24 January 2008

The right balance (positively put)

by Dan Phillips

Philippians 1:9-11

To be a church that preaches the full counsel of God, filling hearts and minds with His freeing (and judicious) revealed truth;
So as to become a church that lovingly shows God's truth in shoe leather, strong arms, and unambiguously holy lives.

(Counterpoint to this post)
Dan Phillips's signature

108 comments:

The Doulos said...

Hey, this sounds like a mission statement for the church. Or for a church. To be... so that... A good statement of purpose.

Sounds a lot like the statement our church has:

"Our mission is to reach spiritually interested people for Jesus Christ and teach the Word of God in the context of loving relationships, challenging them to become serving disciples."

I'd be interested in feedback on this as a statement of purpose and mission for a church.

Brian @ voiceofthesheep said...

"spiritually interested people"...

Is this the group the church considers ones in need of saving? That description just doesn't sound quite right, especially if the ones in this group are lost in their sin and need the saving grace of God.

In what way is a spiritually dead person, who is dead in their trespasses and sins, "spiritually interested"?

Jerry said...

I am also confused. Why do the "spiritually interested" need to be reached?

It would seem to me that it would be better to direct your outreach towards stone-cold-hearted blasphemous haters of God.

Mike Hoskins said...

Jesus' own words also go against this idea of merely reaching "spiritually interested people":
Luke 19:10
Mark 2:17 (and parallel passage Matthew 9:12 and Luke 5:31)
Luke 15

In fact, he went out of His way to repel "spiritually interested" hypocrites among the Pharisees and Saducees.

DJP said...

Okay okay okay, no more piling on The Doulos until he gets to answer!

northWord said...

I'll take such "spiritually interested people" and raise them a man empowered by such a great loss.

The Doulos said...

Woo-hoo! I knew that'd get the hackles up early this morning!

Actually, that is the one part of the statement that I never have liked, and I really don't recall why it's there or the context to it. Yes, I was chairman of our Elders when that statement was finalized several years ago, and it seemd to make sense at the time. But as you pilers-on have pointed out, on it's face it doesn't square with the very things we've been discussing here the past few days, like total depravity, etc.

I can also say that this does not shape or reflect our actual practice in evangelism and Gospel-centered ministry. We are the main Bible-teaching church in a community that is overwhelmingly Catholic, and this is our mission field. And we take that mission and the Great Commission very seriously, both as leaders and as individuals in the church. And God is at work in that field.

The best context I can put the statement in is this: we recognize that God must do the work of drawing and regeneration in the "stone-cold-hearted blasphemous haters of God" before they can become "spiritually interested." Therefore we desire to join Him where He is working, and focus our ministry efforts there. While at the same time not ignoring the fact that it is by the witness of the Gospel that He does this work.

Now - "Dog pile on Doulos!"

DJP said...

If I, knowing absolutely nothing of your context, had to guess, I'd guess that you meant roaching out to "spiritually interested" fols as opposed to buttonholing strangers, throwing them to the ground, putting a knee on their chests, and shouting the Gospel at them over their pleas to be left alone.

Brian @ voiceofthesheep said...

we desire to join Him where He is working, and focus our ministry efforts there

Thanks for the explanation, D. The only additional thought I have is in regards to the comment above.

If you are the only means through which He is working in your area, then you will be the ice-breakers, so to speak...the pioneers. And you will not be able to "join" God in His efforts there, but will BE the efforts of God in your area.

Does that make sense?

donsands said...

Nice positive words.

"Heart to God, Hand to man".

The Doulos said...

djp: Exactly.

b@vots:
The "join God where He is working" is a philosophy of ministry we have. It recognizes that all ministry, whether it be evangelism, discipleship, preaching and teaching, etc, is dependent on God's doing the work. Therefore we seek to find where He is at work and join Him there. So in that light, yes, we are in a sense the "pioneers" but only to the extent that God is at work and we are joining Him as instruments.

Make sense?

The Doulos said...

mike hoskins: In fact, he went out of His way to repel "spiritually interested" hypocrites among the Pharisees and Saducees.

I think you may be interpreting "spiritually interested" as "spiritually arrogant" or "spiritually self-confident" people. If that's the case, I would agree with you. We are not focused on these kind of folks, other than to call them to repentance thru the Gospel. But it's God that must create the "spiritual interest" in those whom He chooses, and these are the ones we most desire to reach, bring to faith in Christ, teach and disciple - so that they can in turn reproduce themselves.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Loud snicker at: " ... as opposed to buttonholing strangers, throwing them to the ground, putting a knee on their chests, and shouting the Gospel at them over their pleas to be left alone."

ROTFLOL! This is exactly the caricatured stereotype of faithful evangelicals that is absolutely FIXED in the minds of many non-Christians!

Q: Do you let the strawman stereotype affect or alter how you fulfill the Great Commission?

SolaMeanie said...

Truth..

You almost stole my thunder. I was going to say, "Who needs a new mission statement? Why do churches spend thousands of dollars paying marketers and brain trusts to come up with one? The last time I checked, Jesus already gave us our mission statement right before He ascended. It's called the Great Commission, and it's very pithy. Even better, we didn't have to pay a dime to a consultant for it.

But checking the Bible to find out what individual Christians and churches are supposed to do in this world? Nahh. Can't do that. It's too simple for such complex, forward-thinking people.

Yeah, I'm owly this morning.

dac said...

....buttonholing strangers, throwing them to the ground, putting a knee on their chests, and shouting the Gospel at them over their pleas to be left alone.

Now thats Ministry!

The Doulos said...

solameanie:

Yes, you are owly this morning. :-)

Actually I think there is a value to having some sort of Biblically-based statement of mission, purpose, etc for a local church. It serves to reflect and reinforce the distinctives of the specific church and its leadership. And as a means to ties the specifics back to the Biblical mandates. I agree that this is not something that should be done by a marketing or public affairs type of consultant, but rather developed by the leadership of the church as a result of study, prayer and unity. For example - the statment I noted from my church is not meant to stand alone, but is provided to attenders with details of Biblical support for each of the points. It's meant to lead the sheep back to Christ's commands to and purpose for His bride.

S.J. Walker said...

Solameanie,
"Nahh. Can't do that. It's too simple for such complex, forward-thinking people."

Reminds me of what has been hammering me lately.


here

SolaMeanie said...

Doulos..

"Who...who..."

Didn't mean to pick on you, and I do see your point, AND can even agree provided it's limited to the narrow lines you drew. I guess I'm mission statemented and focus grouped to death. It's bad enough we're in a political season and have to deal with politicians who wouldn't have an honest position from the heart if it bit them in the gluteus, but so much of the church can't seem to function unless they have consultants fly in or buy expensive program packages to tell them what to do. It's enough to make one want to retch forcefully.

But then again, we do live in a postmodern culture and can't be certain about anything. Including not being certain.

Brent said...

I don't like this extra Biblical term:
"I was chairman of our Elders".
That is why we have so many 'statements', they come from groups that are titled, and not in the Bible. Like "Pope"...then they start making 'mission statements' and adding to the Word or commands of the Word...

SolaMeanie said...

Sam..

Yep, yep and double yep. ;)

Brian @ voiceofthesheep said...

How's this for a mission statement:

Our mission is to go and teach/disciple the truth, baptizing those in our community (and the world through the sending and support of missionaries) who profess discipleship with Christ in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, continuing to teach and disciple them after conversion concerning all that Jesus commanded, which is contained in the Holy Scriptures alone.

Brent said...

I never liked extra biblical terms like this one:
"Chairman of our Elders"
These things lead to more "mission statements" and the end result is titles like "Pope" and mission statements that come from "The Chair".

stratagem said...

The "join God where He is working" is a philosophy of ministry we have.

Noooooooo!!! I am SO sick of hearing Emerg***s tell me this phrase, that I can't hear it without getting ill... This concept always leads them to the church-growth, popular kewl church model because "that must be where God's working, there are so many people drawn there."

(BTW, I'm "Cool with the Doul", but this phrase really brings up bad experiences for me)

SolaMeanie said...

