Biblical Authority

1 03 2018

The Bible has put into place within the local church definite authority. The authority is vested into a position the Bible calls Elder, Bishop, or Pastor. One thing we don’t take serious today is the authority of the local church. I probably take local church authority further than most in the modern church. I’m saddened at how uninvolved the church is in the lives of the people.

The Bible speaks of definite authority vested in church leadership.

“Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation.” (Hebrews 13:7)

The rule here is authority, they have authority because they are watching for your soul. Don’t buy into the hype that a pastor can’t tell you how to live your life or raise your kids. They are vested with the responsibility to instruct from the Word of God in these issues.

The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed: Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; Neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being examples to the flock.” (1 Peter 5:1-3)

Here Peter says the elders are to take oversight. They are not to do it forcefully but by being an example. Pastoral authority shouldn’t be authoritarian in nature but by demonstrating through their own lives Christ-likeness.

When I grew up I learned of two incidents my grandma had with two different pastors. She felt they had done wrong and she confronted them about it. After she spoke her peace that was it.

We never heard about it, at least not until we grew up. She didn’t leave the church and she didn’t talk about it in front of the family or bad mouth the pastor. I have no doubt she didn’t even hold onto it herself. She spoke her disagreement and let it go.

Today people get upset about something and they leave the church. This is because they are not truly submitted to the authority of the church. If they were they would have a sense of commitment and work through their problems.

This is also why people sit and bad mouth their church leadership in front of their families. They bad mouth the pastor then wonder why their kids doubt what the pastor preaches. This is also why people leave churches after a new pastor comes in.

It’s common for people to vote in a pastor then decide a few weeks later they don’t like him and they leave. In my opinion this is sin. If you want to leave a church then leave before a new pastor comes in but once he is there you need to submit to his leadership unless he violates the Word. We need a new dedication to the authority of the local church. We need to stay and work out our problems. It’s no wonder our kids don’t learn commitment when we teach them to leave at the first sign of trouble.





False Prophets

31 01 2018

I wanted to address an issue that I believe is overlooked in much of the church today. The issue of false prophets. I’m not talking about Joel Osteen or Kenneth Copeland. I’m talking about false prophets that are not as easily identified as those in Charismania or in the common cults such as the Watchtower Society, Mormon church, or Roman church.

A false prophet is a person who speaks for the Lord or from the Lord and speaks falsely. The person who says God has said something but God didn’t speak. This person is defined as a false prophet and according to Scripture they are not to be listened to.

“When a prophet speaketh in the name of the Lord, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the Lord hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him.” (Deuteronomy 18:22)

I attend a Baptist church and the issue of people speaking for the Lord and then not following through is out of hand. I attended one particular church where over several years half a dozen people stood in front of the church claiming God had called them to pastor or be missionaries. None of those men followed through. One was even put into the office of a deacon after the fact.

They stood up in the assembly of the saints and said God had called them to something that they never acted on. This tells me God didn’t call them or they walked away from the call. If they walked away from the call there should be some concern. We should think twice before giving them any duties within the church.

If God didn’t call them then there needs to be an acknowledgement before the church. If they claimed God spoke publicly they should confess their error publicly. I attended one particular church where a man claimed to be called to preach. After a year he decided he was wrong and in a strong integrity move he went back to the church to confess it.

I can’t tell you how many church planters have come through saying God called them to a city only to try for several years then decide it’s not working and leave. If God called you there who are you to decide it isn’t working? Missionaries in the old days would labor sometimes 7 or 8 years without a single convert. They pressed on because God had called them. Today we have such a results based almost business like model of ministry that a person really feels they need to produce results or quit.

I suppose to sum the point up we need to be careful when saying God has spoken to us. To say God called me or God led me should carry a lot of weight and not be phrases we just throw out lightly. Churches need to hold members accountable to fulfill what they claim God has called them to and address the issue when they don’t act on the claim.





Gospel Ignorance

7 04 2015

This is a great clip by Paul Washer on the ignorance that many people have in the church today concerning the Gospel. I know I was one of those who followed the traditions I had been taught without regard to their Scriptural basis or lack thereof.

 





Is Tithing Commanded in the New Testament?

15 07 2014

Question: Is tithing commanded in the New Testament?

