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Archive for March, 2008

CULTURALY RELEVANT 4 THE SAKE OF THE GOSPEL

Posted by Gabriel (G²) on March 25, 2008

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Just writing this to let everyone know of a powerful ministry in the Lord entitled Reach Records  and how they’ve taken the challenge of taking the Gospel of Christ to the STREETS……AND TO DO SO IN EXCELLENCE!!!!! For one investigating them, he or she will notice that hey have started a website calle Before You Die (which is the the gospel tract pictured  above). For a description of the tract and why it was created:

“And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” -Act 4:12 Have you ever wanted a resource to help share the Gospel of Jesus Christ that is relevant to today’s culture?

“Before You Die” is written and designed to speak into the hearts of the urban and hip hop culture who are not followers of Christ. One of the challenges of sharing the gospel with others is presenting it in a culturally relevant way to the listener. This tract was designed to do just that.

By taking the reader through a graphic representation of the gospel with clearly written text, we pray that the Lord will be pleased to use this resource in a way that brings others to Christ and glorifies His name.

Also, a CD is attached in the back of each booklet with a collection of evangelistic songs and testimonies to share with the listener. Each song provides a great foundation to share further the good news of the gospel. Be sure to check out www.readthisbeforeyoudie.com. You can view the whole thing online!

CD Track Listing:
1. Before You Die Intro – Lecrae
2. Cash or Christ – Trip Lee
3. Death Story – Lecrae
4. Good News Intro – Trip Lee
5. Good News – Trip Lee
6. Take Me As I Am Intro – Lecrae
7. Take Me As I Am – Lecrae
8. Grace – JSon
9. The Gospel – Sho Baraka
10. Evolution – Sho Baraka

Again, if ya’ll get the chance, please consider hitting them up sometime and checking them out. Also, if interested, please consider checking out these kats—-

http://www.hazakim.com/index2.html

They seem to be pretty on point…..even had one of the kats from Way of the MASTER give them a shout-out for the way their lyrics were biblically based/meaniful.

 like the Word says, Paul was obviously grieved by that culture because…….but did he dismiss EVERYTHING within the culture as WRONG……rather, DID HE NOT FIND COMMON GROUND?

The Athenians had built an idol to the unknown god for missing blessings or receiving punishment, and Paul’s opening statement to the men of Athens was about their unknown god, whom Paul WAS NOT ENDORSING but simply using the inscription as a point of entry for his witness to the one true God.

For the Athenians were super naturalists who believed in supernatural powers intervening in the course of natural laws….and they at least ACKNOWLEDGED the existence of someone beyond their comprehension who created all that exist. Had Paul not acknowledged where they were correct at, he would’ve never had the opportunity to introduce them to the Creator who could be known by them (Deuteronomy 4:35, Psalm 9:10, John 17:3).

Of course he DID NOT LEAVE HIS MESSAGE UNFINISHED, for Paul eventually moved his message to the PERSON of CHRIST centering on the resurrection (Acts 17:30-31) and the fact that only SAVING FAITH (The COMPLETION OF TOTAL TRUTH) is found in Him. He confronted his audience with not only HIS resurrection/it’s relevance to all people—-whether it is punishment or blessing. And though many Greeks were unbelieving/offended at Paul’s statements (mostly because they had no concept of Judgment, preferred worshipping other gods instead of one, and because he after understanding their reasoning EXPOSED their foolishness in thinking that God could be just an idol, as well as various other things), Paul’s refusal to hold back the truth no matter what they thought of it made the difference in many of them choosing to want more n’ eventually convert (Acts 17:32-34).

But it still must be acknowledged that Paul’s understanding of the need to appeal to the UNIVERSAL and RATIONAL knowledge of the Lord (Romans 1:18-20) and his starting from creation, which is the general revelation of God (Acts 14:15-17) was also a HUGE FACTOR in the process.

WITHOUT A PROPER UNDERSTANDING THAT NOT EVERYTHING WITHIN THE CULTURE HAD TO BE DISMISSED and that COMMON GROUND WAS NOT POSSIBLE, PAUL WOULD’VE BEEN GREATLY HINDERED IN HIS EFFORTS

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19Though I am free and belong to no man, I make myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. 20To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. 21To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. 22To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some. 23I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.

As Paul made clear, there are several important principles for ministry.

  • Find common ground with those you contact.
  • Avoid a know-it-all mentality
  • Make others feel accepted
  • Be SENSITIVE to the needs and concerns of others
  • Look for opportunities to tell them about Christ

These principles are just as valid for us as they were with PAUL, FOR THAT’S APART OF KNOWING HOW TO INTERACT WITH THE CULTURE AROUND US IN WITNESSING ( http://www.bible.org/page.php?page_id=1343 ) ……& SEEING THAT the study of PHILISOPHY is apart of the culture we live in, be curious to see what others thoughts on regarding this, especially seeing that this is ACCURATELY what Paul practiced when he encountered the Greeks

He didn’t begin by reciting Jewish History, as he usually did, for that would’ve been meaningless to the Greeks. Rather, he began with examples they already UNDERSTOOD to begin building a case about God (Acts 17:22-23), GAINED COMMON GROUND by emphazing where they aggreed about God (Acts 17:24-29), & then moved His message to the SIMPLICITY of the RESSURECTION OF CHRIST (Acts 17:30-31)

And even for those saying that Paul was dissilusioned after his experience at MARS HILL with debating/dialouging with the Greeks on their ideas/convincing them LOGICALLY of their FALLACIES , WITH THAT’ being the basis for his words in Corinthians, it’s surprising to me to notice how he CONTINUED in the PRACTICE ON MULTIPLE OCCASIONS AFTERWARD:

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    Now, on the issue of REACH RECORDS TRYING TO DO THE SAME THING,  of course there are many people who’ve done things in the name of Holy Hip Hop that are FLAT OUT WRONG (i.e. gang signs, bumping/grinding, bad terminlogy, etc). Went to a church, for example, where a popular “Holy Hip Hopper” Canton Jones was doing a music concert prior to G.Craig coming on the scene. The entire yyouth group ended up looking like a hard core club scene, but if anyone even said what the man was doing was wrong, many in defense of Holy Hip Hop would not even adresss it. That’s not to diss EVERYONE WITHIN THE MOVEMENT since there are MANY PEOPLE TRULY holding it down for Christ, but the actions of one doing it in EVERYONE’S name give a certain image…..and in all honesty I have not seen many people within Holy Hip Hop speaking out against foolishness done by other Holy Hip Hoppers in the name of it.

