February 10, 2006

What is Church?

Someone asked for a definition. These words fall SO far short, but here goes...

"Church" is an ongoing community of believers whose primary focus and need is Him. "Church" is a group of people who are daily involved in one another's lives, and who also "gather" at times. "Church" is a group of believers who have nothing in common except the Lord Jesus Christ and a desire to know Him better.

"Church" is very costly, it is NOT casual, NOR convienient, and it does NOT do a very good job of meeeting my needs. "Church" is NOT a place where I agree with everyone. "Church" is NOT a place where people with a common disposition to mine comfort me about my conflicts with others. It is where we find Him.... sometimes because of each other, and sometimes despite each other.

"Church" is NOT a loose network of all my christian friends and contacts. "Church" is NOT the very true fact that all christians everywhere are part of His larger "Body". "Church" is a local, together-y, group-y, mess-y attempt by God to pull me out of my self-worship.

"Church" is NOT a meeting once a week in a living room or auditorium. "Church" is NOT a building, a concept, a mission, a duty, or a portion of my christian checklist. "Church" is NOT a collection of various spiritual and/or group activities I frequently take part in.

"Church" is a GROUP thing. "Church" is the Body of Christ.

"Church" is inseperable from Christ. (Or at least ought to be!) "Church" is the Father's House, and the natural homing beacon of my God-breathed spirit! "Church" is my lifeline, my connection to other dwelling places where HE is. "Church" is made of many mansions where He dwells. "Church" is made of many living stones... but these stones were made for being built with...

He wants a Living House of Stones! And the "assembling" process is more than the fact that we gather. And it's more than some Ultimate Truth, or perspective. There is both a deeper AND a more practical "assembling" that He calls us to. There is a "building-together" that out-lasts, out-costs and out-shines all our many, brief "assembling" times. He goes through a process of chiselling and fitting US together, locally, in the Body! He Builds Us Up! He Builds His House!

Of course He IS building His House in Eternity, of all living stones, everywhere! BUT HE IS ALSO building His House ON EARTH, WHEN A GROUP gathers UNTO HIM, and LINGERS, abiding for His Purpose, for HIS Construction Project. A Group that gives Themselves for Him to Build His "Church" with.

"Church" is HIM-IN-US, living together, moving together, seeking together, building together. Christ building up Christ! The Glory of the Ages!

"Church" is NOT a place where individuals can "get" some fellowship so we can each get re-charged-up for living the 'mission' of a good, solo-christian life.

"Church" is a together-thing... many christians in an ongoing, humbling, often humiliating, full-of-failure, spiritual adventure where no human-head ever dominates, but where JESUS CHRIST gets to be HEAD!!! A living and active pursuit of Him, not by you and you and you and you and you and me, all seperately... but by an "US".

That's the "church" I see in the pages of the New Testament, and that's the "church" I've been blessed to know for some time...

And I was lost until I found this Home.

64 comments:

Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

Some very good points there.

God Bless

Matthew

Stacey Mose said...

Seems as ya'll down there have a tight church community eah? Blessed are you all. Very well.Sure we'll come visit : ) Lol...I would love to have what u all have ...sounds like you support eachother very well...Do u pick n choose who is "allowed" ..just curious...
My door is always open to all...Hmmm..how did you all become so close?

Herobill said...

Everyone's always welcome...

Btw, I didn't say we did anything well. I guess sometimes we "support each other" well! But the only thing I'll swear we have is Him, in a together-y way.

And of course, there's a story. It's long, but it starts with a man...

I always appreciate your comments, Stacey!

Herobill said...

I'd like to get 100 comments on this one.

What's your reaction?

Or what's YOUR definition of "Church"?

brittianbullock said...

Hey Bill, awesome post...well, rather than post what I have already said, I'll just direct people to the link below so I don't have to type it all out onto your comments page. I think it expresses much of what you just said. THanks again for sharing.


http://theremnanthouse.blogspot.com/2006/01/church.html

forgiven said...

Hi Bill
What a nice post...Thank you

You know alot of poeple like to rip down the Body of Chirst one living brick at a time. But what God has made no man can pull down.I love your heart for the Lord and your love . May Our Father in Heaven keep that smile pined to your no matter what may come in to your life.

Keep your eye apond Jesus

Doug

missy said...

Hi my brotha,
So well put,insprired actually. I think the early disciples were much like you Bill...zealous, earnest, single-minded in purpose...They wrote from their hearts, and the mind of Christ as you do.

jeff said...