"Cool with the Doul?"

Is that sung (?!??) to the tune of "Whoomp, There It Is?"

First Phil brings up bad sixties music, and now Strategem wants to remind us of equally execrable rap. Keep it up, and I'll post a link to Scott McKenzie and "San Francisco."

JackW said...

The Emerg***s are studying Blackaby?

ReformedMommy said...

Dan and the Doul - May I ask, how long does/did it take for you to come up with those?! Gotta confess to being a little partial to Dan's version, but in our former church's case, our Elders took more than 18 MONTHS to try and come up with a coherent "mission statement" and still hadn't gotten it down when we left, spiritually and emotionally exhausted.

SolaMeanie said...

Reformed Mommy...

How's this for a mission statement:

"Go and do likewise."

(I'm working real hard on getting slapped with a meat chub today)

stratagem said...

Jack, I don't know if they are studying Blackaby or not. All I know is, I want to be Spirit-led, not go where I subjectively observe "God is working." And this particular phrase has been put to me numerous times by Emerg***s who would rather do "what's cool now" and they use it as a justification for that.

The Doulos said...

Brent: I never liked extra biblical terms like this one:
"Chairman of our Elders"
These things lead to more "mission statements" and the end result is titles like "Pope" and mission statements that come from "The Chair".


I think you go too far here, Brent. Should there not be structure in leadership? And should there not be clear authority and accountabilities in leadership? Seems this is a model all over the NT. Maybe they didn't have a title like "chairman" but even in a church with a plurality of elders (as we have) there has to be a leader of leaders, identifiable in some manner. Serving the other leaders as fellow under-shepherds by leading alongside them.

Can organizations overdo it and become over-focused on hierarchies and titles and authority? Of course, it's a result of our depravity. But to make a blanket statement that this kind of thing always leads to Popism is unwarranted.

Glad to see that my first comment this morning served to raise the snark factor here. =:<0)

The Doulos said...

stratagem: Noooooooo!!! I am SO sick of hearing Emerg***s tell me this phrase, that I can't hear it without getting ill... This concept always leads them to the church-growth, popular kewl church model because "that must be where God's working, there are so many people drawn there."

I guess the difference comes in how you perceive God at work. Are you looking for Gospel and spiritual fruit that indicates the work of His Spirit, or are you looking for media buzz and attention. Emerg***'s and mainliners and evan-jello-cals prefer the latter. We prefer the former, and apply this in launching new ministries. Example: a number of years ago one of our members had been praying about the need for a Gospel-based rescue mission in our city. A number of others joined him in this prayer effort, and God was obviously at work in calling these people to pursue this, providing recources, etc. Se we as leaders recognized God was working to do a new thing and helped to launch this new ministry. Which is now flourishing, independent of our church. This is how we apply the principle.

DJP said...

RM — Dan and the Doul - May I ask, how long does/did it take for you to come up with those?

You mean, the post?

One way of answering would be "Thirty-five years."

Another would be, "About 15-20 minutes."

Both would be true.

Jim said...

A church is an assembly of believers and is made up of real spiritual people. Now.. when we are talking about "spiritual Christians", we need to figure out what kind of "community" within a local Church. If the people are submitting to the Holy Spirit, who will give them fruit. Quality is measured by the Christ-like living of a local church members. A local Church is for "forgiven sinners" who confessed to be "in Christ".

A local Church understands that people are not just looking for a Church to Worship, but a place where they can make real friendship, meaningful fellowship, and truly serving God. The writer of Hebrews 10:24-25 commands every believer to be a part of such a local body and reveals why this is necessary. NIV: "And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another and all the more as you see the Day approaching."

So, when we talk about love, its not a doormat based on a human point of view, but rather Agape in God's point of view. The only way the spiritual gifts are going to operate is love. Love is the key. God is love. He gave us two commandments. We are to love God and others. With the Holy Spirit and love, I will walk in the Spirit, Christ produces the fruit. It is Christ through the Holy Spirit produces power, love, a sound mind through us. Christ helps us. Without Christ, we are nothing. Along with love and under the control of the Holy Spirit, the power of love and Holy Spirit flows through us. Accountability involves "one anothers" that every members are encouraged to be actively serving and ministering their gifts.

God will use ordinary good people as well as ordinary very sinful people to accomplish great things. Through out the history (in the past 2,000 years), God uses people of limitless backgrounds who can minister “together” (unity) for Christ. God works all things together for His purposes.

The Scriptures teach every believers to be committed to a local church where he or she is loved and cared for, instructed in the things Christ commanded, encouraged to grow spiritually, and serving Christ effectively. Every believer who attends a Church of faith, commitment, and fruitfulness.

James 5:16................Confess to and Pray for one another
Colossians 3:13...........Forgive one another
Colossians 3:16.......... Counsel one another
Galatians 6:2..............Bear one another's burdens
Titus 1:13.................Rebuke one another (with love)
1 Thessalonians 4:18....Comfort one another
Hebrews 10:25...........Exhort one another
Romans 14:19............Edify one another
Romans 15:14............Counsel one another
Galatians 5:13............Love one another
Ephesians 4:12...........Love one another
1 Peter 1:22..............Love one another

Brian @ voiceofthesheep said...

Are you looking for Gospel and spiritual fruit that indicates the work of His Spirit,

You appear to be applying this principle of perceiving God at work with respect to social works, but what about with respect to reaching the lost?

Regarding the church's biblical mission to be the support and pillar of the truth, are we to attempt to discern who is receptive and who is not prior to getting involved, or are we to proclaim the gospel and then let the Holy Spirit do with it what He will?

Strong Tower said...

Doulos-

Please don't go and work funerals, please.

How's this for a great missions statement: (To)Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

(Addendum): But we will not boast beyond limits, but will boast only with regard to the area of influence God assigned to us, to reach even to you. For we are not overextending ourselves, as though we did not reach you. For we were the first to come all the way to you with the gospel of Christ. We do not boast beyond limit in the labors of others. But our hope is that as your faith increases, our area of influence among you may be greatly enlarged, so that we may preach the gospel in lands beyond you, without boasting of work already done in another's area of influence. “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends.

Blackeyedpee? How would he know where God is working? Among the Pharisees, the poor, the sick, disciples, mom, brothers and sisters? Seems to me Jesus went whereever he was at the time. Don't get me wrong here. The last post looked at events common to culture and goes there. Nothing wrong with that, opportunists is what we are called to be instant in and out of season minus the classlessness of Phelpsian Apologetics.

Spiritually interested people were not strangers to Christ by the way. Nicodemus, as well as others who invited Christ into their homes to hear him, does not make them spiritual elitists, they just don't know what it is their looking for and it is our job to show them. Seekers shouldn't be discriminated against just because the term has been Willowized or Warrenated. I like it when someone asks me for an answer to the hope within me, saves guessing if their primed or not and leaves me no choice.

This is perhaps the best post I have seen at Pyro. Short. And really hard to draw wrong conclusions from.

Back to depravity, though, this is perhaps my greatest down fall, "In the multiplying of words there is no lack of evil. So before I become like owl of the all, and craft my own missions statement, adieu...

wait,wait,wait-

Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching.

Seems there is a difference in categories of elders, and Paul was called the presbuteres, and we have fathers in the faith. The reality is that we have presbuteres prebuteros among us and we need to honor them as such. Perhaps even calling them Senior Elders or some such foolishness. Maybe even Archegos Presbuteros, Chief Elder, or wait, hows about Timothy's position of Pastor/Edler. Surely he could have been called the Elder' Pastor, no?

And Jim, don't forget giving honor to the less comely brother who does not bear the same hundred fold or kind of fruit as you.

Carol said...

DJP said,"buttonholing strangers, throwing them to the ground, putting a knee on their chests, and shouting the Gospel at them over their pleas to be left alone."

Actually, I heard that as a result of the latest market research, WC has developed a new ministry model...boxloads of books, workbooks, DVD's, posters, video games, mouse pads, coffee mugs and thighmasters are on their way to member churches.