On the flip side, there are many OUTSIDE THE MOVEMENT who’ve made many negative stereotypes that have no basis (i.e. all rap is worldly, dance/mceeing is of the devil, etc) and are more based on their own cultural preferences. As a result, they’ve run the danger of broadbrushing EVERYTHING WRONGLY:

 . As we take our morals, values, and goals and purposes to Christ, they’ll inevitably set us apart for Him….and this is especially true since Christ calls us to a higher mission than to find comfort and tranquility in this life and conflict/disaggrement will arise between those who choose to follow Christ as He has revealed Himself snd those who don’t.

Don’t know how clear I can get with this, but for many of those within URBAN Culture, this has been the case. Even at the expense of DISOWNING THEIR OWN FAMILIES, many have counted the cost of preaching CHRIST AND HIM CRUCIFIED (Luke 9:21-62, Luke 14:25-35). For many, it has been nothing short of a NARROW ROAD (i.e. having to be made fun of because they don’t listen to the same music as their old boys from the club,,,or being called “fags” and other deragotory terms for wishing to walk in purity and not go “get some”, or ignored for “wanting to get an education). My friend was highschool was literally the ONLY CHRISTIAN in her HOUSEHOLD…..and it was an EXTREME STRUGGLE for her to choose truth and yet have her own family diss her for her FAITH. Some have even seen family members MURDERED…..yet counted the cost of CHRISTIAN LOVE And chose to LOVE THEIR ENEMIES (Luke 6:27-36, Matthew 5:43-48)

Moreover, as for those with Urban/Street Culture, they’re SEEING A DIFFERENCE. Drug-Dealers are no longer wanting to do DRUGS, Prostitutes are NO LONGER WANTING TO WALK IN PROSTITUTION but honor the LORD WITH THEIR BODIES AND ARE REALIZING THAT THEY’RE PEOPLE MADE IN THE LORD’S IMAGE RATHER THAN PIECIES OF MEAT, AND CHILDREN ARE NOT STILL GROWING UP IN FATHERLESS HOMES….and in the cases of those who did (such as myself), they realize that they have a purpose in CHRIST and not forgotten by the Lord….

 Someone I was dialouging with on the subject once said this:

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If there is no visible difference between the worldly culture and Christianity, how can it be called Christianity?

My response:And what defines “visible difference”? A note? A syncopation? An upbeat tune? Or what defines worship? Or what defines WHAT IT MEANS TO BE “HOLY”??? Or WORLDY (minus I John 2:15-19, which deals moreso with attitudes of the heart—-preoccupation with gratifying physical desires, craving and accumulating things, bowing to the god of materialism, and obsession with status or importance—— as the standard rather than mere externalities of the people we associate with, the places we go, the activities we enjoy_)…

Is the musis causing people to sleep around, not love the Lord or tell others of the salvation found in Him? Or is it causing people to do other crazy things often found in the world like cussing, stealing, etc>

Again, as I’ve said before, when it comes to the issue of drums or urban worship, there are PLENTY OF PEOPLE WHO’VE ACKNOWLEDGED THAT THEY’RE ABLE TO SEE A DIFFERENCE—-from respected theologians such as John Piper to many others within the Hip Hop Culture itself who pay attention and listen to the CONTENT OF WHAT THE MUSICIANS/CHRISTIAN INDIVIDUALS ARE SAYING and how they’re not picking up EVERY ASPECT OF THE CULTURE….BIUT BEING RELEVANT TO THE CULTURE…

The GOSPEL WAS MEANT TO TRANSCEND ALL CULTURES….

If you wish to take the standard that drums are not godly or gloryfying to the Lord (as well as things such as dance, or even other things not mentioned in the word like SPOKEN WORD/POETRY, Rap, etc), then honestly you’re going to again have a bit of trouble on the mission field. You’ve disrespected the people within those cultures where that’s part of their heritage….and regardless of anything said afterward, that’s doesn’t fly.

Perhaps here in the states, but not across the world, WHETHER IN CHURCES IN ASIA, AFRICA, the CARIBBEAN, South America, or other places…….

For example, Acts 21:20-21 IS VERY CLEAR THAT PAUL’S ACTIONS were in principle him becoming a Jew to win the Jews. Read the context. The Jerusalem Council in Acts 15 had previously settled the issue of circumcision of Gentile Believers.

Evidently, Rumor said that Paul had gone far beyond their decision, even forbidding Jews to circumcise their children. This of course was not true…..so Paul willingly submitted to Jewish Custom to show that he was not working against the council’s decision and that he was still JEWISH in his lifestyle. Sometimes, we must go the extra-mile to avoid offending others, especially when doing so would hinder God’s Work…

Again, the text (As well as numerous others) make clear that Paul was simply trying to keep the laws as custom in order to avoid offending those who he wished to reach with the gospel (See Romans 3:21-31, Romans 7:4-6, Romans 13:9-10).

Also, as Acts 21:23-24 shows, it did lead to peace….In paticular, for the men who he went to the temple with…..these four men had made a religious vow. And because Paul was going to participate with them in the vow (apparently, he had been asked to pay some required expenses), he would need to take part in the purification ceremony for entering the temple (Numbers 6:9-20). Paul submitted himself to this Jewish Custom to keep peace in the Jerusalem Church. Although he was a man of strong convictions, he was willing to compromise on non-essential points, becoming all things to all people so that he might save some (I Corinthians 9:19-23)…….this is basically the gift of MUTUAL SUBMISSION for the sake of the GOSPEL,

The reason things did not lead to peace was not due to the men he went to the temple with having an issue, but to the Judaziers./Jews who were activetly spreading FALSE REPORTS about him. That’s what happened with the RIOT….where they followed HIM, lied about Him going against ALL THE LAW and other things:

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<H3>Acts 21:27-31

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Paul Arrested

27When the seven days were nearly over, some Jews from the province of Asia saw Paul at the temple. They stirred up the whole crowd and seized him, 28shouting, “Men of Israel, help us! This is the man who teaches all men everywhere against our people and our law and this place. And besides, he has brought Greeks into the temple area and defiled this holy place.” 29(They had previously seen Trophimus the Ephesian in the city with Paul and assumed that Paul had brought him into the temple area.)

30The whole city was aroused, and the people came running from all directions. Seizing Paul, they dragged him from the temple, and immediately the gates were shut. 31While they were trying to kill him, news reached the commander of the Roman troops that the whole city of Jerusalem was in an uproar

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 To add on to that, this is the reasoning behind Acts 16:1-4, where Paul had Timothy Circumcised. Timothy’s Father was a Greek, & by being both Jew & Gentile, Timothy had access to both cultures—an indispensable asset for MISSIONARY SERVICE. The circumcision was done to aid his acceptance by the Jews & provide full access to the synagouges he would be visiting with Paul & Silas, for the Jews could have assumed that he had renounced his Jewish heritage & had chosen to live as a Gentile………& contrary to what some may think, Paul wasn’t doing this soley to “decieve”/play sides. It was an issue of LOVE.