Well done, bill.

I've often wondered if the real reason many are disillusioned with today's popular church is because of the tendency to place (misplace) more emphasis on the local church as the source for spiritual growth, instead of primary relationship with Christ.

For me, church should be a corporate expression of our individual worship experiences.

Excellent post.

Herobill said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Herobill said...

Amen, Jeff. We have only One source.

The funny thing is, sunday SERVICE has given us a hard-to-escape mentality that we COME TO GET... thus, as you say, the "local church" is seen as the source. (This goes all the way back to the 300's AD with the Altar and Communion.)

I think any group with CLERGY on a stage (and a congregation watching) is de-facto encouraging that "COME TO GET" mentality, whether they mean to or not. Of course, those clergy feel it's good for them to keep sharing the Lord with the poor, poor, helpless congregation!

This is a difficult problem... EVEN IN LIVING ROOMS!!! (An easy-chair can be a "stage" too!)

I agree that church should be a corporate expression of our worship experiences. The Lord isn't AT the meeting unless WE bring Him TO it! But how can there be "corporate" expressing when only 10 percent are doing all the expressing?!

Now, truly... I think christians should feel free to come to some meetings with nothing to express that day/night... that's normal and reasonable... but in general, the Life of the Church MUST flow from all the saints, or else clergy WILL develop. And clergy always... (see above!)

So I guess that's how I feel about that! :p

:)

Herobill said...

By the way...
The Catholics "come to get" communion...
Protestants "come to get" a sermon...
Someone else will have to tell me:
What do Pentecostals "come to get"?

(I think I know, but not by personal experience!)

:)

Stacey Mose said...

Do they come to Get "the Holy Ghost?" Yes o yes..Baptized by the Holy Ghost? Did i get the answer right Alex? Or come get slained in the spirit? No Pun Intended...just answering a question.

jeff said...

Pentecostals come to get goosebumps. Apparently, goosebumps have the same effect as the grace of God.

(I know, because I experienced...)

Oh yeah, and if you have a LOT of stuff to deal with, the hair standing up on the back of your neck is a sure sign of the presence of God.

Emotions. It's ALL about emotions!

:)

Herobill said...

Thanks, Jeff! I was going to say "endorphin highs", but I like "goosebumps" much better! :)

For the record, I was never Catholic, but I grew up Episcopalian in South Louisiana, which is pretty close! :)

jeff said...

hehehehe

For the record, I am STILL Pentecostal. I also appreciate a good goosebump. But ultimately, the pentecostal experience is about equipping and preparation for service.

Unfortunately, many just view it as a badge of honor...

Herobill said...

I really appreciate your graciuosness, Jeff. You're Oh-Kay!

So are you talking about that line in Ephesians? If so, okay... but why "Service"?

Why not "Ministry"?

Oops... that's a whole other post!

Herobill said...

Bad link... it's half-way thru here. (Sorry.)

Adam said...

Good thoughts - here are a few summary thoughts of mine:

I think the Church (universal) is God's way of bringing all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ (Ephesians 1:10).

I think church (local) is simply the close connections in the body of Christ (as you said, "Him in Us" - its the way "Him in Us" works itself out in real life). But I think the purpose is still the same - to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ.

Mike Morrell said...

Nice post, Bill. You're becoming quite the "blog-ster." I will add my voice to the chorus of "amen's," but then bring up a point of question, something that I'm now able to articulate after seven years of joyfully living in just such a church--

You said,

"Church" is an ongoing community of believers whose primary focus and need is Him."

I'll go ahead an assume by the capitalized personal pronoun that you meant God-in-Jesus Christ. (C'est vrai, n'est pas?) I, of course, agree wholeheartedly.

But does this mean? I would let this question hang for each church community, in her locality, to wrestle with and discover. Here is something that some of us in Lithia Springs are wrestling with:

Does knowing and loving Jesus Christ have specific content associated with it? I'm not talking about doctrinal hobby horses--we've all been thankful that no one make's one's tongues-speaking or predestination-believing an issue--but rather the character of the One we are getting to know and need.

We're discovering that Jesus is not some generic deity; He's not a totem that we can domesticate, and/or "adore" in some vague emotive way (even if we call that way "with our spirits.") Adoration is crucial, but without corresponding action loving Jesus is not love at all.

