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Why I hate the doctrines of grace

with 22 comments

A very truthful and needed article, written by brother Jim, about the need for the true grace of God to be fully preached and practiced by those in the Reformed Camp. ( http://www.fleebabylon.wordpress.com )

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Why I hate the doctrines of grace

And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ. Ephesians 4:11-13

My friends who know me to have a love and passion for the teachings of scripture often called “the doctrines of grace” may scratch their heads at such a title, but I assure you this article has nothing to do with sovereignty, election, or the truly unmerited grace of God.  Instead it has to do with the manner in which these truths have been presented to the Church since the reformation.  The doctrines of grace, as commonly taught, are actually only one half of the doctrines of grace taught in scripture, yet they are presented as a whole.  The other half have been lost in the pages of scripture since the time of the reformers, up through the puritans, and down to modern reformed and Calvinistic teachers.  In fact, I have found that the groups who most vocally teach the doctrines of grace during their weekly meeting are often the ones who exercise it the least.  Take a minute and read these scriptures before we go any further.  I have bolded some text to help detect the pattern laid out here concerning Gods grace.

There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift. Therefore He says: “ When He ascended on high, He led captivity captive, And gave gifts to men.” Ephesians 4:4-8 

As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God. If anyone ministers, let him do it as with the ability which God supplies, that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen. 1 Peter 4:10-11

For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith. For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another. Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith; or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness. Romans 12-3:8

The grace of God, as clearly show in the scriptures, is inseparable from the gifts given to the many membered body of Christ.  God’s grace is not relegated to five points of doctrine and it has to do with far more then the manner in which God elects men.  The true grace of God has as much to do with the gifts given to various members of the body as with the salvation given to the various members of the body.  This is so that the Church might truly function like a body, rather than a roman catholic modeled religious institution.

To put it another way, where one man stands and preaches every Sunday there is a lack of grace to some degree.  I know what I am writing applies to many well meaning Godly men, some even used mightily of the Lord despite their falling short in this area, but this does not make it any less true.  A local Church may make up for this lack by way of being strong in other areas, but there is a lack none the less.

Looking at the clear, living, and powerful word of God, we see that Christ has not only led captivity captive, but He also gave gifts to men.  These gifts do not only included teaching, but also prophesy, speaking in tongues, exhortation, giving, healing, evangelizing, and so forth.  This differs greatly from the reformed crowd that teaches that Christ has led captivity captive, but has only given a teaching gift – and that to the senior pastor.  What’s worse is when senior pastors come right out and say they believe the other gifts to the church have ceased.  So instead of the grace of God being manifest through the many membered body, the focus becomes on expository preaching, performed by a senior pastor that holds an unbiblical position.  How such a senior pastor can stand and teach that all other gifts have ceased besides his make believe super teaching one is beyond me.

The need of the Church is not expository preaching

The Church arguably needs expository teaching, with gifted elders who labor in the word, but not expository preaching.  Preaching in the New Testament is primarily for the open air and in church planting, not for the weekly meeting until the end of time. Yet one of the major focuses of those who promote the doctrines of grace is on the expository preaching of these doctrines to the church.  This is accomplished by standing at a pulpit and dominating the church meeting week after week with such. The thinking must go something like this “I will mature the body of Christ by preaching great truths, even at the expense of retarding the body of Christ by refusing the means of truth by which God has ordained to mature it”.  Read that last sentence again.

Rather than a clergy-laity religious system, the bible really does show the Church teaching and admonishing one another as the called out saints of a risen Christ.  This does not negate true eldership or the need for gifted teachers in the Church, rather this is the setting in which all gifts are used for edification.  Yet many true brethren think it better to stand at a pulpit and preach a mini package of Calvinistic truth week after week then to raise their churches to live out the truth of truly being the body of Christ.  I don’t want to sound too harsh coming against true teaching pastors that are off in this area, and purposely am not naming names.  I will even make a point to say that in certain times and places God has seen to richly bless and use these men.  I am thankful for them as brethren, respect them as elders, and yet in love and boldness must cry out against their empty traditions with the full authority of God’s word.

