Church

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More thoughts on the Reformed Theology craze, part one can be read here.

I liken all the focus on the teaching of “Reformed Theology”, going back to “Reformed Theology”, emphasizing the teaching of the “Reformers” as to what happened to God’s people before, with the Jews (something they still practice today). They became focused on the teaching of the Rabbis in a certain era, focused on the commentary of,  “theology” of certain Rabbi’s than scripture its self.

At the time of Christ the Jewish leadership was focused on, divided by what Pharisee said vs. what the Sadducees said to believe about scripture, or in today’s vernacular Calvinists vs. Arminian. Or Reformed vs. Calvin. That is what Pharisee vs Sadducees was all about, two different schools of thought, or what we call today theologies.

God’s people had become focused on the teaching of the Talmud ( a collection of redinic teachings) rather than the bible its self, the teaching of the great scribes and Rabbis, like Rabbi Hillel or Rabbi Shammai. A book on Reformed Theology really is synonyms with the Talmud, and one could say that Calvin: Institutes of the Christian Religion, is in many ways as well.

Just like how Pastors and Christians today set around and argue about Reformed theology or dispensational or Arminianism, about Calvin vs. Reformed, Aarminsion vs. Calvin. It’s  just like the Jewish scholars of old, and today argue Talmud. Hillel vs. Shammai, Jerusalem Talmud vs. the Babylonian Talmud. I know, I spent my youth in a Jewish home, so I witnessed it first hand, just as I witness it among Christians today.

As for me When I talk with others about what I believe and why, I don’t quote Luther or Calvin, Tyndale, Piper or even R.C. Sproul. I quote scripture, what God said, what Jesus said. I base my beliefs on scripture not mans opinion of scripture or God.

I find no difference between what pastors, bible colleges, and Christians are doing than what the Jews have done, still do. Elevate man. I feel like name dropping has become more popular than scripture quoting. That learning what others believe about scripture is more important than studying and learning scripture it’s self.

I leave you with the words of the Apostle Paul in 1 Cor 1:12-13

Now I say this, that each of you says, “I am of Paul,” or “I am of Apollos,” or “I am of Cephas,” or “I am of Christ.”  Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?

Today Paul would be saying:

Now I say this, that each of you says, “I am of Luther,” or “I am of Calvin,” or “I am of Reformed Theology,” or “I am of Christ.” Is Christ divided? Was Calvin crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Luther?

Like Solomon Said, “There’s nothing new under the sun”  Ecclesiastes 1:9

part one can be read here.

10-10-11 There is so much reference to reformed theology today, so many pastors refer to it, claim it, and teach from it. So many books on it today, so many people and churches claiming, even bragging we are of a Reformed Theology, there’s even a New Reformed Theology and there is a host of other theologies out there as well, both new and old. My question is Why?

Let me start with what it is it if you don’t know, Reformed theology grew from the sixteenth-century revolt against the Roman church, lead by Martin Lutheran whom was rebelling from the wrong beliefs, theology of the Catholic Church. He was joined, followed by a group of other men whom became know as the Reformers, and the period known as the Reformation. To sum it up in a simple definition.

But my question is Why are so many wanting to stand, use the theology from this time period, use a “Reformed Theology”, follow the teaching of the reformers, the likes of Luther, Calvin and others. Reformed Theology came out of rebellion of the Catholic Church theology, beliefs, Luther’s teachings where just a modification of some of the Catholic Churches teaching, theology, 95 point to start with.

A friend of mine is in the process of finding a new church, one he recently check out the pastor is in to something he calls Eastern Theology. He is all about the Eastern Orthodox church vs. the Western church, a split that took place around a 1000 years ago. He is using their teaching to form his theology, beliefs about Christianity and a the framework for his church.

With so many pastors and Christians today being all about Reformed Theology as both their framework of their theology, what they beliefs. And also the framework of what church is and how do to church.

Why? I must ask! I don’t get it!

I do not, nor do I want to base my theology, what I believe on what a man or group of men said, 350 years ago, or 500 years ago or even 1000 years ago. Or how to do church ether. I go back 2000 years ago. I go back to the first church, to the teaching of the apostles, of God, Jesus. The master builder and His blueprint is all there in the scriptures.