Answer: No

Now this answer will make a lot of tradition bound people angry so let me turn to the Bible to explain it. First of all there is no command in the New Testament to tithe. The tithe was a command of the Jews in the Old Testament and there were many tithes. This was how they paid for their nation. In fact if Christians today tithed like their Old Testament counterparts then they would tithe off more then their pay. They would tithe off their spices, furniture, vegetable gardens and so on. Let’s ask a few questions about the tithe shall we and answer them from the Bible.

Question 1: What is a tithe and where did it come from?

The word tithe means a tenth. We see it first practiced by Abraham. He did it not out of obligation but the overflow of a thankful heart. God did not give any command from the beginning for man to bring an offering. Looking now to father Abraham.

“And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the most high God. And he blessed him, and said, Blessed be Abram of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth: And blessed be the most high God, which hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand. And he gave him tithes of all.” (Genesis 14:18-20)

We see a tithe again from his grandson Jacob.

“And Jacob vowed a vow, saying, If God will be with me, and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat, and raiment to put on, So that I come again to my father’s house in peace; then shall the Lord be my God: And this stone, which I have set for a pillar, shall be God’s house: and of all that thou shalt give me I will surely give the tenth unto thee.” (Genesis 28:20-22)

This is all we see of tithing until the law of Moses. Notice that Jacob was not saying 10 percent was God’s and 90 percent was his to do with as he pleased. He recognized that all was God’s and gave back a tenth as a thank offering thus showing where it came from. Too many times I have heared hopefully well meaning preachers say that all God wants is 10 percent and the rest is yours. This is blatantly false.

In the law of Moses the Israelites were to give 10 percent of the crops they grew and the livestock they raised to the tabernacle/temple. The Old Testament law required multiple tithes. There was one for the Levites, one for the use of the temple and the feasts, and one for the poor of the land. This would have pushed the total to around 23 percent. Some understand the Old Testament tithe as a method of taxation to provide for the needs of the priests and Levites in the sacrificial system.

Is tithing mentioned in the New Testament?

Some would say that tithing is mentioned in the New Testament. The only references to the tithe in the New Testament are in the Gospels during a time before Christ died when worship was still done through Old Testament means and in Hebrews when referencing the Old Testament. There is no command given concerning it at all. In all of the writings of the apostles, and all the instructions given to the church wouldn’t tithing take at least an honorable mention? One would think but alas it isn’t so. What does the New Testament say about giving?

1. We are to give as God prospers us.

“Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given order to the churches of Galatia, even so do ye. Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come.” (1 Corinthians 16:1-2)

There were no overhead expenses in the Bible times since they all met in homes so offerings were given for the relief of the poor. The same principles apply in our modern day I believe. We are still to give as unto the Lord.

2. We are to give of what we have not of what we don’t have.

“For if there be first a willing mind, it is accepted according to that a man hath, and not according to that he hath not.” (2 Corinthians 8:12)

So we are to give of what we have, not of what we don’t have. I always find it interesting that when people ask pastors if they should give off their gross or net income the answer is always gross. This maximizes the amount given. The problem is that Scripture says that we give from what we have and what we have been prospered. I don’t have that money nor have I prospered from it. When tax returns come in and the money is given back from the government people ask if they should give from that money since it has already been tithed off of and the answer is always yes because after all, “you don’t want to short change the Lord.” It is often given both ways without a solid Biblical argument. Now When I get my tax return I give from that prospering.

3. We are first to give of ourselves.

“And this they did, not as we hoped, but first gave their own selves to the Lord, and unto us by the will of God.” (2 Corinthians 8:5)

The purpose of giving is not that God wants or needs our money but that He wants us. If we don’t give of ourselves first then our offerings bear no fruit. I have heard the joke that God wants cheerful givers but if your not cheerful He will take it anyway He can get it. This is one of the most unBiblical jokes I have heard. That concept is not found in the Bible. God wants us above all and we demonstrate outwardly that He has us inwardly by giving back to Him recognizing 100 percent is His.

4. We are to give sacrificially.

“Moreover, brethren, we do you to wit of the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia; How that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality. For to their power, I bear record, yea, and beyond their power they were willing of themselves; Praying us with much intreaty that we would receive the gift, and take upon us the fellowship of the ministering to the saints.” (2 Corinthians 8:1-4)

These believers gave so much away that they were trusting the Lord to meet their needs. It wasn’t a giving where they saw themselves as owners of 90 percent. They gave in such a way that if the Lord didn’t take care of them then they would die. They begged Paul to let them give. It wasn’t a burden because they had already given themselves to the Lord. Letting go of the money He had given them was no problem at all. They considered themselves as stewards and not owners of all that God had given. To some people 10 percent hurts but others who have much can write a check for 10 percent and never miss it. This was not God’s plan. His plan was for all of us to give in such a way that we relied on Him to provide for us.

