solution for this problem, as found in my modified banner, lies in taking the elders and teaching them the truth.”
    The most of them know the truth but they prefer they style of church more than biblical style. Biblical style needs repented, Spirit-led Christians who daily live in Word and Spirit.

    Natasa

    December 23, 2010 at 11:19 pm

  6. “If…they only read the word of God, they would never come to the conclusion that what goes on in church each Sunday was taken from the bible”

    “Teaching the word of God should have a primary place in the body ministry to the saints. But it should never come at the expense of the rest of the body of Christ and their being able to exercise the gifts that God has given them.”

    Amen brother

    fleebabylon

    December 24, 2010 at 3:34 am

  7. Very interesting discussion, brethren. agreed with the comments.

    —————————————

    RE: “Is it that our love for Christ is low so our love for the church is low? Is it possible that some even despise the church by their nonchalance?”
    .
    .
    .
    I think, especially these two questions show, that Paul Washer and brethren are definitely on to something. Our LORD said that the love of many (who bear His name) will grow cold in the last days. And, as has already been mentioned, present day evangelical churches may be functioning, and people being saved by the gospel, yet the love between the members quite cold. The evangelical model can function with little love. There must be some love, for sure! or it couldn’t function, unless it was a total dead scene, like cathedrals and the like.

    Love for the church? Love for Christians? Yes. Loving an unBiblical system or practices? No.

    On Paul Washer’s style, i say, don’t get so excited and try to hammer the message. Be passionate, yes, BUT treat people intelligently, meaning, you want them to intelligently consider the truths you are presenting to them. To push it too much implies that they should pay attention and do what you say mainly bcos of the fact that you are aserting yourself so strongly (confusing physical-soulish power with the Holy Spirit’s power). A less assertive attitude means that you expect people to process what your saying, and judge it on it’s merits (and not on the basis that you are forceful or a smooth talker) and if they need to consider anything you say, and maybe take heed to or get right with God, it’s clear, then, that IS between them and God, and we are not inside that equation, or loop; not inside that Holy relationship.

    ian vincent

    December 24, 2010 at 11:45 am

  8. P.S. And treating Christians as intelligent people is more likely to be inculcated in us when we are constantly immersed in real relationships, face to face, and meeting in homes.

    The pulpit setting tends toward an unreal way of talking to and relating to people. A manner that is separate from “real life”.

    ian vincent

    December 24, 2010 at 11:55 am

    • The pulpit setting tends toward an unreal way of talking to and relating to people

      Brother that is very true.

      Sean Scott

      December 27, 2010 at 3:40 am

  9. Thank you very much Sean for a very edifying message. I got this just when I needed it as in my area I have not found any who do this as we are supposed to and have much resistance and rejection.

    What I have noticed is that God often gives you and I messages on the same topics around the same times. Your Mom gave me the link to your website and I have been blessed ever since.

    BTW I have shared this and others with others for the glory of God and the edification of the Church.

    love and blessings in Christ,
    kenny

    Kenny Atnip

    December 25, 2010 at 5:14 am

  10. Great commentary. I thought I would add to the thought about people leaving “church” without telling anyone. I think they are just trying to avoid conflict in a situation they know the Lord is calling them out of and others wouldn’t understand. When I was called out of a seeker friendly church 10 years ago I took the pastor out to lunch. I really didn’t fully understand why, but tried to share what the Lord was doing in my life. Instead of trying to understand, he became irate and couldn’t understand where he had failed me.

    Al

    December 25, 2010 at 9:48 pm

  11. The conference description has some alarming statements. “We will show how you and your family fit in to the church of Jesus Christ and how He has called you to love and serve her”. This statement is clearly referring to the Institutional Church System/ the local Church on the corner. The truth is, we are called to love and serve the ekklesia, “one another”. This goes with loving and serving the Lord Jesus Christ. The conference is “helping” people see their obligation to love and serve the man-made Institution. Imo that is idolatry.

    “Is it that our love for Christ is low so our love for the church is low?” It seems the conference hosts are alternating between discussing “Church” (the institution/ organization) and church (ekklesia, the called out, the saints of God). They need to clarify which they are working to make believers devoted to. Love and devotion to the Lord Jesus Christ results in love for the brethren, the church. If we love the Lord we will love the brethren, the church, the ekklesia. If the conference hosts want us to be devoted to the Institutional Church System, then I’d say, that is a very Roman Catholic sounding goal! (No thank you!)
    (Mandatory devotion/ attendance/paying money/ loyalty to the Church, capitol C.)

    The conviction to be devoted to the Lord Jesus and His people, over the Institutional System (and it’s false authority and doctrines), is what got a lot of saints martyred in the dark ages.

    Loretta

    Loretta

    December 27, 2010 at 1:26 am

  12. I really liked Loretta’s comments.

    I also agree COMPLETELY with the importance of relating to people in an authentic manner, as Ian was discussing: this is the mature, spirit-led manner of living.

    Many times, I have seen 1 Corinthians 14 truths either acknowledged or even TAUGHT in churches that DO NOT PRACTICE them. Therefore, we have to understand that what people practice is what they believe.

    To ask a rhetorical question:

    Do we not understand that a false, religious system is arising that will deceive many and is filled with tares who actively persecute real elders and repentant believers who open their mouths to oppose false doctrines and evil works?

    These will kill the brethren at some point, THINKING THEY DO GOD A SERVICE [according to Jesus].

    We must do everything we can to awaken those who are slumbering: else it will be very difficult for them to endure in the coming days.

    “By your patience, possess ye your souls,” (Luke 21:?).

    Peace!

    Mark and Vicki Finger

    December 27, 2010 at 5:56 pm

  13. I think that the definition of “The Church” or I like to say “the Ekklesia”, is miss represented by this poster. They want me to love an organization controlled by them, make no mistake, this is not “the Church”, is it something much different. I wonder why many of you seem to want to save it? Following is a true prophesy that should tell you all something:

    (Hos 4:1) Hear the word of the LORD, ye children of Israel: for the LORD hath a controversy with the inhabitants of the land, because there is no truth, nor mercy, nor knowledge of God in the land.

    They cannot have unity and true love for one another, because of Hos 4:1

    (Hos 4:2) By swearing, and lying, and killing, and stealing, and committing adultery, they break out, and blood toucheth blood.
    (Hos 4:3) Therefore shall the land mourn, and every one that dwelleth therein shall languish, with the beasts of the field, and with the fowls of heaven; yea, the fishes of the sea also shall be taken away.
    (Hos 4:4) Yet let no man strive, nor reprove another: for thy people are as they that strive with the priest.

    I just dare you to attend Paul Washer’s “Church” and reprove or rebuke, you will learn a whole lot about love and mercy first hand!

    (Hos 4:5) Therefore shalt thou fall in the day, and the prophet also shall fall with thee in the night, and I will destroy thy mother.

    Please tell me brothers, who is the mother in this scripture that will be destroyed?

    (Hos 4:6) My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children.

    Again I would say “come out from among them and be ye separate and I will receive you says the Lord”

    Robert Begnaud

    December 28, 2010 at 5:12 pm


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