If I want to know about salvation I read what Jesus said about it, what Paul, Peter, John and the others said about it, who ether learned from Jesus while being with Him or learned from those who did.

If I want a framework for church I open the bible read the New Testament, I can turn to Act’s read the first two chapters and there it is, the framework, the blueprint and what it is and how it functions. If I want to learn about pasturing a church, I read 1 & 2 Timothy to start with. Want to Learn about who God is, I read the whole bible, it just that simple. Yes I love to read what other men have learned from their study of Gods work, I can gain insight from them. But I do not build my theology on them. Say hay I base all I believe about God on what Jack or Fred at church says is true about God. To me that would be foolish.

So for as for my self I would say I am of  a “Biblical Theology” or of a  “Original Theology” you could say. I follow the teachings of Jesus, and Paul not Luther or Calvin. when I want to know about something I do not go to Luther or Calvin or any of the other reformers, I go to God, to Jesus, to the bible. The written word of God infused with the Holy Spirit is my source. The writings of the reformers are wrong on many points, the bible is wrong on none.

Its not that I have not studied these men and their work and lots of others from church history, because I have, even enjoy reading their work. It’s that I do not use them for the foundation of what I believe, framework of my theology, or church. It’s that I use the bible. I guess I would have to say I refer back to a great theologian whom is greater than Luther, Calvin and all the others put together, the Apostle Paul.

Just as Luther woke up and saw that the teaching of the Catholic church was wrong, so should the church today wake up and say lets go back to the bible, to the first church and get the truth. Why build on what might be faulty theology (Calvin was wrong on things just as much as he was right), beliefs of men of the past who lived many hundreds or years far removed from Jesus, when we can go back to the foundation of the word of God, to the first church and the words and life of Jesus Himself and those whom walked with Him.

Read part 2 here

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After reading a post about a church planter closing down his ‘church plant” this is what I noticed about it. He stated “We could have continued as a rogue small group or house church in the area, but frankly that has never interested us” Now I not accusing him of this but to me when I read a statement like that, I believe this person was not a true church planter, or they truly just do not know what a church is according to scripture.

First I see he had a church, whether he realize it or not God gave him a flock to shepherd, to feed, a body to disciple, but that appears to be not what he was really after. Greg Louie started with a bible study that went on for years before it moved into a building and became a “church” if you will, but he will argue it was a church when is was only him and a few people gathering at his place, today he has a church of 10,000, but now is 35 year later. And I can name a long list of others whom did the same thing, but they where faithful to what God gave them. (more…)

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God is not trying to grow a following of pew-sitters who know how to lip sink to a rock show on Sunday. Unfortunately the vast majority of pastors in American do not understand this.

But rather, God is raising up an army of passionate worshipers who desire above all else to live in the fiery radiance of His presence.

A people who have such a longing for His presence that they can not be satisfied with any substitute, they must have His presence, see His face. And will not settle for simply being entertained at church, just set with folded hands and watch a rock show. They must with all their heart, with great unbridled passion worship, love on God. With all their body, mind and sole, they must dance, shout, raise their hands, cry out praises to His name. Lay prostate, sing with both joy and tears. They must love on God with their own words from a heart filled with passionate love for God, for Jesus. They must cry out love songs to Jesus, sing a new song, their love song to Jesus.

I’m talking about white hot fiery zeal for the face of Jesus, for the very living presence of God.

This is what I am after when I gather with the body, this is my hearts passion. I will not settle with anything less than to gather with like minded people who burn white hot with passionate zeal for the face of God, and will not be satisfied tell they enter into His presence so they can love on Him.

“When people are on fire for God, others will travel for miles to watch them burn. “
John Wesley

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Normally anything that comes our of church denominations I run screaming from, I have nothing to do with them because I know scripturally they are not to exist. Because they divide the body of Christ so I avoid them like the plague.

But early this year the Southern Baptist Convention passed a resolution on the need for their churches to be centered on the gospel. This resolution is not only very good but is worth passing on and for all churches to take acting on. Here is a different way of breaking down the concepts in the resolution and added scripture to it that Trevin Wax did to make it more palatable for the average Joe.

