Archive for July, 2006

Is the Church You Attend "Unloving"?

July 16, 2006

The pastor of the Calvary Chapel I attend has recently embarked on a mission to exhort the church to be more “loving”. Unfortunately, the messages designed to encourage the church towards this goal stem from the traditions of the church and the imaginations of men, as opposed to the Word of God.

His belief that the Christianity described in the early chapters of the Book of Acts as being “Normal Christianity”, and that if we, as Christians, could somehow become like those believers, would correct this “unloving” condition, while being well-intentioned is, nevertheless, mis-guided and lacking in Biblical warrant whatsoever.

Its easy to understand how, considering the circumstances our pastor labors under, that he would look for something “spiritual” to solve the problem. After all, when you spend nearly the totality of your day, counseling professing Christians who clearly have no divine power for living a Christian life at work in their lives, professing Christian couples on the verge of divorce, and those trapped in immorality, it’s enough to drive one to desperation. What our pastor is missing, as a Charismatic, is a Dispensational understanding of the circumstances and the Scriptures which address how the Holy Spirit empowers the Church of God; the Body of Christ.

II Peter 1:1-12 is where I would send him.

1 Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ:

2 Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord,

3 According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue:

4 Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.

5 And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge;

6 And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness;

7 And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity.

8 For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

9 But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins.

10 Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall:

11 For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

12 Wherefore I will not be negligent to put you always in remembrance of these things, though ye know them, and be established in the present truth.

If the church is unloving, composed of many little exclusionary cliques and those proverbial “square pegs” who are not welcomed anywhere; If it is powerless, with far too many people, both young and old, married and single, rich and poor, who are unable to shake themselves free from the bondage of immorality in their lives; If the only perceivable difference between the church and a local Eagles or Elks club is the absence of drink and dirty jokes in the sanctuary; most likely, it’s because the congregation has been taught the traditions and imaginations of men, as opposed to the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord; That which mixes interpretation with application, and views the confused result through the distorting lens of presupposition, church traditions and doctrines, and the imaginations of men, instead of that which comes from interpreting the Word of God biblically.

The key to living the Christian life is not some imagined “secondary” experience with the Holy Spirit. It is not babbling in some imagined angelic “language”, pretending to heal the sick, playing with snakes, or drinking poison, or any other of the so-called “signs” that are supposedly manifested by real “spiritual” believers. The key is, as Peter teaches us above is “ the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord .”
It is knowing God and Jesus Christ, and being held by and conformed to those truths. By that knowledge, we are kept from being enslaved through our own selfishness to the corruption in this world. But, unless we are taught biblically, that is instructed in the Truth according to the Times; the Seasons; and to the different Dispensations, we will not have been equipped with the necessary knowledge of God and Jesus Christ to empower us to live the Christian life.

If your pastor is teaching and preaching like mine is, encourage him to study II Peter 1:1-12 and pray for him that God through His indwelling Holy Spirit would show him that the first step on the path to a more loving church begins not with an subjective emotional experience, but with objective knowledge.