What do I mean? I mean that as the Body of Christ we're Jesus' hands and feet in a hurting, often hostile world. We hang out with the kinds of people Jesus, in his monohuman incarnation, loved to hang out with--the poor, the grieving, the political revolutionary and the political patsy. In short, our neighbors.

I've prepped and prepared for many an elaborate meeting where my goal was to be be and impart Jesus Christ to 15 or so saints sitting around in a living room--and I wouldn't take a second of it back. I love my brothers and my sisters, and I would take a bullet for them.

But as my new wife and I have moved into a neighborhood in the church, and I have discovered the kids playing basketball, the men working on their cars, and the women sitting outside smoking cigarettes, I'm beginning to see my Savior in each face--in the faces of more sisters and brothers, and pre-sisters and pre-brothers (if you get my drift).

I still love my Lord, and now I am going out to meet Him on the streets.

(To see a fresh perspective of being the local church, check out Shane Claiborne's just released Irresistible Revolution. Its way better than the Barna book, and it is truly arresting in its expansive love and grounding in the First Century story.)

Susie H said...

Bill- it warms my heart and makes me smile to read your words and know that you are so full of the Holy Spirit. I enjoyed your post.

Much love
M.O.M.

Andre & Mary-Anne said...

Loved it Bill. I'll be re-posting it (with proper reference) if you don't mind.

BruceD said...

I used to worry about doing church "right", but I don't any more. I just live life with Jesus, and "church" happens all around me.

jeff said...

So are you talking about that line in Ephesians? If so, okay... but why "Service"?

Why not "Ministry"?


There's a difference??

Sarah said...

I love it.

LC said...

"Church"; OF THE LORD, the LORD'S (house). Our individual bodies are the house in which the Lord chooses to dwell if we believe on Him. So all who are in the body make up the church, the macroscopic view OF THE LORD. When you describe the "local" church, you are describing a microscopic perspective in which those 'cells' have come together to express an aspect of the DNA within. If you study the body, an analogy that works to understand HIS BODY, several truths that impact me & my understanding of "church" are: 1) all cells in the body contain the complete DNA code (2)all cells cannot express everything contained in that code because they are not designed to nor could the body function if it did, but rather (3) cells differentiate & express an aspect of the DNA, and they group according to similar types into tissues, organs, and systems--this is what you are describing when you say "the local church" & is what I believe the many churches in existence experience all over the world and throughout the ages. It does not mean that all have to experience and grow in Christ the same way. It does not mean that those who don't gather & express the same as a particular group i.e. such as yours, should be mocked, excluded or in any way condemned, for in doing that you do so to Christ Himself.

Philip said...

It doesn't count as 100 comments if a third of them are your own, you realize. :)

At this point, I still can't say that what you're saying (or at least my reading of your post) makes sense in a big-picture way. The picture you paint of believers being molded and built together in and through Jesus, sure.

But I still can't understand how you can see or know god as the force in this...

I guess it's one of those things that's revealed to you or not. Hm. :-) Take care.

Herobill said...

Thanks for the beautiful analogy, "lc". I "exclude" no one and I "condemn" no one, but I'm willing to tease and be teased with anyone who can have a good sense of humor about things! :)

Didn't mean to offend! :)

Goody said...

I love it Bill! I am proud of you for summing it up so clearly. I am part of you and we are here for the Lord's sake!
Yours, Goody

Anonymous said...

I would just like to weigh in on soem of your points and some points offered by others.

As for what are other people (pentecostals) looking for. Having never been a pentecostal I can't say. But I think to say this group is looking for this or that is too simplistic. i beleive that all true saints have an inward pull toward the Lord. The vast majority of those who reall care for Chrsit are where they are because thay beleive that that place is where they can know him, or please him, or grow in him, or whatever. However, this does not mean that this s actually waht said saints are finding.

Sub question: how any saints who claim to be in the real thing (church life) are really finding him? Its one thing to perform a liturgy and bend to tradtion. Is is another to create whole new ones. When the writings of mystics dead or alive become yet another "hobby horse" doctrine? How quickly is a real revelation of christ replaced by mans inner resolves and passions.

This brings me to my next point. Surely bringing new saints into the feast that is Christ is wonderful. Surely the angels have a party. Surely zion rejoices as Christ grows on earth. However, I fear anyone whose passion is to reach the world. Why? Because this passion has been the source of more imperialistic bloodshed and division in the body of Christ then anything else. More people have been oppressed by suh sentiments then any other in history. I fear the evangelist as much as I fear the pastor. Are we moving on toward doing for the Lord because our methods of knowing him do not contain that ol' mystic excitemnt (sounds pretty pentecostal). Please understand that this is more of a broad issue then one dealing with a comment above. Nonetheless, we must be careful that what we share is deep, inward, and the Lord's burden.

