Aboutthechurchbody

topics of interest


Believers in China

I have been reading information here and there about the circumstances believers in China have been facing in recent days.  My understanding is that there is concern on the part of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) that religion will interfere with the globalist goals and the vision of the current Chinese government.   The result apparently is that churches are being shut down and key people are being arrested.

In the book of Psalms we get a picture of despondency and of the end of the rope experiences of King David and others.  At one point the sons of Korah write in Ps. 42 that “all your waves and breakers have swept over me”.   The Bible states that if we have died with him we will also be raised up just as he was raised up.  I think this is what persecution and difficult life circumstances can do for us.  They bring us to death (either literally or physically) so that we can be raised up to life in Christ.

Psalm 42. “Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God”.  If we overcome, if we endure, we will be triumphant.  Where does the power of this victory come from?  The Holy Spirit.  He gives the strength and the enablement to believers in all circumstances and throughout all ages.

Let the washing of the water of the Word strengthen, cleanse, and renew us.  I’ve heard the testimony of believers going through the pain of difficult circumstances say, “I was so devastated and lost all I could do was read the Bible.  It kept me going day by day”.

The Bible says “call upon the Lord in the time of trouble, and He will hear you”.

Praise the Lord, O my soul.

 

 


Attending a Church

During the past three months I have been attended a church service on Sundays in my area.  The situation of this church is that their long time senior pastor retired and they hired a new senior pastor at the end of August,  2018.  The paid staff at the present time consists of two pastors.  The second staff is the youth pastor and leads the children’s ministry.   The senior pastor they hired is young with a young wife.

The senior pastor is a self-confessed go getter.  He wants results and he wants them quickly if at all possible.  He subtly warned the congregation one Sunday not to cause him to fail.  One of his greatest fears is that he will not meet the expectations of family, friends, and the church.  One Sunday morning a church member gave a healing testimony about her son.  Shortly after this the senior pastor gave a testimony of an experience that he had while at seminary in California.  He said that gold dust proceeded to burst forth from right around him and spread throughout the building.  He said that he was covered in gold dust because he was the ‘best worshipper’ in the service.  He tends to use humor and tries to make people laugh, but I thought later that his statement was not that funny. There have been a few times where I have questioned what he has said.  This pastor has also given the congregation some insights into his early years.  He was and is very competitive.  He and his brother competed constantly with each other while growing up in trying to outdo the other. He is the son of an immigrant pastor who has worked hard and long in ministry.

Recently, the senior pastor began a series on giving and tithing.  He made the statement that if a person cannot ‘get behind the vision of this church then they should consider giving somewhere else’.  The vision that I have been able to determine so far from attending Sunday services is to build up a savings account where money can be withdrawn to support various needs and causes in the community as he sees fit and as opportunities come along.

This church has been struggling for a while.  It’s gone through several stages, several ups and downs and right now they appear to be in a depleted condition.  I attended this church for a few months in 2009 and they were doing better then.   Attendance at this church is down.

My thinking is that the pastor needs to nurture and support the people attending the church at this time.  To forgo some of his goals of impacting the community and minister to the people he is leading.   My guess however, is that the elders of the church want him to promote church growth and greater giving.   This is sad because this requires energy and vision that just doesn’t seem to be available to the people at this time.  Sometimes we just need to sit at the feet of Jesus and be held so to speak until we are strengthened and renewed.  There is nothing wrong with that from my point of view.

 

 


War

Some say online that we are in a culture war.  In my mind this war may be more about right and wrong.  Scripture says in Psalm 2 “The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers gather together, against the LORD and against His Anointed One: 3“Let us break Their chains and cast away Their cords.” It seems that many rulers in the West wish to reject Christianity’s God and replace Him with anything else that is possible.  We are increasingly in a fight to maintain our freedom of religion in the West as Christians.  Here in the province of Alberta, Canada,  the provincial government is trying to enforce Christian schools and other religious private schools to embrace and accommodate homosexuality.  They are doing this through the School Act and the recent changes  made to Human Rights laws in Canada by the Federal government under Prime Minister Trudeau.

There is a saying, “absolute power corrupts absolutely”.  This is the core of human nature.  Give us as individuals complete authority and power over others and we will abuse it.  The more power governments have it seems, the more abuses take place.

