Summary: What is the church to do? If you ask modern church growth experts they would say we are to become more appealing to reach the lost. But what does the Bible say we are to do? Join Pastor Steve as he shares "God’s Blueprint for the Church."
John MacDuff said, "The gods of the unregenerate soul are the world, self, and sin" (Grace Gems). He’s right! But in the seeker-sensitive church those three words have been ignored. We are told that the church today needs to be "light on doctrine" (quoted in an article on the Seeker-Sensitive church by John Armstrong), and deal more with the felt needs of the unchurched. John MacArthur, in his book Ashamed of the Gospel, writes, "Today we have the extraordinary spectacle of church programs designed explicitly to cater to fleshly desire, sensual appetites, and human pride...To achieve this worldly appeal, church activities often go beyond the merely frivolous. For several years a colleague of mine has been collecting a ‘horror file’ of clippings that report how churches are employing innovations to keep worship services from becoming dull. In the past half decade, some of America’s largest evangelical churches have employed worldly gimmicks like slapstick, vaudeville, wrestling exhibitions, and even mock striptease to spice up their Sunday meetings. No brand of horseplay, it seems, is too outrageous to be brought into the sanctuary" (preface, xvii-xviii). James gives a stern warning in chapter four of his letter, which says, "Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God" (v.4). John echoes similar words when he says "Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world — the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life — is not of the world" (1 Jn.2:15-16).
In the church today, pragmatism, which "is the notion that meaning or worth is determined by practical consequences" (John MacArthur, Not Ashamed of the Gospel, p.xii), is the guiding "philosophy of life, theology, and ministry" today. But "pragmatism as a guiding philosophy of ministry is inherently flawed" (Ibid., xiii). It is "nothing short of satanic" (Ibid., xiii).
In our last time together I asked the question, "Who is the church?" I responded by stating that the church is made up of believers only--It began by conversions as the Lord added to the church. We also saw that the New Testament epistles are addressed to the church and refers to them as believers — 15 New Testament books begin their address by making some reference to the audience as the church. The church is for believers — we are not to cater to the lost to reach them — we are to preach the Gospel — the Word of God. Paul said to the elders at Ephesus in Acts 20:27, "For I have not shunned to declare to you the whole counsel of God." The church today is selling the "whole counsel of God" for a theology that feels good. John MacArthur again writes, "The truth of God does not tickle our ears; it boxes them. It burns them. It first reproves, rebukes, convicts — then exhorts and encourages. Preachers of the Word must be careful to maintain that balance" (Ibid., p.37). Unfortunately, preachers with ear-tickling messages are all too abundantly available. Marvin Vincent said, "In periods of unsettled faith, scepticism, and mere curious speculation in matters of religion, teachers of all kinds swarm like the flies in Egypt. The demand creates the supply. The hearers invite and shape their own preachers. If the people desire a calf to worship, a ministerial calf-maker is readily found" (Word Studies in the New Testament, 4 vols, 4: p.321).
Since the church is for believers and not unbelievers, what then is the church to do? What is our purpose? We have talked about purpose on so many occasions but to suffice it in two statements: We are to preach the Gospel and we are to perfect the saints (Mat.28:19-20; Eph.4:11-12). That is your calling in life. In fact that is the calling of every child of God. We are to reach and teach. We are to make disciples. We are to perfect the saints. That calling is not just for the pastors and leaders in the church, that calling is for everyone.
Are you fulfilling your calling today? Are you preaching the gospel and perfecting the saints? "All the contention between the flesh and the Spirit lies in this, whether God shall have His will or we have ours" (Richard Sibbes).