Subquestion 2-what is the difference between my burden and the Lord's. Is it me doing the work or Him?

Just some thoughts.

Herobill said...

Okay, Philip. Then I'm shooting for 133! :)

Mike, I'm so glad you're finally done at Berry and living in Lithia at last! Good luck shaping everyone there to your vision... you should be at least as successful as you were when you brought your shofar, incense and Mummy soundtrack!

Good luck anyway, Mikey. You know I've always encouraged YOU to be who YOU are in the Lord. Just don't expect every member there to share your burdens. OR to learn your increasingly odd vocabulary! :)

The "church" is a place where HE is ALL we have in common!

Love ya, Mikey! :)

Herobill said...

Amen, Adam & Bruce! Thanks for the comments, everybody.

Bruce, I never got back to you about your story, but it meant a lot to me. Praise the Lord that the pressure and strain is gone for y'all. For me, after ten years, I'm SURE there's no "right way" to do anything in the Body! :)

But whatever we do (or whatever we try, succeed or fail at doing) we do it in a more "together-y" way than anything I've seen or known elsewhere. (Apart from paid staff or group-life that ended when the mission project was over!)

It's just better this way. NO. Not "better". MORE. It's just MORE this way. Not required, not a "right way". Just "together".

He's a "corporate" God (three in one). I think his highest goal for us is a more "corporate" life.

And it's how they lived in Bible days. So AT LEAST... that means it's worth a try! Right? :)

Herobill said...

To "anonymous": You make some great points. I wish I had some clue who you are! :) Do you know me or us here? Have you read my other posts below? Just wondering...

Karen said...

My husband sometimes wears a shirt that on the front says in big, bold letters, "Don't Go To Church." On the back it says, "Be the Church."

I appreciated what you said Bill and agree but would add that in some way I don't fully understand, we are each individually the church as well as corporately.

Karen

Glen said...

Bill, when you said church is not to charge us up I take that to mean we do not go to other believers (whether corporately, in an assembly setting or individually) looking to be built up, is that right? What about gathering to be used in edifying others? Edify...build up. Yet what if we are really confused or down about something? Isn't it appropriate to go to Christ through our siblings in Christ, where He indeed dwells, and seek councel, refuge, protection, encouragement, fellowship, etc? Aren't there times when we indeed do need to be charged up? Just some thoughts.

Herobill said...

Karen: we are each individually the church... Hunh? Could you 'splane that one to me? I'll listen... :)

Glen, absolutely. I meant we don't just charge up SO THAT we can then individually go out and be salt and light, until we need another "charge up". There's a larger Purpose in "church" than merely supplying a bunch of soldiers.

Is that more clear?

John Cornett said...

Hey Bill.

Provocative message you’ve got there brother. However, I think you may have said as much or more about what the church is NOT than what the church is…which, let's face it, none of us can truly describe. Why? It’s because it is the Lord Himself…tainted by us. Who can describe the Lord? One can describe in part, but the whole? He is trying to build us, yet we are resistant…in part destroying what He builds…in disequilibrium.

Part of our purpose is to reflect Him here on this earth…bear His image…and to your point, if attempted as an individual, it is futile. However, as the body…this is naturally possible. He surfaces there. And when Christ surfaces, His beauty does shine on the individual, but why should this be a focal point? He is us…not me.

I think it was Philip Yancey that made a great point: the church lacks dependence on Christ (unlike alcoholics and alcohol for instance). I agree. We allow ourselves at times to be separable from the Lord. Thus, I think the church ought to find herself dependent on Christ…needing Him and in love with Him. Thus we are dependent on each other...the Christ in each other. As you said…we're not just casually connected, but are a life support for each other.

I don’t know much, but I hope to spend a lifetime figuring it out and more importantly…experiencing Him.

My final thought: I truly think the church must be rejected and denied before it can truly be found. We must live off of church life…His life.

Thanks brother for a fresh blast.

Rich said...

Your post “What is Church?” says a great deal, and I found many of the comments of interest.

As I read through the post and comments, the thought that came to mind is the “church” I read of in the pages of the New Testament is not an “it.” The “church” is not something we go to, participate in and then leave only to return to “it” later. Neither does the “church” save anyone. It is not like a vehicle that one enters and rides to heaven.