As I Corinthians 9:19-23 makes clear, Within the Limits of God’s Word & his Christian conscience, Paul was determined to be as culturally and socially Jewish as necessary when witnessing to the Jews (Romans 9:3, Romans 10:1, Romans 11:14). He was not bound to ceremonies & traditions of Judaim….& all legal restraints had been removed, EXCEPT THE CONSTRAINT OF LOVE….Consisdering what would be BEST FOR BRINGING PEOPLE BACK CLOSER TO THE SAVIOR.

Within the bounds of God’s Word, he would not offend the Jew, Gentile, or those weak in understanding. Not changing Scripture or compromising the truth, he would condescend in ways that would lead in Salvation/GROWING IN THE SAVIOR……THE ENTIRE POINT OF CHRISTIAN FREEDOM:

1 Corinthians 10:23-33

The Believer’s Freedom

23″Everything is permissible”—but not everything is beneficial. “Everything is permissible”—but not everything is constructive. 24Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others.

25Eat anything sold in the meat market without raising questions of conscience, 26for, “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it.”[a]

27If some unbeliever invites you to a meal and you want to go, eat whatever is put before you without raising questions of conscience. 28But if anyone says to you, “This has been offered in sacrifice,” then do not eat it, both for the sake of the man who told you and for conscience’ sake[b]— 29the other man’s conscience, I mean, not yours. For why should my freedom be judged by another’s conscience? 30If I take part in the meal with thankfulness, why am I denounced because of something I thank God for?

31So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. 32Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God— 33even as I try to please everybody in every way. For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved.

Romans 14

The Weak and the Strong

1Accept him whose faith is weak, without passing judgment on disputable matters. 2One man’s faith allows him to eat everything, but another man, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables. 3The man who eats everything must not look down on him who does not, and the man who does not eat everything must not condemn the man who does, for God has accepted him. 4Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. And he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand.

5One man considers one day more sacred than another; another man considers every day alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. 6He who regards one day as special, does so to the Lord. He who eats meat, eats to the Lord, for he gives thanks to God; and he who abstains, does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God. 7For none of us lives to himself alone and none of us dies to himself alone. 8If we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.

9For this very reason, Christ died and returned to life so that he might be the Lord of both the dead and the living. 10You, then, why do you judge your brother? Or why do you look down on your brother? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat. 11It is written:

” ‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord,

‘every knee will bow before me;

every tongue will confess to God.’ “[a] 12So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God.

13Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother’s way. 14As one who is in the Lord Jesus, I am fully convinced that no food[b] is unclean in itself. But if anyone regards something as unclean, then for him it is unclean. 15If your brother is distressed because of what you eat, you are no longer acting in love. Do not by your eating destroy your brother for whom Christ died. 16Do not allow what you consider good to be spoken of as evil. 17For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, 18because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and approved by men.

19Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification. 20Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All food is clean, but it is wrong for a man to eat anything that causes someone else to stumble. 21It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother to fall.

22So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the man who does not condemn himself by what he approves. 23But the man who has doubts is condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith; and everything that does not come from faith is sin.

That’s why he had issue with Peter when the Judaizers came to the house of a Gentile & Peter, though he was eating Gentile Foods, backed away from them. The Judaizers already accused Paul of watering down the Gospel to make it easier for Gentiles to accept, while Paul accused the Judaziers fo nullifying the Truth of the Gospel by adding conditions to it. Things came to a climax when Peter, Paul, the Judaizers, and some Gentile Christians all gathered together in Antioch to share a meal. Peter probably thought that by staying away from the Gentiles, as TORAH may’ve required (in my understanding at least), he may’ve been promoting harmony—He did not When they all gathered for a meal…..FOR to eat with the Judaziers, even though Peter had given up all Mosaic ceremony (Acts 10:9-22, Acts 11:1-18), & then decline invitations to eat/fellowship with Gentiles, which he had previously done, meant that Peter was affirming the very dietary restrictions he knew God had abolished (Acts 10:15)…thus STRIKING A BLOW AT THE GOSPEL OF GRACE because he NO LONGER WAS DOING AS HE WAS PREVIOUSLY by MODELING THE IDEAL OF CHRISTIAN LOVE/LIBERTY BETWEEN JEW & GENTILE. …….

Galatians 2:11-21

Paul Opposes Peter

11When Peter came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he was clearly in the wrong. 12Before certain men came from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles. But when they arrived, he began to draw back and separate himself from the Gentiles because he was afraid of those who belonged to the circumcision group. 13The other Jews joined him in his hypocrisy, so that by their hypocrisy even Barnabas was led astray.

14When I saw that they were not acting in line with the truth of the gospel, I said to Peter in front of them all, “You are a Jew, yet you live like a Gentile and not like a Jew. How is it, then, that you force Gentiles to follow Jewish customs?

15″We who are Jews by birth and not ‘Gentile sinners’ 16know that a man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by observing the law, because by observing the law no one will be justified.

17″If, while we seek to be justified in Christ, it becomes evident that we ourselves are sinners, does that mean that Christ promotes sin? Absolutely not! 18If I rebuild what I destroyed, I prove that I am a lawbreaker. 19For through the law I died to the law so that I might live for God. 20I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. 21I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!”[a]

.& again, for study material, http://www.bible.org/topic.php?topic_id=65

 As said best by Bible.org,

In the words of Bible.Org on the subject,

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http://www.bible.org/page.php?page_id=1343

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For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a slave to all, that I might win the more. And to the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might win Jews; to those who are under the law, as under the law, though not being myself under the law, that I might win those who are under the law; to those who are without law, as without law, though not being without the law of God but under the law of Christ, that I might win those who are without law. To the weak, I became weak, that I might win the weak; I have become all things to all men, that I may by all means save some. And I do all things for the sake of the gospel, that I may become a fellow-partaker of it (1 Cor. 9:19-23).

To Paul, as to all of the apostles, the gospel was primary, and culture was secondary. Gentiles did not have to adopt the Jewish culture to be saved for the gospel did not require it. Neither Jews nor Gentiles were compelled to forsake their culture, as long as the gospel was not compromised by it. Whenever the gospel could be promoted by adapting to the culture of another, the preaching of the gospel required such change. In addition to the implications of the gospel which govern culture, culture is also an important consideration because of its impact on the gospel.

The decision of the Jerusalem Council was the watershed of world evangelization in the Book of Acts. Once it was determined that the Jewish culture was not an essential part of the gospel, the gospel was freed from its cultural bonds and seen to be a universal message of salvation to all men. While this was a change that required a total reorientation on the part of Jewish Christians, it was not a change without considerable precedent, in both the Old Testament and the New Testament gospels.

