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Comments

Tim

Just trust Christ and we will be saved? It's not that simple. We must have faith: true. But don't forget that we must also surrender every area of our lives to him. Jesus said, "Whoever does not deny himself and follow me can not be my disciple." Complete obedience to Christ is required to stay in his benefits.

Val

Tim,

You need to do a bit of research here.

1. The greek word for faith is pistis. It means to trust. Faith and trust are Biblical Synonyms.

2. Yes salvation is THAT simple. When you add 'surrender' as a requirement for salvation and 'complete obedience' as a requirement for salvation THAT YOU MUST ATTAIN you cut yourself off from being saved by turning the gospel into the law. This is what Paul condemned in the book of Galatians. Go back and re-read it.

Unless you are prepared to defend the proposition that YOU have completely surrendered and are completely obedient to Christ then you might want to back out of this line of reasoning.

Scripture tells us that Jesus Christ was perfectly obedient FOR YOU and perfectly surrendered FOR YOU.

If you mix the law with grace you've overthrown the gospel that teaches us it is by grace alone through faith alone.

Good luck on your salvation. You'll need it because you already don't meet the standard that you are defending and therefore should be judged according to that standard.

Joe

See Val,
We were going to agree wholeheartedly and then you went and had to be sarcastic! :)

Val

Joe,

I'm sorry that you thought I was being sarcastic. I truly wasn't trying to be.

I was deadly serious when I said 'good luck'.

I think Chris makes a good point when he says that Rosebladt knew that he was terrified by the law and needed the gospel.

I think the flip side is that those who think they are fulfilling the law or are saved by keeping it need the 'heat turned up' regarding the law. They need to feel its terror and experience their inability to keep it and feel God's wrath breathing down their necks.

Jesus himself did this to the jews listening to him during the sermon on the mount when he redefined adultery to include lustful thoughts.

Kelly

This is incidentally what bugs me about the modern so-called "sinner's prayer," when it takes the form of believing that we get in the door of salvation (at least in part) by completely surrendering our lives to God. Heck, if we could do that we wouldn't need Jesus at all. It's a simple, but perhaps sometimes subtle, form of salvation by works. Complete obedience, perfect surrender... who among us is perfectly living that reality? And who really wants that as assurance of their salvation? I'd rather have Christ. (The song "I Surrender All" annoys me too, for the same reason. As Val says, the heat of the law needs to be turned up for us if we're genuinely convinced that we're doing everything that we boast we're doing in that song.)

Steve

There is only one sinner's prayer and that is "Lord have mercy on me a sinner". Our entire salvation, including our ability to accept what Christ was done for me is only by the power of the Holy Spirit and it is a gift of God.

Most "Evanglical" Christians are very much like those in the Roman Chruch in that they cannot accept the fact that our salvation is 100% God and 0% us. Both have adopted a semi-pelagian view of salvation. If one reads of the Roman's chruch to the Reformation view of salvation, it is the that many "Evanglical" Christians also have. Salvation isn't really free.

tim

Well, it isn't I, but Jesus who said we must completely deny ourselves to be his followers. Take it up with him.

Steve

Tim,

I guess NO ONE can meet this standard that Jesus set out for us. That is why he died for my sins and what I can take on his rightousness.

Have you completely denied yourself? Are you perfer as your Father in heaven is perfect? No. What is why salvation is not dependent on anything that I do.

Tim

Tim,

Take some time to read the Bible and learn how to read it properly.

The verse that you are quoting cannot and does not nullify the multitude of clear passages that tell us salvation is a free gift, that it is not by works, that it is by grace through faith alone.

Therefore, we have a few choices to work with here.

1. You are mis-interpreting the passage and making it say that salvation is not a free gift.

2. The Bible contradicts itself and cannot be trusted.

Which is it?

tim

Well, one way to reconcile what you and Jesus are saying is this:

Initial salvation is a free gift, by faith.

However, one you're saved, you MUST deny yourselve, surrender all, etc. or you'll lose your right to being his disciple (that is, salvation).

Val

That is an interesting idea but that is NOT what scripture says.

In fact, scripture says the EXACT opposite in the Book of Galatians.

You really need to read these books and stop putting up your own opinions as if they are the standard of truth.

Here is what scripture says to the Galatian church, who was mixing law and gospel quite the same way you are. They believed that if you are a true christian than you have to also follow the Mosaic law, including the circumcision in order to be saved. Paul makes it clear that will only land them in hell. Two passages will bear this out.

Gal. 3:1   You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified. 2 I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard? 3 Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort? 4 Have you suffered so much for nothing — if it really was for nothing? 5 Does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you because you observe the law, or because you believe what you heard?

