Tuesday, November 03, 2009

I need a Hammer and a Nail

Martin Luther wrote his 95 Thesis in 1517 which ignited the Reformation.
It seems as if we need a Second Reformation, especially in America and anywhere American churches have influence around the world.

But, I don't know how or which door to nail a Thesis to, and I'm not saying that I'm the one smart enough to do it, but Luther also believed that a "plow-boy" with the Word of God in his language was more powerful than any Pope.

So, here is just a taste of what we are up against.

As I write this I am in turmoil over the things that I see going on in the church. I wonder how far from the Gospel the church will go and use marketing "schemes" and demographics to determine how to lure people into the church and move to a "seeker sensitive" worship service.

Many churches have a disdain for any kind of tradition, without even understanding why the tradition was brought about in the first place. A simple example is, the removal of the pulpit which has been replaced by a bar/ pub table.
Also, when ever they talk about evangelism and "sharing the Gospel" it has come to a whole new meaning. It is now sharing your "personal testimony" or "your story."

Ironically, The only person I see sharing their story in the Bible is Paul in Romans leading up to these words that sum up his testimony 7:24-25.

24Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from(AC) this body of death? 25Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.

I'm not sure this is a testimony that most people have in mind. Usually, what people mean is they will tell their before and after story. But, you can have this same story from any religion, or even from a 12 step program, or from meeting a beautiful girl and end up getting married. You'll have a wonderful experience and a story, and it may very well be true to you. But, it does not tell of what Christ has done, it takes the focus off of Christ and puts it on the individual person.

If Satan can figure out a way to get us away from telling Christ's story especially in a subtle way, then he has accomplished his task.
I'll just get them to focus on themselves, that always works
And he has been doing this since the beginning.
This kind of direction, and focus by the church would be called worldliness.
If you want to see what kind of churches are doing this, here are a couple examples

NewSpring Church

Real Life Chruch

The messages are claimed to be "relevant" and "practical" and the emphasis is on how you can apply these things to your daily life. The doctrines and creeds, and confessions have been pushed aside.
The excuse or the reason of, "We need to be about deeds not creeds" as if we have over-done-it with the creeds and the head knowledge and now we need to do something.
However, it has always been the doctrines, and the creeds (oh no traditions, yuk!) that point to the foundation of our faith which is the person and works of Jesus Christ. The only true motivation there is for us in life is the motivation which comes from knowing what Jesus Christ has already done for us. If we are to be the evangelists presenting an evangelistic message, then why would we do everything else but share the Gospel? Here is the Gospel message as Paul describes in 1 Corinthians 15

1 Corinthians 15 The Resurrection of Christ

1Now I would remind you, brothers,[a] of the gospel(A) I preached to you, which you received,(B) in which you stand, 2and by which(C) you are being saved, if you(D) hold fast to the word I preached to you—(E) unless you believed in vain.

3For(F) I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died(G) for our sins(H) in accordance with the Scriptures, 4that he was buried, that he was raised(I) on the third day(J) in accordance with the Scriptures, 5and that(K) he appeared to Cephas, then(L) to the twelve. 6Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. 7Then he appeared to(M) James, then(N) to all the apostles. 8Last of all, as to one untimely born,(O) he appeared also to me. 9For(P) I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle, because(Q) I persecuted the church of God. 10But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary,(R) I worked harder than any of them,(S) though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me. 11Whether then it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed.

The worship service is not a place for evangelism, it is for the delivering of God's word to edify the saints. It is God speaking through the message preached to remind us of what He has already done for us through His Son Jesus Christ. And it has become apparent we are being swayed and deceived by smooth talkers and flatterers. Lets see what Paul says about that and these tactics that distract us from the Gospel.

Romans 16:
Final Instructions and Greetings
17I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles(I) contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught;(J) avoid them. 18For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but(K) their own appetites,[f] and(L) by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive. 19For(M) your obedience is known to all, so that I rejoice over you, but I want you(N) to be wise as to what is good and innocent as to what is evil. 20(O) The God of peace(P) will soon crush Satan under your feet.(Q) The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.

In closing here is what Martin Luther said at his trial, as he had written against the smooth talk and flattery of a huge empire that answered to nobody but itself.

Martin Luther "(reply to the Diet of Worms) Since your majesty and your lordships desire a simple reply, I will answer without horns or teeth. Unless I am convinced by Scripture and by plain reason (I do not believe in the authority of either popes or councils by themselves, for it is plain that they have often erred and contradicted each other) in those Scriptures that I have presented, for my conscience is captive to the Word of God, I cannot and I will not recant anything, for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. Here I stand; I can do no other. God help me. Amen." Martin Luther

And here I stand... I also can do no other.
God help me.

I have removed the parts that may have been deemed offensive to those who have read them and I'm truly sorry for the harshness in my tone and manner. I do believe graciousness should always be the manner in which we challenge each other. Even if you know for certain you have the right view or position. We all have a lot to learn.

It is for the sake of the Gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ that these things must be dealt with and not sit silently by. These are not superficial, or secondary issues, or about preferences, traditions, or even about being relevant or about methods. It is about being faithful to Jesus Christ and His message. It is all about Him and anything outside of that ought not be done, at least not by the church.

The church will never die. Even if we never evangelized, the church would somehow continue to grow. Jesus said He will build His church, and that's exactly what will happen. But, we of course will go and evangelize because we are grateful for what Christ has done for us.

Grace and Peace,
Coram Deo!!!

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