This was the greatness of the widow that Jesus spoke of. The others cast in of their abundance and didn’t miss it. They were greedy even though they gave God 10 percent. This widow cast in all of her living and cast herself onto the care of Almighty God. Jesus should have condemned her as irresponsible and said to her: “Woman don’t you know I only want 10 percent and the rest is yours?” He didn’t say that because her giving reflected what true giving should, a recognition of her position as a steward. This is New Testament giving.

5. We are to give as we purpose.

“Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.” (2 Corinthians 9:7)

I believe this verse repeals the required tithe of the law of Moses. We are to give as we purpose in our hearts. It says to give “not of necessity.” This is important because if there was a required percent then there would be a necessity. Some may only have the faith to give 5 percent then so let them give and as their faith increases so should their giving. We are even given a warning that the more we sow the more we will reap.

“But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully.” (2 Corinthians 9:6)

Tithing is nothing more then a middle class way of robbing God. We give a 10 percent check and feel good about ourselves while hoarding the rest and putting it into savings, and retirement accounts that demonstrate our lack of faith in God. We sink it into houses, cars, clothes, hobbies and trinkets that have no eternal value but believe we are doing God a favor. I know a man whose heart is not turned towards God but believes that as long as he goes to church every now and then and gives God His 10 percent then God will bless him. God has become his paid helper at that point.

To convince people to give we retreat to the Old Testament and tell them they have robbed God and God will break their car or refrigerator to get what’s coming to Him. God is now reduced to a thug who breaks knee caps to get His pay out. Is this our view of the God of Scripture? How then should we encourage people to give? The way Paul did by letting them know that God will always provide for them if they give.

“And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work: (As it is written, He hath dispersed abroad; he hath given to the poor: his righteousness remaineth for ever. Now he that ministereth seed to the sower both minister bread for your food, and multiply your seed sown, and increase the fruits of your righteousness.” (2 Corinthians 9:8-10)

We should give and I don’t believe anyone should give less then the Old Testament minimum of 10 percent but shame on us if we are saved 10, 20, or 30 years and we are giving 10 percent while stocking our bank accounts and garages. Shame on us for letting people believe this is okay. Give yourself first, then give bountifully of what God has given you looking to Him to supply more seed so that you can give yet more again. This is New Testament giving.





The Primacy of Preaching

30 06 2014

“May thy church never yield to the world with the idea of setting up the kingdom of Christ in a more easy and rapid manner than by the simple preaching of the gospel!” Charles Haddon Spurgeon

When you walk into a church the part of their worship that takes center stage is that which is prominently displayed. This is the main focus of their gathering and the thing that most preoccupies them as a church body. For the Romanist it’s the altar of sacrifice where in their hearts they murder and sacrifice the Lord Jesus again and again hoping to attain salvation in a different manner then He commanded.

Unfortunately for most in evangelicalism it’s the worship music. Just the term alone invokes something in my heart. Is not the singing of hymns worship? Of course but for some reason the term “worship” has been put in front of music of a certain genre.

It was at one time called contemporary Christian music but many opposed such music so the term was changed to draw in more listeners. I spoke to one man who had always been for the use of hymn music in the church until a certain point. I asked why he now used contemporary Christian music and his response was surprising. He said, “Oh it’s not called that anymore now it’s called worship music so it’s okay.” I wondered how sheepish one could be to simply change beliefs because the title of something had changed.

We are now seeing the fruit of this phase of church history as many bands are coming out as atheists, agnostics, or homosexual supporters. Some of them admitting they tricked people just so they would buy their music. One man confessed that most of the bands they played with were faking their faith too. He didn’t give any names which leaves me looking at all so called Christian bands with extreme caution. Some have proven to be reprobates by denying the Trinity (at least in an orthodox and Biblical way) and others have gone off the deep end into mystical and hyper charismatic practices.

The point before my CCM rabbit trail is that in most churches it’s singing that takes the primacy not preaching. When someone posts on social media that they had a great time of worship they mean singing. They don’t mean preaching or offering or fellowship even though all of those are forms of worship. They praise the band and the talents of the band and say very little about the God who has granted them ability.