When God created the nation Israel and brought them out of Egypt, He gave them the Mosaic Law in order to provide them with a standard of righteousness, with a promise of redemption, and with a prescription for a culture which would isolate them from the godless paganism of the heathen nations around them. When Israel was outside of the land, it was not possible to live completely under the law for they were not able to offer sacrifices in the prescribed places, nor were they able to isolate themselves from the cultures of their captors.

The first example of this is found in Joseph. When he realized that he would live out his life and die in Egypt, he chose to adopt much of the culture of the Egyptians. Before Joseph stood in Pharaoh’s presence, he shaved (Gen. 41:14), which was culturally very significant. A beard was highly regarded in Israel (cf. 2 Sam. 10:4-5), but in Egypt it was not. Joseph revealed wisdom by adapting to the culture of his day, yet in a way that did not violate any biblical principle. A beard was really a matter of culture, not of creed. By taking the Egyptian’s language, their dress, and even an Egyptian wife (cf. Gen. 41:45), Joseph identified himself with the Egyptians in a way that made his ministry more acceptable, yet without any sacrifice of biblical principle.

Perhaps Daniel is the most striking example of cultural concession in the Old Testament. In Daniel 1 we find the prophet and his three Hebrew friends taken captive to Babylon. We know these men best in terms of what they refused to do. All four refused to partake of the king’s choice food and wine (Dan. 1:8-16), which seemed to be associated with idolatrous worship. (In this case, it would be consistent with the prohibitions of Acts 15:20, 29.) Daniel refused to cease praying (Dan. 6), and his three friends would not bow down to the golden image (Dan. 3). In focusing our attention on what these four men refused to do we sometimes fail to take note of the cultural concession they were willing make. They were submissive to the king’s requirements by becoming educated in the schools of Babylon for three years, and of serving the king as advisors. These men, even in their youth, had the God-given wisdom to discern between what was culturally acceptable and what was not. They were able to faithfully serve God and to be witnesses to Him, even in a pagan land, because they could discern the elements of that culture which were an offense to God. Perhaps they were aware of the words of the prophet Jeremiah:

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Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon, “Build houses and live in them; and plant gardens, and eat their produce. Take wives and become the fathers of sons and daughters, and take wives for your sons and give your daughters to husbands, that they may bear sons and daughters; and multiply there and do not decrease. And seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf; for in its welfare you will have welfare” (Jer. 29:4-7).

Wanted to add into there people like Ester (http://www.google.com/custom?hl=en&s…Esther&spell=1 )….
 

     Also, In one critique, he brought up some excellent points which were found in Driscoll’s book “Reformission” …..

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The goal of Reformission is “to continually unleash the gospel to do its work of reforming dominant cultures and church subcultures” (ibid).

These three forces, gospel, church and culture, form a triangular relationship. Reformission begins with a return to Jesus who saves us by His grace and sends us to be missionaries to our world. Jesus has called us to “(1) the gospel (loving our Lord), (2) the culture (loving our neighbour), and (3) the church (loving our brother)” (ibid). Tragically, Driscoll asserts, one of the main causes of the failure to fulfill our mission has come by being faithful to only one or two of these counts.

Driscoll provides three formulas to show what happens when one of these areas is neglected:

Gospel + Culture – Church = Parachurch

Many Christians become frustrated with the church and abandon it in favor of outside organizations. While these organizations can do a lot of good, they allow people to remain disconnected from the local church. People are connected to unbelievers, but outside of a context where they can introduce these people to the wider church body. This in turns leads to theological immaturity (and I would assert it also leads to a greater possibility of theological error). Further, parachurch organizations are often organized around only one type of person (the poor, youth, etc) so they do not display the diversity of the body of Christ.

Culture + Church – Gospel = Liberalism

Some churches are so concerned with being culturally relevant that they neglect the gospel. These people convert others to the church but not to Jesus. Driscoll says that “This is classic liberal Christianity, and it exists largely in the dying mainline churches” (page 21). Many conservative Christians would also suggest that much of the Emergent church fits into this category, having forsaken the gospel in favor of culture and community. These people run the risk of loving their neighbour at the expense of loving God.

Church + Gospel – Culture = Fundamentalism

Some churches care more for the church, its traditions, buildings and politics than the spread of the gospel. While they know the theology of the gospel they rarely take it to the people. We can wonder whether these people love the lost as much as they love their buildings and traditions.
Driscoll claims that Reformission gathers the best aspects of each of these types of Christianity: “living in the tension of being Christian and churches who are culturally liberal yet theologically conservative and who are driven by the gospel of grace to love their Lord, brothers, and neighbours. This book focuses on issues related to the scriptural content of the gospel and the cultural context of its ministry, and I write out of my sincere love as a pastor for Christians, churches, lost people, and culture” (page 22).

To me, I’m glad Challies gave credit where credit was due instead of throwing out the baby with the bathwater, as Mark Driscoll’s summarization beautifully that summed up the tension from folks on ALL SIDES of the issue…..((http://www.challies.com/archives/art…k-driscoll.php)……

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Posted by Gabriel (G²) on March 13, 2008

If anyone remembers, during 2006 Kirk Cameron hosted TBN’s Praise The Lord program……….and though TBN is known to have some pretty wild characters on there that’ve done GREAT AMOUNTS of damage to the FAITH, the  episode was hosting solid )IMHO) gospel preachers such as  Todd Friel , Paul Washer…..& even Even Ted Tripp, who began preaching the gospel during his talk on proper parentingTo view the Broadcast, one can go here:

View The Broadcast (Low Quality: 56k)

View The Broadcast (Medium Quality: 100k)

View The Broadcast (High Quality: 300k)

when it comes to the station of TBN, the WORD NETWORK, or others where many who are false prophets get their messages out, I’m reminded of a conversation I had once at another site.

The person I was defending had this to say:

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Person 1
Well, I’m actually not a “sheeple” as you rather derisively suggest. I come from a long line of preachers – great-grandmother, both grandfathers, father and mother. Old-line, radical, conservative holiness. I am not real big on the Hollywoodization of Christianity. It seems the trend is to follow the “super-stars” and I think it’s because people tend to think that the more “successful” one is or appears, that must be a “sign” that they are closer to God. I think it’s a rather sad commentary on our society at large. We tend to place more faith in the “stars” than we do in God.