Imagine that I invited you to church and you came in to find one man standing a at a podium speaking in tongues for an hour every Sunday – you would know something was out of line (unless you were raised to know nothing but this tradition).  In the same way, having one man stand at a podium and “teaching” (really it is preaching, teaching is relational) week after week and calling it a church meeting is almost as out of line as the example I gave.  One man dominating the meeting with preaching week after week is in line with scripture only when planting a church as I stated earlier, until elders are raised and the body starts to function like a body.  Yet in most of the reformed crowd the body is never taught to function as a body, it is always being planted, but never growing into maturity.

The biblical method to mature the body in this generation has less to do with teaching the doctrines of grace then it does with simply not retarding the saints through an unbiblical puritanical or clergy-laity religious system. The call for the hour is not to teach the “doctrines of grace”, it is to teach the whole council of the word of God!  This includes laboring to build up the body of Christ through the manifold grace of God.  It is time to shun the thought that we can build up Gods church into maturity while spurning the clear means by which God ordained for it to be built up.  What an utter contradiction to reject and suppress the manifold grace of God and yet claim to be a teacher of God’s grace.  What can be said in its defense?

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. ~ Colossians 3:16

Written by Sean Scott

August 27, 2011 at 2:54 am

Posted in Uncategorized

22 Responses

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  1. The article is absolutely correct in suggesting that authentic elders encourage saints to walk in their gifts and callings [both within the assembly and without] by supporting and making a place for their function: for a true mentor in Christ is used by God to help the younger come to full maturity in the work of the gospel.

    Moreover, my heart is with all who desire to see the participative ministry of the Holy Spirit at work within both the entire assembly [when the whole church comes together] and in smaller groups that are more functional for establishing a conversational, informal, highly relational teaching context.

    However, I also see a need and a place for extended exhortations by the power and persuasion of the Holy Spirit through a presbytery of elders.

    When the whole church comes together, the context of a large group size necessarily limits the participatory nature familiar to those engaged in smaller group fellowships [which hopefully is all the saints of God]: fewer people are able to participate actively. This does not mean that a prophecy, exhortation, or admonition could not arise through any of the gathered saints. And obviously, it would be natural for the group to break into smaller groups at times to pray and minister to one another.

    Yet, there is a place for those particularly gifted to teach to speak to the entire assembly, so that the entire body, as one body, can move forward on a scriptural basis in one mind and accord to do the will of God.

    Think about it. Whether the group is large or small, there is a need for those with a teaching gift to be granted the space [time] to fully develop and articulate an understanding of a particular scriptural matter.

    The problem within the church is not so much extended teachings, as it is a lack of participative ministry under the direction and power of the Holy Spirit and a daily yielding to the relational nature of small group fellowships.

    Jesus taught extensively. Paul taught extensively. Those qualified to teach, should teach.

    In other words, as long as others under the unction of the Spirit can contribute as God leads during the teaching, extended teachings are good! [I say ‘under the unction of the Spirit’ because Paul commanded some women to silence at one point, due to the fact that their interruptions were out of order, undermining the true function and work of the Holy Spirit’s ministry in that time and place.]

    If Ian, Sean, and I were all in the same assembly, there would be nothing wrong with one taking the lead in teaching on any given day: this would allow the other two to consider their gift and calling soberly, esteeming the other greater than themselves, fulfilling the commandment of our Lord ().

    As the Holy Spirit leads, participation may be high or low at any given time. For example, I have often been called to silence when someone who is teaching is doing an excellent job! (smile)

    I tend to share only when there is a need for my gift to function; otherwise, I am called to silence and prayer, so that others’ gifts can function.

    The participative nature of the ministry of the Holy Spirit is at work within an assembly whenever the saints are at all times open to God using whomever He desires in the way He desire.

    In other words, if I walk into an unfamiliar assembly and witness an elder teaching well while the other saints are silently listening, I should not automatically infer that the Holy Spirit’s ministry is restricted by the people of God in that place.

    In a mature assembly, there should be a demonstration of the Holy Spirit’s power through both the ministry of the elders and the ministry of the body–both working together–both absolutely necessary and vital to spiritual health and functioning of the body. Deceivers enter into the body of Christ to undermine the ministries of both elders and the body [members in particular]. I believe that this is the gist of the meaning established in Ephesians 4:11-16.