The “church” I read of in the pages of the New Testament is an organism, the living breathing body of Christ existing in the world but not of the world. The individuals who comprise the “church” are the redeemed, purchased by the blood Christ. They are the men and women of faith who recognize and yield their will to the sovereignty of Jesus.

Unlike the kingdoms and governments of this world, the blessings and privileges of being a willing citizen in our Lord’s kingdom (the king’s dominion, His rule) continue beyond this life. As people of faith that God looks upon in living-kindness as belonging to Him, i.e. the church, we serve a King whose enemies cannot approach Him nor can they overthrow His power. He is heaven, at God’s right hand. We serve a God who is calling us to live on earth as though we were in heaven.

CJC said...

Christ can express Himself via one or two members of the church but this is very limited...should He be stifled from making Himself known through all the members of the Body? Was not brother Paul's view of the Body of Christ that every member should function in the church for the common good? Being in Christ, is a full time occupation. (play on words intended)

When the Body gathers, big or small, it should not be bound to any one man or woman, one place large or small, have no regular or prescribed pattern of worship, but should express great spontaneity, creativity, and fressness with the overreaching outcome being the visibility of the Headship of Christ expressed freely yet in order (not harmful ways). Too often does not the church reject God's life for what is familure and comfortable? So easy to fall prey to this temptation.

Buildings? How many church buildings did Christ erect in His or His Father's honor when He walked this ground we walk? None. He did proclaim that he would build His church but scripture and history are clear that not Jerusalem, nor Judea, nor the Middle East, nor any landmass, but the whole of mankind who would believe was the church He choose to build. Neighborhood was just a starting place. The church when limited to the concept of a building or even a neighborhood (with livingrooms) is a very poor example of what He intended. To restrict church to anything less than the priesthood of all believers is contrary to the very essence of what He desired (the ekklesia) which is not defined by cultural community. "...the church is Christ's functioning Body that lives and breathes under His direct Headship." and nothing less is befitting of His Majesty.

Anna Mason said...

Hi Bill,

Nice post. Important things to be reminded of. "Thy kingdom come, on earth." This is a very positive post. Sometimes it is easy to get negative on the subject of "what is church?"

Herobill said...

Hi, Chris.

You make a lot of really great points. Personally, I've never felt like we "limit" or "restrict" anything or anyone. We're just doing what we're doing. All are welcome, and no one's been asked to do anything or stop doing anything... have they?

If you know something I don't, please give me a call sometime.

And grace to you, brother. Thanks for the comment.

Jared Funderburk, SIM CP said...

Good post. My definition has changed over the years especially in the last year or two. I have been in "detox" for about a year and my mind has been freed to see what or rather who the church is. The church is the group of believers that God brings together to be together and experience Him. There are other ways to experience Him, but this is the most tangible to me. Thanks for the further clarity.
SIM Church Planter
Jared F.

Briefcase said...

church- the called out for Christ.

SteveW said...

Wouldn't it be something if someday mankind wakes up to realize that the body of Christ actually contains all of us, all of mankind, redeemed for the sin of the first Adam while we were yet sinners by the blood of the last Adam proving Him more powerful, far more powerful of the two....and that His body even includes those unworthy of acceptance by the traditional churches?

To me at least, that message could change the world without armies and religious heiarchys.

Just my 2 cents Bill.

J. Samuel Thomas said...

"Church" is a group of believers who have nothing in common except the Lord Jesus Christ and a desire to know Him better."

I beleive that we have all things in common as all things are the Lords.

"Church"...does NOT do a very good job of meeeting my needs".

Our need's are met spiritually in Christ and should be found in the church.
As a physical reflection of the above spiritual truth, our need's, materially, should also be met within the church.

"Church" is NOT a place where I agree with everyone."

I think that we all prove that to be true.

"Church" is NOT a place where people with a common disposition to mine comfort me about my conflicts with others".

Our dispositions should have nothing to do with our comforting one another.

"It is where we find Him.... sometimes because of each other, and sometimes despite each other".

It is also where we do not find Him....sometimes because of or inspite of one another.

"Church" is NOT a loose network of all my christian friends and contacts. "Church" is NOT the very true fact that all christians everywhere are part of His larger "Body".

Correct. Church is not a fact.

"Church" is a local, together-y, group-y, mess-y attempt by God to pull me out of my self-worship".

I don't believe that God "attempts" anything.