Gal 5:4 4 You who are trying to be justified by law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace.

Repent Tim You are Twisting God's word to your own destruction.

Joe

Tim (the VJParson Email one)
There is actually at least two more options to our quandary here.

1. You are interpreting Scripture incorrectly. I'm not saying you are, but it is possible.

2. Another option would be that you are both incorrect.

Kelly

I'm assuming then, Tim, you are answering Steve's question in the affirmative: That though you believe salvation was "initially" free, you continue to know that you are saved because you yourself have perfectly surrendered yourself and all your life to God, and have completely denied yourself. Is this your position or not? You and all true Christians currently live in a state of perfect obedience and "surrender"?

I think we're continuing to confuse Law and Gospel here. No one's saying that Jesus didn't absolutely demand perfection. The Law is harsh and kills. Certainly we must surrender to God. Not only murder but anger will land a person in hell; not only adultery but lust. This is the absolute truth. So is our assurance for salvation the fact that we are in a state of perfect obedience as believers in the here and now? Or does our assurance remain on the sacrifice, surrender, and obedience of Christ and Christ alone?

Steve

The entire Christian life after salvation is still a gift of the Holy Spirit. It is the Holy Spirit that gives us the ability to deny ourselves and follow Christ. It is the Holy Spirit that changes us to be more Christ-like.

Christ said that he is the vine and we are the branches and without him we can do nothing. Thus, our ability do anything that Tim stated is do to Christ.

Joe

Kelly,
Nope. I'm not affirming anything other than the fact that the argument was invalid. The statement was there are only two viable options here and I was pointing out that without much work, I came up with at least two more. I would tend to disagree with Steve wholeheartedly and believe that what he is saying is invalid. But I hate to argue from a "there can only be two options" point of view.

Joe

Sorry that should say Tim's argument, not Steve. Tim (S) could one of you post your last name or go by Timothy for clarification? Thanks

Kelly

Joe-- I wasn't addressing your "other options" at all, or asking what you were affirming. I was addressing what Tim #1 has been saying throughout the discussion. Whether or not Tim #2 could have posted more options or not is, as far as I'm concerned, diverting the real discussion. My comment was for Tim #1, trying to clarify if he was saying what it sounded like he was saying.

Joe

Yeah Kelly,
Again, I caught that after I posted. Sorry about that. But I do disagree that it is diverting from the discussion. We should be willing to admit that there is a "wrestling" with some things in Scripture and to say there are only two options denies that there are in reality usually many more.I believe it was you who told me in another discussion that words matter.
Shalom

Kelly

Well, it looks to me that discussion seems to have absolutely frozen, probably because of the confusing tracks being made. Okay, to make everyone happy, let's say there are dozens and dozens of options we can wrestle with. The one I personally am concerned about at the moment is whether or not all true Christians are, right now, living in perfect obedience and surrender to God and, on this basis, are assured of the continued benefits of salvation. That's what I'm trying to clarify with Tim (who seems just as certain with his one solution as Tim #2 is).

Kevin N

Here's my two cents worth on this one, and hopefully it will add to the conversation.

I grew up in an ALC (pre-ELCA) Lutheran church, that in hindsight was at the confessional end of the ELCA spectrum. I was bapitized and confimed in this church, knew phrases such as "saved by grace through faith" and could have quoted John 3:16. Despite this, if one were to ask me, "how can one be right with God?" I would have answered with the scales of justice: If my good works outweigh my bad works, God will accept me. I knew I was a sinner, but figured I wasn't all that bad of a sinner.

One night, some men from Campus Crusade for Christ came to my fraternity house at the university I was attending. They presented the "Four Spiritual Laws" tract, and God used the Scriptures to open up my heart to the wonderful gospel of Jesus Christ. The verse that struck my heart and mind was Ephesians 2:8,9 -- "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith; and this not from yourself, it is the gift of God; not by works, that no one should boast."

God accomplished much in me that night:
--Understanding of sin and separation from God. My sins went to the core of my being and placed me in a position of judgement.
--The substitutionary atonement. Christ died as a sacrifice in my place.
--My works cannot in anyway contribute to my salvation.
--God calls me to put my faith in Christ, and in him alone, for my salvation. But once this happens, I can't claim the credit.

My point is this: One can't take all Evangelicals and put them in a "distortion of the gospel" camp, any more than an Evangelical can take all Lutherans and place them in a "lifeless stuck-in-the-mud traditionalists" camp.