What are our religious leaders here in the West saying and doing about this issue?  From what I am reading online our Christian leaders are saying that we should generally accommodate the culture.  Efforts are being made by Christian leaders to try and do this. The Catholic religion’s Pope is certainly saying this very openly to the media even to the point of calling those who expose homosexual abuse within the Catholic church, ‘the Devil’s helpers’.

Thessalonians chapter 3 beginning at verse 3 says,  “so that no one would be unsettled by these trials. You know quite well that we were destined for them.  In fact, when we were with you, we kept telling you that we would be persecuted. And it turned out that way, as you well know… I was afraid that in some way the tempter might have tempted you and our efforts might have been useless.”

If adultery and fornication is unlawful and a sin against one’s own body in the Bible scriptures (which it is) , it also stands to reason that the act of homosexuality is also unlawful.

This isn’t the singling out of homosexuality by Christians. Where church leadership has failed believers is in the acceptance of fornication and adultery as the norm.  It is expected in society our leaders say, therefore, we can expect it in the church.  We have not addressed these issues properly in the church as the Apostle Paul would have done in his letters to the churches if he were still with us.   He didn’t accommodate the young man who was sleeping with his own father’s wife.  Paul would have provided good teaching and reasoning for the needed self denial.  He would have given the church a vision much superior to that of carnal sexual satisfaction outside of marriage.  In the case of this young man, he told the church to apply discipline, including banning him from fellowship, until the young man repented and changed his behavior.


Attaining the Resurrection

In the book of Philippians chapter 3 verse 10 Paul says, “I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.”.  (NIV )

Paul talks about the need to somehow attain to the resurrection from the dead.  This contradicts current church teaching that a simple prayer to Jesus to ‘save us’ qualifies us for the resurrection from the dead.  It is clear that this was not the teaching of Paul the apostle.   We know from  Bible scriptures that there will be a universal resurrection of all the dead, both the saved and unsaved, to attend the judgement seat of Christ.  We won’t have to attain to this resurrection.

So Paul must be referring to some other resurrection from the dead.  One that requires a fellowship of his sufferings.  One that requires us to become like Christ in his death.  We need to find and look at teachings that give us some explanation of this resurrection that Paul is trying to attain to.  There are teachings out there.  I’ve listened to a teaching that says the saints who are prepared (strong soldiers) will be resurrected for the purpose of the thousand year reign of Christ.  This is one teaching, there may be others.

Some of the current teaching in the church about the resurrection is not aligning with scripture in its entirety.  It has to, otherwise, it has error.  We must rightly divide the Word of Truth.  The saints cannot be strengthened and encouraged with false teaching.  We must have more openness from church leadership to other thoughts and a willingness to set aside entrenched historical teachings that are found to be incomplete.

This process of adjusting church teaching to include prior unrecognized truth is not unusual.  This is how particular church movements occurred in the past.  A good example is Martin Luther’s revelation of truth that the ‘just will live by faith’.

There are problems with teachings in the church -and/or- the current setup of how the church is operated.  This is indisputable by looking at the fruit.  The saints are stagnant.  Their witness is weak.  In some cases whole congregations of saints are largely worldly.  They are in church hoping that Jesus will somehow help them to obtain the fulfillment of selfish lusts.   This situation and condition of the saints lies at the feet of church leaders.


The Promise of Life

We read in II Timothy about a promise of life in Christ Jesus.  We read that this life and immortality was brought to light by Christ Jesus through the gospel.  Many churches  teach that a simple prayer is all you need to do to access eternal life.  This seems to be far from correct.  We need to enter into discipleship with the Lord.  The apostle Paul found himself chained up in a prison for his gospel of  “Jesus Christ being raised up from the dead and descended from David”.  This was a hard thing in those days for Jews and Gentiles to hear.

There is no doubt that the gospel of Jesus Christ impacts and changes lives.  The gospel translates us from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of light.  How will this gospel of eternal life work for the kingdom of God?  I am beginning to think that eternal life begins now in that we see changes preparing us for the kingdom, preparing us for the day and time in which we live.  Is it possible to see our bodies change from mortality to immortality while living on the earth today?