"Church" is NOT a meeting once a week in a living room or auditorium. "Church" is NOT a building, a concept, a mission, a duty, or a portion of my christian checklist. "Church" is NOT a collection of various spiritual and/or group activities I frequently take part in.

Amen.

"Church" is a GROUP thing. "Church" is the Body of Christ".

Amen

"Church" is inseperable from Christ. (And Christ ought to be inseperable from "Church"!)"

Amen.

Will comment on more later...
Gotta go for now...

waldo said...

Great stuff Bill!!

It's fun trying to describe this indescribable diamond...this multifaceted entity called the Church. You have made a brave attempt and I'm sure you will have much more to say!! I appreciate it, brother.

trent@ gracehead.com said...

Church is that building at the corner of walk and don't walk ...
NOT!
;-)

Herobill said...

Well, this has been fascinating! I hope it's not over yet!

Johnny said: "Our dispositions should have nothing to do with our comforting one another."

Amen! Exactally! :)
I mean, y'know... two or three people who think the same way comforting each other that so-and-so is a really bad dude, and he's wrong, and he doesn't see things as clearly as he ought to, like "we" do... that sort of thing. "Similar dispositions."

Got me now?

Herobill said...

Steve, you know I think you share a lovely vision, but you also know I just don't think it's real... mainly because I think it's clear the world is never going to change! And I don't know why we should we be interested in changing it, anyway!?!

Christ's Kingdom (the "church") is NOT of this world! He didn't even try to change the local synagogue... let ALONE the entire fallen human world system! But the authorities accused Paul of "trying to turn the world upside down"! (See, THEY knew!) The world is our enemy.

(Please note I didn't say christians and non-christians are enemies in any hostile sense...) I just mean this:

The world hates Christ, so there's no joining together with it AND ALSO keeping Him central. It's one or the other. Any world-wide shift to 'universal harmony' is, necessarily, going to push Christ OUT. THEY simply will NOT give the Name of Jesus top-billing.

(By the way, Mike Morrell, are you paying attention to this?!?)

Steve, you've been gracious to compare notes in the past over this, and I think I'm presenting ideas here that I haven't before. To me, your view offers a vision of the world that seems to reflect something of His nature, but that "vision" never has HIM at the core foundation of it, except in "theory". In you, yourself, I know He's Lord. But the rest of the world will never bow to Him... down here, at least!

Now, I know you have a long-term theory on everyone's "ultimate" fate, and I'm not trying to change that. I'm not arguing about salvation, here, or who will or won't "eventually" get in. I'm talking about the church! Here! On Earth! Today!

FIRST: Hallowed be thy name. SECOND: Thy Kingdom Come. (ON EARTH!)

He must remain First, or it's just NOT His Kingdom! And NOTHING is His Kingdom if it does not honor Him First, truly, and above all else.

Now, Steve, you may guess I don't really expect that to change your mind about ultimate things... but do you see that I'm talking about the world and the church on earth for now? (At least until the Lord comes back!(?)

I hope you can appreciate that much.

As you first said to me: we are still brothers in Christ.

Thanks for "listening"! :)

John Cornett said...

Quote (Bill): Christ's Kingdom (the "church") is NOT of this world!

I don't understand this point.

The "church" is of this world...is it not? However...neither totally in nor out. What about Israel?

Perhaps in theory, the perfect church body is not of this world, but we are far from perfection and so is the church...which is okay. That's why Christ died for her.

Also, Paul's ministry was largely spent arguing and reasoning in the synagogues with Jews/religous folks. This is common throughout Acts.

nathaniel adam king said...

Hey, sorry for the late comment.

You asked if you could just wait until you got to heaven, and then ask God if you were meant to be a Calvinist.
NO! Everyone knows only Calvinist go to heaven!

KIDDING! ONLY KIDDING! God is gracious, He allows some pagan arminians too. We Calvinist need some fun for eternity, and what is more fun than an Arminian?!?!

I KNOW! A free-gracer.

HAHA, I'm cracking myself up here.

J said...