But seriously...while I think mission statements are generally a good thing, you have to make sure they are subservient to the scriptures rather than the other way around. At our church, the mission statement has risen to the level of "mantra." It's to the point that I've heard it so much I've actually had to stop myself and ask, "Is this a Bible verse?" (I'm not kidding!) And although it's a good one and there's nothing unscriptural about it, it's a little bit creepy that I would have to have that conversation with myself.

Strong Tower said...

I'm waiting for Dan to splain what he meant by judicious...

Jim said...

Brian,

A Christian's life basically means a person whose primary form of witness is by their life, but they do not hide the fact that they are Christians and that they show their spiritual light through deeds first and then words. I am reminded of this verse, 1 Thessalonians 1:5 "because our gospel came to you not simply with words, but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and with deep conviction. You know how we lived among you for your sake." The problem is this, we do not know what Spirit-filled really means nor we know how to practice Spirit-filled virtues.

Contrary to what we have learned that we are to focus on our "efforts" towards faith which leads to pride. Jesus emphasized humility in Matthew 18:3-4. Selfishness is by definition incompatible with God’s rewards for believers. Self-interest is something we all understand because since physical birth, as infants, we learned how to get what we want. Can some understand when someone who asks, “Why should I be a Christian? What is in it for me?” It is in our self-interest to ask it and to examine the answer.

To avoid pride, we are to be spirit-filled and spirit-lead by allowing His grace to transform us what He wants us to be. Our task is to faithfully pursue His standards.

We take credit for almost everything we achieve, even our salvation. That is why the Apostle Paul wrote, “Your salvation is nothing you have achieved by your good works. It is a gift of God. You receive it by faith. That way no one can boast of his own accomplishments.”

A church is an assembly spiritual people and we are part of the spiritual Church. I believe God will use whatever sources He will use around the world because He is simply God. What I am trying to say, its all come down to common sense when we are ministering others and there are gifts God will provide for us to use at HIS discrection, not ours.

Also, I will always remember this quote, "Many people think that the mark of an authentic Christian is doctrinal purity; if a person's beliefs are biblical and doctrinally orthodox, then he is a Christian. People who equate orthodoxy with authenticity find it hard to even consider the possibility that, despite the correctness of all their doctrinal positions, they may have missed the deepest reality of the authentic Christian life. But we must never forget that true Christianity is more than teaching - it is a way of life. In fact, it is life itself. "He who has the Son has life," remember? When we talk about life, we are talking about something that is far more than mere morality, far more than doctrinal accuracy." Ray C. Stedman

When we go out witnessing the world in Christ's commandment of the "Great Commission", we are to love. In 1 Corinthians 13:5 says "Love does not act unbecomingly". Through the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of life and light and love. Act like Jesus, toward sinners and brethren in compassion, toward saints in warm affection, toward others in love. For those who are WITH Christ in our hearts, the Ten Commandments are about LOVE. Christians do not look at the Ten Commandments as laws but Grace of Love. We are to LOVE God first (first 4 commandments) and we are to love one another (last 6 commandments).

Jim said...

Strong Tower,

I am not a perfect Christian but I am a forgiven Christian who is still learning. I do have some concerns with some who are "professed Christians" in this world. What does it mean to become like Jesus Christ? That is the REAL question. A wise Christian will watch for opportunities to do good, to speak the gospel to the lost and pray the rescuing prayer of intercession for the Holy Spirit to convict the lost to know Christ. Many people are forgetting the real purpose of a local church. We should all take a long hard look at what things we consider to be important.

Why I am feeling this way? I am deaf and other disabilities, in my experiences with churches that I see similar comments here. I get irritated. Many churches often treats disabilities, especially with the deaf community as 2nd or 3rd class citizens. I believe as Christians that the church must remove physical, emotional and spiritual barriers in order to bring in people who are suffering with disabilities. We live in a world which places great emphasis on beauty, wealth and power. People with disabilities are often a symbol of the opposite – they struggle with physical or mental imperfection, powerlessness and often poverty. This only adds to the stigma which isolates them, separating them from the mainstream of life. Discrimination is a problem faced by disabled people and their families around the world.

DJP said...

Ju-di-cious [joo-dish-uhs] (adj): having, exercising, or characterized by good or discriminating judgment; wise, sensible, or well-advised

Stefan said...

"Shoe leather"?

Presumably expressing a ministry to the ends of the earth, such as Paul and the other Apostles in their early missions/church planting journeys?

Jim said...

djp,

I like that. "Ju-di-cious [joo-dish-uhs] (adj): having, exercising, or characterized by good or discriminating judgment; wise, sensible, or well-advised"

Spiritual matters should be honest and in which we must seek the discernment of the Holy Spirit. We should NOT forget that the Word of God stresses the importance of conviction and concern and repentance when being born from above by the Spirit of God. Discernment may be simply defined as the ability to biblically decide between right and wrong, between truth and error, between good and evil. Christians are responsible to exercise caution and discernment, especially in temporal and spiritual matters. The necessity of being born again of the Holy Spirit in order to be able to have discernment is stated by Paul to the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 2:14). The last Greek word translated "discern" is dokimazo (Strong's #1381) which means "to test, prove, scrutinize." This term conveys the thought of "to decide." It is translated "discern" in the King James Version of Luke 12:56.

The Doulos said...

carol: But seriously...while I think mission statements are generally a good thing, you have to make sure they are subservient to the scriptures rather than the other way around.

Yes! That is what I said! Not something in place of the Scriptures, but something that is derived from the Scriptures and always referring back to them.

strong tower: Please don't go and work funerals, please.

OK, I need some further elucidation on this. Explain?

The Doulos said...

brian@vots: You appear to be applying this principle of perceiving God at work with respect to social works, but what about with respect to reaching the lost?

I'm not talking about social works or any specific sphere, just gave the rescue mission as an example. An example of a ministry where God was and is at work, in bringing dozens of people to faith in Christ on a regular basis. And in meeting their physical needs as well. So it's a both/and as far as i'm concerned.

Regarding the church's biblical mission to be the support and pillar of the truth, are we to attempt to discern who is receptive and who is not prior to getting involved, or are we to proclaim the gospel and then let the Holy Spirit do with it what He will?

Yes. We are to preach the Gospel to every living creature. And we are not to cast our pearls before swine. If you can reconcile these two commands, I think you got it covered.

Strong Tower said...

Jim,

And I wholly agree, and affirm Jame's correction of those who in many spiritual disciplines are the pargons of the church while at the same time looking down upon the spiritually handicapped.

You see, and you are quite right, for some reason we think of those that are 'different' as some how different in Christ. Whether spiritual weakness or physical weakness, Scripture tell us there is no difference in Christ, yet we tend to fall right back into our Pharisaicalism almost unconciously.

Where we should be looking to is Christ who was no respecter of persons, and strive for the building up of all believers. We have to draw lines and it is true that we cannot do everything even though nothing is impossible with God. But even in that, our one goal, which this post indicates, is the building up of all including even the lazy. For our greatest malady is sin no matter its manifestation, or the scars that it leaves.

And, do not take me wrongly as if I was saying that everything that is a handicap is the result of a person's sin or that of another, for Jesus said that these things do not necessarily belong to that cause but may soley be to glorify him, and He is its source. Yet, even in that, He draws a contrast between Himself and who we are.

In another post one mentioned the drunk in the gutter. Well, I have ministered to drunks in the pew, men who were broken in spirit but not healed. I was one of them until the Lord delivered me from my multiple addictions to drugs and alcohol. How then can I now look at them without compassion?

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

I am deaf and other disabilities, in my experiences with churches that I see similar comments here. I get irritated.

Jim, I think your posts on this thread have been some of the most cogent and insightful.

I think come Judgment Day, you'll be fully blessed and richly rewarded. Much more so than many no-disability folks.

Keep the faith and continue to fight the good fight.

Peace and Blessings.

Stefan said...

Usually, disagreements on this blog are between people with differing theological frameworks.

I don't think I've ever seen such a runaway trainwreck on this blog between people who agree on the fundamentals!

Feel free to disagree with me....

