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New Hope News #1 January, 2013
Sermons – Transcripts
Message #1 – A Crisis of Doctrine.
A Doctrinal Crisis in the Church
The reason America is being judged stems from the condition of the church. The church of Jesus Christ is in her worst condition since prior to the reformation at least – maybe worse. One thing is for sure. The church is in greater danger of being totally removed from significance in the western world then any time since its founding. The Church’s problems are not simple issues which should lightly be dismissed (though they usually are). Her problems are basic, foundational, wide ranging, almost universal and doctrinal. The church has departed almost completely from her roots on foundational issues. Also, since almost no one really reads or studies the bible for themselves anymore these problems are things of which no one is aware. Even those who read the bible seem to be peering through modernistic, lukewarm glasses and are unable to see the reality which is before them. Let me mention of few central doctrinal problems to illustrate what I mean.
The church has changed, for example, in the areas of the most important doctrines connected getting people to heaven. These included the doctrines of sin or being a sinner, salvation, the meaning of faith, and the very definition of the church itself. Let’s look at these four essential doctrines briefly.
Sin or being a sinner.
There are two basic definitions of what it means to be a sinner. One is the biblical definition and one is the one that has become popular.
The first definition is that of being a slave to sin. This includes our natural selfishness, pride, and tendency towards self delusion. This can include addictions but more often they are simple selfish self-centered habits. We think about self, love self, live for self. Even the good we do has some self seeking motive at its root. Whether wanting to be perceived as good by others, convincing ourselves that we are good, or having a good feeling which comes from helping – self is the root. This is the biblical view of sinfulness. This is the concept which the church has understood and operated under for almost 2,000 years.
Contrast this with the popular teaching today. We simply say that if you have sinned one time that you are a sinner. That’s it. You need to repent of the one (or few) times when you have messed up. The reason for this watering down of sinfulness is easy to understand. It seems like an easier sell. We don’t think we can convince people of their depravity, but surely we can convince them of a sin or two.
Many problems arise, though, when we depart from scriptural definitions. People need to see themselves realistically as having an incurable and horribly damaging condition. They need to see that they are naturally hurtful to themselves and everyone around them. This foundation is essential and without it our “gospel” is not only unbiblical. It is extremely weak and wimpy. Additionally, if we depart from convincing people of their sinfulness according to the biblical idea, then this will automatically cause us to go astray in our definition in other places as well. A chain reaction ensues. So, today we also have going astray in our understanding
of . . . . . .
Since we no longer perceive ourselves as sin sick creatures we no longer present the gospel in terms of being saved from sin.
The Bible teaches that we are saved from sin and its power over our lives. Salvation is a process in which God’s holy nature grows in us progressively with increasing brightness. This is the biblical meaning which the church has historically used. The common churchgoer has understood this.
Now, though, folks don’t see themselves as very bad. So, the only thing which we can think to save them from is hell. (And those who don’t believe in hell really have NOTHING to offer humanity and are truly irrelevant). Now don’t misunderstand. Hell and its avoidance is good enough reason by itself to come to Christ. But limiting the gospel to this has created more confusion and self delusion in Christianity then anything I can think of. We seem to live trying to get as much selfish joy out of life as possible while still convincing ourselves that we are “saved” and will get into heaven. To help perpetuate our belief and make it comfortable we must continue to change definitions. So, another word which has been perverted by the modern gospel, quite naturally is the word . . . . . . . . .
Since the reformation we have taught that salvation is by Grace alone (another altered word), through faith alone, in Christ alone. Therefore, having faith is key. Satan understands this and has successfully gotten us to change and water down the meaning of the word faith. This is not just in charismatic circles. It is church wide.
Today faith means little more than “mental assent”. What is that? If I tell you the facts of the gospel and you say that you believe me then you are assumed to have faith. If you say that you believe that Jesus was born of a virgin, was the Son of God, died a vicarious death on the cross, rose bodily from the dead and will come again in glory then we say all that is left is to ask forgiveness for you sins and to ask Jesus in you heart and you are saved. But bible faith isn’t just about the mind or the words you use. In the bible it always produces action. If you believe in a way that you live differently and are saved from “sin and self” then bible faith is more likely involved.
Since we think that Christianity is about getting to heaven after we die we are increasingly confused about what our job is in this life. The only verses which interest us are those promising some earthly or fleshly blessing. We naturally, therefore, have forgotten what the bible teaches about the huge importance of . . . . . . . . . . . . .
The Local Church
The local church is infinitely more that just a “fellowship” (another word which we misuse in a way which must grate on God’s ears). Although many of the words we use are biblical we don’t seem to let them sink in or affect our understanding of church at all. The persistent idea of church being an organization or a place continues to permeate our non committal way of doing church. Church today, even among Protestants and Evangelicals is primarily a ritual and often a show. Our church emphasis today is on the “Body”. By that we mean the church universal – all Christians everywhere. In the bible everything is quite different.
Biblically the church is an organism. It focuses primarily on the local church. The idea is that we are responsible for each others lives before God. You can’t be responsible for people that you haven’t even met. We are “our brother’s keeper”. The local church is a baptized body of believers who have made a covenant (a blood oath) with God and each other to do everything possible to help each other grow in Christ likeness and holiness. They are sacrificially helping each other to defeat sin for the spiritual benefit of all and for the Glory of God. They have developed a safe, environment where they freely confess their faults and weakness knowing that they won’t be looked down upon. They want to overcome these sins and help each other to do the same. They let their lives intertwine so that they won’t be tempted to hide their sins and be genuine hypocrites. They have a high standard, but will help any weakness though rebellion to God and His word can not be tolerated. They are known as Jesus’ disciples because of their unusually sacrificial love toward each other.