The great question for me is, "how do we capture hte spirit or nature of the early church". the heart of those men and women? I don't know. What I do know is that community is not always the church. She can not be reduced to that. She is bigger then that. Part of the issue is the nature of the church. She is of the earth and of hte divine. She is the room where the temporal and eternal meet. She is just like Christ. Practical and mystical. the comments that stirke me the most though are "fear of the evangelist". In the OT God got pretty made at the prophets who were running aroung claiming to have the burden (oracle) of the Lord. They claimed they were sent in his name. THe reality was they never sought his counsel and new nothing of his burden. The priests and rulrs ruled in there own authority and God said "and my people love it this way!" That hits me hard. I dont fear the evangelist as such. But I do take notice of this thought. What is the definign mark of those who minister. Where is the quailty control. Not that there should be a new class system of those who can share to the world and those who can't. But perhaps the Lord himself must choose those from our midst who he as broken and placed in them not a passion or resolve but His own burden. I love frist century history. I enjoy church-life. But is this the Lord's burden for me to carry? If not should I say anything at all? I don't know. What I do know is that all movements that seemingly have the mark of God on them in history always chose some path that lead them in error. Hindsight reveals that certain choices were fatal to the centalrity of christ and life given to new faction and institutions. What scares me is making that mistake. For instance what happens after the death of the burden bearer? Do we take up his burden? Or perhaps the Lord's? What if the lord has a different piece for us?

Herobill said...

Hey, Adam!

I guess I must be a Calvinist, then, cause I'm SURE I'm going to "heaven"!

Wphew! Now I don't even have to go figure out what a "Calvinist" is! Well, that's a relief!

So I said, great. You know. One less thing. --F.Gump :)

Herobill said...

John C.

I guess there's two ways to take that phrase: "of the world". I think I know what you mean:

Adam was made of both earth and spirit, and the church is like that too. Church life here is indeed a mix of earth and heaven. Of "red clay" and God's breath. And yes, that's by his design.

So what did Jesus mean when he said to Pilate, "My Kingdom is not of this world?" You might enjoy studying the use of "world" in the NT... it's usually not a positive connotation.

I assume you mean "Israel" in the Old Testament. Maybe Adam (sofyst) [grin] has some big words [/grin] to explain the theological differences between God's "Kingdom" of Israel and Christ's "Kingdom" meaning the church. For me it's enough to say... they're different! :)

Btw, I'm pretty sure the synagogue was always just a launching pad, not a stopping point, for Paul's churches. (Now, James, maybe.. :)

But I like what I think you're saying, overall. "We have this treasure in earthen vesselS." Praise the Lord, for working within our "earthy" natures.

Do we 'get each other' now? :)

Herobill said...

J - First of all, thanks for responding to "anonymous"! Still wish I knew who that was! :)

Here's my feeling on the rest--> Let's just do what we can do, try our best to keep the Lord central, and write it all down so others can learn from us someday. IF we're going to become, as you say, a "movement" that lasts for several generations, then let's pray now for strength (CHRIST) and wisdom (CHRIST) to tackle whatever issues come up as we go.

It sounds like you've got a lot of valid concerns about the long-term view, and your own potential place in it. Take it from one "worrier" to another... today has enough "burden" for itself. Finish school. Get in the church. Enjoy the Lord. And try to relax! And I'll make you a deal - I'll try to relax more, too! :)

By the way, Gene's never going to die. We're sending him to South Korea to be cloned!!! :)

Just kidding, Chris! :)

Thanks for being so candid, J. And ALWAYS, thanks for sharing your heart.

J. Samuel Thomas said...

"Church" is the Father's House, and the natural homing beacon of my God-breathed spirit!

This is a tricky one for me. I would say that Christ is the homing beacon of our spirits and that, by “osmosis” draws us together. ANYTHING else will push us apart.

"Church" is my lifeline, my connection to other dwelling places where HE is. "Church" is made of many mansions where He dwells. "Church" is made of many living stones... but these stones were made for being built with...

I believe that this supports and better explains my last comment.

He wants a Living House of Stones! And the "assembling" process is more than the fact that we gather.

Amen!!! The gathering, in my opinion, should be an organic happening, initiated, occupied and concluded by the Holy Spirit.

And it's more than some Ultimate Truth, or perspective. There is both a deeper AND a more practical "assembling" that He calls us to. There is a "building-together" that out-lasts, out-costs and out-shines all our many, brief "assembling" times. He goes through a process of chiselling and fitting US together, locally, in the Body! He Builds Us Up! He Builds His House!

Amen. Do you ever find that much of His building us up is actually by His breaking us down? (Notice I said by HIS breaking us down, not us breaking one another down i.e. hierarchical systems which use the break-you-down, build-you-up methods of the military and brain wash cults).


That’s all I have for today!

Love to you all!

Rishi said...

Thank you, Bill. Christ and His Church is worth everything. He is everything.