Jim said...

Strong Tower,

Thank you for your reply and I do agree with you on this issue.

I am legally deaf since birth (Hard of Hearing) and I have Relapsing-remitting Multiple Sclerosis (RRMS) (Diagnosed in April 2002). (deafness caused by nerve damage, MS caused by nerve scars.) God knows me so well that He will do His providential actions at the very moment of my need according to His will. For the longest time, I thought I have planned and executed my life all by myself but really never aware that my life have always been guided by God. I am sharing about my life with God in my blog.

Truth unites and divides, Thank you for your encouraging words. I want to say that my disabilities do not have me. I have the disabilities and I accept them because I know who I am from the inside. Everything has its wonders, even silence and pain, and I learn whatever disabilities and difficulties I may be in, I am happily content.” I like this quote by Canadian Mark Pickup (disabled with multiple sclerosis): “I have been more service to God disabled than during my able-bodied years. This didn’t happen despite my disability but because of my disability.”

I wanted to add that from my 30 plus years as a Christian, Christians are divided on doctrine issues (teaching issues) and will always be divided until Christ returns. God always unites and the devil always divides it would be easy to find our way around in this confused and confusing world. But that is not how things are. Just because we are Christians, think we have no other gods but we do. Often people put Denominations ahead of God. No one is exempt.

dac said...

For the throw them on the ground method of evangelism, read this

http://vintage.aomin.org/StreetAbuse.html

Jim said...

stefan,

Often people are referring to esoteric as in exhibiting knowledge that is restricted to a small group such as a denomination (as many people are doing)? I have studied many denominations and I read all kinds doctrines from various theologians. Doctrinal differences will always be around. From the "surface", Christians are looking for any denominations or non-denominational churches who teaches the way people want so they could give their time to pursuits more to their liking, preferences and practices. I didn't say a particular denomination's theology is truth because the Bible is truth while doctrines are taught by man. I am a Christian FIRST. Secondary is the doctrines I rely on based on the Holy Spirit's conviction.

Denominational doctrines make denominational members. The New Testament makes just Christians. Spiritual Church is "invisible unity" which assumed to be imperfectly displayed, visibly: some denominations are less accepting of others, and the basic orthodoxy of some is questioned by most of the others. The biggest thing that denominations do is to give you an idea of where the church that you are looking at stands doctrinally. Denominations are important for aligning yourself with the church and the people that you most agree with.

Every Christian must decide whether they will us their liberty to decide on their doctrinal beliefs. We are free, but our freedom does not mean we can know for SURE what is right and what is wrong. Spiritual liberty means the freedom to be all that we were designed to be, but this is not a freedom that is without restrictions or responsibilities. Grace is about loving other people that we have the freedom to do so but at the same time, respect how they practice their beliefs.

We can chat about a particular doctrinal point, rather than about whether doctrine itself is necessary, that is simply knocking out the legs of the argument all together, putting us both into a discussion of what curls our toes on any given afternoon. Healthy debate is good. Doctrines sounds very good and simple but life is not so simple. I don't know from flesh point of view whether the doctrines I follow are 100% true unless I allow the Holy Spirit to convict my heart to follow certain doctrines. I am 49 years old (been a Christian over 30 years), I have learned so much about doctrines since I was a teen. To this day, I never met a Christian who agrees with my beliefs 100% and I also have not met a Christian who I agree with their beliefs 100%.

This blog have showned that same evidences that we all don't agree with each other at 100%.

The Doulos said...

stefan: I don't think I've ever seen such a runaway trainwreck on this blog between people who agree on the fundamentals!

Y'know, I was thinking kinda' the same thing. It really is interesting how we read so much into statements posted on a blog so quickly and without thinking things thru. I put up the mission statement just to see what kind of response there'd be, without anyone knowing anything about me, the church in question, our doctrines (very reformed), our focus (Christ-centered and Word-centered), our ministry, etc. Proves to me that blogs are not an effective medium for good communication. But they sure are fun to watch!

Jim,
Appreciate your thoughtful comments and gentle spirit expressed here. May Christ be glorified in and through you even more.

Stefan said...

Jim:

I value your comments—and I was being somewhat facetious. And it's not a question of denominational allegiance: I don't belong to Paul, and I don't belong to Barnabas. (I'm not even a Baptist, although our denomination is credobaptist and our church affirms the doctrines of grace.)

Usually, however, the fur only really starts flying when someone disagrees fundamentally on, e.g., Total Depravity, the Emergent Church, etc., etc., etc. And even in those cases, there is room for respectful disagreement.

At any rate, exhibit number 1 for the fractiousness on this thread was the pile-on on Doulos, not anything involving comments by or directed towards you.

Stefan said...

(This is an ecumenical blog: one Arminian commenter, one Presbyterian commenter, a couple of Mennonites, two Dispensationalists, and a conference's worth of reformed Baptists.)

Stefan said...

I made an allusion to 1 Corinthians 1:12 but mangled it somewhat. Substitute "Apollos" for "Barnabas" in my comment up above.

Jim said...

From my position, I am a Reformed follower which includes many of Martin Luther's writings, as well as John Calvin, John Knox and many others.

My background is as follows:
My younger days:
1. Various Baptist Churches for about 17 combined years which were mostly legalists.
2. Went to a Catholic School for 7 years (only deaf school in the area).
3. Anabaptist member for about 15 years.
4. The last few years, Presbyterian Church in America.
5. Now, looking for a new home church that I won't feel as irritated by the members and leaders as I have in the past. I love everything my previous churches did but irritating on issues that I struggled with like most Christians with disabilities.

I am in opposition to the ecumenical movement in genereal because they are really confusing. However, I enjoy debating with all Christians from different doctrinal backgrounds because I can learn alot about my own faith by studying more.

Therefore, I study from various theologians from different backgrounds. Some are Reformed theologians (i.e. Calvinism) and some are not reformed (i.e. Arminianism). One of my favorite Theologians is Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones who Dr. Lloyd-Jones was brought up in Welsh Calvinistic Methodism.

From John Piper: "If you have never heard of the Calvinistic Methodists the very term may seem contradictory. Dr. Jones pastored Westminster Chapel in London with Dr. Campbell Morgan who was a famous Arminian theologian. Morgan and Lloyd-Jones' association was a fitting example of how Christians can work together even when they differ on secondary issues (salvation)."

There is writer who have impacted my faith and how I believe is reading A.W. Tozer's books. He makes me think about my own faith.

Another is J.I. Packer.

SolaMeanie said...

Okay, since we've begun Arminian vs. Calvin again:

I was Arminian in my past. I am not Arminian any longer. My 85 year old mother is Arminian. It concerns me because she is so close to eternity. Recently, when we were arguing heatedly over this subject, I got irritated and said this:

"So what you are telling me is that Christ's death on the cross wasn't good enough to pay for your sins. You also have to pay a little bit?"

She got mad. Real mad.

What do you all think?

Stefan said...

Jim:

Many of us probably have similarly variegated backgrounds on this blog—there's a surprising number of ex-Charismatics, for example. I'm younger than you, but the Lord has led me through:

1. Atheism and cultural Judaism

2. Agnosticism

3. Liberal Christianity

4. Skepticism

5. Superficial explorations of Buddhism, religious Judaism, and mythicism

6. More agnosticism

7. Unregenerate Christianity (i.e., reading the Bible and praying but not yet reborn in Christ)

8. Rebirth (by the grace of God, one year ago tomorrow, praise the Lord) and neo-evangelical semi-Pelagianism (not my church's teaching, but where I was at personally, based on what I was reading and listening to away from the church)

9. Conservative evangelicalism in a reformed, conservative, evangelical Mennonite church.

Kristine said...

I liked this. Our church's youth ministry leaders just recently spent almost 8 hours over 1 1/2 days last weeked, doing something very close to what this post did. In the end, I suppose it took us about 2 hours to hammer out an actual purpose/mission statement for the youth ministry within our own local church; I can't imagine it taking months though.

The Christian life, and God's calling for His children in this world has serious depth and substance, but it really isn't very complicated. He seems to have made His will, especially for the Church He purchased with His blood, quite clear. Right?

