I only wish I could write as clearly about the local Church as Mr. Dan Phillips! The blog is a quick/easy read despite its length, but if I could ask every reader of this blog to read only one post it would be this one (sad seeing I didn’t eve write it, huh?). I hope you enjoy it, or are convicted by it as we at Trinity continue to study “The Church”... if you want to read comments or more from this post it is found at:
07 NOVEMBER 2008
Why you need to be in a church this Sunday
by Dan Phillips
"Everything old is new again," and the saying certainly holds true when it comes to heresy, false doctrine and plain old unbiblical nuttiness.
For instance, back in the anti-establishment 60s and 70s, Christianoid kids would verbally trash the "organized church." Didn't need to go to a building, they'd say; they were the church. The real Bible scholars among them (relatively speaking) might yank 1 Corinthians 6:19 out of context and waterboard it a bit, until it said what they wanted to hear.
But no, Trevor, you're not the church. You're part of the church. The word ἐκκλησία (ekklēsia) means "assembly," and no, you're really not an assembly. Doesn't matter how many chins you have, you still aren't an assembly.
What you are (you tell me) is a Christian. If you're a Christian, you claim Jesus as your Lord.
Where's your Lord today? He depicts Himself as walking among local assemblies (Revelation 1:12-13, 20), holding their pastors in His right hand (vv. 16, 20). What do you think the message is, there? Why is He not watching a lovely sunset, or fishing, or walking the dog, or riding a comet? Why among churches, among assemblies, cherishing their pastors?
Because that's where Jesus is. That's where His great heart is. Do you know better than He? Which one of you is "Lord," again?
That's the church, that local assembly of believers where pastors lead, the Word is preached, the ordinances are observed, and discipline is carried out. Christ loved it and gave Himself for it (Ephesians 5:25). He died for it.
But you won't walk into one of them, and stay there? Which one of you is "Lord," again?
Before He died, Jesus prayed for the church, all of it (John 17). Even (especially!) with what He was facing, the church was on His heart.
But you won't attach yourself to one, to join it and work in it and pray for it? Which one of you is "Lord," again?
Who is your pastor? Are you fool enough to say "Jesus is my pastor"? Nonsense. When He ascended, He gave pastors to the church (Ephesians 4:11). If He gave them, then He isn't them. Which one is your pastor, your toe-to-toe, eyeball-to-eyeball pastor?
Your "Lord" charged pastors with the care of souls. That means Jesus — your Lord, so you say — thinks your soul needs watching over (Hebrews 13:7, 17). Which individual flesh and bones living pastor is watching over your soul, in person, individually?
If "none," how is it that you decided you are smarter than Jesus? You know, Jesus. Your "Lord." Which one of you is "Lord," again?
Jesus, your Lord, also called you to know, show respect for, esteem highly in love, and submit to the leadership of your flesh-and-blood in-person pastor (1 Thessalonians 5:12-13; Hebrews 13:17). Which pastor is it that sees you come regularly to be discipled and led, and sees you loving and trusting God enough to yield him the love and submission to which God calls you?
If you bristle at the thought of embracing what Jesus calls you to — which one of you is "Lord," again?
And if you fall into unrepentant sin, which assembly will even know of it, let alone discipline you? Jesus says you need that, too (Matthew 18:13-20). I don't care what complex, high-sounding Dagwood sandwich of excuses you can slap together. If you say you don't need to be in a local assembly, you say you're smarter than Jesus, and are sufficient.
And remember, that Jesus you say is your "Lord" said that the second most important thing in the world is to love your neighbor (Matthew 22:39). He moved Paul to tell you your fellow-church-member is your premier neighbor (Galatians 6:10). That's where you take all that rich doctrine (Ephesians 1—3), and live it out in community (Ephesians 4—6). That's where you do all those dozens of "one anothers."
And if you tell yourself that your spouse or children are all the "one anothers" you need, God already said "No." If you insist, you put your judgment over God's.
Meaning that, whatever your mouth professes, your choices say you find God's judgment deficient, and yours superior.
Meaning you're a fool and a de facto blasphemer — whether you intend to be or not.
And you thereby bring harm on your spouse and children, by preaching and living a lie to them.
That's for starters.
So, Jesus — your "Lord" — says you need to be in a local church. You say you don't?
Which one to believe? You? Or Jesus? You? Or Jesus? Hmm.
Here's the problem, I think. I've said a word thirteen times: Lord. The confession of Jesus as Lord is fundamental to Christian faith (Romans 10:9; 1 Corinthians 12:3; Philippians 2:11). In repentant faith, we bow the knee to Christ's Lordship.
I think the problem with a lot of these late-blooming hippies is, at root, authority. They don't like to have to sit still and listen while someone else talks. They don't like someone else being in charge. They don't like being encouraged to join, commit, join in, be with, commit themselves, be accountable, be answerable.
Our race was bitten with an anti-authority bug when great-grandma bought the "You shall be as gods" line, and great-granddad followed her lead. But conversion — real conversion — deals with that bug.
It all really comes back to Jesus, the Lord. You may not like the idea of being accountable to a man, or a group of men. You'd rather sit home, watching TV or listening to tapes. Whenever you want, wherever you want. No yucky people to be patient with; don't have to listen to all their whiny problems and needs. No need to adjust to different accents, different ways of thinking, different cultures. Just you, you, you.
But Jesus — the Lord — commands you to go to church, join in church, participate in church, and submit to the God-ordained human leadership of the church.
That's your issue. Is Jesus your Lord in reality, or in theory alone? When convenient, or no? Are your ego and control-issues the boundary of His Lordship?
See you in church.