I would recommend reading this over and over tell it soaks deep into your mind and soul. Mediate on it day and night tell it because part of your DNA.

Gospel Truth

We are, every one of us, sinners against God and, apart from the gospel of Jesus Christ, deserving of only condemnation.

* For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23)
* For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Rom. 6:23) (more…)

060810How things have changed over the last 30 years, I was thinking as I was doing my evening bible study that how 20 years ago you could go to the tape library, book store of just about any church and could find the pastors teaching on any verse of the bible. The reason was most pastors taught through the bible, usually verse by verse.

Having spent 10 years at Calvary Chapel, I had heard teaching on every verse in the bible about two and a half times. I could go to the church book store and for $2.00 get teaching of any chapter of any book of the bible and take it home and hear teaching on it. Today I dare you to even find a church who’s pastor teaches the entire bible verse by verse. You will not find a CD with teaching on every verse of the bible for you to pick up, and that is a tragedy.

Today people are not being taught the word of God, they have no knowledge of God’s word, the Apostle Paul stated “for I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God.” (Act 20:27). Meaning he left out nothing of God’s word. But pastors today are shrinking from declaring the “whole counsel of God” that is all of scripture, all of the word of God.

The only places I know one can get, find verse by verse teaching for sure, find a library of CD covering every verse of the bible, that is every verse read and taught on is at Calvary Chapel, my old church, as well as most of the other Calvary Chapel’s. Pastors like Mark Driscoll and John Macarthur cover just about every verse of a book.  People say that that bible teaching is widely available to anyone in the US, but that is not true, we have a lot of teaching about the word of God, but not actual teaching of the word of God. We have a lot of teaching that tickles the ears, but not verse by verse teaching.

This must change, we need to fill the pulpit with men who can and do teach as the Apostle Paul stated “the whole counsel of God.” that is every word of scriptures, teach verse by verse through the bible leaving out nothing.

51610The Wall Street Journal published a resent article called “Learning From the Good Book For tips on starting a business, entrepreneurs might head to church“. It’s an article interviewing a couple of church planters about how they started their churches. And it goes on to give tips to entrepreneurs on how they can learn from churches how to start a profitable business.

The article explains churches as a business and the members are customer, the source of income. And give marketing practices used by churches to get new “customers” and make money off them.

What a sad testimony of the church in America, church is seen an nothing more than a for profit business venture, the pastor as a entrepreneur running a business. See it no differently than a Dunkin Donuts franchise.

Let’s compare that to what the people said about the church in Acts 2:43, “And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles.” The WSJ article said nothing like that, the reporter was not in “awe” at the many wonders and signs being done by the church. The reporter saw nothing that caused him to give glory to God, found no reason to credit God for what the churches where doing. He saw church as nothing more than a good business plan, not a God event.

From what the article said, God was not necessary to start and make church happen, the pastors where just using a good business model anyone can use for business. Even sadder is the pastors (church planters) gave no credit to God as being instrumental at all in building a church, the Holy Spirit was not a necessary element to make church happen. And Jesus, the head of the church, the one church is to be about was not even mentioned, not the foundation of the church, Jesus was not required to make church happen.

In Scripture the Greek word translated “awe” (phobos) is reserved for special times when people are struck with awe because of something divine or powerful that can’t be explained. That is how the church in Acts was viewed, that is how church should be seen. Divine, powerful beyond human ability to make happen.

No presence and power of God, no Holy Spirit, no Jesus, equals no miraculous, resulting in no awe.

No church should ever been seen by the world as a model for stating a money making business, but rather a place that they stand in awe of and say, their God is God. Say this is a work not by the hands of man but by the power and Spirit of the one and true God. Not something duplicable by anyone. The church ought to be able to instill awe in the community just as the first church did, with the power and presence of God.

42910Why does it seem that everyone who claims to have the secrets of God want’s me to buy their book to find out what it is. It seems like today even just to hear a bible teaching / sermon it will cost you five bucks.

A man just recently claims that the churches belief in the rapture for the last 2000 years is wrong. And he can prove it by the scripture, only one catch, when you go to his site. All you find is a marketing plot, great sales pitch to lure you to buy his book to get the “truth” of God. Really.