Brian @ voiceofthesheep said...

I put up the mission statement just to see what kind of response there'd be

Um, Doulos...you asked for feedback on the mission statement when you posted it, so what'd you expect???

The Doulos said...

solameanie:
Be nice to your mother, even if she IS Arminian. I think God said somewhere something about honoring your parents. Like you said, at that age (or any age, for that matter) the important issue is genuine saving faith, not soteriological conformity. Y'know?

brian@vots:
Yesh, yeah. I DID ask for feedback. And I got the kind that comes from having the mic too close to the speaker... :-))

stratagem said...

I would like to request that Pastor Dan (DJP) someday write an article on whether that statement "See where God is working, and join him" is a)scriptural b)unscriptural, c)anti-scriptural.

Strong Tower said...

I'm not certain but I think it is subscriptarian.

Strong Tower said...

I heard this story about a Scottish revival. It seems a group of ministers began meeting to pray for revival to break out in their church which was situated outside of town. After weeks of prayer, on a certain morning, a church member broke in on their prayers to say that revival had broken out in the town. Seems that God had heard them even from where they were and sent word that if they would wait for him, he would be there as soon as he finished with the town.

agonizomai said...

Jim, you might like George Whitefield, who was also associated with the Welsh Calvinistic Mehtodists.

And, Solameanie, the Calvinistic Whitefield and the Arminian Wesley, though doctrinally antithetical on the question of election/reprobation, were friends in Christ, never doubting that they would see each other in heaven. I would hope you and momma could arrive at the same place (so to speak).

Jim said...

agonizomai,

Yep, I do like George Whitefield and read some of his writings. George Whitefield is close friends with John Wesley even though they don't agree 100% doctrinally.

Sharon said...

Stefan:
Rebirth (by the grace of God, one year ago tomorrow, praise the Lord)

Happy re-birthday! May God grant you many more years of service to Him.

A Musician by Grace

Scottj said...

I suppose one would have to ask, "Where is God NOT working?" and what are our reasons for thinking so. I find that sort of statement can be subjectively misused, even with the best of intents. God often calls us to places/projects that church growth demographers wouldnt' touch.

Scott J

Jim said...

Scott J,

I like your comment about "Where is God NOT working?". I agree with you.

Learning from great faiths in the Bible, I saw that circumstances did not control them; it is their reaction to circumstances that determined what kind of people they were and most importantly, how faithful they were. They made decisions they felt it is God's will however, circumstances made them change directions. Many people forget and often try to do their own ways circumstances happens that they never stop and think. Their human minds often see doors closing when ignoring another door opening. This is the concept of Romans 8:28-29 "And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them."

There is confusion between the determined Will of God and a Christian's responsibility as a Christian. God is adjusting our history to His purposes. He knows what He's doing. I have to learn to trust His will, His power to do His will, and His timing to do it when the time is right--and not until then. That's the essence of real faith. God carries out His will in His perfect power and timing.

Everything is through the Holy Spirit that works in us and works through us. Jesus said clearly about a penny's worth of sparrows compare to us. Matthew 10:29: "Are not two sparrows sold for a penny ? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father." If God can control with those two sparrows, then He will do the same for His children as well.

Stefan said...

Sola:

Is she reborn in Christ, bearing the fruit of sanctification? In the end, that seems to be all that matters. Nowhere in Scripture does it say that salvation is conditional on having rigorously right doctrine.

(Not that this means we can be deliberately lax in this area. Scripture encourages us to study the Lord's precepts, commandments, and teachings to know as much as we can of Him. And doctrine can affect our relationship with God, since He looks with favour upon those in Scripture who, despite their sinfulness, rely upon His grace and wisdom; whereas He regards with disfavour those who—no matter how righteous they may be—doubt Him or rely upon themselves.)

(I wanted to write something short and exhortatory, but caveats kept coming to mind.)

Sharon:

Thank you! And more importantly, thank God!

SolaMeanie said...

Thanks all..

Don't get me wrong. I love Momma and we get along great for the most part. She and my stepfather live with me now due to their age. However, when you listen to her talk, she is so focused on works and "getting into heaven" that it does make me worry. Sometimes I don't know whether she's Arminian or Pelagian, and that's a fine line. She'll say we're saved by grace, but under her system, there is no assurance of salvation. She "hopes she makes it."

That's troublesome.

Stefan said...

Sola:

Wow.

I'm sure you've tried everything. Even Ephesians 2:8-9 doesn't move her?

Just pray for the Holy Spirit to give her the peace and assurance she seeks, I guess.

Brian @ voiceofthesheep said...

I like your comment about "Where is God NOT working?"

This seems to have been Paul's thinking, too. I recall him saying that he did not want to go where others had already been because he didn't want to build upon another's foundation.

SolaMeanie said...

She knows all those things. It's a long story. She carries a lot of guilt and baggage, and it catches up to her from time to time. She loves the Lord, but I don't think she has complete peace and assurance in Christ. Pray for her, please.

northWord said...

I will pray for your Mom, Sola.

What ever is really going on is hidden deep within her heart, and God sees it...God may have already counted her as righteous, we just don't know. We see things quite a bit differently than they really are with God, esp when it comes to our own loved ones.

Happy Re-Birthday Stefan!!
that is so cool :))

JackW said...

""See where God is working, and join him" is a)scriptural b)unscriptural, c)anti-scriptural."

John 5:19

The Doulos said...

OK, one last comment on the "join God where He is working" statement. The context of the statement must be considered. Of course, God IS at work in all places and at all times in one sense. He is omnipotent, He is omnipresent, He is the sustainer of all things, He is sovereignly at work at all times to bring about His purposes. But that's not the context of the statement. Is God at work equally in all places and at all times to accomplish the mission of His church? I think the answer has to be no. Look at Paul's journeys in Acts. They were directed by God, to go to the places where He was at work and to leave the places He wasn't. Jesus sending out the 70 disciples was an example of this too. Some towns they simply had to shake the dust off their feet and move on. In a sense God was at work there, bringing hardness of heart. But not in a way that the disciples could join Him in. That's what we need to be looking for.

Daryl said...

Sola,

For what it's worth, didn't Luther struggle with issues very similar to your Mother?
I think that's why he called his wife "my own personal book of Galatians".

Just keep reminding her. God will be faithful.

Brian @ voiceofthesheep said...

Doulos,

Does not your church's mission to reach spiritually interested people, as you have described in your examples of what that means, result in the church being reactive instead of proactive?

Based upon your own elaborations, it sounds like the church looks around and says, "well, God seems to be working over here in this situation, so let's join in on that and contribute...but He doesn't seem to be working over there in that thing, so we won't get involved in that one"?

Can you provide some biblical instruction that the church is first to see God working somewhere before it determines where it will focus its efforts?

How does/can this apply to mission fields where the gospel has never been heard? Doesn't the attempt to find spiritually interested people before moving into action put many missionaries into a catch-22 situation, as many of them go into areas which are totally void of the Word of Christ?

Thanks.

JackW said...

Brian@VOTS read John 5

1. Is God still working?
2. Is Jesus proactive and reactive when he says He does nothing on His own?
3. If we are the body of Christ and He is the Head should we be doing the same?

stratagem said...

""See where God is working, and join him" is a)scriptural b)unscriptural, c)anti-scriptural."

John 5:19


Read the verse you cited in context, and you'll see that you might be claiming to be the Son of God. The dangers of verses out of context.

Brian @ voiceofthesheep said...

Jack,

I can find no qualifiers in the Great Commission. I see no indication that what Jesus meant was, "Go and make disciples wherever you see Me already at work."

Jim said...

In terms of the Great Commission, faith is not the ability to visualize unseen things to the satisfaction of our imperfect minds, but rather the ability to trust Christ as Who He is. Christ dwells in our hearts which "Christ in you, the hope of glory" (Colossians 1:27) is the burning core of our Christian faith. Spirit-lead is outlined in Galatians 5:22-23 "The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control."