However, I think people like Mr. DAVE (NOTE: EDITED FOR PROTECTION PURPOSES) straddle a very fine line in calling out those he disagrees with. For one thing, we know that God uses all sorts of people to spread his message. Over and over again in the scriptures, we see God flowing through people that we might find objectionable today. Heck, in the book of Numbers God spoke through a donkey in an attempt to get the attention of Balaam. To say that God isn’t using people like Jakes or Osteen because we may disagree with their message, or think it isn’t “deep” enough is truly a way of limiting, or boxing in, God. My grandparents were saved in a tent revival held by Oral Roberts.

My great-grandmother labored under an intense burden for their savlation, reminding God that it was his will that “none” should perish. He chose to use a man who I would call questionable, at best. How many others have a similar testimony?

I personally believe that we should be good stewards of God’s money. Perhaps because I was raised in a parsonage, I hold that especially true. But, I don’t, or can’t, begrudge those who feel they are called to build these incredible edifaces. Look at what God asked of David when building the temple. Look at the ornateness of it.

Truly spectacular. Does ostentation offend God? I don’t particularly think so, otherwise God would have had David collect huge taxes and distribute it all to the poor.

Perhaps I was overly harsh in my assessment of Mr. BOB. At the same time, one can’t help but feel that the author is more interested in pointing out people God “certainly can’t be using.” One can think they are better than others, or deeper spiritually, because they’ve got wealth and that must be a sign of God. On the other hand, one can just as easily become prideful because they aren’t like the charletans who have their hands in people’s pockets in the name of God. Like I said, it’s a fine line.

I grew up in a denomination where the leaders have spiritually abused their people into submission by hanging their hat on the scriptured “touch not God’s annointed.” I’ve seen it used in other Denominations as well. And, without fail, it has been used totally out of context and incorrectly. I don’t believe that our leaders should be above criticism simply because they claim the mantle of Bishop or Apostle or Grandpoobah!

Our salvation comes through the shed Blood of Jesus Christ and Christ alone. It is His unmerited favor! That is simply amazing! And even more amazing is that it is offered to all, freely (and simply)! It isn’t about what we can get from God (give wyz and you’ll get wxy-squared). I do believe there are many out there who are selling pie-in-the-sky salvation! I don’t subscribe to it because I don’t believe one can find Biblical support for such a “doctrine.”

Most of us come to Christ ignorant! My grandmother, who is a saint only recently retiring at the age of 80 after serving her denomination in various posts, most recently as a missionary overseas, recently told me that she is still learning, still plumbing the depths of Christ and His love. We will absolutely NOT arrive until we’ve arrived at Heaven’s gate. The deal is, satan will use whatever tactic he can to get us into the ditch. Our ONLY hope is to stay in the Word! I firmly believe that satan can and has used our focus on others to sidetrack us from our true calling.

Instead of focusing on sharing the good news that Jesus Christ came to seek and save the lost, we’ve become more focused on what Bishop so-n-so is doing over at his place and how he is “dead wrong” and the people following him are ignorant simpletons. Here’s where it becomes tricky for me (hence the name Wondering) – How do we address those who teach a “lessor way” without becoming puffed up in our own spirituality? Because, when we start calling others who are seeking God “sheeple” and other names, we’ve effectively set ourselves up as some kind of superior super-saint. But real quickly it starts to sound like Phariseeism (I thank God I’m not like…).

In a recent sermon, my mother said “keep your eyes on Jesus because people will let you down everytime!” It’s true!! None of us have arrived! I think we do a disservice to God when we say that He MUST do something a certain way.

We effectively place limits on Him by saying that He won’t work through certain people rather He is hobbled by them and somehow, almost impotently, He gets the job done in spite of them. I can’t agree with that! What kind of God do you serve? He is able to do above and beyond anything we can even imagine. Top that off with the fact that we cannot fully understand the workings of God (his ways are above and beyond our own). He doesn’t need me to be his defender! He needs me to be his fisherman! Isn’t that what He’s called us all to do?

Commenting on the person’s comments, I said:

Quote:

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Double-G (G²)

When Paul was in prison and knew of how some were preaching to build their own reputations, taking advantage of his imprisonment to make themselves look good…, regardless of the motives of these preachers, Paul rejoiced that the Gospel was being Preached….and like him, we too should be glad if God uses their message in some kind of capacity to help other (Philippians 2:15-18)

Though of course, that doesn’t mean that we should condone/excuse their motives OR avoid addressing the ERROR they promote…..
JMO…….

Used to be heavy into TBN (and much of the error from WOF that it promotes HEAVILY)…..

However, though I was being trained in a MYRIAD of FALSE TEACHINGS, I cannot help but admit I learned of the basic components of the Christian Faith there….and though God in time made me aware of their errors, it did seem to be that He Sovereignly WORKED THROUGH TBN to help me where I was at

And it does seem that God uses even the activities of the wicked to fulfill his good purposes

Quote:
Proverbs 16:4
The LORD works out everything for his own ends— even the wicked for a day of disaster.

Another

), later in the discussion came in and added his 2 cents. He responded to me in saying this:

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Person 2

Ah yes DG, but the rub is this………..Paul was content because regardless of motivation the GOSPEL was being preached.

I contend that the Gospel is NOT being preached by the pimps unless decisional regeneration is true, or that Jesus redeemed us from our sins not on the Cross but while being tortured in hell by satan, or that we have authority greater than God’s in the earth, or that God cannot move unless we allow Him, or that the favor of God is brought about by money, or that the Gospel promises us all health and wealth, etc, etc, ad infinitum.
Paul wept for the false teachers coming to devour the flock. He didn’t say,”Well, God can use them anyway. The Gospel is being preached.” He only said that when the TRUE Gospel was being preached, but by those with wrong motives.

When the wolves were being addressed, because the Gospel they preached would be corrupted, he wept and warned through those tears because a false Gospel is a Gospel powerless to save.

Paul knew the Gospel did the work in the heart of man, so the motive of the minister was not the key (nor could it strip the Word of its power). As long as the GENUINE Gospel was being offered, Paul was content.

TBN is populated largely by the sort of wolves Paul wept over and warned against. I’ll never be convinced that Paul would have turned on TBN and said “Ah well, their motives stink but the Gospel is being preached” when what is preached there directly contradicts the Gospel Paul offered.
The fact that God had Mercy upon us by opening our eyes DESPITE TBN is Grace in its purest form.

I then responded in kind by saying this:

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Double-G (G²)

Good points, Brah. I concur…..

Personally, though, I still have some wrestlings on the issue……

Regarding the GOOD ones on there—-like Greg Laurie, Dr. James Kennedy, David Jeremiah, Kirk Cameron and” Way of the Master” or various others—-the messages they preached were truly in line with the Word ………and though I question their motives since they share platforms with the wolves to broadcast their message, that which they preached was GENUINE enough for God to work with.