The Bible states that ‘the last shall be first, and the first shall be last’.  We who live in the last days may have a grace that was not available to those living earlier.  We might be the ones to obtain immortality in our body first, at least in part.  For sure we should be seeing changes in our personality by the rejecting of sin and our turning to righteousness and goodness. Our inner man should be changing from our old selfish nature to the lordship and the nature of Christ.

I am seeing some changes happening in my physical body.  My hair is turning from grey to more of a brown color.  I am 64 years old.   I am saying these things because I think we need to be careful as saints of God to not be so entrenched in a particular doctrine such as ‘going to heaven’ that we are unable to consider anything else.  We may be in the ‘beginning of the end’ of this age.  We need to be open to what God may do in these days.  We do have examples in scripture that can give some credence to this thinking of possible immortality here.  Jesus said that if it was his will that the apostle John live on until his return that this would be so.  Tradition says that people tried to kill John and were unable to.  One tradition says that he was put into boiling oil and still lived.  We also see examples of the Hebrew children thrown into the fiery furnace and surviving without a singe, and of Caleb in the OT conquering land and having the strength of a forty year old while in his eighties.  We are not without the witness of scripture.  We need to be cognizant of this and to not reject a new idea without some study and earnest consideration.


Wholesomeness

The Bible says that Jesus came to save us from our sins.  This has spiritual and natural components, I believe.  The world needs to be saved from sin.  If this only has a spiritual component then the world would remain in wickedness and sin while claiming it is holy. This is what is happening to the teaching of holiness today.  We are told in our churches we will sin, but that God accounts us as being righteous in Christ.  It does absolutely nothing for the state of the world to be spiritually holy while our actions remain wicked and corrupt, so to speak.   Our lives testify to the power and glory of God to change us from the children of darkness to the children of the light.  This is the true Gospel.

We need deliverance from sin, a complete freedom from sin, and God has provided for this through the Word of God and the Holy Spirit.   God says he gives us a new heart, a new spirit, a new mind, and a will to obey his commandments.  Once we were wicked, the Bible says, but now we walk in newness of life.  Once we committed atrocities, but now we do good works that others applaud and are grateful for and are encouraged to see still happening.

Wickedness and sin is increasing rapidly in the world.  We hear of unbelievable atrocities occurring in our own country and elsewhere.  It’s not just a small group of people doing these things.  We are hearing and reading about many people across all walks of life being charged or accused of unspeakable crimes against others.

 

 


Decisions between heaven and hell

A quote by a Canadian psychologist and university professor (currently a social media and You Tube sensation) who is rebelling against the recent Canadian compelled speech legislation,   “I believe we make a decision between heaven and hell with every decision we make.  I think that’s literally and metaphorically true.”

“Listen to them and obey them because they sit in Moses’s seat but don’t do as they do.  Your righteousness has to exceed that of  the Pharisees or you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” These are the words of Jesus to his disciples as recorded in the NT.

We make many daily decisions as disciples of Jesus Christ.  We need to understand how important it is that we make righteous decisions.  We cannot ‘go along with the flow’ unless we can maintain our integrity and honesty in that flow.  The psychologist above says that we will lose our soul if we do.  We must stay true to ourselves, Jesus Christ, and the Word of God.

The church in our day says that Christ will forgive you no matter what you do.  However, forgiveness from God requires repentance and truth from the believer and a turning away or ceasing from what action the believer did that needs forgiving.  Faith and repentance are the most important components of the Gospel.  Without repentance there is no forgiveness in Jesus Christ.  Without forgiveness there is no redemption in Christ.  This is clear in the Bible scriptures.  We are told in scripture to cease from our sins.  If this ability was not provided for by God, or if it was impossible for a believer to not sin, then God would not ask it of us.  It’s as clear as that in my mind.

There is a children’s song, “Every move I make, I make in you Jesus, every breath I breathe, I breathe in You.”  We as believers need to be very careful about what we are saying and doing.  We must not compromise or risk our very soul because we take sin lightly in our day.  Scripture says, “May your very mind, soul and body be preserved blameless until the coming of the Lord”.   The devil has compromised believers in our day by deceiving them into thinking that they can participate in the table of devils while also participating in the Lord’s Table.  This is not true.  Ananias and Saphira tried to do that by lying to the Holy Spirit about the amount of the selling price of their land.  They were struck down dead.  This is a warning sign given to us in scripture by God.