Dr. Bill Crump
Dr. Bill Crump

June 28th, 2005, 5:33 pm #21

Paul predicted that some would fall from the faith (I Tim. 4:1). In the parable of the sower and the soils, only one of four types proved faithful. (Matt. 13:18-23). There are many reasons why people turn their backs on Christ's church. Among them are:

First of all is the determination of Satan to recapture the soul he has lost to Christ (I Pet. 5:8). Unwary souls are his victims.

Discouragement. This may be in their personal or family life. It may be with difficulties in the church or with poor examples of Christianity.

Weakness of character and purpose. Some folks find it hard to live a disciplined life, to set a goal and pursue it, to be faithful unto death (Rev. 2:10). They started with good intentions but faltered and fell along the way.

False expectations of the church and their fellow-Christians. They expect perfect churches and Christians and are disheartened when they find that all are imperfect like they are.

Poor experiences in worship and instruction in the church cause some to go astray. Lack luster worship, poor quality preaching that lacks a solid Biblical basis, or that is filled with personal opinions and thoughtless assertions leaves folks hungering and thirsting for righteousness and they go elsewhere to find it.

Disillusionment with Christianity in general and the church in particular. This affects many of our contemporaries. The church does not measure up to what they want it to be, so they turn away.

Some are members of the church of Christ by accident of birth rather than by faith and conviction. Their parents were Christians and they grew up "in the Church." They were never truly born again (John 3:3-5).

Some are members by marriage. They "joined" the church to win the favor of the person they loved or perhaps their parents. Having attained their mate, they turned away from that in which they really did not believe.

Worldly influences can draw some away from Christ and his church. Worldly friends, lodges, clubs, recreation. They don't have enough time left in their lives for Christ and the church (Matt. 13:22).

Bad experiences with one or more Christians that hurt them and caused them to wrongly conclude that all Christians were like that. Satan always has one or more counterfeit Christians stationed in most churches.

Lack of encouragement in their early days in Christ or when they went through some trying times. Like babies, most of us need help in learning to walk with Christ (Eph. 4:11-15).

Lack of proper and appropriate teaching and indoctrination that would root and ground them in the faith (II Pet. 3:18).

Some mistakenly conclude that they can enjoy all the privileges of sonship and salvation just by believing in Christ; that the church is optional. Thus for various reasons they lose interest in the church (Matt. 13:19).

Some have not been taught the signal truths that Christ founded but one church (Matt. 16:18; Eph. 4:4) and that denominations are not an acceptable substitute or alternative for his church (I Cor. 1:10-15).

Some are captured by teachers from their former religious connections. Not knowing how to explain their new-found faith or to respond to the false teaching they are ensnared.

By giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils causes many to go astray (I Tim. 4:1). If one fills his mind with false teaching we should not be surprised if he gradually embraces it. Some spend hours before the television watching the theatrical performances of false teachers. They devour books written by authors who are selling something other than pure Christianity. They go to services and activities of religious groups which are not faithfully teaching God's Word. Like the bird lured into the snare they are caught.

A failure to break their ties with influential worldly people who eventfully draw them back into sin. This might include some family members, and especially important social ties (I Cor. 15:33).

A lack of genuine repentance towards their old life and true heart-changing conversion. They never die to sin (Rom. 6:2). In time sin reasserts itself and sweeps them away (Rom. 7:9).

A rebellious heart that was never brought into full subjection to Christ, His Word and His Way (Is. 65:2).

Stubbornness causes some to fall away. They hate to give up cherished beliefs or activities that are detrimental to faithfulness. They resent correction (I Sam. 15:23).

A desire to be like the world about them (I Sam. 8:5). When their spiritual leaders and teachers reprove them for their worldliness they become enraged and refuse to continue in the church.

False pride which makes some feel they should be able to tell the church what to believe, teach and practice. When their ideas are rejected, their pride is wounded and they go elsewhere hoping to be able to assert themselves.

Advanced worldly education and attainments that make some feel too knowledgeable or too important to stay with people who are so simple and old-fashioned that they strictly follow the Bible pattern.