I guess my other point is this: My experience is that there are many people in our churches, whether Nazarene, Lutheran, Charismatic, or Evangelical, who are clueless about the gospel. We cannot assume that it is primarily a problem of the "other denominations."

I won't argue with you on the dangers of "seven steps to a victorious Christian life" sermons. I've heard enough of them, and would rather hear about how much Jesus loves me than how much I should love Jesus.

Grace and Peace

Kelly

"My point is this: One can't take all Evangelicals and put them in a 'distortion of the gospel' camp, any more than an Evangelical can take all Lutherans and place them in a 'lifeless stuck-in-the-mud traditionalists' camp."

No, you can't. But you can take a look at what any given church officially believes and confesses. It's a shame that so many churches of all stripes do not clearly express their own teachings, so that individuals become confused about the nature of their salvation. But it is also true that not all confessions of faith are equal in their expression of the primacy of the Gospel.

Erica

Kevin,
I appreciate what you wrote. I enjoy hearing what God is doing in other peoples life.
As christians we do seem to judge people right away based on what denomination they are before we ever get to know them. It is a sad truth of most christian today.

Steve

Erica:

If one belongs to a given denomination, I am assuming that they are in agreement with various doctrines that define that church body.

Kevin's point that there are many in our own demoninations that do not know the Gospel is a sad, but true statement. I place alot on blame on pastors who have replaced the proper declaration of Law and Gospel with Christian selfhelp and other non-gospel teachings. If Kevin didn't know the gospel from his church, then his pastor may not be properly preaching and teaching the gospel of Jesus Christ. Unfortunity, there will be many church members find themselves in hell because they placed their trust in something other than Christ.

Erica

Steve,
You are right. The denomination I choose to associate with is the one that is the closest to what I believe doctrinally. However, there are still a lot of differences between what I believe and what they believe. I think you should ask a person before you decide what they believe based on what denomination they are.
It is sad that Kevin’s pastor never taught him the truth of Gods word. Unfortunately a lot of churches and pastors miss it all together. They are so worried about the people in the church and building a mega church that they fail to share the gospel with the lost people all around them.

Kelly

Erica: Are you certain that there isn't a church body out there that *is* a clear expression of what you believe? If there's even a chance of such a church existing, that's the one you should probably be at if it's possible for you to get there. I can't imagine sitting and listening to a pastor week after week, only agreeing with part of what he's saying. It's good to support a church where you are firmly in agreement with what it teaches. In some cases, churches like Kevin's might officially believe and teach one thing, but something completely different comes out consistently in practice. That, too, would probably be a church to consider leaving.

Unless a person is part of a non-denominational church, or a church that is deliberately vague on a number of doctrines that they don't believe to be all that important, it does make sense to align one's self with what one believes to be a true confession. Church is corporate, not the highly privatized and individualistic thing we've made it.

Erica

Kelly,
I guess I am not making sense so let me clarify what I am saying.
I agree with my churches doctrine. The denomination I associate myself with I do not agree with all of its teachings. I would probably rather be non-denominational. Really there is no denomination I fully agree with all of there teachings. The denomination I am associated with follows the closest to what I believe doctrinally. In truth, (I am not trying to start another topic of conversation) I do not see were denominations are mentioned in the bible. I struggle with the idea of denominations. I am not saying my mind is made up on this, I am saying I struggle with it.

Steve

In many "non-denominations", one could put their doctrine on a post card. Their doctrine is a minimalist view of what they believe. For example, what do they teach about Holy Communion and show does that agree with Holy Scripture. Many "non-denominations" state something that that Bible does not support. They are "anti" confessional and creeds in their stated beliefs and this shows up in their doctrine.

During the Reformation, many reformers when through great lengths to state clearing what they believe and how their position is supported by Holy Scripture. They were so concerned that their position was biblical that they ask those who opposed them to critique their doctrine.

When was the last time you saw a church body (even a church body of one) truely struggle in what they believe and concerned that what they believe is what the bible teaches?

Erica

Steve,
I think that is a very broad generalization. I have attended many non-denominational churches that have very strongly stated statements of faith and doctrinal statements.
To answer your question; I know a lot of churches that have clearly state what they believe, however there is often a disconnect between the people who associate with the church and the churches stated purpose. There are also a lot of churches that miss it all together. They are so hung up in feeding the sheep, keeping to the tradition of our forefathers, obeying all the sacraments that they fail to accomplish the greatest purpose of the universal church. It is sad for me to watch. We get so hung up on the wrong things while we fail to proclaim to the world the greatest message ever preached.