We are to witness all the time as who we are. All Christians are evangelists in their own way as God uses us whatever we do in our lives. I am not even an evangelist but I am always surprise when God leads me to a person who needs to hear me share my faith.

Providential of God leads us to what I call "coincidences" in our lives which perhaps God will make sure that "His wills" will be done at His right time and place. God will use us whether or not we willing because God will use each of us as He sees fit. I believe God will use whatever sources He will use around the world because He is simply God. What I am trying to say, its all come down to common sense when we are ministering others that God will provide for us to use at HIS discrection, not ours. Why? Because in Ephesians 3:20, Paul wrote: "Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us". One of the greatest example is when we pray as Paul explains in Romans 8:26 "Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered."

I have learned from my experiences that God has taught me. Trials come to us to develop enduring strength for greater usefulness so that God can thrust us into greater places of ministry and effectiveness according to will in His Great Commission.

Why did God allowed me to be deaf and have Multiple Sclerosis? I am sure that is God's way of scattering Christians abroad where "normal Christians" do not even think about because they are too busy thinking of "their way" of spreading the Gospel.

In the New Testament, there were many verses that talked about Christians being scattered all over the world. Why?

Something to think about.

Jim said...

Whatever doctrines others believe may not essentials for my relationship with God whether they agree with me or not. I don't view these as the essentials of Christian life and practice simply because motives in our Christian lives should be both holy and genuine. I didn't say my doctrines are truth which they are not because the Bible is truth while doctrines are taught by man. I am a Christian FIRST while doctrines are secondary. God will judge those who explain false doctrines. We just have to be careful, with a reminder of this verse, Matthew 15:9: "In vain do they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the precepts of men." We have to remember that doctrines are man-centered more than God-center. Christian faith is not to manipulate and intimidate people with doctrines but rather allow the Holy Spirit to do the work in convicting people's hearts. One of my favorite teachers have said "It is perilously close to being sinful for any person to learn doctrine for doctrine's sake."

Mike Hoskins said...

@Jim -

I agree with some things you state here, to a degree, if your point is to major on the important, clear, obvious teachings of Scripture, which are essential.

The mere teachings/doctrines/sayings/traditions of men have to either line up with Sola Scriptura or be flat out rejected. On this point, I believe we agree.

I 100% agree that doctrine cannot usurp the authority of God, as found in God's Holy Word.

However, I have to disagree with some of the remaining portions of what you say, however (assuming I understand you correctly), because the Bible strongly disagrees with you on some points (if I understand you, once again)...this is if you automatically equate "doctrine" with the mere teachings of men.

God's Word is full of doctrine - pure, unadulterated, blood-washed doctrine, as God intended it.

In fact, the word "doctrine" is found in the Bible numerous times, along with "teaching", "preaching", etc. The actual English word "doctrine" appears 7 times in the NIV or 10 times in the NASB or 55 times in the KJV. Also, the English word "teaching" appears 99 times in the NIV or 94 times in the NASB or 25 times in the KJV. (The word might be translated into even more English terms, but the point is clear). [Source: biblegateway.net] Of course, I'm only counting the occurrences of 2 words. Actual doctrinal verses number into the many hundreds, to thousands, in the Bible.

I did a study once on New Testament books, concerning doctrine.

In *every single New Testament book*, except Philemon, there were multiple instances along these lines:
1.) Warnings about false doctrine
2.) Teaching about true doctrine
3.) Warnings to false prophets/teachers/scoffers
4.) Commands to earnestly defend the truth
5.) Warnings about false gospels
6.) Doctrinal statements
7.)

Every New Testament author taught doctrine somewhere:
Paul
Peter
John
James
Jude
Matthew
Mark
Luke
The writer of Hebrews (unknown)
Jesus (quoted by those writers, but I'm treating Him as an Author, as well)

It would be hard to keep a doctrinal statements, teachings about doctrine, doctrinal warnings, etc., short, because the New Testament examples are so numerous.

Doctrine isn't a New Testament phenomenon, either. It is found a whole lot in the Old Testament, too. In fact, the New Testament supports Old Testament doctrine, and vice versa.

If you say that "all 'doctrine' is just man's teachings" then you are flat out rejecting Scripture! If you reject all doctrine, you must reject Scripture and judge it according to *your* standards, which would be man's standards, not God's. Thus, your original premise would end up being hypocritical, if this is what you are saying.

If you reject all doctrine, you are inventing your own anti-Biblical/anti-Christian religion. If that is the case, you are simply relying on your own beliefs/teachings/doctrines/traditions/sayings, which are not supported by the Bible.

I hope I'm merely misunderstanding your intent. I hope you're not "throwing the baby out with the bath water."

God invented "doctrine" -- it's found in the Bible. Unfortunately, man also invented false doctrine. Still, not all man's doctrine is automatically false -- it must either align with Sola Scriptura or be rejected.

...and there's only 1 set of Essential Doctrines -- they are obvious and found in Scripture... There are minor doctrines, which we can debate vigorously. There are aberrant or heretical doctrines, which we must flat out reject. "In essentials, unity. In non-essentials, liberty. In all things, charity."

Was I understanding you, or making a mountain out of a mole hill?

Mike Hoskins said...

@Jim

In reading your other blog posts under this thread, I fully agree that our conduct is very, very, very important. It is an outward sign of a true inward conviction.

I'm sure that we both agree that doctrine often confuses, divides, and takes our focus off of Christ and His Kingdom work.

God's love is of utmost importance and is wholly Biblical.

I applaud you for sticking in there, in spite of disability and in spite of being ignored by others in the church, at large.

I am truly sorry this has happened.

My wife has a heart for the deaf and has earned a degree in sign language interpretation. I hope she is able to start a deaf ministry at our church, Lord willing.

I do not want to sound overly harsh in my previous criticism and I do not want to take you out of context.

Where exactly do you stand on doctrine?

It seems that several of your blog posts have a bit of frustration (however well earned or not) at people who spout doctrine.

What I am aiming toward is a balance point.

Doctrine should be of high importance and balanced.

Faith should be of high importance and balanced.

Relationship to God and to His Church should be of high importance and balanced.

Moral conduct should be of high importance and balanced.

All of these things are extremely important and separate us from the World.

So, do you minimize doctrine at the expense of relationship? I seem to sense this in several of your posts, here.

I know plenty of people who are the other way around, unfortunately.

Either way is out of balance, not that I am remotely close to perfect.

stratagem said...

After a couple days of thinking, I think I have now grasped the modern Great Commission (even though Jesus never called it the Great Commission, but I diigress):

"Go into wherever you see God working, and preach the Gospel to all spiritually interested people."

I wonder if spiritually interested people would include sinners? Or, would it only include Wiccans, Hindus, New Agers and so on, since they are clearly 'spiritually interested', but noncommittal?

Jim said...

Hi Mike,

Thanks for responding. What I am saying about "doctrines", I am looking from how people using doctrines rather than teaching what they really means.

For years, Christians are debating between Tradition and Scriptures. Tradition should be carefully scrutinized (to look over closely and discerning) before we rely on them. Tradition by itself is not enough because it must be studied and be brought up to date to true orthodoxy. When Tradition is supported by the Scriptures, it will communicate not as dead words but rather spiritually alive words through the Holy Spirit.

The main purpose for reading the Bible is to change ourselves as we read, believe and obey. The WORD is Jesus Christ. God's Word (the Bible) sometimes wounds us deeply and it is imperative because through the Bible, God speaks loudly. The Word of God (Bible) rebukes US we we read so that we may see our OWN faults (not others). The Bible illumines the dark corners of our own hearts and minds by exposing our OWN sin but at the same time reveals the way of rightousness.

If people separate themselves from teaching that is positively false and unscriptural, they ought to be praised rather than reproved. In such cases separation is a virtue and not a sin. There was a discussion somewhere about "What if Christians are guilty of circular reasoning?" This is called "begging the question in logic", the Latin name petitio principii, is an informal fallacy found in many attempts at logical arguments. An argument which begs the question is one in which a premise presupposes the conclusion in some way. Such an argument is valid in the sense in which logicians use that term, yet provides no reason at all to believe its conclusion. Using knowledge without facts can easily lead us to a clearly false conclusion. Conclusions drawn in this manner are usually overgeneralizations. Often people will use "logic" and "argument from analogy" (relating things to novel other situations) to prove their case.