Even regarding false teachers, there’re many BIBLICAL things they’ve taught that truly helped me in my relationship with Christ when I once supported them …

And if a sorcerer like Balaam was available for God’s use in proclaiming truth/blessing over the Israelites—that is, as much as He used wicked Pharaoh to accomplish His will in Egypt (Exodus 10:1), surely He could do the same with a WOLF to some degree (Proverbs 16:4, John 11:45-51)

That, however, doesn’t imply neglecting the NEED FOR THEM TO BE TAKEN OUT (and I hope you still plan on “skewering” them, lol)

[/quote]

Moving foward, the person then responded by saying this in return:

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Person 2:

I don’t know DG……..I used to get upset about folks like Kennedy and others being on the TBN airwaves too. And, I certainly DO NOT think they should be involved in the Beg-A-Thons. But at least their presence there affords the opportunity for someone to hear the ACTUAL Gospel amidst that mess. I see both sides of the issue (Come out from among them), but I lean towards thinking you can be present there and not be spiritually “among them.”

Interesting to think about anyway.

After hearing my brother say this, it made me really think about some things and I said this in REPLY:

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Double-G (G²)

Good points, Brah….

Thankfully there presence allows TRUE Gospel to be preached…..though it may also be apart of another strategy by the wolves
Used to think Crouch’s allowance of good doctrine being preached validated all of the Errors he did, as if the TRUE GOSPEL was in league with Crouches’ version…..& this was furthered whenever Crouch proclaimed he supported them & that they paid for his platform.

Same thing’s seen in ORGANIZED CRIME when they’re trying to SECRETLY fund their operations and promote devilish ways with legitimate “front companies” AND enough plausible cause to bring doubt upon ANY SUSPICIONS one might have (go to Wikipedia and the definition should be there in case I’m using it wrongly ) …..Except TBN simply “spiritualizes” it….
(Romans 16:16-18, II Peter 2:1-3, Jude 1:4)
JMO…..

That all stated, WHAT DO YA’LL THINK? Does anyone feel that TBN should be supported since it allows MANY SOLID/GOOD TEACHERS on there to brodcast their message, despite all of the erroneous teachings that are promoted there by others? And that as long as there is DISCERNMENT in knowing/teaching others how to recognize RIGHT FROM WRONG, THEN IT’S ALL GOOD?

Does it aid the Gospel OR Hinder it in allowing TBN to brodcast GOOD DOCTRINE alongside so much of it which is EVIL?

And moreover, DOES IT AID FALSE TEACHERS in ALLOWING GOOD DOCTRINE TO BE PREACHED by OTHERS ALONGSIDE INTENTIONAL ERROR they PROMOTE if they’re USING THE SAME PLATFORM?

Love to hear FEEDBACK…….

__________________

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CONSENSUS GOVERNING: A study on what the Bible says about Church Leadership

Posted by Gabriel (G²) on March 13, 2008

  The Following Article is on the issue of Church Leadership and how leadership in the church has been run, in light of how many times church has become akin to a CEO type of leadership & the body of believers is not allowed to fellowship in the decision making process.

 I’m down on the points of much leadership in the church today being more akin to what happened before the Reformation

  • where salvation/one’s relationship to God is always filtered through the leader and one’s accused of not being able to study/know the Word for themselves apart from what the leaders say[/SIZE]

  • [It was never supposed to be something where people “lord it over others”/position becomes the goal……[/SIZE]

  • [That many of the things regarding “institutional churches” today may be off (i.e. programs, buildings, only the leadership having a say in the affairs of a church and those below them being ignored, etc). [/SIZE]

. ”    Whenever it comes to the Biblical Principle of Submission,   many Christians have had a bad experience with churches where people took Sciptures such as Hebrews 13 and others in a manner akin to DOMINEERING others…..and hearing the phrase “I have to OBEY someone/submit to their leadership”, “Sheep can’t lead shepherds”, or as another once said “Mutual Submission regarding Pastors/individuals is not the same as a novice having the right to command a pastor like a child trying to tell his daddy what to do”…….) has burned them……..and the entire issue with OBEY AUTHORITY many pastors have may be misconstrued. If some of the concepts were more clarified on both sides, it may help out much next time…”

      In case I’m not making sense, Here are some of ideas/articles explaining moreso what I’m talking about that may illustrate what I mean (many of which offer solild rebuttals and offer what I believe to be a balanced view on the issue….and moreover, illustrate where I personally stand on the issue….paticularly, those from ” NTRF: Reforming Today with NT Practices”):

If nothing else, CONSIDER CHECKING THESE OUT:

http://www.ntrf.org/articles/article_detail.php?PRKey=13 (On CONSENSUS GOVERNING by ELDERS amd who makes the FINAL DECISIONS in a CHURCH FELLOWSHIP)

http://www.ntrf.org/articles/article_detail.php?PRKey=2 (On the Issue of LEADERSHIP and whether or not HEIRARCHY is EVEN INVOLVED, like the process of a CEO)

http://www.ntrf.org/articles/article_detail.php?PRKey=3 (On the Issue of AUTHORITY and how much of it NT ELDERS HAVE IN THE CHURCH)

http://www.ntrf.org/articles/article_detail.php?PRKey=12 (On the issue of PAUL PREACHING—-WHICH Is probably where many are trying to come from when he or she may say they didn’t feel that he needed a pastor and that church no longer had anything to offer him if it was a  matter of one man training him since it was never meant to BE LIKE THAT and what we see nowadays is a false presentation of how church was supposed to Operate, IMHO)

Other Links (if interested/having time to investigate) On the issue of CHURCH GOVERNMENT, the Role of  Leadership (i.e. Pastors, Leaders, Elders, etc):

http://www.studiesintheword.org/church_government.htm

http://www.shepherdserve.org/dmm/dmm_03.htm

http://www.housechurch.ca/resources2/77_Leadership_in_the_Local_House_Church_Rad_Zdero.pdf

http://www.inplainsite.org/html/new_testament_church.html

 (Specifically, in this site please consider checking out the ones entitled “, True Leadership and Authority, “& ESPECIALLY the one on The Church Without Laity. The second one brought up many excellent points regarding what is seen in many churches today and how off it is. As an excerpt:   “According to the New Testament, however, the plurality of men who were appointed elders/bishops/pastors in local churches of Christ did not exercise their oversight “as being lords over” those who had been entrusted to them, but as “examples to the flock”(1 Peter 5:3). In the chart below, one can see the erroneous view of the church as developed by man contrasted with the New Testament view.”
 

Laity-1 Laity-2


“Looking at this chart, it is easy to see the stark difference between what God ordained and what man ultimately created. Elders/bishops/pastors, although they are entrusted with the oversight of the local church, are not something other than or more than their fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. Accordingly, they exercise their oversight not as “lords,” but as “examples” of what pure, unadulterated Christianity is all about.”