    Mark and Vicki Finger

    August 27, 2011 at 4:56 pm

    • Good post Mark. I think that Jim is not coming against teaching in meetings. Jim can correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe this post is primarily directed towards the reformed camp. The reformed camp i.e. reformed churches, and the brethren that I know that are in them, focus very highly on the doctrines of graces. In fact, it’s almost like their “token” for what makes them better than the other Christian churches around. They usually boast in their expository preaching, the need for expository preaching, they preach on the glory of God, and really focus on the grace of God. However like Jim’s article says, in preaching the grace of God they neglect the truth that the grace of God is also associated with the gift of God that are given for body ministry. So the people that are championing the grace of God are the very ones that are hindering the grace of God from being fully realized and experienced by the whole body. Yet they make up for this by trying to say they are preaching “sound doctrine”.

      I think there are a couple reasons for this mentality. One, many reformed churches don’t believe in the Baptism of the Spirit. Two, they believe that all the gifts that appear supernatural in nature have passed away, thus really only leaving us with the teaching gift. I find this notion ironic since these believers usually boast about how they preach line by line, in context, and believe what the bible says. Somehow though, when they get to the parts about the gifts of God and the role of the body of Christ all this goes out the window. Lastly, there are reformed brethren who do believe in the Baptism of the Spirit, who have experienced it, and yet still do not allow the body to function as it should. Personally, “I” feel they do this because they are afraid that someone might say something unbiblical in the meetings, they feel the other gifts might distract from what is being taught OR distract from their gift of teaching. They elevate the gift of teaching to such a degree that the other gifts have to be silenced or not used, so as to protect the word of God so it can go forth unhindered. It’s like trying to “righteously” defend and protect God’s word while disobeying it.

      I personally feel that a lot of believers in this camp are just ignorant of the truth in this matter and are just believing what their elders and teachers have taught them. However, I do know believers who do know the truth in this matter and still don’t think it’s really important. I once talked to one brother who told me that teachers need to be able to share in the meetings so they can exercise and grow in their gifting. My answer is “of course they do” BUT, they do not need to do so at the expense of the rest of the body of Christ. Brethren do not grow into maturity by listening to teaching all their life. They must be able to contribute to the body of Christ AND use their gifts when the body of Christ comes together if the Spirit of God would have them do so.

      When the whole church comes together, the context of a large group size necessarily limits the participatory nature familiar to those engaged in smaller group fellowships [which hopefully is all the saints of God]: fewer people are able to participate actively. This does not mean that a prophecy, exhortation, or admonition could not arise through any of the gathered saints. And obviously, it would be natural for the group to break into smaller groups at times to pray and minister to one another.

      I personally don’t think that having a larger group should limit the function of the Spirit of God. Now if you have a large church that is formatted for an hour and a half “service” you might have problems because the service will typically only be structured for singing, taking up an offering, listening to preaching, and then dismissing everyone. There is usually no time allotted for “the regular people” to participate. I have a feeling that the church in Corinth was a fairly large church and yet they still managed to have the body participate.

      The problem within the church is not so much extended teachings, as it is a lack of participative ministry under the direction and power of the Holy Spirit and a daily yielding to the relational nature of small group fellowships.

      I agree.

      Jesus taught extensively. Paul taught extensively. Those qualified to teach, should teach.

      Yes, however, much of Jesus teaching was relational. Sure he preached to the crowds outside, but he taught his disciples in a relational way. There is hardly any relational teaching with the modern use of the gift of teaching. Jesus and Paul both taught in the Synagogues, but if I’m correct from my studies, I believe these were places that also facilitated and allowed discussion about what what being preached and taught.

      If Ian, Sean, and I were all in the same assembly, there would be nothing wrong with one taking the lead in teaching on any given day: this would allow the other two to consider their gift and calling soberly, esteeming the other greater than themselves, fulfilling the commandment of our Lord ().

      As the Holy Spirit leads, participation may be high or low at any given time. For example, I have often been called to silence when someone who is teaching is doing an excellent job!

      I agree. In fact, I think it’s very beneficial to have a brother primarily bring a teaching and then still have the openness to allow other believers to participate.

      In a mature assembly, there should be a demonstration of the Holy Spirit’s power through both the ministry of the elders and the ministry of the body–both working together–both absolutely necessary and vital to spiritual health and functioning of the body.

      Amen. It’s a shame that most fellowships do not strive for this today.

      Again, I think the point of Jim’s post was to point out the inconsistencies associated with those who boast in preaching the doctrines of Grace. Jesus always seemed to be the harshest towards hypocrites and those who were hindering God’s people. When someone, or some group, really boast of something so much, it really makes them accountable to God for the things that they boast in. So I can definitely see how the Lord would want to bring correction to those who boast in preaching, and knowledge, and wisdom, and purity, and in having sound doctrine, if in fact they don’t actually have the things they boast in.