Today We have to many pastors who sell their sermons, if you go to their church websites and you want to hear one of his sermons, it will cost you $2.99 to download the mp3 or $5.99 to get the CD. Really!

I recall the words of Jesus every time I see these things, “Freely you have received, freely give” Mat 10:8. And being these guys always claim God gave them the secret, the truth about the bible or whatever, but you must buy their book to learn what it is. Pastors claim that it is God who gives them their messages. That they are under the leading of the Holy Spirit when they preach. As any pastor should be. Then the message is not theirs to begin with is it, it was “freely” given to them, so they have no right to sell it anyway, it’s Gods given to them to freely give to others.

Did Jesus go before a crowed and say do you want to know the secret of prayer. Then Pick up my latest scroll “The Lords Prayer” at the tables as you leave, only 5 denarius today. Do you want to know Gods truth about being happy get my scroll “The Beatitudes” on sell for 6 denarius, today only get both for only 8 denarius.

Image Paul on Mars Hill saying to the crowed “To the unknown god.’ What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you” that for only 10 denarius for my set of scrolls you can learn about who this unknown God is, learn who the real God is. Act now they are going fast.

Or him saying to a church body; If you really what to know how to live as a Christian in Christ pick up my scroll titled Ephesians for only 9 denarius, you can’t live without it.

How about: “And the eunuch answered Philip and said, I beg you, of whom does the prophet speak this? Of himself or of some other man?” Image Philip saying for 3 denarius I will teach you what that verse means.

You might say those are ridiculous scenarios, not so fast, what men are doing today I feel is just that. I always think of Jesus cleansing the temple every time I go to a seminar or even some church and see all the tables of book, CD’s and DVD’s for sale. “And Jesus went into the temple of God and cast out all those who sold and bought in the temple

Something to think about.

Ed Stetzer just posted a great article on his blog “Apostolic Harvest” Church Planting– Your Input Requested” I would recommend everyone read and join in his conservation with your ideas. I quote his open line which describes one church model his post was about.

“Many different biblical methods are effective for planting a church, and God does not bless only one way. However, in this post, I want to raise one specific model for discussion: what I call the “apostolic harvest church planter,” as laid out in my book Planting Missional Churches (B&H Academic, 2006). This is also considered in my new co-authored book (with Warren Bird), Viral Churches (Jossey-Bass, 2010).”

apostolic

His above image shows his model, I like and endorse his model but would like to suggest slight change to the model that I like even better, that is not just one who plants and leaves, raising up only one to stay behind and lead with only the original planter being sent but multitudes being raised up and sent. And you never stop sending. We need to get away from the one man show model in how we do church, and the paid professional only model. Church is everyone’s job, everyone plays a part according to their gifting and there seldom is just one of each gift. We need to be constantly raising up and sending out, not one, but many. Every pastor should be making disciples just like Jesus modeled, and Paul did. Jesus did 12 at a time, He was about reproducing Himself, and sending out to do the same thing, every pastor should be reproducing himself, passing on to others continually and sending out continually.

I truly think it would be great to have the attitude that everyone who comes in the door is being prepared to go out as a church planter or missionary. That is the right attitude, not to crate and building full of pew warming groupies of the pastor who set and let the pros put on “church” for them.

The original planter, the “apostolic planter” as Ed calls him, leaves the first church and move on when he feels the Lord says to. He is in the business of training not only his replacement but others to do the same thing as him. Some may leave and plant and stay in the same place for years or become an “apostolic planter” also. Each according to their calling of the Lord.

Just think if a church just sent out just 20% of its men to plant, a church of 3,000 would send out 600 planters a year. And Then each of those planters plants do the same thing. Do you see how fast the number increase exponentially.

I doctored up Ed’s image a little to show what I would like to see.

church multiply

Be sure and visit Ed Stetzer blog and read his post and give your imput, and get his books as well.

When can you tell a church is effective with the gospel, being missional? When its full of repented prostitutes, drug dealers,  adulters and other repented sinners.

When the captives are being set free from oppression, depression, substance abuse, pornography, human trafficking, and the other things of this world.

After all that is what the gospel is all about.

Just a simple thought for the day.