Part 23 – What Is Church?
We are living at a time in history where it seems that anything that is of long standing tradition is being called into question. Renewed calls go forth on every side, calling for change. Out with the old and in with the new is the resounding voice of this post-modern generation. Whether it’s marriage; the family home; politics or education; that which once served our forefathers well for centuries and in some cases, from the dawn of time, is being re-examined in light of the new-fangled philosophies being offered by the so-called experts. Sadly, as one looks to the Church, it too follows suit with this itching craving for that which is new. In a period where Church attendance in the West is in decline and atheism and secularism is on the rise, fighting for its “perceived” survival, the Church believes that unless it becomes relevant to this “youth” driven generation, then it will disappear from society and die of old age (literally). In an effort to try and retain the young people who are leaving the Church in their droves, the Church feels pressured to rediscover itself and if need be, reinvent itself to meet the needs of a changing population. Everything from “who” constitutes the Church to the “way” we ought to do Church is on the table for consideration. High-tech marketing research companies are being employed to find out what the local communities want from their local Church in the hope that Church attendance might be boosted and the needs of the community met. Fun days replete with BBQ and games; a nursery for the toddlers; a coffee shop; sports events and a whole host of other amusements ranging from Bingo to Yoga; all now are high on the priority list of what is deemed to make a “successful” Church. In a vastly changing tolerant society, it is felt that the Church’s decline is owing to the fact that the Church has lost touch with the people. However, upon closer inspection, we shall see that losing touch with people is not the root of the Church’s problem so much as it is that the Church has lost touch with God.
In this twenty-third teaching part, we shall explore from Holy Scripture “who” and “what” the Church is.
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There’s a testimony to be had in the midst of trial and sufferings that attests wholeheartedly to the faithfulness of a God who honours His Word!! “...for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me. (Heb. 13:5-6). This is the testimony of David, you can’t argue with it!! But for some of us perhaps, if we’re being perfectly honest with ourselves and more importantly, if we’re being honest before God, we have to confess that this is not our present testimony. We cannot confidently say as the writer of Hebrews; “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear…” The plain truth of the matter is that we are fearful and do not know in our current experience, the authenticity of David’s testimony and on account of this, instead of these words bringing peace and comfort to your soul, the words of the Psalmist are a source of agitation to you. The great challenge for the Christian in the midst of any hardship is to bring into living experience, that which is written!!! There is an experience to be had Brethren that can only be laid hold of by faith. Will we not put our trust in the Lord, that in our present day, we might live to see the goodness of God in the land of the living?
Part 22 – How do I Evangelise?
When we say that we are Christian, more often than not we attach a number of adjectives in front of the word in order to try to bring greater clarity as to the type of Christian we mean. Such adjectives include ‘born-again’ and ‘Bible-believing’. There is a third adjective that we also commonly use and that is ‘Evangelical’. When we use the term ‘Evangelical’, what we’re saying is this; we believe wholeheartedly in the saving power of the gospel and therefore seek actively to proclaim that gospel to a lost and dying world. The word ‘evangelical’, comes from the Greek word “euaggelion” which means a good message; good news, hence the word ‘gospel’ which in Greek is the word “euaggelion”.
Despite the pressures being laden upon us by the P.C. agenda of our day; we are not to shrink back from the mandate of proclaiming the good news of the gospel, set against the backdrop of the ruin and sinfulness of man. Admittedly, this is not a popular message in our post-modern society which detests absolutes. Yet, it is not bigoted to state that Jesus is the only way to the Father, nor is it unloving to tell men that unless they turn from their sin in repentance, casting themselves upon the mercy of the Saviour they will be eternally damned. If these things are true, which God affirms they are; then it is out of love that we are moved by the Holy Spirit to tell a lost humanity of the love of God towards them in sending His Son to be crucified for their sins and raising Him from the dead that they might be saved from the wrath come and have eternal life. May God help us in this weighty endeavour and lead us in this great calling to be Christ’s ambassadors!
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