      Sean Scott

      August 27, 2011 at 6:02 pm

      • So I can definitely see how the Lord would want to bring correction to those who boast in preaching, and knowledge, and wisdom, and purity, and in having sound doctrine, if in fact they don’t actually have the things they boast in.

        Let me say, I believe this can be a danger for any of us. We all have to guard our hearts from hypocrisy and worship the Lord “in Spirit and Truth”. This is also a reason why we need the body of Christ and why we should always be open to correction and admonition, no matter who it comes from. I have noticed that sometimes, some believers, will cease to take admonition and correction from another believer if they don’t believe exactly as they do. I think this is a real shame and that people might miss out on what the Lord would say to them because of the walls and boundaries of “truth” they have drawn around themselves that exclude others. I’ve practically seen this played out.

        Sean Scott

        August 27, 2011 at 6:14 pm

  2. Mark wrote:

    “However, I also see a need and a place for extended exhortations by the power and persuasion of the Holy Spirit through a presbytery of elders. ”
    .
    .
    .

    .
    Dear brother Mark, i’m surprised that you missed what Jim said here:
    .

    “The Church arguably needs expository teaching, with gifted elders who labor in the word,”

    and

    “This does not negate true eldership or the need for gifted teachers in the Church, rather this is the setting in which all gifts are used for edification. ”

    .
    .
    .
    To Jim: as every day passes i become more convinced of what you’re saying here. I try (strive) to do it among the brothers but i don’t feel like i’m getting anywhere, sometimes. But i’m not gonna give up.

    ian

    ian vincent

    August 28, 2011 at 12:17 am

  3. Sean wrote:

    “I agree. In fact, I think it’s very beneficial to have a brother primarily bring a teaching and then still have the openness to allow other believers to participate. ”
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    .
    .
    Just related to this: these days, when i’m in a house with 5 or 6 or more brothers and we’re talking, i’m aware that we have got to learn to function together IN THIS SETTING first, in a way that edifies one another, and honors one another, before we can function together in a larger gathering. The bros don’t see it yet, but the LORD is arranging these “social” chats in homes as training and preparation for the larger work, but few realize the dynamic is ordered by God.

    ian vincent

    August 28, 2011 at 12:26 am

  4. PS

    “but few realize the dynamic is ordered by God.”

    bcos they still make a differenece between “formal” church meetings AND fellowship, when, in the first century there was not such a distinction.

    In “fellowship” times they are so free to speak the Word. Then the formal meeting starts and they freeze up, as if something has changed.

    ian vincent

    August 28, 2011 at 12:30 am

    • That’s a very good observation brother. It’s interesting sometimes how freely brethren share and mutually edify each other in “non-formal” meetings, yet when things get formal and more structured, for some reason things change.

      Sean Scott

      August 28, 2011 at 1:46 am

  5. This occurance is due to not fully grasping the nature of the Kingdom of God. Jesus builds His Church as His Kingdom, not something separate to His Kingdom.

    In the Kingdom you are the same person all the time. Traditional church thinking is that Sunday behavior is somehow different to the rest of the week. It encourages people to live a double life and have dual personas.

    Sean, feel free to merge all my posts into one post : ) if you like.

    ian vincent

    August 28, 2011 at 12:42 am

    • Brother- this is a great way to sum things up. I am going to post this quote on our facebook.

      fleebabylon

      August 28, 2011 at 4:50 pm

  6. Earlier I said:

    “Personally, “I” feel they do this because they are afraid that someone might say something unbiblical in the meetings, they feel the other gifts might distract from what is being taught OR distract from their gift of teaching.”

    I think that sometimes people might feel that new believers are not mature enough to contribute to the meetings..that new believers aren’t able to discern between the Spirit and things that come from their flesh or own mind. However, it seems that many in the Corinthian church were new believers at best and immature believers at worst. Yet Paul did not forbid these believers from having a part in edifying the entire body. We shouldn’t restrict them either. Oftentimes, new believers who haven’t been “sanitized” and had their fire put out by older believers, have some very good and interesting things to contribute.

    I remember reading Jackie Pullingers book Chasing the Dragon. Seems like everyone that was converted through her ministry got Baptized in the Spirit right away. Then these young baptized new believers would be preaching and praying for their friends and seeing them saved and delivered as well.