Some lost their faith in the simple gospel while pursing their education. They fell victim to the secular humanism and worldly philosophy that dominates most secular schools. Some wily, unbelieving professor may have destroyed their faith.

Wealth and high social position makes some uncomfortable associating with humble, ordinary Christians. Their desire for association with a higher social set draws them away from the church to some group that offers what they want.

Legalism and self-righteousness on the part of church members will drive those who long for a peaceful, devout spiritual environment.

Some have had their faith in the Bible, in the church, and her Bible-based doctrine and worship undermined by skeptical liberal preachers who lurk among us like wolves around sheep.

Some have been overtaken in transgression and no strong Christian stopped to rescue them and get them back on the straitened and narrow way (Gal. 6:1).

Some do not understand the meaning of God's grace and its role in salvation. They strive to be righteous by their own efforts and fail. They are ashamed and humiliated with their failure. They only conceive of God as their judge who is displeased with them. Not realizing his love, his grace and mercy, which never fails, they eventually give up and cease trying.

Some either were not taught or else did not accept the sacred premise that Christians must be different from the world (Rom. 12:1-2). They did not understand that becoming Christ's disciples would cause some in the world to hate them (John 15:18). Their faith was not sufficient to stand alone with Christ and when the test came they failed.

In our postmodern age many cannot tolerate the idea that a church refuses to change to meet the expectations on 21st century folks. They are offended that a church has an absolute standard that allows of no compromise. They resent a church that judges some things to be unalterably right and some to be unalterably wrong. They are embarrassed with a church that insists it is actually the church of Christ.

John Waddey

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Dr. Bill Crump
Dr. Bill Crump

June 29th, 2005, 5:47 pm #22

Some who abandon the church do so with sorrow and embarrassment. They realize they are wrong and often feel powerless to correct their situation. Like the rich young ruler, they go away sorrowful. For them there is the possibility of a return at some future date.

Some leave, not realizing what they have left behind. They are not bitter. They just think they have found something more appealing to them.

But some, whose false pride caused them to leave, are determined to destroy that which they could not capture or control. They hate those who reproved their sin. They despise that which did not appreciate their "greatness" and importance. They cannot bear to admit they were wrong in leaving the church so they heap all the blame they can create and imagine on the church they have rejected. They are driven to justify themselves and their abandonment of the church of Christ. They attempt to do so by denigrating the church and those who are her faithful members. Being lifted up with pride they fall into the condemnation of the devil (I Tim. 3:6).

John H. Waddey

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Dr. Bill Crump
Dr. Bill Crump

June 29th, 2005, 9:13 pm #23

It is distressing to see men who for years have faithfully preached the gospel, turn their backs on the truths they formerly proclaimed and embrace the errors of the change movement. Some enmeshed in this movement are the sons or grandsons of notable Christians who lived and died in the faith. You may ask how can this be? What makes a man turn away from the old paths of Bible truth? Several factors may cause the corrupting of the faith of a man or woman. Consider the following:

For others it was some influential and dominate preacher under whose influence they fell.

For some it was the school where they got their higher education. Many of our Christian schools employ men who see their mission to be to undermine and change the faith of their students.

Some lost their faith while pursuing higher education in secular or denominational schools. Their faith was not sufficient to resist the pressures of their non-Christian peers.

Some gave up their old faith in order to gain the acceptance and approval of the denominational world. They crave its bigness, glamor and respectability.

Some grew weary of standing alone on the Word of God and elected to go with the current of the culture. They stay among us but they tailor they message to please the worldly folks among us.

Some adjust their faith in order to keep their jobs. When congregations absorb the ways of the world, they want a preacher who will tell them that such is OK. If their preacher will not do so they will find another. Rather than lose their comfortable and well-paying positions such men modify their message.

Some are so deficient in Bible knowledge and in knowledge of our past history that they blindly stray from the path of truth and fall into the ditch of error.

