Building the Local Church: Our Wisdom Determines Our Loss Or Gain of Rewards

There are a number of ideas regarding what constitutes “wood, hay, straw,” and “gold silver precious stone” in 1Corinthians 3:12. I suggest that Gold, silver, and precious stones refer to God’s wisdom (as revealed in His Word), and wood, hay, and straw refer to man’s wisdom. The key to understanding the Corinthian problem is Paul’s use of the word sophos which appears 26 times in the Greek within the first three chapters of 1 Corinthians, and is translated wise or wisdom in the NASB. Paul only uses the word 18 other times in all of his epistles.[i] Continue reading →

God’s Temple, the Local Church

“If any man destroys the temple of God, God will destroy him, for the temple of God is holy, and that is what you are” (1 Corinthians 3:17).

In our day, when the local church is designed by cultural gurus who exalt tertiary aspects to primary status, and is often evaluated by whether she is relevant to the world rather than faithful to God, or is corrupted by carnal Christians under the banner of love, which is really narcissism or legalism called righteousness, this warning from 1 Corinthians deserves pondering.

It serves as a solemn word of warning to all unbelievers and believers alike. The local church building is not a temple, but the local church body is. As a temple she has priests – 1 Peter 2:9, a High Priest – Hebrews 3:1, an altar – Hebrews 13:11, and sacrifices – Romans 12:1, Hebrews 10:12, and 13:15.

The carnal are unmasked when they place promoting their desires, rights or opinions above God’s scriptural plan for the local church, by which they seek to replace her pastor’s leadership, fellowship, testimony and ministry of the gospel with a perspective that emanates from their carnal flesh (Rom 16:17-18); of course, always under an ersatz–imitation–veil of spirituality.

Such debased carnality is most glaring in free association churches like Baptist churches because all one has to do if he dislikes the way the church is structured or ministers, is to leave peaceably; as people regularly do throughout Christianity.  But the spiritual adulterator will even sacrifice the church in his Pharisaist arrogance, which is evident to all who walk in biblical humility (1 Cor. 11:18-19).

As believers who seek to faithfully love our Lord and His church, we must never be a part of corrupting, disrupting, or destroying a local church, nor sit idly by while others seek her destruction under a corrupted banner of truth. Risk everything to see that she continues to reflect the love, holiness, and fidelity of our Lord Jesus Christ.

 

Church Discipline and the Church’s Credibility

Church discipline visibly demonstrates the seriousness of sin as well as both the holiness and love Christ calls His church to live (Matthew 18:15-20). When church discipline is first implemented, the immediate fallout may appear to be all negative.

However, in time the church will benefit by having honored God with obedience, and the credibility of the church and her message will experience a renaissance. The fellowship in the church body will be more reflective of our Lord Jesus Christ in both love and holiness.

This is not to say that everyone will then believe our message, but whether they believe it or not, they will be evidentially convinced that we do. That is the kind of assurance that is often lacking today.

Christian Sadness in the Death of a Loved One

Christians can feel free to cry at a funeral. While we do rejoice that our loved ones who know Christ as Savior go to be with Jesus, death is still a sorrowful time. Jesus did weep at the death of Lazarus (John 11:35). We are not like those without hope (1 Thessalonians 4:13), but as humans, we do feel deeply the absence of a loved one. Maybe we do more because we know God did not create man to die, but to live (Genesis 1-2). Continue reading →

How Did the Church Lose the Will to Follow Christ in Church Discipline?

How does it happen? A path all to often followed over an extended period of time might look something like this.

The nefarious process begins with a subtle loss of desire for holiness, then an equally slight emphasis on something else that is spiritual, which seems to balance the scales from the injustice of selectively ignoring sections of the Word of God. In time, this is followed by faintly and implicitly equating holiness with extremism or legalism, and moderate libertarianism with grace; then comes the openly disparaging remarks concerning church discipline. Eventually the world’s wisdom and ways of selfishness and relativism are no longer resisted, but rather they are welcomed, and the world eventually lays her death grip on every aspect of the church.

By this time, the church no longer wants to be radically different from the world because she sees this as a threat to the lost receiving the church and her message, or possibly thinks the lost would view the church as anachronistic—the cardinal sin to the church of modernity and postmodernity. The result is that the church becomes half-church and half-world, for which neither God nor the world has much use. Tragically, the church is the last to understand this final fate awaiting all churches that dine at the table of the kosmos—world. This is all done of course by basting the delectables of the world with sanctified Christian clichés until they appear scrumptious, but the end is the same as the world’s, only with greater deception.

“But like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because it is written, ‘You shall be holy, for I am holy’” (1 Peter 1:15–16).

Homosexuality: The Truth About The Sin and Need of Salvation

Homosexual thoughts, inclinations, and acts are sin and must be confessed and forgiven by faith in Jesus Christ just like any other sin or sinner must be. Society is constantly pushing for the normalization of homosexuality, but the Christian must remain true to the Scripture. (for a fuller discussion of the topic, see my other article entitled Loving the homosexual to Healing with Truth.) The following list highlights some of the biblical truths regarding homosexuality. Continue reading →

Not all Sin is Created Equal

The Scripture clearly teaches that while all sin is sin, some sins are more sinful than others. Matthew 12:30-32 speaks of the unpardonable sin, in contrast to every other sin which can be forgiven by faith in Christ; Matthew 23:23 speaks of the “weightier provisions of the law;” John 19:11 says that in comparison to Pontius Pilate, Judas has the “greater sin” (see also 2 Peter 2:20-21); James 1:14-15 distinguishes between temptation, lust, conceiving, and sin. Sin can refer to full mental indulgence or the physical carrying out of that which is conceived. While the mental envisioning of say, adultery, is sin, the carrying out of the physical act worsens such sin. To wit the thought of murdering someone is sin, but the greater sin is to carry such thought to its fullness and commit the physical act of murder, for then, one has sinned in both thought and act. Continue reading →

Does Faith Precede or Result from the New Birth? John 3:1-15

To be a consistent Calvinist, a person must believe that the Bible teaches God limits His redemptive love toward His creation and that limited love is more reflective of God being the sum of perfect love than God extending His salvational love to all of His creation.

Of course, the perennial problem with the Calvinist’s perspective is the explicit claims of Scripture to the contrary. The encounter between Jesus and Nicodemus provides an example of God’s universal salvational love and sets the context for probably the most well-known and beloved verse in the Scripture, which explicitly declares God’s universal redemptive love for all of His creation (John 3:16).[1]

I intend to set the context by briefly summarizing vss. 1-13. Then I will note some observations drawn from vss. 14-15. The illustration of vss. 14-15 serves a twofold purpose; first, it provides illumination for properly understanding some of the dialogue between Jesus and Nicodemus in vss. 1-13; second, it serves as Jesus’s chosen introductory and illuminative illustration for vss. 16-21. Continue reading →

Equally Lost and Equally Savable: No Distinctions!

“Even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction” (Romans 3:22).

Romans chapter three is crystal clear in declaring the universal sinfulness of man. Although the Jews have advantages compared to the Greeks, such as having the oracles of God (vs. 1-2), they do not have preferential treatment with regard to salvation. Vs. 9 makes this very clear, “Jews and Greeks are all under sin.” “All” clearly means that every Jew and every Greek (every person) is under sin. Consequently, both the groups and “all” the individuals that make up the groups are included rather than some in each group comprising the “all.” There are no exceptions. Continue reading →