The next one’s pretty informative as well on the issue:

The Multiple Pastor Model

Objections to the Multiple Pastor Model

Deaconship

Authority in the Church

Leadership and Ordination

        On the issue of Participatory/INTERACTIVE Meetings:

Interactive Meetings

Is Attending Church A Spectator Event?,

http://www.solidrock.net/library/anderson/essays/discovering.participatory.church.meetings.php

http://www.ukapologetics.net/7demochurch.html (This one’s especially good seeing that it in paticular deals with the issue of how churches CANNOT be set up like DEMOCRACIES   WHERE everyone has an equal vote on EVERY DECISION due to how some–either refusing to attend a church of some sort with elders/pastors or  within the house church movement— are seeing ‘the priesthood of all believers’ as a teaching which effectively bars the presence of an elder or a pastor)

  

  

  http://www.ntrf.org/articles/article_detail.php?PRKey=13

  

Consensus Governing

by Steve Atkerson

Unanimous 

Single pastor rule, government by elders, majority vote, or consensus governing? What do we find in the New Testament?

Why do you suppose that Jesus choose the word church to describe His followers? “Church” is the English translation of the original Greek term ekklesia. Outside the context of the New Testament, ekklesia was a secular word that carried strong political connotations. There were other Greek words Jesus could have used to describe His followers and their gatherings, words that carried religious and nonpolitical connotations. As we will see, one of the reasons He chose the word ekklesia to describe His followers is because He wanted them to make corporate decisions that affected all of them as a group. How did Jesus intend for the church to be governed? Let’s begin by looking more closely at how the true meaning of the modern word church has been all but lost.

The Modern Church And The Ancient Ekklesia

According to Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary, the word church can be used to refer, among other things, to either a meeting of God’s people or to the special building in which they meet. In contrast, the Greek word ekklesia never refers to a building or place of worship, and it can refer to much more than just a meeting, assembly, or gathering! Our understanding of God’s church will be much impoverished if we fail to factor in the dynamics of the original Greek word used by Jesus. In fact, there is so much emphasis today on the separation of church and state, that when people think of the word church, the last thought that comes to mind is one of a senate, parliament, politburo, or political government. And yet, such was the meaning of ekklesia.

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What is the GOSPEL??? Answers from Reformed Evangelist

Posted by Gabriel (G²) on March 12, 2008

Just wanted to give a shout-out to to new sites I discovered and that I think might be beneficial to many.

The First One is “REFORMED EVANGELIST”, which is a site I’m still investigating but that I think would be good for everyone to please consider. This has literally become one of my newest FAVORITE sites to visit, especially seeing the LACK OF EVANGELISM that takes place nowadays in many Reformed Circles as opposed to  THEOLOGICAL DISCUSSIONS ON THE BLOGSPHERE ALONE.

If anyone’s ever heard of the statement that “CALVINIST BELIEVE IN PREDESTINATION AND THEREFORE HAVE NO PURPOSE EVANGELISING or probably don’t believe in it,!!!!!,  then I’d HIGHLY SUGGEST ya’ll hit them up.

In their Words, ”

The Reformed Evangelist blog launched in July of 2006 with a group of theologically reformed evangelists who desired to join the discussion of reformation theology that already existed in the blogosphere, share witnessing encounters and matters of practical evangelism, and affirm that Calvinists make good evangelists (afterall, we’re living proof).

We’ve taught evangelism courses in local churches and preached in church pulpits. Most importantly we share our faith with many people we come in contact with in our daily lives such as mormons, muslims, athiests, satanists, evolutionists, false converts, little old ladies, grocery clerks, waitresses, punk rockers, skateboarders, intellectuals, homosexuals… and all sorts of others. And we’ve never had to compromise the message of the gospel to share our faith.We affirm that salvation is by sola fide–through faith alone; sola gratia – by grace alone; solus Christus – in Christ alone; sola scriptura – according to the Scriptures alone; soli Deo gloria – to the glory of God alone (Rom. 3:21-26; Rom. 10:9-10; Luke 24:46-49). This is the only good news; the narrow way that leads to eternal life. Anything less, no matter how sincere, is just a cheap substitute. When the souls of people are at stake, may we not speak with timidity, uncertainty, or unbiblically. But let us speak the truth in love (Eph. 4:11-16); always ready to give a reason for the hope that is within us (1 Peter 3:15-16). ”

         For anyone interested in checking out a couple of their articles and videos of them witnessing, go here:

Mahaney on “Reformed AND Charismatic”

Benny Hinn Outreach

http://www.paulkaiser.net/audiosgnn.htm

Campus Outreach – Sacramento State University!

VIDEO: Gay Man Responds When Confronted With Romans 1 VIDEO:”Who Is Wrong? Logically They Can’t All Be Right!”  And here are some of the resources they offer on their page regarding WITNESSING (which in my opinion in a GOLDMINE, with everything from E-BOOKS to ARTICLES and MORE…and here are a couple to investigate):

God’s Wonderful Plan by WOTM TelevisionThe Firefighter by WOTM TelevisionPractice What You Preach by WOTM TelevisionTrue And False Conversion by Ray ComfortWhat Did Jesus Do? by WOTM TelevisionHell’s Best Kept Secret by Ray ComfortOne thing you can’t do in Heaven by Mark Cahill: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3Who is Mark Cahill?Here’s something I think everyone should check out from their webpage:

http://reformedevangelist.com/

The Glory Tour Revisited: What Is The Gospel?

Paul Kaiser March 4th, 2008

What Is The Gospel?

Now you may be asking yourself, “Paul are we discussing the “Glory Tour and What Is The Gospel Again”? The answer would be yes, but hey we’ve never addressed the topics in the same post before.

Actually, as of late there has been the rise of discussion in regards to “should I persist in seeking to get my church to evangelize?”,”should I be concerned if my Pastor doesn’t embrace the WOTM method, and “should I consider leaving a chruch that isn’t on fire for evangelism?” So in light of that I think that it is time we cross this bridge once again.

There seems to be this mentality among our circles (Street Evangelists) to have a bent towards thinking that all Christians should be street preachers, and that all churches should be using our methods. I would disagree… Now don’t get me wrong – I believe that all Christians should have a personal witness and that all churches should be evangelistic in their ministry, especially their pulpit ministry.