Kelly

Erica: A "denomination" is a group of Christians with a clear doctrinal stance. Many "non-denom" churches, ironically, don't realize how "denominational" they're actually being when they do have clear doctrinal stances. They're saying that one thing is right and that other things are wrong. I was confused for a long time about the existence of denominations and why they even mattered, and then I took a look at Christian history. Finding out why and where such schisms started is absolutely key to realizing why any of this is even important. It's so easy to see thousands of denominations out there today, throw up your hands, and think, "What's the big deal, can't we all just get along?" But those groups started somewhere for reasons either right or wrong, and going back to the roots is what's going to make it more understandable.

"Obeying the sacraments" is a misnomer; sacraments are not laws but gifts of grace. "Ordinances" are laws. As for the notion that we have two options, either (A) be concerned about false teaching and feeding the church true doctrine or (B) be concerned about unbelievers and spreading the Gospel-- this is a wickedly false dichotomy. We cannot be concerned about unbelievers if we are willing to feed unbelievers garbage. To use a Walther metaphor, we cannot claim to be concerned about a harvest in the field if we don't check to see that the seed that we are sowing is good seed. The two MUST go hand in hand.

Steve

Erica:

What is the "greater purpose" of the universal church? What is the message of the Chruch?

The last time I checked, feeding the sheep was one of the most important responsibilities that Christ gave the Chruch and part of the feed includes Holy Communion and Holy Baptism.

Erica

Steve,
The purpose of the universal church is Acts 1:8. I believe we should equipt the saints to do the work of the Lord. As believers we should obeserve communion and baptist. I am not saying any of this is unimportant. I am simply saying we are often to focused on the church people and not the unchurched. I am a huge believer of discipleship. In fact I beleive it is missing in most churches. We should be teaching people to be followers of Jesus. The bigest quetion a church should ask itself "Is how does this fit into my purpose?" If it does not fit your purpose than why do it?

Steve

Why not Matt. 28:19-20. Here we see that disciples of Christ are made through Word and Baptism. Acts 2:42-47 is a great picture of what the church is to be about. This is call of the Church. I don't buy into the church defining its purpose. Christ defines what the church is and we are to faithfully carry out that calling.

If the Church is faith to Word and Sacrament, God will add to the Church by His grace. Part of being a faithful church is the proper declaration of Law and Gospel. It is by this proclaimation that those who are dead to God are made alive in Chirst.

By the way, what is the "unchurched"? I hear this phrase used? Is it Christians no longer part of a local church? Is it unbelievers?

Erica

Kelly,
"To use a Walther metaphor, we cannot claim to be concerned about a harvest in the field if we don't check to see that the seed that we are sowing is good seed. The two MUST go hand in hand."
Please clarify this statement. Are you saying if we are sowing bad seed and we share the gospel with someone than the Holy Spirit responds to the dirt in our life and therefore can not bring the other person to repentence?

Erica

Steve,
Those are great passages also! All of them talk about sharing the good news of Christ! This is our purpose. We were designed to worship God and share the good news with others!
One of the responsibilities of the local church is once someone comes into right relationship with Jesus Christ it is the churches responsibility to teach them about how to live. This is why discipleship is so important.
There are a lot of people out there that like to pick on evangelical Christians while they sit back and punch their time clock ever week. They do all the right things, but they do nothing to share the good news because as a local church they are too focused on themselves.
All I am saying is if a church exists just to care for its members and have a social club and they do nothing to reach the unchurched they might as well close their doors.
The unchurched can be two different types of people:
1) People who once attended church and have walked away
2) People who are lost

Kelly

To clarify: I'm saying that as a church, what we have to offer the world must be the pure doctrine of Christ, whether those people are Christians or non-Christians. The seed is the Word of God, and so bad seed would be distortions of that good Word (this has nothing to do with the "dirt in our life"-- sowing seed is not about us and our lifestyle but about God's Word). We can't pretend like it doesn't matter if our seed is "off" if we want a good harvest.

The choice is so often thought of that we either have to care about believers by giving them pure doctrine and feeding them, or else care about unbelievers and offer them a generic, potentially "off" version of the Gospel. This is a dangerous and false dichotomy. This fellow has a bit of an eloquent post on the issue:

http://hocestverum.blogspot.com/2007/01/keeping-aquarium.html

Ragnar Donneskjold

Erica,

If I remember correctly it was Rick Warren who has taught and preached the same idea that you are presenting in your argument against Steve and Kelly. It has come to my attention to say that Church is there for the believers. I get extremely angry when I hear liberals like you tell us that we need to surrender our Church time for pagan rituals so they can feel comfortable! You may think I'm hard-headed, close-minded, or simply unfeeling. I say to you that believers are sinners too and they need the gospel just as much as every other human being on this rock. Lost people will only be saved through hearing the Gospel that Jesus Christ died for their miserable sins. They will, in no way, hear the Gospel if the regular church members don't get it either. Stop following your Purpose Driven Rick Warren god and repent!