Most of my life, I have been discrening doctrines and learned alot. I believe that Christians are responsible to exercise caution and discernment, especially in temporal and spiritual matters.

Pros of using discernment:

To identify false prophets - Deuteronomy 18:21–22; Jeremiah 23:25-30
To identify the heart motives of others- Luke 6:8; John 2:24-25
To distinguish our heart motives - Job 38:36; Proverbs 21:2
To lead one in the ways of the Lord - Hosea 14:9
To empathize with weak and strong - Romans 14:1–8.
To distinguish right from wrong doctrine - 2 Peter 3:15–18
To identify false spirits / apostles - 1 John 4:1–6; Revelation 2:2

What would happen if a Christian do not use discernment?

Leads to a nations fall -
Deuteronomy 32:28.
Leads to spiritual dullness - Matthew 12:1–8
Leads to misinterpretation - Mark 14:58
Leads to rejecting Jesus - Mark 15:29–30; 14:58
Leads to confusion - Luke 9:7–9.
Leads to foolishness - 1 Corinthians 3:18–20

Reading this blog have made me think deeper about my faith. Seeing people debating specific issues where I find worthless because people have been arguing the same for hundreds and thousands of years.

As far as my examples of "disability" issues, when we are talking about "spiritual Christians", we need to figure out what kind of "community" within a local Church. If the people are submitting to the Holy Spirit, who will give them fruit. When people running the churches, they are putting doctrines ahead of love. The burden of loving help which we are admonished to give to others: "Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ" (Galatians 6:2) which never harmed a soul.

Oh, I just remember. There is one great example of another doctrinal issue I was facing which was "KJV only" Christians. I love KJV and NKJV. I prefer to know Hebrew and Greek. I once was "KJV only" follower but God has humbled me and learned that I have to be patient to those who cannot.

Therefore, I don't use KJV when working with the deaf or those who have learning disabilities. "They go huh?" and get relly confused and not learning.

They can learn faster with another translation they are comfortable with. It so is sad to hear people looking down at Christians who don't read KJV. I have been in ministries to those who don't have good education (these are english speaking people who are born in the USA). This is where Christians are in the dark in the Great Commission, who are willing to be "blinded" by personal preference of a particular translation. There is no compassion. There is lack of understanding what is going on in the Christian world.

Jim said...

Stratagem,

Does the Great Commission means we are to ignore sinners based on their "specific sins"? Such as you mentioned "Wiccans, Hindus, New Agers".

I will always remember this quote by one of my favorite reformed teacher, D Martyn Lloyd-Jones which he said "The Gospel is open to all; the most respectable sinner has no more claim on it than the worst sinner"

Another great quote that was regarding the Great Commission topic, "To put the matter at its simplest, Jesus Christ came to make bad men good." James Denney, Scottish Theologian

The love of Jesus is so inclusive that love knows no boundaries. We may be disgusted with their beliefs or their lifestyles. We are often ready to condemn and turn away from them. But not Jesus, He keeps on loving them. During all of 3 years of His ministry, Jesus helped an "unworthy" person more than worthy. The great spiritual needs around us should drive us back to the gospel records of the life and ministry of our Lord Jesus. The best thing we know about our Lord and Savior is that He loves all sinners. He has always love the outcast and for that we should be glad, for we, too, were once outcasts.

We don't know who are elected to be saved. We just preach the Gospel to ALL and allow God handle the election part. Jesus loves everyone and did die for ALL but we have to remember that the atonement is only for the elected, those who are convicted by the Holy Spirit to accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior.

We can't pick and choose who should be saved because that's God's role. I role is to share and allow the Holy Spirit to work in other people's heart to be convicted into believing.

stratagem said...

Jim

Thanks for the reply, but apparently you did not get my sarcasm in the previous post. You have therefore totally gotten my point misunderstood by 180 degrees:

We can't pick and choose who should be saved because that's God's role.

Yes, precisely! That's why I am saying that a mission statement to proclaim the Gospel only to "spiritually interested people" only in places where "God appears to be working" is foolish, and I suspect, totally non-scriptural.

I only used the example of Wiccans, Hindus, Buddhists et alli, to illustrate the point that while these groups may be "spiritually interested", there is little reason to suggest they may be more receptive to the Gospel, than those who are of no religious persuasion and may just consider themselves to be irreligious sinners. In fact, they may be less inclined to listen to the Gospel.

I would think it might be better to say "we proclaim the Gospel to whomever God may be calling to himself, wherever we might find them." Or even: "We preach to 'em all, and let God sort 'em out."

The Doulos said...

OK, I will make one final comment on this. First and foremost, do not make the mistake (as most of you here have) of evaluating a church or ministry based only on a cursory reading of a mission statement. As with the Scriptures, context is everything, and you don't have it. Yes, I posted the statement and asked for feedback. My mistake, I won't repeat it again here.

Let me respond to strategem's last comment that "a mission statement to proclaim the Gospel only to "spiritually interested people" only in places where "God appears to be working" is foolish, and I suspect, totally non-scriptural."

Nowhere does this statement imply that the Gospel should be proclaimed only to spiritually interested people. Go back and read Dan's view of what was meant, it was spot on. And the same goes for the "join God where He's working" statement. This does not imply that the Gospel should only be proclaimed to people that we see God working in already. How would we know? As a mission statement for a church, the target here is larger than individuals, it is the overall ministry of the church. We would be foolish, and poor stewards of the Gospel, if we didn't focus our corporate resources and energies on those aspects of ministry where God is clearly as work, doing something new. To be sure, the ministry of the church is nver less than the Gospel, but it is usually more.

So if you really want to get the context for this mission statement and see it in action, see people being brought to faith in Christ on a regular basis, see the word of God faithfully proclaimed to hundreds of growing disciples each week, see God transforming lives by His Gospel and His word, then stop by next time you're in Columbus, Nebraska.

And like Forest Gump - "that's all I have to say about that."

Strong Tower said...

Columbus, Nebraska-

That's a real place? Whoa Toto!

Our five year mission: to go where no one has gone before...

That was your second final statement, you are allowed up to five final statements, should your final final statement not be your final statement please indicate by typing Harumph in your closing line, otherwise type hold or to be continued. If you are depraved and just cannot help yourself, type on brother! There is sure to be someone to correct you, even if it is only spelling errors...

By the way I retract my statement that this is the kind of post I like, it was so succinct and so unmistakingly clear that it quickly lost clarity. What I thought was scumpdidlyjudicious has become bitter to swallow. Which was probably do to the admonition to reject Baptist distinctives and live unhamburgerously and hold the fries.

Jim said...

stratagem,

I don't like sarcasms because when I am serious and they responded with mocking comments. Sarcasm's aim is to belittle someone, and to laugh at their expense as "cutting" with it.

My point of the Great Commission is to witness to all spiritually dead unbelivers regardless who they are even those who worship demons. They are not in hell yet until they die physically. I am more concerned with their eternal future. Churches are for believers, especially those with bad attitudes who needs to learn. Church's roles are planting, worship, praising, teaching, fellowship and exhortation.

While the Great Commissions are for believers to go out and reach out to unbelievers. Its the Holy Spirit that convicted us to accept Christ.

By reading your words, I am assuming that you follow Arminianism doctriens?

Oh, I am curious, where in Ohio do you live in? Not sure if you noticed that I am an Ohioian.

Jim said...

Stratagem,

I have a gut feeling that you live in or around Marysville. Just a wild guess.

Stefan said...

Here's a positive way to interpret "spiritually interested" in a way that's consistent with the doctrines of grace. (It's a paraphrase of something Doulos wrote near the top of the thread.)

All evidence indicates that Doulos' church stands on the Word of God and proclaims it to everyone. If so, then those who will actually be "reached" will indeed be those who are "spiritually interested"—that is, made ready by the Holy Spirit to receive the Gospel.