Some are in the church of Christ by accident of birth. By that I mean they were born into a family that were members of the church. As youngsters they were baptized but they never had a deep commitment, love or loyalty to the Lord and his church. After a while they come to despise the church. Yet they stay among us, spreading their personal venom and hated for the church of their youth.

Some of them have had a bad experience in the church. Many a man has been attacked and mauled by some of our ultraconservative guardians for some shibboleth he failed to pronounce correctly. Sometimes such victims assume that all members of the church are of that same cut. Often such an experience turns one against the church.

There are likely other reasons we could suggest but these pretty well cover the field.

John H. Waddey
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Joined: July 3rd, 2005, 2:11 am

July 3rd, 2005, 3:38 am #24

Where God has led me to work for change within the mission field of the "Church of Christ" is three-fold.

First, as Paul did, I want to model my primary passion of bragging about the glorious knowledge of God through the physical incarnation of Jesus and the revelation of scripture. In my local fellowship, I encourqe the leadership to focus on this goal in all that we do. We often get sidetracked with serving those gathered at the religious food trough but we are in a fallen world. And, I enjoy giving grace to those God has purposed for me to work with on this earth. It reminds me of how much grace God has given me.

I might make a side comment that it appears much of the bible study referenced on this site is purposed to know scripture not our God through scripture. I would underscore that those two things are eternally different. The passage that gives me perspective is always Matt 23.

Second, I want to elevate Baptism to a beautiful and sacred celebration of Christ's justification on the cross. And, the beginning God's resurection power expressed in the sanctification process. As well as, the fellowships' commitment to disciple the new believer. I long for the idolity of the baptistry to be torn down. I pray fervantly that no more spiritual babies will be abondoned to die in the dumpster of the discipe-less church. We cannot step back from someone because we got them dunked. We can not feel like "we're done" because we have checked off our trivialized, Jesus-less and self-serving "steps of salvation". Each of us are purposed by God to humble ourselves to more mature Chritians for admonition, encouragement, spiritual direction, etc and also to accept authority to do the same in those who have not yet journeyed where we have been. We need to take back the Great Omision from the Great Commision. Jesus did not say, "read my rantings on a message board" or "listen to my proofed text doctinal dogmantics". He said, "follow me." As his disciples we much encourge others to follow us. And, we respectfully follow those who have come before...when we can find those with the spirit to do so.

I must say here is that I have been a member of the church of Christ for 27 years and while seeking discipleship from coC leaders, from my best count over 70, only 4 men have been willing to share their failure and sucess, pray through struggles and petition God about His direction for my Christian life. (Two of the four were related to me.) I think if the spiritually mature would stop beating up our young and begin to disciple we would see God's power anew. We would all be blessed. The vibrant and clumsy "change agents" could be redirected from diviseness to what they really want: honest/real relationship with God, loving training and genuine Christian community.

I have to tell you that I thank God daily for the men He put in my life to train my by the power of the Holy Spirit. I am fervantly training others to look to train, purpose to train, live to train. I do believe God is raising up in the church of Christ a new generation that has been trained only by the Spirit. A generation that has seen the miraculous, transformational power of God through Spirit-led meditation and understanding of the Word. God has had to do this beyond our church leaders and teachers because the generation in leadership for the last 30 years has been to distracted by the modern worldliness of the church to serve God through Godly disciplship. I have to repent of my part in that self-centeredness.

Third, I want our fellowship to be known for its self-less love of others. I am purposefully developing Godly relationship with everyone that God leads into my life. I have had to dramatically cut back on "church work" to do so but God has blessed me. I am slowly getting better at saying "no" That is purely the power of the Holy Spirit. My wife and I are opening our home two, three, even four nights a week to others to come in and fellowship with us. I believe that the table and the sharing of bread is so important in the church. Christ gave us the communal breaking of bread to foundationally and regularly share our faith in the gift of Christ but the breaking of bread also reinforces the gift of the church. By frequently sharing my bread I am lovingly sharing my life. A life that comes solely and completely from God. A life that I ache for all children to have with the Father.