Joe

Josh or Ragnar, which is it? You are the one who needs to repent! Quite a few sweeping generalizations in your post don't you think? I happen to know Erica--yes, she's my wife---and as such I can say that she does not worship the Rick Warren god you accuse her of. So, please step down off of your high horse and read the whole thread. I get angy when people like you attack a person instead of their argument. Did you miss the point in erica's posts where she talks about discipleship? Read the whole thread and remember that the Bible says that even a fool is considered wise when he keeps his mouth shut.
Shalom!
Joe

Erica

Ragnar,
Obviously you are under conviction by the Holy Spirit or you would not have wrote what you wrote. It is the only explanation for why you are choosing to ignore what I said. Half of what you accused me of saying I did not even say.
I have never been accused of following someone that I don't particularly care for. That is a first for me. I am not willing to bash the guy like a lot of other people but I do not care for all his methods.
I guess I am not entitled to my opinion based on my interpretation of scripture? By having this opinion I am automatically following someone else?
You just proved my point about denominations. Everyone assumes what you are or who you associate with based on statements made.
Next time it would be more appropriate and godly if you ask before you accuse and attack.

Kelly

Hey Erica- you're entitled to your opinion. And we're all entitled to civilized discussion. I'm not sure that this touches the issue of denominations. If you join a church with certain statements of belief (or any secular organization for that matter), it's reasonable for people to assume that that's what you believe and stand by. This is unrelated to what Ragnar said, but I mention it because of one of your last comments there. You may not formally affiliate yourself with RW's teachings, even if you are channeling (perhaps unconsciously or automatically) his words and ideas. Maybe that accounts for the confusion.

Joe

Why does Rick Warren get the corner on "Purpose?" Wasn't Jesus purpose driven? "My time has not yet come, etc." I'm not saying Jesus was Rick Warren purpose driven, and I personally am not either but I do want to be purpose driven. Again, I'm not saying that I want to live out Rick's five purposes. I believe they are vehicles to my ultimate purpose.
I just don't understand why RW gets the word purpose all to himself. It makes no sense to me.

Erica

Kelly,
I understand what you are saying. You and I have had many conversations before. I have told you before that I am Baptist. However, I in no way believe or practice a lot of what they teach. There are so many kinds of Baptist. If I say I am Baptist people assume I believe everything they teach.
Do you believe everything your denomination teaches? I am seriously asking. I know that question could be taken sarcastically.
I don't agree doctrinally with a lot of denominations or what they teach. However, there are a lot of things different denominations do that I wish we did as Baptist.
I will give a few examples; Lutherans have a lot of old rituals they do. I think that is neat, I see nothing wrong with it. I wish Baptist churches would add a little more rituals to there service.
Presbyterians put a lot of emphasis on the Holy Spirit. As a Baptist I do not feel there is enough emphasis on the Holy Spirit. Presbyterians are more reformed in their theology and very mission minded, I think that is great also. As Southern Baptist we do not even know are missionaries that we support. I think that is sad. I don’t think Baptist is the only ones going to heaven. Their will be people from all different walks of life in heaven one day. At the end of the day what matters is what you have done with the cross.
There is a church in Louisiana that is a Baptist church. I think what they do is wrong. It is ungodly and I do not want to be affiliate with them .They are Baptist. When I say I am Baptist do people assume I have the same belief system as them? I hope not. I guess maybe I am a little sensitive to this subject because I do not want people to pass judgment on me by what denomination I am associated with. I have no pre-conceived ideas about people when I hear what denomination they are. I would rather get to know them.
As far as the term purpose goes. I use to be a manager for several years. I gave each of my employee’s job descriptions. This defined their purpose in our company. Really isn’t there a “purpose to all we do?” I know as a wife and mother I have “purpose statement so to speak” You could be right, maybe sub consciously I have heard the term purpose so much I use it. I could say a church should have a job description. What is the difference? I agree with Joe. What Warren has to say is not our purpose it is more vehicles to what we should be doing. Warren has a lot of teachings I am not comfortable with. I do not associate myself with him. However I feel his methods are different but I am not willing to say to this point that his doctrine is shady.