    Sean Scott

    August 28, 2011 at 1:59 am

  7. Here’s how I see this format for discussion: I read something; it inspires me to meditate upon the subject raised [or one related]; and I share my meditations. Generally, I am not participating in a ‘for’ or ‘against’ debate concerning what was written, but merely sharing my reflections. The first 2 sentences in my post were intended to express full and complete agreement with Jim’s heart in this writing.

    Beyond that …

    I do see a place for extended exhortations by an elder, as God leads, when the anointing of the Holy Spirit is upon the man, especially when speaking to the entire, localized assembly. How much this would occur if the entire church was already converted to practicing relational living in Christ, fellowshipping in their homes with one another daily, I am not sure.

    In my experience, as one who spent about 1 year in a church that fully lived out what you guys write about all the time [on Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, about 12-13 years ago, until the military shut it down for some reason]: an elder speaks for some amount of time, and then the entire church broke up into small groups of 2-5 people. The elders would then move about strengthening the groups in prayer [and sometimes by word of knowledge or wisdom], as the body ministered to the body. Sometimes, at the end, an elder would again speak to the entire body again. The elders all participated in teaching, all participated in supporting the development of the gifts among the body. It was AWESOME!

    It may be entirely semantics, Sean, but if the large group dynamic wasn’t in some fashion limiting [especially if you have 150-200 people, like we did in the church I was speaking about above], there wouldn’t be a need to break into smaller groups.

    Since I was persecuted and driven out of my last church [not the one I’m in now] for actively modeling, encouraging, and supporting relational teaching in small group settings [and this is an established fact], please never feel that i am speaking against the need for relational teaching.

    Personally, I really ENJOY LISTENING to good teaching, especially when it is so good that there is NO NEED for me to comment. If that makes me non-relational [I’m smiling now], so be it!

    All saints need to ‘hang out’ with 12 other disciples, after Christ’s own example, knowing others, even as they are known, supporting and loving one another DAILY. This is indisputable.

    However, I, for one, am not willing to live my entire life as a reaction against what is wrong. I taught before the entire assembly last week. At times, I paused and asked for questions and comments; at other times, I asked people SPECIFIC questions. There was a question and discussion period toward the end over what was discussed. There was also about 30 minutes when i was the only one speaking. Two other elders spoke for about 10 minutes each.

    What was the effect of this teaching? People were challenged and highly encouraged [to my surprise, frankly].

    (By the way, although I had been invited to speak to the whole church before, I had declined. Personally, I’d be happy never saying a word, but I am COMMANDED to feed the flock with a ready mind, willingly, according to 1 Peter 5:2.)

    It’s no different than when you send me a link to a Paul Washer sermon [which is one guy speaking]–or if I listened to Ian teach about a matter [I wish]–or if several took turns speaking.

    All I am saying is this: the problem in the church is not extended teachings by sound teachers. [Rather, we need MUCH MORE sound teaching.] The problem is that the current cultural dynamic at work in almost all of the traditional churches simply does not support relational fellowships on a daily basis.

    By the way, in the assembly that i gather with, the saints are CONSISTENTLY INSTRUCTED to follow the Spirit’s leading at ALL times, NEVER worrying about interrupting an elder’s teaching, but to follow the Holy Spirit’s leading. Moreover, those who gather in small groups before the time of the general assembly on Sunday are also instructed to remain where they are if the Holy Spirit is working to convict, save, deliver, heal or whatever, instead of coming to the general assembly. Some saints [like myself] do not attend the general assembly on Wednesday night [we go there to pray first], but instead spend that entire evening preaching the gospel to the lost in their homes or on the street. [We also sometimes spend time trying to convert a sinner in the church from the error of his ways.]

    Should I quit speaking to the whole church in an extended teaching format? [which they desire me to do more often; they are going to add another service per week; also, the pastor and another key elder want to start home fellowships]

    If I refuse to speak to the entire assembly, am I not neglecting an opportunity?

    I am teaching all the things that we speak of here: with a focus upon the cross [Christ’s atoning work] to not only save, but also to sanctify and empower every believer for the work of the ministry.

    Should I stop? Is it only for a short time? Is there danger in it?

    All answers welcome …

    Love you, brothers.