When you walk into the church auditorium the first thing you notice is the instrument on stage. When it’s time for preaching (or as most churches do a small devotional) then and only then is a small wooden or clear podium brought out. After the service it is quickly put away and the instruments are front and center again. I’m thankful that when I walk into the auditorium at my church the first thing I notice in the middle of the platform is a big wooden pulpit. Preaching is what we are about. Preaching is the focus of our worship service. What’s yours?

For us the instruments are off to the side because the preaching of the Word of God is our utmost joy and crown. We want all eyes on the pulpit because from there God speaks through he holding forth of the faithful Word by our Pastor. The pulpit is where we are encouraged, strengthened, fed, led, and where we find a challenge to our hearts. It is where many lost people first hear of the great plan of salvation and how they can be reconciled to God. We sing three songs and worship in music but then hear an hour of preaching because that is where our strength comes from. There is power in the preaching of the Word of God.

Churches today are focused on one thing and that is song. They spend 30 to 45 minutes with their eyes closed, and hands up swaying back and forth then hear a 10 to 15 minute sermonette and leave saying they had worshiped. They find themselves weak spiritually or worse unconverted. Christian radio will get more hearers playing music then preaching because we have been so deprived of good Bible preaching that we can no longer see a need for it.

The early believers believed in preaching. In fact we never see them singing in their assemblies in the New Testament. Never, not once do we see them coming together to sing. Why? Because the emphasis to them was on: “Thus saith the Lord.”

“And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight.” (Acts 20:7)

Preaching is God’s method of saving souls.

“For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?” (Romans 10:13-14)

“For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect. For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God…For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.” (1 Corinthians 1:17-18, 21)

Paul said woe was unto him if he didn’t preach.

“For though I preach the gospel, I have nothing to glory of: for necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel!” (1 Corinthians 9:16)

Preaching protects from errors. How many who are worship music focused have gone into error doctrinally? Well many more then those who sit under men of God with a burden who preach under the power of God.

“Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.” (2 Timothy 4:2-4)

Music comes from fallible men and can only move the emotions but he preaching of the infallible Word of God changes the soul.

“And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” (2 Timothy 3:15-17)

My intention is not to say music in church is wrong but to encourage you and your church to keep the focus where it ought to be which is the preaching of the Word of God. Don’t get sidetracked. Music will not convert the soul or change the heart. It is through preaching that God works in both saints and sinners. Keep the main thing the main thing. When you walk into your church to what is your attention drawn? Whatever it is that is the primary objective of your worship. I urge you to make it a pulpit.

“To preach Christ is to feed the soul, to justify it, to set it free, and to save it, if it believes the preaching.” Martin Luther

“The backslider likes the preaching that wouldn’t hit the side of a house, while the real disciple is delighted when the truth brings him to his knees.” Billy Sunday

“It was strictly forbidden to preach to other prisoners. It was understood that whoever was caught doing this received a severe beating. A number of us decided to pay the price for the privilege of preaching, so we accepted their [the communists’ ] terms. It was a deal; we preached and they beat us. We were happy preaching. They were happy beating us, so everyone was happy.” Richard Wurmbrand





Warning of the Last Days

23 05 2014

“This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts, Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.” (2 Timothy 3:1-7)

This is probably one of the most misunderstood passages in the Bible today. I have heard it preached and taught time and time again as representing society in the last days. The problem with this interpretation is simple. Read over the list and tell me a time that secular society has not been that way.

Even at the time it was penned the Roman Empire was ripe with orgies, mass killings for sport, fornication and degradation. False accusers were rampant at least against Christ and His apostles. The Jews had a form of godliness but no power since they were seeking to establish their own righteousness.

So what is this passage describing? Since the world has always been this way this type of warning can only apply to the church itself. When I say the church I don’t refer to true born again believers but the visible church among whom there are many false professors of faith. We know there are tares among the wheat.

“Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field: But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way. But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also. So the servants of the householder came and said unto him, Sir, didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? from whence then hath it tares? He said unto them, An enemy hath done this. The servants said unto him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up? But he said, Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn.” (Matthew 13:24-30)

We also know that there will be a falling away from the faith in the last days.

“Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition.” (2 Thessalonians 2:3)

We also know from the Scriptures that the end times will see many turning from sound teaching.