That is the church of Christ of which I am a member. It is a church against which Satan is powerless. It is a church that is eternally victorious. I do not lose one nights sleep worrying about it losing it's identity or it's Godly righteousness.



allan

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Dr. Bill Crump
Dr. Bill Crump

July 3rd, 2005, 3:12 pm #25

Allan’s post is quite well-worded, but wading through all the romantic phrases and flowery images made it difficult to see the real “meat” of the matter. I came away with the impression that Allan wishes to “change” the Church based more on romantic notions, not because Christ’s Church as such has seriously fallen out of step with New Testament principles. Change must be made to conform to the New Testament, not to conform to personal whims, desires, and preferences. With that in mind, I’ll make just a couple of comments about a couple of troublesome statements that Allan made:

Allan stated: "I might make a side comment that it appears much of the bible study referenced on this site is purposed to know scripture not our God through scripture."

This indeed is merely a "side comment" which really has nothing to do with Allan's "message." It says in essence, "I now pause to bash this web site." Allan implies that those of us who teach the Scriptures at this web site are not teaching anyone to “know God through the Scriptures.” That, of course, is a judgmental assumption based on a lack of perspective. Friends, I submit that in order to “know God through the Scriptures,” we must first be familiar with the Scriptures themselves, and that comes by reading and studying the Scriptures, or by having the Scriptures taught to us. We can present the Truth of the Scriptures here, but no web site can make people obey those Scriptures and live their lives daily by them. Hence, in order to "know God through the Scriptures," we must first know the Scriptures and be obedient to them.

Allan also stated: "Second, I want to elevate Baptism to a beautiful and sacred celebration of Christ's justification on the cross...I long for the idolity [sic] of the baptistry to be torn down."

While I again hope that Allan is not trying to be radical, he implies that we make much ado about baptism, that baptism is perhaps not essential for salvation. According to Allan, baptism is "a beautiful and sacred celebration of Christ’s justification on the cross," yet the baptistry, which further implies baptism itself, is “idolatry.” This is a complete contradiction. Obedience to Mark 16:16, Acts 2:38, and 1 Peter 3:21, which link baptism with remission of sins and salvation, can hardly be considered “idolatry.”

Let’s be careful about wanting to “change” the Church so badly that we end up compromising the Scriptures. If we truly "know God through the Scriptures," we won't compromise the Scriptures.
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allan
allan

July 4th, 2005, 5:40 am #26

The point I was trying to clarify Dr. Crump was not to diminish Baptism or the study of Holy Scripture. I was poorly trying to say that they are elevated only because of what they point to/reveal. Baptism and Scripture are not the end point. The graceful, loving, merciful, fearful and just God that gave them is the end point.

I daily study the Word with fearful humility seeking the wonderful God revealed there. I passionately teach water baptism as a part of the process of salvation and the receiving of the Holy Spirit. My point was that we cannot stop there. (and do not hear me saying that I think you do but it often happens) When we focus solely on baptism instead of the God who gave us the plan, the savior and the resurection; that equals idolitry. I think your reference of 1 Peter 3:21 says that well.

I would also say that when we are limited in focus to the moment of Baptism that we never move to the life given therein, that is idolitry. Christ didn't die to give us baptism. He died to give us life.

I think Christ is very clear on this subject in the sermon on the mount and in Matt 23.

I apologize if you felt judged by my comment. I just want to encourage others to go to God to know Him and not to see (for example) if His plan for worship style matches up with our own.
whatever that may be.

We study scripture not to obey scripture. That is something that is blinded by pride, personal perspective, bias. I would put any of the message strings on this board as excellent examples of that point. Instead, we study scripture to know God. Then, as we know God we obey God. Those are two different things

I also apologize for being too romantic and flowery. I tend to bubble over a little when I talk about that which I love.

The meat of what I was trying to say:
1. We have to be about glorifying God and calling on His name in all we do.

I breathe because God gave me breath. I work because gave me skills. I study the word and share with others because I have been taught by the Spirit. I know God because His grace reveals Him to me.

2. It is my humble opinion that I don't know much about discipling. I have not been taught much about it. I have not been mentored in how to do it. I do not see much of it at the churches I have fellowshipped. I do see Christ as the master-discipler.