The purpose of the church is misrepresented today. We speak many good causes of evangelism and discipleship of the nations. These, of course, are commanded. The central purpose will bring about these goal and more. The real purpose may be seen easiest in the metaphor of the church as a building. I will sum it up this way. The bible teaches that the church is a building which interconnects in such a way that its head (Christ) is manifest (obvious) to the whole world. Just as the “shakeina” Glory only came when that tabernacle’s part were properly built and properly put together. So, it is with the church. This was also seen in the temple. It was seen at Pentecost with the tongues of fire over each of them. God’s presence can be felt by an individual Christian, but the Glory is only manifest through the “Building of God” – the truly broken and rebuilt (by God) church. True revival always brings God’s greatest glory. This awakened church (or seeking to be this way) is the only biblical church and always it produces great glory for God and most salvations and discipleship occurs as well.
For this reason, the focus in the New Testament is not on the individual. Christ’s program is to manifest himself through a certain type of group connection – not through individuals. We see an idea that serving Christ’s family equals serving Him. Our ability to grow in Christ is severely limited when we do it on our own. Joshua and Caleb had to wait until a group was ready before they could enter the promise land. No one goes in alone. This is clearly connected to Paul’s obsession with the church and helping others grow.
The various rituals of our meetings are subordinate to these greater purposes. If we don’t connect on a deeper level and have true “koinonia” (real communion fellowship) then we will always be fading quickly back into some sort of ritual.
I’ve said nothing new in this brief article and most pastors and seminarians are probably aware of much is these historic and biblical positions of the church. Maybe they haven’t put all of this together, but the sad thing is that the common church attendee doesn’t have a clue. These concepts, for whatever reason are not being communicated.
The ignorance is such that false concepts are now assumed as the orthodox tradition. Many will oppose these concepts or even attack them as heretical. The situation is bad yet we are spending most of our time and attention on building up our churches primarily as businesses. The CEO mentality of the modern church is keeping us from being the church as much as anything else. Members are view as money and don’t mess with money. This keeps us from touching on any doctrinal needs in our churches. We don’t want to rock any boats. The old idea that we are to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable is definitely out today. This sad condition of the church needs to be challenged. It is a necessary part of the waking up process that must happen if revival is to have a solid chance.
I, therefore, am casting my hat into the ring. I feel it strongly incumbent upon me to promote the historic truth of Christianity and attack falsehood wherever it is deceiving. We need champions to be “earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.” I offer myself to fight this fight. I am now officially making myself available to publicly debate those who disagree with the points made in this article. I will push the issue to cry from the highest points of the city so the church can once again be the head in America and not the tail as she currently is. She is now a veritable laughing stock. If you wish to contribute to this most important cause, we will be seeking to get on the radio, television, to write books, other articles, etc. and your prayerful support will be highly appreciated.
Yours for the Gospels sake,
A Doctrinal Crisis in the Church
The church is messed up in her doctrines of Sinfulness, Salvation, Faith, and the Doctrine of the local Church (for starters). She has departed from her traditional, biblical teaching on these issues.
Today, we say that if you sin one time then you are a sinner. This is only partially true.
The Bible teaches that sin has power. All people are naturally and inherently sinners who sin repeatedly, habitually, and even constantly. The sinner is a slave to sin. He needs to be saved from this condition and (of course) its eternal consequences. Our cheapened teaching is a cop out – not giving the complete truth. This causes damage and confusion over other doctrines.
We say to that we get saved to be able to go heaven and get a lot of blessings from being His child. These blessings usually focus on what we want.
The Bible teaches that we are saved from Sin and its power over our lives. Salvation is a process in which God’s holy nature grows in us progressively and with increasing brightness. This process has discernable results which are increasingly clear over time. His divine nature is the primary blessing. He will not please our flesh as we grow from glory to glory. This culminates in being forever with Him after our physical bodies are changed to celestial bodies which enter his sinless presence forever.
We say that since we believe in Jesus death and resurrection that we have faith. Most faith today is only mental faith and may often have zero relation to a person’s actions.
The Bible teaches that true heart faith produces action. We trust Him therefore we obey Him. We follow and live by his example and the principles in His Word which we greatly hunger for – “Trust and Obey”. This faith is a gift from God which grows with its use.
The Local Church
We say that we are members of a church. We go, listen, and hopefully participate. We are considered good church members if we are active, tithing, encouraging and maybe even discipling (wow!)
The bible teaches that the church is an organism which interconnects in such a way that its head (Christ) is manifest (obvious) to the whole world. If the world can’t recognize Christ and His power then we aren’t really being the church. Its member’s parts are more connected and loving than physical families of the past which did everything together. They have made a blood oath (covenant) to do everything possible to help each other grow in Christ’s likeness and holiness. They are sacrificially helping each other to defeat sin for the spiritual benefit of all.
Though many Pastors and Seminarians know accurate doctrine the common Christian does not. We are not communicating. Many (or most) have the wrong concept of these basic doctrines. Doctrine isn’t just for leaders. A solid discipleship is commandment for all the believers.