Let us start with The Flavours
If Jesus was present, where do you think He would be standing? I my opinion, Jesus would be standing in the centre of the building with the pews surrounding Him.
Some denominations focus so much on their flavours that they act like an ice cream parlour. The flavours are for sale. They are the ones that are so afraid of losing their church building that all their times and energies are on fundraising. Excessive charges are imposed on pastoral services. The church has become a business. Then there are to the other extreme, the mega churches with revenues that are in the millions, offering for sale their wide variety of books, tapes that are meant to teach Christian living, and accessories such as jewelleries. "These false teachers only want your money. So they will use you by telling you things that are not true. But the judgment against these false teachers has been ready for a long time. And they will not escape God who will destroy them," 2 Peter 2:3 (ERV). What does Jesus think about them? “Take these things away! Do not make My Father’s house a house of merchandise,” John 2:16. “My house shall be called a house of prayer, but you have made it a ‘den of thieves,” Matt 21:13. It is so sad. Consequently, for those afraid of losing their churches will find their door close one day. If they would only apply Matthew 6:33, what a different it would make. And concerning the mega church marketing strategy to sale the gospel and God’s Words, they should keep in mind that the gospel had been given freely, Matt 10:8; 2 Cor 11:7; 2 Thess 3:8; Rev 22:17. The gospel and the gift of the Holy Spirit are not for sale, Acts 8:19-21.
“In many respects the assembling together has become a huge social club designed to entertain the club members. This membership atmosphere which has become the norm in many congregations, and which is now seen in the eyes of many as the Laodicean Church, might well be the church’s waterloo. These folks could well be the ones who will turn against and bring down the organized Christian Church in the last days. Believers might have to give up their coffee shops, book stores, bowling alleys, movie theaters, and all the rest of the unbiblical amenities that have infiltrated our worship halls.”
“Church tradition has come a long way in the last 2,000 years. Most of what is done these days behind the doors of Christian Churches is not so much biblical as traditional. Simply put, years of man’s doctrines have crept into our Christian Churches. Even though we practice something every week doesn’t mean it is necessarily biblical. And you’ll never really achieve any real understanding of your Bibles by simply sitting through three songs and a thirty minute message by a pastor on Sunday mornings.”
These are what we are to teach and things we must observe in which Jesus commanded.
Once we made that choice to believe Jesus as the Son of God and accepted him in our heart, we are forever His. If we believe that we are saved because we belong to a congregation, or by our good deeds, we are deceiving ourselves. It is through Jesus obeying the will of the Father that we are redeemed and given eternal life, nothing else, John 6:38-40. We are not saved by our conduct or our works. We are saved by believing only. I encourage you to read this excellent commentary by Jack Kelly title, “OSAS, The Whole Story" Once Saved Always Saved. Sin will never separate us from God…. our guilt and shame will. Just do not do what Adam did, run away and hide. Run toward the cross. God is merciful; His Son Jesus is sitting beside Him as a beacon of the price Jesus paid for our sins. We are His Children; therefore, He acts as a good father even better then our earthly parent. He is rebuking us to teach us not to condemn us. Got that?
He knows what is important to us, Matt 6:32 therefore let us trust Him with all our need, Pr 3:5-6. You may not be aware of, or perhaps you were taking God’s mercy for granted but showing a lack of trust toward God is an act of sin against Him.
It does not say ‘should try, tolerate or worship apart’, Gal 5:14, 1 Tim1:5. Mercy and grace we want, but how quick are we to do to others as Jesus did to us? We may want to take the time to read the parable of the unforgiving servant Matt 18:23-35. We are to show love in the form of mercy and grace not only toward a few and when ask for, but as an act of compassion without his/her asking, Luke 23:34. To dispute over preferences, that appears to be common sense for some is not sinful, but is a good opportunity to show mercy and grace. For someone to prefer different flavours than ours, which is important to us, is also a good opportunity to show mercy and grace.
“That is what is often lacking in the church today. We have taken away the koinonia, the commonness of the body of Christ. We have lost that to a great extent in the church in general. But we have held onto the kerygma, the preaching, the proclamation. We expect to convince everybody by an intellectual presentation of truth. But the reason why the evangelical church of our day is rejected and set aside in so many quarters is that people who come to it are disappointed because they hear great Words but they don't see great lives; they don't see warmth, they don't see love and acceptance, they don't see understanding and forgiveness. What they too often run into is strife and bickering and fighting and quarreling and unforgiveness, jealousy and bitterness, grudges and splits and feuds and divisions, hostility and anger, worry and anxiety. They listen to the preaching of these great Words that the church has to say and then they look at our lives to see how it works. And what they see convinces them that the Words are not true. What they see is exactly what they find in their own lives and homes.”