Kelly

Since Warren is associated with the Baptist church, it would make sense to some extent that you wouldn't consider his doctrine shady (though many other Baptists would disagree). Baptists, being highly autonomous, are somewhat less confessional than some other churches, and the autonomy causes wider variety within the camp. There are a couple of strains within Lutheranism, one very liberal and one more historical. I do not enjoy when people hear about the liberal "Lutherans" and think that means me, but if they are serious about knowing what Lutherans *actually* stand for, all they have to do is look at the official confessions of faith. I realize it's harder in the Baptist church with fewer points of reference.

I wish that Warren didn't have the word "purpose" to himself, but the fact of the matter is that he's the one who has put that buzzword out there, causing so many Christians to think of things in terms of it where they wouldn't have before. As you mentioned, it's a business concept, not so much a theological one. Regarding church with a business mindset does have great implications for and impacts in that church's theology, not merely their methods. That's why people have bees in their bonnets over it.

I am, in fact, in complete agreement with the official confessions of my church body. It can be very dangerous, in the name of autonomy, to create a Christian cafeteria-style theology by picking and choosing-- that's very much what church has become these days in the name of choice and modernism. I think it's important too for all Christians to know what they stand for and why, and to work for reform if they feel there is error in their midst. What things does your church teach that you actually do not believe are true?

As for the emphasis on the Holy Spirit (did you mean Pentacostalism?), I do think that this particular level of emphasis on the Holy Spirit is unhealthy for Scriptural reasons, since his job is to point us to Christ and his Word, not to himself or our own emotional experiences. This is an example of confessionalism and making distinctions. There are things we can admire from other Christians, such as their good works, or items of doctrine we are in strong agreement with. But if we admire those things, they should be part and parcel of our own theology and confession. (Certainly there are charismatic Baptists out there.)

Erica

Kelly,
My husband and I agree completely on doctrine, method s the whole nine yards. Unfortunately, we are at a rescue church situation so the things we would like to be doing we are not completely there yet. He has only been there a year. He has a lot of great ideas!
As Baptist we almost ignore the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is part of the Trinity.(A lot of Baptist would like to ignore that). However, the Pentecostals often put to much emphasis on the Holy Spirit.
Let me start here. I will lay out for you what I think should be a part of a local church.
I believe in the two ordinances of Baptism and Communion. There is nothing wrong with Liturgical prayers and old bible traditions (we do not do this in the Baptist circles). There should be gathering of the body of Christ more than just once a week. I also believe there should be a teaching time in a smaller group setting in order discusses Theology in more detail at another time besides the main service. I believe church should be a come as you are place. (You need to dress modest, and bring your best to God) Deacons, elders, committees should be servants in the church not decision makers. In the New Testament church deacons cared for the widows and such. They were servants. I believe the church overall does a poor job caring for widows and being servants. The church should be about equipping the saints to do the work of the Lord. As a church we should be about sharing the good news of Christ. The church should not be about taking money from the lost we should be known for giving. As churches we should be servants of Christ Jesus. The love of Christ Jesus should radiate out of us. Too many believers are miserable people because they focus on Gods judgment and wrath and not enough on his love and mercy. Both should be discussed. Instead of protesting and trying to fix America as a church we should bring revival back to our country like our fore fathers. A church should be about discipleship. What frustrates me is the churches week after week that engage themselves in a country club mind set unless you look like them, think like them and walk like them you are not welcomed. Everyone should be welcomed in the church in hopes that they will hear the gospel message. Of course I believe that is the most important message that could be preached from the pulpit. I don’t believe the gospel should be watered down or distorted. We should not tolerate sin but we should handle every situation in love.
What I see in a lot of churches in arguing, back biting, a social club. Churches that fail to equip people on how to share the good news of Christ. In all seriousness a question my husband and I sat back and asked ourselves a few weeks ago; when was the last time we shared Christ with someone? When was the last time the Holy Spirit prompted someone to come to Him in our presence? If we simply exist for each other and we fail to evangelize the world haven’t we forgotten what we were put here to do? Think about it twelve men changed the world forever. Are our churches seeing this kind of impact on the world?

Kelly

Random little questions:

Which churches are you concerned about that are "taking money from the lost"? I'm not saying they don't exist, I'm just curious which you had in mind-- televangelists, maybe?

What is an "old Bible tradition"?

Does the church equipping people on how to share the Gospel primarily happen through the working of God through his Word in spite of great human weakness, or is it more dependent on fads and programs of the past 20 years, emphasizing dynamism, human power/resources, and emotional pleas? If the latter is true, has the whole Christian church not really been the church, or not been doing their job, until 20 years ago? (Again, not saying that spreading the Gospel isn't of supreme importance of course... just wonder, sometimes, what people think happened in the Christian church before Bill Hybels came along. Or Dwight Moody.)