“For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.” (2 Timothy 4:3-4)

“Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth.” (1 Timothy 4:1-3)

Having understood all that the Bible has said would come tot he church in the last days how can we understand this passage to mean anything different. What do we see in churches today? I mean churches that profess themselves Christians and people who claim to be born again. We see a church where people are truly lovers of selves. They think only about themselves. What worship style do I like, what music do I like, what Bible translation do I like.

We see people who are covetous, proud and yes blasphemous taking the name of God and throwing it around like any other word. Disobedience to parents is rampant among youth groups and we are especially unthankful. Unholy, now there is a term that describes the church today and without natural affection.

People often give a pretense but rarely truly care for one another. Gone are the days of long fellowships and going into each others homes. Without natural affection towards God as well. Seldom do people take much time to dwell on their love for God.

False accusers now this is one where I have been victim even in my own church and not once but several times by the same group. Fierce and without self control describes many Christians I have known. lovers of pleasure more then lovers of God. No statement in this passage more describes he modern American church then this one.

Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof. This describes most professing Christians especially in American churches. Most say the right Christian words and dress in the right Christian clothes and go to church and do all the right Christian things yet they lack real power with God. They lack prayer power. They lack power over sin and temptation.

Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. Many sit in churches year in and year out and die and go to hell. Because of all the things listed before it. Powerless pulpits, a mere form of godliness and all the others. People put on a show who are never really saved and everyone around them is either in the same condition, or powerless to help them and they perish in the pew. Oh that we would heed this warning in our own church. This is where church discipline comes into play. We need to stop playing church, stop playing games, and stop playing God. Paul warned us it would come but he also gave us excellent advice.

“All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

We must rest our faith, our practice and our churches squarely on the authority of the Word of God.





Storehouse Giving

21 05 2014

A very common doctrine taught in churches across this country is the doctrine of storehouse giving. This doctrine teaches that we must give all of our offerings through the local church. This doctrine is relatively new going back no more then the early to middle twentieth century. Many of the great preachers of history whom these churches hold in such high esteem would never have been had they practiced this doctrine. D.L. Moody, Hudson Taylor, William Carey, George Mueller, Corrie Ten Boom, Billy Sunday and others received offerings from individuals as well as churches.

I can’t seem to trace the beginnings of this doctrine but many today will break fellowship with those who disagree. As far as motivation goes I think that as more and more Christian organizations grew up looking for support churches and pastors felt a need to find a way to ensure offerings would still come in to support the church. Unfortunately, I think some hopefully well meaning men used the Bible as a means to gain something they felt they were losing.

Let me say up front that I am not saying people should stop giving to their local church. I think you should give to your local church and I believe your sinning if you don’t give to your church. The question is can we give our offering or a portion of our offering to a missionary, a poor person, a ministry of some sort without it going through the church? I believe the answer is yes we can. As an Independent Baptist I find it interesting that our churches teach this doctrine to the point of breaking fellowship and yet one of the founders of our movement John R. Rice opposed such a teaching.

I have heard some preachers say that he opposed it to get contributions for his newspaper The Sword of the Lord. Let me say I don’t believe Dr. Rice would deny something he thought the Bible taught just for gain. Let me also suggest that perhaps preachers developed such a doctrine to get support away from his newspaper. Well anyway I guess we should ask what saith the Scripture? There is one proof text used to teach such a doctrine and it is not even in the New Testament.

“Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.” (Malachi 3:10)

What is the storehouse spoken of here in this passage? It’s the temple in Jerusalem. The storehouse is no longer standing nor is it the proper place for the worship of God in this New Testament age. So we cannot literally obey this passage but what if the storehouse has moved? The question you have to ask yourself is this: has the New Testament Church replaced the Old Testament temple? The answer from the Scriptures is no it has not.

The church is simply the meeting or gathering of the body of Christ. In the early church they met in homes but today we meet in buildings. These are not special holy places. They are just buildings where the people of God meet. The holiness of the place is limited to the presence of the people of God. The church is not the new temple. So according to the Bible what is the temple today?

“Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.” (1 Corinthians 3:16-17)

To turn the storehouse which is the temple into the local church by saying the church is the new temple is to reject what the Bible says concerning the believer being the temple of God. When believers were commanded to set aside their offering it was not in some local church general fund.

“Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given order to the churches of Galatia, even so do ye. Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come.” (1 Corinthians 16:1-2)

In the early church they met in homes not buildings and had little overhead. I’m sure most of the offerings that were given were to help traveling preachers, poor saints, or other churches. He says the collection was “for the saints.” The giving here was probably for the poor saints in Jerusalem as Paul we know took gifts from other churches such as Macedonia to help them. The early believers gave to the local church by laying their gifts at the apostles feet but many just helped Paul on his way, or laid up in a place by themselves a gift to give to Paul on his journey to Jerusalem.

He told them upon the first day of the week. This was probably the day they received their wages and we know it was the day they came together for worship. He didn’t say for everyone to lay up in store at the church treasury. He said to “lay by him in store.” This means to set aside a sum by himself or in his own place the amount he was going to give.

I don’t think this excludes church general accounts. The churches had no way of having bank accounts in this day like we do now. I think church accounts are right and proper but this verse also doesn’t require such an offering to go into a specific place. The “by him” or “in his own place” meaning would leave that freedom up to the person giving. I have at times used this doctrine as an excuse not to give. When people have come to me I have just said, “well I give to my local church.”

I withheld an offering to the Lord from someone who needed it because it was not through the church. Today I enjoy great freedom in giving. I give to the support of my local church as all believers ought to do but if a missionary needs something, a poor saint needs something, or a cause comes up I can give “as unto the Lord” directly to that person or cause. As a priest in the house of God I have that ability. Storehouse giving binds the people of God and strikes at the heart of the priesthood of believers.





The Lot Syndrome

28 04 2014

I think we in Christianity today have a sickness, well not exactly a sickness but we suffer from something that if left unchecked will impact millions of people. We have what I call the “Lot syndrome.” What do I mean by the Lot syndrome you ask? Look at what happened in the life of Lot. He lived in one of the most wicked societies of his day and although he was a righteous man before God he tolerated the unrighteousness around him without even a warning.

“And turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrha into ashes condemned them with an overthrow, making them an ensample unto those that after should live ungodly; And delivered just Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked: (For that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds.” (2 Peter 2:6-8)

So Lot lived among them seeing and hearing their wickedness and yet as far as Scripture informs us he said nothing about it to those around him. He even sat in the gate of the city which in Bible terms means he was a leader in the city and yet did little or nothing to warn them of their wickedness.

“And there came two angels to Sodom at even; and Lot sat in the gate of Sodom: and Lot seeing them rose up to meet them; and he bowed himself with his face toward the ground.” (Genesis 19:1)

He simply tried to fit in. Until the word came that God was going to destroy the city save for Lot and his family. When he finally gets the guts to warn his family about the coming wrath well you could say they thought he was joking. It seems his long years of silence led them to be surprised that the city was even that wicked.

“And Lot went out, and spake unto his sons in law, which married his daughters, and said, Up, get you out of this place; for the Lord will destroy this city. But he seemed as one that mocked unto his sons in law.” (Genesis 19:14)

I think that like Lot many churches have spent the last 20 or so years trying to fit into the American culture. We have designed our churches, and ministries around making people feel the most comfortable. We have designed our teaching to lift self esteem. We have even justified or at least ignored sinful activity such as fornication, and abortion.

Now that the culture has taken a new turn and embraced the homosexual movement society looks to us to accept or at the very least ignore such sins. When Christians come out and take a stand we seem to them as one that mocks because for so long we compromised our churches, or message, and our calling to make them feel loved, accepted, and comfortable.

Some professing Christians with a strong emphasis on professing have come out in support of the gay agenda because they were never of us in the first place.

“They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us.” (1 John 2:19)

When a sincere Christian fails to embrace such sinful behavior or even warns the person to turn from their wickedness the culture is (I believe) genuinely surprised and angered. We wan that God will destroy the wicked and we seem to them as one that mocks since after all we have tolerated such sinful behavior even often sitting in the gate of our city and nation.

How do we break the Lot syndrome? The answer is simple stop forming our churches to please the culture. Stand on the promises and message of the Word of God. Preach the old fashioned Gospel in sincerity and truth. Seek and ask for the old paths of repentance from sin, and separation from the world. Don’t worry out making them feel comfortable but warn them they stand condemned. Remind them that Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners and urge them to flee from the wrath to come.