    Mark and Vicki Finger

    August 28, 2011 at 3:49 am

  8. Hi Mark,

    Actually, your fellowship sounds like a real blessing. I hope you didn’t see my post as coming against what you shared. I was simply trying to share what I believe the target audience and focus was of Jim’s post. I too am often greatly encouraged by godly anointed teaching done by one man. The church certainly needs this and as I’ve said before, biblical teaching is a central part of the believers fellowship. It sounds like the topics you are preaching are topics that are much needed today. I personally pray the Lord bless your preaching and that lasting fruit may come from it!

    Of course I agree that with larger fellowships, when the whole congregation meets together, there will be some limits to the amount of body fellowship. My point was that it doesn’t have to be totally neglected though. Typically, when I’ve seen larger fellowships everything eventually gets regulated to a format. Everything is pre-planned and there really is no room made for the Spirit to operate through others. That’s just my experience. I’m not sure you were really saying anything different.

    So brother, I think you should continue taking the opportunity the Lord has given you. From what you’ve shared so far it sounds like a unique fellowship that the Lord can work in.

    Bless you brother….

    Sean Scott

    August 28, 2011 at 4:36 am

  9. I am just happy to be one of the group here.

    I tend to only focus upon the parts of a post that the Spirit draws me to and uses to inspire me to reflect more upon the Lord’s order and manner of living.

    Mark and Vicki Finger

    August 28, 2011 at 4:51 am

    • Mark said:

      “Personally, I really ENJOY LISTENING to good teaching, especially when it is so good that there is NO NEED for me to comment. If that makes me non-relational [I’m smiling now], so be it!”

      I too love listening to good teaching, either from brethren I know that are sitting in my living room, from you guys whose blogs I read, or from brethren I don’t know but who’s fruit and faithfulness to the word of God is evident. Some of these men even lived hundreds of years ago. This was a really good statement you made though as it brings up something that happened to me. I was sitting with a dear brother and sister who are planting a church, and at the same time getting influenced by the reformed crowd. They said I was a hypocrite because I would not go and sit in a pew week after week if Paul Washer were pastoring a Church near me, but yet I would listen to his messages on CD.

      They must have thought I was against teaching. I am not against teaching, even regular teaching, just elevating the teacher above the other gifts and turning it into a slightly reformed roman catholic church service. The elevation of the teacher in the weekly meeting to clergy status is an unbiblical practice from the reformers, influenced by the practices of Rome. Though we have freedom to use methods that are not in the Bible (like blogs) we do not have freedom to use methods that are anti-biblical. So it is not the gift of teaching that I am against, it is the anti-biblical context in which the gift of teaching takes place in the reformed churches. In this sense, the reformed churches are not much reformed from roman catholicsm. There are other elements that are involved in my thoughts (expensive buildings, stained glass, pew, etc) but I wanted to leave that out of the conversation for now.

      I am aware that there are brothers in the system trying to bring truth and light to it (I would consider Paul Washer one of these). God always has a remnant and I am not speaking about them. These are just some thoughts, observations on the whole thing. I don’t feel I am being reactionary in seeking out biblical church practice though, the modern church system (ie organized religion) is what is reactionary. First it was reactionary to rome, then to the changing culture in the western world. That is what the reformation was, a reaction that had much good and truth but was thoroughly leavened as well. The modern church system is a result of a reactionary reformation. If we stick with the word of God, and stay within apostolic, scriptural boundaries we do well. There is great grace within the boundaries and no cookie cutter local church model for sure, but there are distinct boundaries that cry out against the modern reformed church system. I trust we can all agree on that last statement.

      God bless you brother in Christ Jesus.
      Jim

      fleebabylon

      August 28, 2011 at 5:36 pm

  10. Here’s where your post is great, Jim: you are absolutely right to say that a little leaven leavens the whole loaf.

    In Ezekiel 13, there is a warning concerning mending the wall with untempered mortar: untempered mortar is the word of man [traditions of men]; tempered mortar is the word of God [traditions of God].

    The traditions of men make the word of God of none effect, as you mention [clergy-laity system].

    And today, as in the days of Jesus’ earthly ministry, the scribes and pharisees sit in Moses’ seat, for which cause, many whom God has called to set the people free are thrown out of the church, even as Diotrephes refused to receive Paul and threw those who would out of the church! (3 John, verses 9-10)

    These are just thoughts in no particular order:

    In order for teaching to really be relational [even in a home fellowship] it must be a response to another believer’s spiritual need.