With that said, I don’t believe that evangelism is a method but rather it is a message and that message is the Gospel. As believers our primary goal is to have a clear understanding of what the Gospel is and how we convey that message to others. Yet even in our circles there is some discussion as to what it entails:

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Together for What? Learning how to have UNITY OF THE BRETHREN and DOCRTINAL PURITY SIMULATANEOUSLY

Posted by Gabriel (G²) on March 10, 2008

The Following Article is by Brother Mark Denver (associated with http://www.9marks.org/ , & a wonderful ministry called TOGETHER FOR THE GOSPEL, in which men and women of ALL DENOMINATIONS come together despite their differences in order to proclaim the CENTRALITY OF THE GOSPEL and KEEP THE MAIN THING THE MAIN THING, http://www.t4g.org/ )

He’s a passionate man of God seeking to proclaim the UNITY OF THE BRETHREN AT ALL TIMES. In this articles, Denver discusses two kinds of individuals. Those who desire Doctrinal Unity and those who Desire Purity…..and the dangers of what happens when we settle for either or (i.e.” We just have to have PURE DOCTRINE ONLY!!! That’s IT!!!…..or “WE ALL JUST NEED TO GET ALONG!!!”)

Pray everyone enjoys:

Together for What?


By Mark Dever


College freshman Bob becomes convinced of the doctrine of election and has a burning desire to convince everyone else. He’s in the early “cage stage” of Calvinism.

Imagine his conversations with his friends, in his campus fellowship, in his church.

Everything becomes an illustration of God’s sovereignty. It’s all he wants to talk about. And if you disagree with Bob, watch out!

The question for you and me is, when we teach others the truth, do we do it with condescending pride and arrogance—we know something they don’t? Or do we teach with the humility of one beggar sharing his bread with another?

Compromise is bad. Cooperation is good. But how do you tell the difference? What are the primary doctrinal positions for which we need to contend, and what are the secondary doctrinal positions about which we can disagree with charity and love?

I’d like to consider how we can encourage each other to hold the truth with humility by setting out six questions:

  1. Do we follow commands to purify or to unite?
  2. What are some common fights Christians have?
  3. What’s the specific purpose for cooperating?
  4. What must Christians agree upon? (Essentials)
  5. What may Christians disagree about? (Non-essentials)
  6. How can Christians disagree well?

1. DO WE FOLLOW COMMANDS TO PURIFY OR TO UNITE?

First, do we follow commands to purify or to unite?

The Basic Problem

I trust most Christians recognize the problem confronting us: We live in a fallen world, where the truth will not always find a home. What’s true is not necessarily the same as what’s popular.

As D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones said, “There have been periods in history when the preservation of the very life of the Church depended upon the capacity and readiness of certain great leaders to differentiate truth from error and boldly to hold fast to the good and to reject the false. But our generation does not like anything of the kind. It is against any clear and precise demarcation of truth and error” (ital mine; from Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Maintaining the Evangelical Faith Today (1952), 4-5).

We shouldn’t be surprised at times such as ours, when people oppose distinguishing truth from error. In Paul’s last letter, he warns, “the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths” (2 Tim. 4:3-4).

Was Paul simply paranoid—overly focused on ideas of truth? I don’t think so. The Lord Jesus teaches us to be on our guard. It was he who taught, “False christs and false prophets will appear and perform signs and miracles to deceive the elect—if that were possible. So be on your guard” (Mark 13:22-23).

How do we be on our guard? We must admit that we all tend to be either too inclusive (thus slighting God’s call to purity and undervaluing his truth) or too exclusive (thus slighting the width of God’s love and the amazing examples of his work).

Do you see how this happens? By pitting God’s Word against itself; by playing off one aspect of God’s character against another—say, his holiness against his love—we actually confuse ourselves and harm others. What we should do, instead, is grow in our knowledge of God’s Word and our own hearts. Then we will be more attuned to his truth as he has revealed it—both his call for holiness and for love.

Truth and humility shouldn’t be enemies. The fact is, they’re great friends, and truly growing in one should lead to growth in the other.

Too often, however, we find ourselves becoming a caricature of our tendencies. We either become a unity person or a purity person.

The Unity People

The unity people love Bible chapters like John 17. They perceive clearly that our unity with one another testifies to our unity with God in Christ, and that our love for one another shows God’s love for us (as Jesus taught in John 13:34-35). They love the love passages in the Bible:

  • “Make my joy complete by being like-minded” (Phil. 2:2);
  • “agree with each other in the Lord” (Phil. 4:2);
  • “all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought” (1 Cor. 1:10);
  • “My purpose is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love” (Col. 2:2).

There have been many unity movements among professing Christians in the last few decades. There is old-line liberal ecumenism—”let’s bring all the denominations together.” There are the parachurch ministries which rally people from different churches to share the gospel—from Billy Graham to Campus Crusade. There is the charismatic movement, which has helped to create fellowship across old church divides. More recently there has been what we could call Great Traditionalism, which relies on an “oldest-common-denominator.” You see this in the current fad among some evangelicals to use methods and objects associated with Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy as aids to piety.

The popular T-shirts among the unity crowd say things like “Doctrine divides” or “Love unites” or “Mission unites.” It was from this camp that one bishop came who, not too long ago, said, “Heresy is better than schism.” These doctrinal minimalists want “No creed but Christ; no law but love.”

The Purity People

The opposite of the unity people are the purity people. They want purity of doctrine and purity of life. They want purity in our churches, in our Christian colleges, and in our seminaries.

These people take the Bible’s command to separate seriously. They know 2 John well: “If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not take him into your house [church] or welcome him. Anyone who welcomes him shares in his wicked work” (vv. 10-11).

Or John’s warning from his first letter: “Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world” (4:1).

And then there is Paul’s warnings: “keep away from every brother who is idle and does not live according to the teaching you received from us” (2 Thes. 3:6).

And “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? . . . ‘Therefore come out from them and be separate, says the Lord’” (2 Cor. 6:14, 17).

Add to these all the passages on church discipline (e.g. 1 Cor 5.) as well as Jude’s command, “contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints” (Jude 3).

The folks contending for the faith are the Fundamentalists and conservative Mennonites among us. These brothers and sisters will contend more quickly than they cooperate.

If you’re tempted to quote Jesus in Matthew 7:1 to such contenders—”Do not judge, or you too will be judged”you should look a little further down the same page at verse 15 of the same chapter, where Jesus taught “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves” (7:15). And, of course, it’s Jesus in Matthew 18 who commands the church to eject unrepentant sinners from its fellowship!

The purity people seem to have a prophetic ministry of correction, just like the Puritans are stereotyped as having. Maybe their shoes were too tight. That made them grouchy. Their approach to everything can feel like, “Shoot first; ask questions later.”

As we consider the unity people and the purity people together, the question we want to ask ourselves is, how do we take the best of both? The biblical desire for unity and cooperation as well as the biblical desire for truth and holiness?

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