Come Out From Among Them

8 01 2014

In our day and age the church seems to have become so tied in with the world that we are concerned with what the world thinks about us. We try to be “diverse” or “relevant” or “Understanding.” This has led to the forsaking of doctrines such as eternal punishment, and the righteous justice of God. We want the world to esteem us well although the Bible says, “If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also.” (John 15:18-20) Let’s look at a few areas we as Christians have failed to fully separate from the world.

1.We have focused our attention on the attributes of God that are easy to understand such as His love. We then act as though because He is love that there can be no eternal punishment. This is a false view of God’s nature. He is love as the Bible clearly says, “He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.” (1 John 4:8) While we embrace God’s love and are thankful for it we cannot forget that God is also just, holy, righteous, merciful, longsuffering, angry, and jealous. We cannot simply highlight parts of God’s character we like and hide the ones we don’t. We try to portray to the world a god they will accept if they like him well enough. God is to be accepted on the basis He is God. Like it or lump it as my dad use to say. If God in His entire being seems distasteful, or unlikable then refuse Him to your own peril but we are not helping sinners by painting for them a half picture of the God of the Bible. We must as a church present God in His entirety to the world.

2. We have reduced God’s love to mere human affection or worse even lust. We are told, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16) While the truth of God’s love for mankind cannot be denied I have listened to so called Christian radio (who’s tactics and music sound no different than the world) air stuff like “God is passionately in love with you” or  “God’s heart beats for you” or “God has a major crush on you.” We try to make God’s love to be on the same level as the mushy, gooey love that Hollywood presents to us and it lowers and cheapens God’s definition of love.

3. We try to make church less like church hoping to draw people in. I often hear of trying to get people in church who wouldn’t go otherwise. Listen if they won’t go then go to where they are and share the Gospel with them. In many places church has gone from solemn to a party scene, from an assembly to a hang out. We do all we can to take the sacredness out of church and make it more like a movie theater or rock concert. Your not going to win genuine converts that way and even if it worked it is trying to take upon yourself the work of the Holy Spirit which is drawing the hearts of men.

4. We stop going out and sharing the Gospel hoping to have more results through friendship evangelism. Let’s be clear evangelism is not about results. I don’t go share the Gospel because I am trying to win a soul. I go because God has commanded it. I go because I am obedient. Sometimes I plant, other times I water and if God chooses to give increase while I’m there then wonderful. Many churches see evangelism as a means of church building and when they don’t see church growth they give it up. They have a faulty view of evangelism in my opinion.

5. We fear being outcasts in society. We want so much to be accepted in our communities but this is completely outside the realm of Scripture. The disciples had a bad reputation and yet many converts. The view of them by Rome or the Sanhedrin didn’t effect their outreach at all. When people saw the marked difference between the followers of Christ and everyone else they wanted that themselves. In our day we want to be as much like our culture as possible. There is no difference and then we hope to win them over by emphasizing how happy we are. The early believers couldn’t do this because they were being hunted down, tortured and killed and yet people still converted.

It’s time the church return to the principles of fundamental Christianity. Gospel preaching, Bible believing, soul winning, and separated living. It’s time our services return to the solemn worship of the Lord, it’s time we stop having services with people in mind and have them with God in mind.





Weeping For God’s Name

30 11 2011

“And said unto the king, Let the king live for ever: why should not my countenance be sad, when the city, the place of my fathers’ sepulchres, lieth waste, and the gates thereof are consumed with fire?” Nehemiah 2:3

     Nehemiah was sad about the condition of Jeruslaem, the temple of God and the place of his heritage. He pleaded with God to have mercy and restore it. The King noticed his sadness and through that God used the king to restore the wall of Jerusalem. It was also (some say) from the going out of this command that time would be marked until the coming of Messiah.
The lesson for us here is this, are you sorrowful at the condition of God’s temple (the church)? Do you criticize but now weep for it? Do you pray for God to restore His church and to build it up? Do you pray for Jerusalem? David said, “If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning.” Psalm 137:5 and we are told to “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: they shall prosper that love thee.” Psalm 122:6.
     Do you weep when your family strays from the Lord and do you seek to restore them? Do you pray for them? I come from a Godly heritage and some of those who raised me no longer walk in the path they led me in. You could say as Nehemiah that the “place of my father’s sepulchres lie in waste.” We must as Nehemiah be broken for the things of God and not simply go on as if all is ok. We must seek God to restore those things and plead for the right even when all hope is gone and the wrong prevails.








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