    Additionally, it must support and encourage a relational context–so that people feel comfortable sharing their personal experiences with the Lord and asking questions that are pertinent to them–and saints can know one another [their gifting and character].

    Of course, teaching is also relational when an elder perceives a need that the saint(s) in question do not perceive: Paul spent much time bringing correction to people who did not ask for it [the Galatians and Corinthians come to mind].

    Ian made a good comment in an e-mail the other day:

    “I said that my commitment is to see a restoration of the original church, BUT gradually, bcos the New Covenant is that ALL are taught by God. Therefore restoration can’t be forced on people, but it is a progressive revelation from the Scriptures as disciples seek the LORD, step by step. We can’t go beyond the revelation or understanding people have. We have to patiently teach the truth and then see what God will do IN them.”

    Funny thing to say, but standing in front of people in a traditional church setting and teaching them how to order their assemblies in the Spirit, according to the New Testament pattern, actually IS relational teaching.

    We have to start where they are [as Ian said].

    Ephesians 4:11-16 makes a couple of points clear that are relevant to this discussion:

    1) the ministry of elders is vital
    2) the ministry of the saints is vital
    3) deceivers who enter into the church desire to undermine the work of both ministries

    The assembly that I gather with is going to begin small group ministries house-to-house: the pastor is putting me in charge of getting the people ready for this [which is an opportunity!].

    A presbytery of elders is the best way to model the truth of body ministry: so the transition from a pastor system to an elder system is important, eliminating the ‘professional pastor for hire’ syndrome.

    Peace

    Mark and Vicki Finger

    August 29, 2011 at 12:09 am

    • I agree with everything you said Mark.

      fleebabylon

      August 29, 2011 at 12:44 am

  11. yes Brother Mark is right. we all need to come back to the biblical model of leadership thus eliminating the “Pastor” system (elevating one elder over the others which is contrary to NT scripture). Apostle Paul addressed the local leaders as “Elders” rather than “the Pastor” or “a Pastor”. In many churches this Pastor become a tiny pope! – Muralee, Sri Lanka (by the way brethren where are you in US? I was twice there)

    K.Muraleetharan

    September 18, 2011 at 6:15 pm

  12. Muralee,

    I live in Southeast Michigan (near Detroit). Some of my coworkers live in Chennai and I may get to come over ther one day. God bless. Jim

    fleebabylon

    September 19, 2011 at 12:24 am

    • I am so sorry brother just now I saw your post!!. I was in Detroit in 2008 with my cousin who is a medical doctor and lives there. They are all hindus (I am a hindu convert). If the Lord permits I will visit him again in Sept/Oct (next month). If time permits would like to visit your church-miistry.
      We are born-again christian who are saved by eternal grace and strive by HIS power to fulfill what He commanded specially NT life and church. Our motto is “Even when you breath you must breath biblicaly!!!
      God bless you all. By the way there are few churches in Chennai (I studied there in Thmabaram) with the same vision. Whenever I go there I used to minister the word there. Where are your frineds? Muralee (muraleej@yahoo.com)

      Muralee

      August 23, 2012 at 1:34 pm

  13. Hi Muralee,

    I live in Albuquerque, NM. I was in Sri Lanka about 7 or so years ago. My wife and I spent some time in Colombo and Kandy. We had a great time. We were able to street preach in a few places and minister to several Buddhist monks that were there from other parts of Asia.

    Thanks for stopping by and commenting. May the Lord bless you.

    IN Christ,

    Sean Scott

    Sean Scott

    September 19, 2011 at 3:55 pm

    • Oh brother I missed you brother. ALso now only I saw yours and Marks’s posts also We pray that those Monks will be saved one day! I am an indigenous missionary involving in church-planting , teaching, training etc in many places in SL. God willing we are praying to plant a NT church in Colombo. If you are coming next here please let me know.Thanks for your posts. God willing I will be visiting some of my friends in TX next month or oct. How is your ministry let me know? Are souls coming to know Saviour? Muralee

      Muralee

      August 23, 2012 at 1:49 pm

      • Hi Muralee,

        It’s good to hear from you. Yes, we did recently have a young man come to Christ. It’s been wonderful to see. When you go to Texas you’ll have to give me a phone number where you can be reached. Maybe we can talk over the phone. What city in Texas will you be in?

        Sean

        August 25, 2012 at 3:49 am


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