If the Holy Spirit does not convict a person of their sin and save them in your very presence, surely you don't feel that you've *failed*, do you? If you've shared God's Word of Gospel with them, that's all you can do. That's the power of God unto salvation. No need to tick off notches on our belts as a church or as individuals when it comes to saving people.

Erica

Kelly,
It is interesting you ask "What churches I am worried about taking from the lost?" Probably most people will highly disagree with me but I will answer your question.
I think any and all fundraising is wrong unless you are donating the money to the poor or to a need outside of the church. I believe the church should be about meeting the needs of others not the lost meeting our needs. Really, this is my own personal pet peeve.
Kelly maybe you could answer a question for me. I have been discussing this with Joe the last few days. I hear a lot, from this blog and others I read, about how the emergent church is so wrong. Everyone says something along the lines as to how we have gotten away from how our for fathers did church. Although, Are fore fathers did not do church like the New Testament church. So why should be still be doing church the same way a hundred years later? Please I am not saying I believe the bible changes. I believe the word of God stays the same. However I am confused why people find it so offensive if our methods change. Really, we do very little in our world method wise the same as we did a hundred years ago. Culture changes, people change. Why can’t the methods in how we reach out to people change? Let me say this, I am not a part of the emergent church. However, I don’t agree with some of what goes on in the Emergent church, but I am not against them either. I believe it is just a different way to get out the same message we have been telling since Christ ascended into heaven.
To answer your question about feeling failure; I am not going to try and sound spiritual to you. I know the right answer but I am going to be transparent to you for a moment. Yes, I struggle with it. I know that my job is to share the love of God and tell the good news of the gospel but it is very discouraging when you care so much and you see nothing. I know that is wrong. We have some really good friends that we have essentially poured are lives into as a couple; there is really no sign they are getting it so to speak. We love these people and we want nothing more than for them to see the hope that is in us. I would love to know I will see them in heaven one day. So, yes we get discouraged. All though I have to say last month I was able to sit with my daughter as she entered into a relationship with Christ. That was amazing! I know maybe years from now the people we invest so much of our time in may have a relationship with the Lord. Really at the end of the day I am a vessel God uses to do His work. He can use me no matter what. Some times it is hard to translate what you know in you’re head to heart.
Again, twelve men turned the world upside down why aren’t we?

Steve

Erica:

First, most American "Evanglical" Christian worship has little in common with the worship of the early church. Many of these "worship" services don't have any of the key elements of worship discribed in Acts 2: gathering of believers, preaching/teaching of the Aspostles, prayer and Holy Communion.

If we use Brian McLaren as a proxy for the Emergant Church, I would say that the Emergant Church as more incommon with gnosticism or mysticism than historic Christianity.

I both agree and disagree with your point what is happening within the Church. While serving the poor is a great thing for Christians to do as a means to showing the love of Christ, it is not the primary responsibility of the Church. The Church's role is proclaimation of Law and Gospel and the equiping of the saints. Many of the activities within a church looks more like a YMCA than what the Church is called to be. When the Church properly teaches the saints, we will help our neighbor with our good works. We do this out of a love for Christ and for our neighbor. When we see the great mercy that we have from God, we are more likely to be merciful to others. Since sin and grace is not taught in many "evanglcial" churches, many Christians don't see God's mercy.

Erica

Steve,
I don't have time to read a whole lot. My husband reads about a hundred books a year. He usually gives me a summary of what he has read. He is not a big McLaren fan so I would have to say I am not either based on what I have heard.
I agree with what you wrote. I don't believe our primary purpose as a church is giving to the poor either. I believe the proclamation of the gospel is. I don't believe a church should look like a YMCA either. I have already described what I believe the church should look like. My point about giving to the lost was I am against t the church raising money. A churches focus when they need money should not be getting it from the outside world. I am a firm believer in tithing. If the church has a need it is the body’s responsibility to give to that need. That is all I am saying. Thanks for your input you had a lot of good things to say.