And while I'm at it...

"Teach the Word of God in the context of loving relationships"—apply the precepts of the Lord in the context of loving God and loving one another. Nothing wrong with that!

"Challenging them to become serving disciples." Rock solid!

And that's all I'm going to say about that.

Jim said...

Can I ask,

How do you know which ones are spiritually interested in terms of the Great Commission?

Jim said...

Jesus gave a very simple directive when He said, "Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature" (Mk. 16:15).

What does "every creature" mean?

We live in a sinful and hostile world that every creatures are either already Christians or still remain unbelievers.

Are we are already to condemn and turn away from whoever we determined not spiritually interested?.

The Doulos said...

At the risk of being redundantly redundant, here is my third final comment.

Stefan - thank you! It seems that you actually read some of my comments - unlike most of the other commenters here.

strong tower - Yes, Columbus NE is a real place. Likely more real than much of what passes for postmodern America. We are smack in the middle of "fly-over country" - literally. And no, Toto and Dorothy were from Kansas. If you're in Nebraska, you're definitely not in Kansas anymore. But even in a lost corner of the globe like Nebraska, USA, God has His elect and He is using His Gospel and His church to call them out and redeem for Himself a people. From all tribes and nations. Even Huskers like us.

Interestingly, I just got home from Sunday morning worship, where we heard testimony from a man who was being baptized today. He came to faith in Christ through the faithful witness of several of our members. And God used that Gospel witness to convert the man and make him spiritually interested. So that he ran to the arms of Christ and received Him as Savior and Lord. And is now being taught the word of God, in the context of loving relationships within the body of Christ. And he is being challenged to grow into a serving disciple of Christ. So - the mission statement in action was clearly on display in this man, snatched from the fire by God's sovereign grace and His use of feeble tools such as us, in a church with a less-than-perfect mission statement. Amazing, huh?

Harumph...

Strong Tower said...

harrumph has two, count em two r's

but that's like Columbus, ya never know what you'll find in the middle

I live in fly over country too, and we really have churches here I was told, glad to hear you found one...

harrumph-mutter critical remarks: to say something expressing criticism and displeasure, often muttering so that listeners are aware of the tone but cannot hear the exact words


To do the above on the meta just type a bunch of disconnected letters vaguely resembling words, ex. dhhnge wrmn, which could either mean dang woman, or dingy worming, depending on the subject of the previous response. In any case its near impossible to harrumph in meta since the message is usually typed clearly and the tone is missing, usually.

So, when you baptized him, how many bubbles did you count before you let him up. It is a true test of spiritual interest you know. If they really trust in Christ, they won't struggle if you go over the maximum bubble count, but if it is a false confession, they fight like he**, honest.

The Doulos said...

Y'know, it just occured to me. Maybe you will like the short version of our church's mission statement better. We use it on our logo and stuff like that. It is:

Exalting Jesus Christ, Loving One Another

Kinda' hard to argue with and deconstruct that, eh?

Stefan said...

Jim:

Of course, we don't know who will be "spiritually interested." Only God knows. I agree that we should go into all the world and proclaim the Gospel to everyone, and that's what I was trying to imply in my comment.

Everyone whom we witness to will be reached, in the sense that the Gospel will be proclaimed to all of them. But only some will receive the Gospel, accept it, repent for their sins, and confess Jesus Christ as their Lord and Saviour. In a sense, these are the only ones whom we as Christians truly (succeed in) "reaching," as it is they who have been made "spiritually interested" by God.

Does that mean that we go out and seek only to evangelize to the elect? Not at all! We can't know who the elect are. The offer of the Gospel is for all—it's up to God to do the rest, of ensuring that those whom He chose before the foundation of the world will respond to the Gospel offer.

Jim said...

I always believed that many infants, dying in infancy, including those who are mentally disabled are regenerated by the Holy Spirit. Even though they were unable to "comprehend" the meaning of their sins.

I have to remember that God is in control in these matters regarding the "election". He knows every little details and He has already planned out our tomorrows and He is holding the world in the palm of His hand. In Luke 18:15-17, when people were also bringing babies to Jesus to have him touch them. When the disciples saw this, they rebuked them. But Jesus called the children to him and said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it."

God constantly intervenes in our lives through His Providence. This also include the election of salvation. In my position, God will not hold me responsible to understand the mysteries of election, predestination, and the divine sovereignty. The best and safest way to deal with these is to look to God in deepest respect say, "0 Lord, You know all."

stratagem said...

Jim: Hi, I don't live too far from Marysville, or at least, I'm in the right quadrant of the state. Closer to Troy, actually.

Even if you don't "like" sarcasm, you ought to get it when it's used. After all, it was used by prophets on occasion, in the Bible, so it does have a legit purpose at times.

I'm not sure what is leading you to think I'm Arminian. However, let's face it, both election and choice are referred to in the Bible as legit concepts and as things God works through. There's not a one of us who understands the limits of either one, or has it all figured out. Not even Calvin or Spurgeon (which, if they were here, either would likely readily admit).

Jim said...

Stratagem,

I use sarcasm when the timing is right and when I don't insult other fellow Christians with sacarsm when debating doctrinal issues. If Christ, Prophets have Apostles used them, they had the authority to use them, but I don't. I am not equal to apostles and prophets because they were original band of authoritative spokesmen commissioned by God (Christ).

When witnessing or discipling seriously, sarcasm basically is unbecoming a Christian (1 Corinthians 13:5 says "Love does not act unbecomingly"). Often I leave churches because some members have those attitudes that elders refused to get involved.

Regarding choice. Jesus is saying that He cannot do our repenting for us. He died for our sins, now it is up to us to pick up the cross. "For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what as lost." Luke 19:10 (Many are called, but few are chosen.) The rest of mankind... still did not repent. John 3:36 Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God's wrath remains on him."

Whoever believes or rejects. Repenting is picking up the cross by rejecting the world. Spiritual conviction of the Holy Spirit leads us to "Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death". 2 Corinthians 7:10

Unbelief have to do rejection of the Holy Spirit. Acts 7:51 "You stiff-necked people, with uncircumcised hearts and ears! You are just like your fathers: You always resist the Holy Spirit! The Holy Spirit is the only person that can quicken people to be saved, not our own choices.

Salvation spiritually speaking faith is not a "choice" but rather a free gift of God's grace created by the power of the Holy Spirit working through the means of grace.

Galatians 3:2
This only I want to learn from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing (conviction) of faith?

sovereignly decreed that man should be free to exercise choice that man's will is free because God is sovereign. That is why the Apostle Paul wrote, “Your salvation is nothing you have achieved by your good works. It is a gift of God. You receive it by faith. That way no one can boast of his own accomplishments.” Ephesians 2:8 "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God."

People can choose to believe what they want to believe. That's between that person and the Creator when the time comes.

DJP said...

Jim -- what in the world is it that you're arguing about?

Lisa @Me and My House said...

the doulos: So if you really want to get the context for this mission statement and see it in action, see people being brought to faith in Christ on a regular basis, see the word of God faithfully proclaimed to hundreds of growing disciples each week, see God transforming lives by His Gospel and His word, then stop by next time you're in Columbus, Nebraska.

No way! Columbus NE?
There's a good reformed church there?
Well knock me over with a feather.

From Lisa in NE (southwestern) whose sister lives in Columbus

Jim said...

djp,

At this point, I don't know where I am. Its probably better that I stay out of this mess.

stratagem said...

Dan: Thank you for that comment, I was wondering the exact same thing. You just saved me from a heap of wasted time, friend.

Jim said...

I agree. This is a waste of time for me. I am deleting the link to this blog from my blog and not coming back. Healthy debate is good but when I confuse people, then its time for me to move on. It was a nice debate while it lasted. Jim

"As Christ is the end of the Law and the Gospel and has within himself all the treasures of wisdom and understanding, so also is he the mark at which all heretics aim and direct their arrows." -John Calvin

DJP said...

You confuse people... so you're deleting your link to this blog? I don't follow that.

Oh well.