I want to spend my life saying "Yes" to Him and His desires.

J said...

Although I do tend to worry. The I in my comments above are more an inclusive I. Meaning all individuals. I also was menaing this in a more broad sense. Not just this work (Gene and Co.) but others. All works where the Lord is central. So I suppose it is more a broad comment to the post. On the other hand I have been known to worry a time or too. I think if you spend a great deal thinking about the past the future comes into view. As for school and church.....soon enough brother. I hope.

Herobill said...

Amen, Rishi.

Thanks for clarifying, J. Praise the Lord!

David said...

Bill, You spoke very much my thoughts on church...and I could sense the force behind the words. One sentence you used sums up the idea of church adequately: "Church" is HIM-IN-US, living together, moving together, seeking together, building together. Christ building up Christ! The Glory of the Ages!"

Jesus within our spirit tends to give us a special energy through His Spirit that stirs the blend of His awareness within us and forces it out at high pressure to confound the world with His demand on every life that we make a choice between Him and evil - and reassure us of our position (through the new birth) as the Father's child. On this Valentine's eve, the words by Paul, "I am convinced that nothing shall (or can) separate us from the love of God." A respected psychologist wrote "The Varieties of Religious Experience," who I could not establish in my mind if he was born again or not, but still enjoyed, had a unique premise. He thought that the thoughts of human beings were a living entity, both of those present and past, and were connected to each other across the world like an energy network by the very energy generated by thought activity. While I have not distilled it to my satisfaction, I believe he was on to something but missed out on it's implication. It is recognized by science (even though they don't gave credit to the Source) that all living and inert matter is actually energy in different forms. When Jesus rose from the grave, He was both physical and nonphysical when he appeared and disappeared to hundreds of people prior to Pentecost and the advent of the Spirit's infilling. I must caution that there is a fine line (we must yield to Scriptural authority)that an early group advocated, the gnostics: that(1)that all matter is sinful (2) that the inmaculate conception (born of a virgin, in whom the Spirit impregnated)did not happen. They advocated that since all matter is sinful, that the Son of God as a spirit entered the body of Jesus, and departed upon His death. There was therefore no resurrection. This is a direct denial of Paul words, in I Thess. 4, "We want you to know about those asleep, so you will not grieve, as does the world, who have no hope. If we believe that Jesus died and rose again, then God will bring those fallen asleep to be with Jesus." Without this faith revealed in Scripture there can be no Church, or Kingdom of God, or Christ's Wedding Feast. The Scripture says, "where one or two are gathered in My Name, there I am in the midst of them" Where ever Christians are gathered, the Spirit is there activating/renewing their relationship with the Father. The very energy generated (by the Spirit) is used by God to touch every other group - and since it is God that activates, we can lay no claim to it except under Him and as a equal member of His Kingdom.("for all have sinned...") Why else, does it say, "Seeing that we have such a cloud of witnesses,let us press toward the high mark of our calling in Jesus." (my apology to anyone offended by my loose rendition of Scripture - I memorize using my own words to teach orally to those whose reading skills are limited). There is an excellent book, written by the daughter of Billy Graham (my hero), entitled "Just Give Me Jesus." And it speaks my goal in life, and I might add to it, "And may I please only Him..."
David Hagios

Herobill said...

Hey, David. Sorry, man. I made C's and D's in science! FYI! :)

But Johnny did something interesting with your comment over here, in case you want to go check it out.

Thanks for stopping by (again). :)

Theophileous said...

Bill, great discussion. I think the most profound idea I have ever heard on the subject is that the term "church" (as we use it, like "pastor") does not occur anywhere in the New Testament. There are several Greek words. Not one contains the meaning we understand when we hear the English word, "church." Seems King James had the idea of promoting his church by incorporating the term "church" in his translation. Sure did mess up a lot of folks! LOL!

Herobill said...

Thanks, Theo!
If that's true, then maybe we should call those things "Jimmy Temples" in old KJ's honor?

;)

Btw, what word did Tynadle and Wycliffe use...(?)

Theophileous said...

Tyndale uses "congregation". I'm no Greek scholar, but my best guess is that the other two words would probably best be described in our English as "assembly" and "called-out". Quite a different picture than an edifice!

Anonymous said...

I was inspired by reading what you wrote about church. Our purpose is so definied throughout scripture and all the while filled with grace and humility, quite the rhetorical challenge. Our spirits know so much and I have the hardest time putting things into words. I was deeply touched and I want to thank you.

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