lc

I have read the 4 parts of Law v.s. Grace. And Chris perhaps I missed some of your message in those posts. However most of what I read seemed to say that, Grace has replaced the Law, rather than completes the Law. A complete reading of Romans really puts it into perspective. Romans 3:31 sums up what Grace did, that the Law could not. I may be misunderstanding your point so correct me if the the above is not what you are meaning. If it is correct then most of the Gospel is useless. My understanding of Grace is that, I can't pay off, burn offerings or anything else to absovle my sin. That is the works of the Law that fell short of righteousness. Which is why I understood Romans chapter 3. The Jews before Christ's gift of salvation,were using the works of the Law,to continue to sin without fear,thereby losing the (awe) fear of GOD. Grace is a free gift. It's the gift of life. As with any gift, we should be grateful. To have real gratitude for something,we need to take care of it carefully. JESUS told us how. And in our faith,we control our ourselves to be like CHRIST. I know I am a sinner. I know if my faith is real, then I will hate the sins and control myself not to do so. Abraham and Moses had righteousness accounted to them for their faith in GOD. Their faith was shown by their obedience to GOD. Moses couldn't cross over to the Promised Land because of the sin he committed at the rock that GOD gave the Jews water from. He obeyed GOD and didn't try to cross the Jordan. His faith did not allow him to sin again against GOD. He didn't give up and assume GOD would say ok you can go across the river. His faith did not make him perfect. His faith made him obedient.The Law itself cannot teach us to want to obey GOD. Our faith, which can only come from GOD, teaches us by convicting us in our hearts. Salvation is only through our LORD JESUS CHRIST. And by believing on HIS life and death we are saved. So what constitutes believing on CHRIST? Learning HIS teachings to turn my life to HIM so that I am saved by HIS mercy.

Kelly

Hey Erica, that's an interesting perspective about fundraising. I certainly agree that most fundraising in churches would probably be unnecessary if people gave freely as the Lord has given to them. Both my husband and I were brought up tithing and plan to encourage our children in it as well. The problem is that we can't make a law out of it in the church, since giving must be done freely and not under compulsion. There may be people tithing today who are still not giving properly either because of their motives, or because they are ignoring the needs of others, or because they have felt convicted to give much more and are going by the "minimum legal requirement"!

The emergent church is wrong not primarily because of the method, but primarily because of the message and lack thereof. Methods and messages do *go together.* If one changes, invariably so does the other. The modern church has, largely thanks to the rise of liberal theology and its infiltration even into conservative churches, fallen in with the idea that the church must conform to the culture, including all its methods. But the church historically has been its own culture, without grabbing for the methods (and mission!) of secularism. The church of the 1940s didn't insist on Big Band music to impress the flock or the world. The big shift happened mainly in the 1960s and 70s, with the cultural mindset and "me-generation" of the Boomers. Church hasn't been the same since, and it's been infinitely poorer.

Though I dislike the cliche of "12 men changed the world, why aren't we" (sounds like a mass e-mail forward, and also puts an awful lot of credit on human ingenuity), I think that the church legacy of the Boomers is showing us why, in part, we aren't changing the world. We've become the world. By dressing up secularism and throwing a bit of "God-talk" in, we've given unbelievers no good reason to get out of bed on a Sunday morning. The church should be counter-cultural and "other"-- then we'll have something worth offering to people who are despairing of this world with all its props and pretensions.

Erica

Kelly,
That is an interesting perspective. See, I look at like no matter what we do to "conform to the world" so to speak we are different. We have the one thing to offer a person they are not going to get in its fullest degree anywhere else and that is Jesus. We have love to offer them, we should offer them acceptance. The instruments we use should not matter. David played with a harp, people danced. Even in your real conservative churches they use piano and organs. Why? If the church shouldn’t change than why are we not still using harps? I know a lot of churches where you have to dress up like you are going to a formal to come to their church. Really the things we adorn ourselves in are not the same as they were in the New Testament church. Sure we do not preach like John Edwards now but is that bad? I don’t see how the gospel is being watered down. Personally in bible college days I had to learn a tool to share the gospel called Evangelism Explosion. It was awful!! I had a huge problem with memorizing a set script and leading someone into a special prayer. When we went to our first church we went door to door. We still do that some at are church now but our motives has changed. We no longer go door to door to give someone the Romans road, lead them in a prayer and leave. We go door to and give them things. The last things we did was went door to door handing out batteries for smoke detectors. We attached a little note saying we wanted to show them Gods love with no strings attached. I am not trying to get a pat on the back. My point is in today’s society there are so many whack jobs out there people have to see there is something different about you. That difference is what Christ did to change my life. My point with the cliché twelve men turned the world upside down is Jesus Christ made a difference in their lives and they did something about and the world has never been the same since. Imagine if everyone in our churches came to that realization. I am just as guilty as the next person on this one.
You are right on the tithing thing. People either do not give or they give as little as they can. Not everyone but a lot of people. We are trying to teach our daughter the art of giving right now. It is fun! Anyway, I have to get my little ones to bed. I hope I did not mis- understand your explanation of the emergent church. Let me know if I did.

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