3. Our emphasis as church families has to be about knowing each other. The first chapters of Acts clearly paint this picture. Jesus modeled this so well for us. If we do not share our lives and know each other then suspicion, assuming the worst, not giving each other a break and judging each others comments rule the day. And no one admonishes, encourages or instructs in that splintering fellowship.

Then Dr. Crump peace, love, joy and unity can abound, as you and I discuss what God is teaching us through scripture . And those who read our discussions, sit in our precense, over hear our comments will know we are Christians by our love.

I do appreciate your passion for the Word. Keep it up.

allen

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Ken Sublett
Ken Sublett

July 5th, 2005, 2:33 am #27

Making it too "spiritual" Allan:

Matt 28:19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:

Mt.28:20 Teaching them to OBSERVE all things whatsoever I have COMMANDED you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

The Holy Spirit has a name: Jesus of Nazareth. He would guide the Apostles into all truth when He returned at Pentecost as pure (holy) Spirit. The Apostles then guided into ALL truth, wrote the Scriptures to MARK those who did not "teach that which has been taught."

That's all, Allan, no Gnosticism of KNOWING through some experience. The church is the ekklesia or synagogue or "school of the Bible." The church has no ability or responsibility to DISCIPLE you beyond that. You are to follow the elders, Allan and not the Discipling Minister, as you OBEY what they teach you through the Word and as you "imitate their style of life."

As the Sabbath was defined in the Old Testament and practiced in the New Testament, the church meets for a short period each week to SPEAK that which is written one to another. You need no priesthood for that. Then the people return to their lives lived without cult control and even "sing and make melody in THEIR heart" in the kitchen or behind the plow. Everything else is a cult.

Now, if you lust for DISCIPLING, you might try to join up with Lynn Anderson who teaches the Promise Keepers DISCIPLING or SHEPHERDING which is the old Crossroads or International Church of Christ cult. Or you might join up with Max Lucado who has hired a DISCIPLING Minister. Then, they would assign you a mentor to grill you about your finances, lustful thoughts about the secretary or other "secret" sexual feelings. He will make you accountable to him even though he is pawned off as a "fellow disciple." Expect that your secret thoughts are going to be filed away to control you in the future.

Yes, Allan, we study the Word of God because God is somewhat LIMITED, you see: he commands through commands, examples and inferences. So, let's give HIM the same power we have. And, no they all lie about it, this is a Biblicall COMMAND intended to DISCIPLE us in obedience because we grow when we are EXERCISED to Godliness. It is also the UNIVERSAL understanding of all of church theologians.

No, Allan, the Holy Spirit is not going to "guide you beyond the sacred pages." Such an aspiration REJECTS God's power to speak through black text on white ink.
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allan
allan

July 5th, 2005, 5:22 am #28

I appreciate your point Ken. I have to stand firmly on the biblical text. I can not manipulate others with God's Word to get what we want. I have to stay away from endless quarrels that bring division. There is no "God told me" card that trumps the biblical example or teaching.

I do disagree with your assessment that the church met for a short time on the Sabbath to speak about the scripture and then went back to rest of their lives. I just do not see that as what God intended our what actually happened.

Jesus lived intimately with 12 men for at least 18 months. They were sent on missions where they returned to be critiqued and retrained. They were held accountable for their mistakes, encouraged and given a place to belong. They were shown specific things that were just for their training. They progressed painfully slow at times and it actually took several miricle to bring it all together.

This model of taking others and spending intimate periods together for training was modeled by Ananias and Paul, Barnabus and Paul and Paul and Timothy. In 1 Timothy 4, Paul reminds Timothy of all of the elders who have directed his ministry and encourages him to be faithful in God's plan for his life that was fortold by others.

The Jerusalem elders were very active in sifting what was being done and taught. We see Peter and Paul coming before them in Acts and the group discussing what was happening in individuals lives and ministry.

