Wednesday, March 23, 2011

It never fails

Every time I get a thought, an inclination, a desire to come along side and join with my brothers and sisters that are still clinging to the institutional form of church I run into a dead end.  It's very frustrating and grevious.

Just as I go ahead with the intention of living out the union we have in Christ Jesus with one another I get another slap in the face, a stiff forearm, and a swift kick in the rear end as I am sent away from the ones I love.  I don't understand it, I can't explain it and I am broken because of it.

This time it comes from an article written by a local pastor in the PCA organization that was re-posted by an elder of mine in the place we previously attended.  After blasting off on Barna's book "Revoution" and going on about how the church that meets outside the institutional forms "is no Church at all" he provides us with this little ditty of institutional insight.

Jesus gave to the church the keys of the kingdom of heaven, the power of binding and loosing (Matt. 16:19), and the authority to forgive and retain sin (John 20:23). He appointed apostles, who appointed elders, who are responsible for calling the church to assemble on the Lord's Day, for conducting public worship, for administering the word and sacraments, and for maintaining a disciplined membership (Matt. 18:15-20; 28:18-20).

Notice there are no scriptural quotations for what the elders are responsible to do.  That is because his assertions are unbiblical and purely traditional.  I would assert that these traditions actually go in a completely different direction than what elders, according to scripture, are called to do.

He then goes on to describe how every other Saddleback, Purpose Driven, demographic studying institution is wrong and only the truly Reformed carriers of the plain, authoritative, and catholic traditions are right.  It ends with a statemebt that impresses the reader to doubt whether they are a child of God if they desire anything other than that on Sunday morning.

I found it sickening.  In my opinion it is either the unrealized propagation of deep deception or purposeful manipulation to remain in power.  The only mention of Christ Jesus in the entire piece was to an effort to give elders authority over the Church.  Another unbiblical assertion.

I'm trying, I really am trying to come to grips with my convictions and not be divisive.  What it's leading to is a brokenness from the Lord over my own pride and bitterness and deep anguish over the sufferings I'm receiving from my brethren.  Even so, may Christ be revealed.


  1. I get what you are saying. I have largely given up hope that the institutional church is going to ever change. Our goal might be better seen as making disciples, new believers, who are not carrying the baggage of institutionalism and are driven to make new disciples in turn.

  2. Bobby,

    I definitely understand the frustration that I'm hearing in this post. I've felt it myself. Then, God always reminds me that I can't control how other people react. However, I can always offer unity and be ready to respond if and when someone else is ready.


  3. Arthur,

    you're probably right. Even so, I can't help but be concerned with the condition of Christ's body and the crippling effects of the present systems. I wish my heart broke for the lost as much as it does for the masses in the pews.

  4. Alan,

    unity: that is my desire and it is where I fail the most. I'm doing something wrong.

  5. Pray for them. Ask God to bless them with the knowledge of the truth.
    Forgive them. They don't know what they're doing.
    Rejoice that your heart is breaking for them. Jesus feels the same way.
    Give thanks to God, that in His mercy, He has opened our eyes to the truth.
    Give thanks to God that He has given you boldness to speak the truth as His messenger.
    Let God be sovereign over where the fruit grows. You are only a planter and a waterer. That's all.

  6. Tim,

    thanks for the encouragement and exhortation. Rejoicing is hardest when knowledge brings so much suffering. I guess there is alot of truth in the phrase "ignorance is bliss".

  7. I was pondering this old hymn form John Newton. The 5th stanza applies in this situation:

    One there is, above all others,
    Well deserves the name of friend;
    His is love beyond a brother’s,
    Costly, free, and knows no end:
    They who once His kindness prove,
    Find it everlasting love!

    Which of all our friends to save us,
    Could or would have shed their blood?
    But our Jesus died to have us
    Reconciled, in Him to God:
    This was boundless love indeed!
    Jesus is a friend in deed.

    Men, when raised to lofty stations,
    Often know their friends no more;
    Slight and scorn their poor relations
    Though they valued them before.
    But our Savior always owns
    Those whom He redeemed with groans.

    When He lived on earth abasèd,
    Friend of sinners was His name;
    Now, above all glory raisèd,
    He rejoices in the same:
    Still He calls them brethren, friends,
    And to all their prayers attends.

    Could we bear from one another,
    What He daily bears from us?
    Yet this glorious friend and brother,
    Loves us though we treat Him thus:
    Though for good we render ill,
    He accounts us brethren still.

    O for grace our hearts to soften!
    Teach us, Lord, at length to love;
    We, alas! forget too often,
    What a friend we have above:
    But when home our souls are brought,
    We will love Thee as we ought.


As in a biblical church gathering, my word is not complete or final. Participation is allowed, encouraged and expected. Please, don't leave without adding something.