So they say to us, "What are you Christians talking about? What's the difference? What do you Christians have that we don't have---without the inconvenience of having to go through all the rites you go through. What is so great about this message? Why doesn't it do something for you? Why should we believe it and go to all the trouble of becoming a Christian when we can live the same way ourselves? We don't need the church or the Bible to teach us how to fight. We don't need the gospel to help us to be angry and resentful and bitter and divided against each other. We can do all that without it." And so there is an immediate loss of attention to the message that we are proclaiming because there is no evidence of the witness of communion. What is missing is the oneness, the precious fellowship together of the people of God living the life of God.
“What is the result of all this leaven that has come in? Well, we can see it abounding on every side, can't we? People come to church. They listen, they sing a hymn, they stand at the right time, they bow their heads at the right angle, they close the book together, they sit down. They go through the motions, but there is no exchange of life. There is no oneness, no sense of openness, no acceptance, no forgiveness. And homes, which are supposedly Christian, are often filled with strife and bickering and fighting, even physical attack. These things are the result of the leaven which has permeated and pervaded the body of Christ.”
“If the leaders of the church through the centuries had faithfully stuck with the Scripture…‘ the cone and the ice cream’… and had taught it as it is, these unhappy developments would have been prevented. But everywhere I go as a pastor today, speaking to groups of other pastors, I find out that this is the great weakness -- pastors are not teaching the Bible. They are not instructing their people from the Word of God and teaching what it actually says about how they are to live together. They aren't saying a Word about that. They are discussing remote doctrinal questions and giving their opinions on the social and political issues of the day…the flavours… instead of instructing in what the Bible is really aimed at -- the very personal lives of individuals and their relationships one with another. If the leadership of the church were carefully going over the Scriptures together with people, unfolding the Word of God, the whole effect of leaven would be greatly minimized within the body of Christ.”
“The church described as the body of Christ, with Christ the head of the Body (Ephesians 4, 1 Cor 12-14) is a reminder that the true church is a living organism, not an organization. We need one another and depend on one another as the various organs and systems of the human body are interdependent. Each member of the church reports directly to the Head, there is no hierarchical leadership in the church. All members have spiritual gifts and all are called to the ministry. "If one member suffers, all suffer, if one rejoices all rejoice."
“One of the haunting problems in the church today is its identity crisis. In many places, it seems to have lost the sense of what it was intended to be. Instead of a body, with each one "members one of another" and ministering to one another in love and concern, it has become an organization operating various programs. Paul wrote to the Galatians, "Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ" (Galatians 6:2). But today's Christians often touch each others' lives on only the most superficial basis, and do not want to hear another's problems because they "don't want to get involved.”
“Being ready means loving, trusting, and waiting for Jesus Christ, of course. The faithful servant is faithful because he is expecting his Lord's return. But it also has to do with faithful service, that is, continuing to carry out what Jesus has left us in this world to do. We find the same idea in two of the three parables in chapter 25. In one parable faithfulness is demonstrated by the wise use of the talents Christ has given (Matt. 25:14-30). In the other it is seen in selfless service to those who are hungry or thirsty or have other pressing needs (Matt. 25:31-46).”
“For the kingdom of heaven is like a man traveling to a far country, who called his own servants and delivered his goods to them. And to one he gave five talents…(five hundred denarii) the one that received most forgiveness “mercy and grace”… to another two…(fifty denarii) “mercy and grace”… and to another one, to each according to his own ability; and immediately he went on a journey.
In v15, we see the return of our investment, “For all things are for your sakes, that grace, having spread through the many, may cause thanksgiving to abound to the glory of God”. How do we spread grace? The message from the parable of the Good Samaritan is all about what we are to do with the talents (love…grace and mercy). “Then Jesus said to him, Go and do likewise” Luke 10:37. Love is what we received in goods. For what purpose, “that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body” 2 Cor 4:10.
What the Church should be? One day, the Church will be force to go back to it original format, in home and in hiding. Please read this commentary title "Let's Get Together" by Ron Graham.
References and reading suggestion:
· The Case of the Sneaky Housewife, Series: Behind History, Author: Ray C. Stedman at http://www.raystedman.org
· “Description Of The Spiritual Gifts” by Lambert Dolphin from Lambert Dolphin’s Library at http://ldolphin.org/
· “The Church At The End Of The Age” by Lambert Dolphin from Lambert Dolphin’s Library at http://ldolphin.org/
· Thy Kingdom Come, Thy Will be Done.... A book on prophecy by Ron Graff & Lambert Dolphin at http://ldolphin.org/ (It a must be read)
· "A study of the Letter to the Hebrews" is available by Jack Kelly on MP3 format at gracethrufaith.com
· “The Church of Philadelphia "The Faithful Church": Are we as faithful as we are to be?” by Andre Delage at http://www.simplicityinthegospel.com
· Economic Crisis: As Christians, what are we to do? Answer: "REST" by Andre Delage at http://www.simplicityinthegospel.com
· List of Christian denominations at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Christian_denominations
· “Evolution or creation, Which?” By A.T. Jones at http://temcat.com/09-Ad-found/Lewis/Creation%20or%20Evolution.pdf
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Contact: Andre Delage, at firstname.lastname@example.org