In response to my first post. Do you feel our fellowship is primarily about bringing glory to God? Does a stranger come into our midst as local churches and see God's Gospel teaching of Christ's commands in all aspects and moments of our lives? Is love of others the main expression of our response to God's love and His grace?

I have to be honest and say no. When we glorify our tradition or opinion or preference or privacy over God that is idolitry. When we do not submit to the biblical example of spiritual training through the Word and the biblical training disciplines of meditation, solitude, rest, prayer, service, fellowship (all modeled by Chrst) but rather submit to a watered down version of religion we are comfortable with that is idolitry. When we would quarrel about disputes, be mean spirited/hateful to make a doctrinal point or fuel Godless "church programs" that anesthetize the Godly longing of man instead of being the selfless, Christ-like, loving servant to those God brings into our lives that is idolitry.

That is where I see a need for change.

allan
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Dr. Bill Crump
Dr. Bill Crump

July 5th, 2005, 1:32 pm #29

An apostasy is taking place within the ranks of churches of Christ. Marching under the banner of change, those pursuing this course are determined to change the faith worship and practice of our brethren so they will be acceptable to the denominational bodies of Protestantism. The most noticeable changes include willingness to accept the use of instrumental music in worship, the placing of women in public leadership roles in the church, denying the absolute essentiality of baptism for salvation, teaching that the church of Christ is only one of many denominations that are pleasing to God.

Those who have been members of the church for any length of time stand in amazement as they see brethren turning their backs on the gospel of Christ and the church he purchased with his blood and rushing to embrace the faulty notions of men. They wonder what in the world would cause folks to make such a foolish choice? The points following seem to be common factors found in those who are looking for changes to the ancient gospel of Christ.

The leading preachers in the change movement are men of much education. Many of them have pursued their advanced degrees in either secular or denominational universities. There their faith was undermined and replaced with a denominational point of view. They have brought that home and are trying to impose it on our people.

The churches that have embraced the change agenda and those currently sampling it are generally our large, wealthy congregations. Jesus observed, "It is hard for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of heaven" (Matt. 19:23). Some seem to think that the practice of simple New Testament Christianity is all right for rural folks and the middle and lower classes, but folks of wealth and refinement need something more suitable to their tastes.

Many of those who have opted for change imagine themselves to be quite sophisticated. This flows out of their worldly educational attainments and their wealth. They are embarrassed by our simple meeting houses, a cappella congregational singing, and Bible preaching. They need something new and more challenging for folks of their station.

The major driving force in this movement has been and continues to be some of our Christian Universities. Some of these schools have grown large, wealthy and influential both in the church and in the world. In their early years their leaders saw their role as servants of the church. Today they fancy themselves spokesmen for the church. In their quest for acceptance and recognition in the world of academia they have embraced the current thinking of the worldly denominations and are trying to impose it on the church of Christ. Young preachers coming from those schools are often infected with the virus of change.

Those pushing for change in our churches seem to have concluded that the church is going to die if it continues to follow the ancient paths of the Bible. In their misguided judgment they have concluded that prosperity and survival justify replacing the old faith and worship with a new version.

Evident in the promoters of change is a dearth of Bible knowledge (Hos. 4:6). Even after 4-6 years of study in our universities many of the students know precious little of God's Word. They have studied much about church growth, contemporary religion, ministry, and theology but their accumulation of Bible knowledge has been minimal. Ignorance of the fundamentals of the faith has made them vulnerable to Satan's lies.

Along with the lack of knowledge, we see an evident lack of respect for Bible authority in the champions of change (Matt. 28:20). The demands of society, the will of the people, the theories of the scholars, the pragmatic approach, all take precedence over the ancient teaching of Scripture.

Those pushing for change exhibit a lack of respect and reverence for the church Jesus established. That she cost Christ his life on Calvary, that she was planned from eternity by God himself, that she is his beloved bride, that she is the temple of the Holy Spirit (I Cor. 3:16-17) means little to those determined to redesign her. Without blush or shame they lay profane hands on the sacred body of Christ and change her into their own image.

A major factor driving the change movement is the desire to be accepted and admired by worldly neighbors, whether religious or secular (I John 2:15). They frequently write about what our neighbors think of us. They compare us with our denominational neighbors. They bemoan the fact that we are not counted as members of the Evangelical family of churches. They are embarrassed that we insist on immersion as essential to salvation; that we teach that Christ has only one church; that we refuse to interact with denomination bodies. They are willing to sacrifice those distinctive factors that result from taking the Will of Christ seriously...to gain standing with the world.

Those who are rushing to embrace a new kind of faith and worship evidently have little or no understanding of our history as a people. They have lost, or perhaps never had, any sense of identity with those who went before us, who blazed the trail they now travel, who planted the churches and established the schools; who spread the concept of New Testament Christianity around the world. Without that tie to our history, it pains them not to cast away all that was won at so great a cost.

May God deliver us from those who would destroy the church for which his Son died.

John Waddey

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Joined: February 14th, 2004, 10:46 pm

July 5th, 2005, 8:36 pm #30

I appreciate your point Ken. I have to stand firmly on the biblical text. I can not manipulate others with God's Word to get what we want. I have to stay away from endless quarrels that bring division. There is no "God told me" card that trumps the biblical example or teaching.

I do disagree with your assessment that the church met for a short time on the Sabbath to speak about the scripture and then went back to rest of their lives. I just do not see that as what God intended our what actually happened.

Jesus lived intimately with 12 men for at least 18 months. They were sent on missions where they returned to be critiqued and retrained. They were held accountable for their mistakes, encouraged and given a place to belong. They were shown specific things that were just for their training. They progressed painfully slow at times and it actually took several miricle to bring it all together.

This model of taking others and spending intimate periods together for training was modeled by Ananias and Paul, Barnabus and Paul and Paul and Timothy. In 1 Timothy 4, Paul reminds Timothy of all of the elders who have directed his ministry and encourages him to be faithful in God's plan for his life that was fortold by others.

The Jerusalem elders were very active in sifting what was being done and taught. We see Peter and Paul coming before them in Acts and the group discussing what was happening in individuals lives and ministry.

In response to my first post. Do you feel our fellowship is primarily about bringing glory to God? Does a stranger come into our midst as local churches and see God's Gospel teaching of Christ's commands in all aspects and moments of our lives? Is love of others the main expression of our response to God's love and His grace?

I have to be honest and say no. When we glorify our tradition or opinion or preference or privacy over God that is idolitry. When we do not submit to the biblical example of spiritual training through the Word and the biblical training disciplines of meditation, solitude, rest, prayer, service, fellowship (all modeled by Chrst) but rather submit to a watered down version of religion we are comfortable with that is idolitry. When we would quarrel about disputes, be mean spirited/hateful to make a doctrinal point or fuel Godless "church programs" that anesthetize the Godly longing of man instead of being the selfless, Christ-like, loving servant to those God brings into our lives that is idolitry.

That is where I see a need for change.

allan
Thanks for your interesting points and I don't mind the flowery language at all in the original post. In fact it did not seem flowery to me which may say something about me! Anyway, what do you think about the section of Acts where the early church decided not to bring many burdens on new believers. I think they say that if they just follow a couple of "rules" and not get confused by divisive language they will do well. I think it says, as you did, that if we help people get closer to God through the scripture and prayer that the Holy Spirit will convict them of their sin as opposed to us just telling them not to do certain things. You said these changes would be good. The defensiveness you feel from the others is because when we speak of "changes" they are the specific changes that come from the Purpose Driven Movement. This is a very specific program of change which may have been well meaning on Rick Warren's part but when put in practice has caused all sorts of difficulties. Those involved in these changes justify all sorts of sin by the fact that growth almost certainly occurs as the changes take place (even cancers grow however--growth alone does not mean it is from the Lord). I would encourage you to read Paul Proctors "The People's Church--A Wayward Vessel" which mirrors my own situation exactly. I think it will let you know if your church is instituting these particular changes so you can be prepared. If they are changing in the way that you said--no problem , but if you see some of the things he mentions then beware. Kansas Christian
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