Monday, August 27, 2007

A New Testament Church

People use many methods to find a "church home". Possibly few of them are based on Scripture. Probably some are not even reasonable. The criteria should be based on the teachings of Scripture and not our own temperaments and preferences. Emotional people may look for a local assembly that is very expressive. A more reserved character might want one that is calm and quiet -- perhaps even dignified. A poor person might feel at home in a small insignificant church; the rich might seek out a large congregation with an impressive facility. Such shallow surface considerations are fruits of the flesh and not the Spirit.

How shall we know which church is right? By the sign placed over the door? By the church covenant attached to the wall? By the articles of faith adopted in conference? By its size and the size of its budget? How shall we know? Perhaps the agreement of the word and the Spirit is the answer. I offer three suggestions that might engage the mind concerning local assemblies of Christ (or not). Look at the relationship to God, the relationship to God's Word, and the relationship to one others.

The relationship to God
Jesus said that the greatest commandment is to love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind (Matt. 22:37, 28). The nature of a congregation can be tested by the nature of its relationship to God. Much religion is based on mental assent to its rituals, rites and doctrines. Christianity goes beyond outward form. The new birth brings an individual into direct contact and personal relationship with God. A true church of Christ will be God-centered rather than self-centered, man-centered, or pastor-centered. God's love will permeate its worship and mark the individual lives of those who assemble there. NO -- it won't be a perfect church. The congregants will probably be even more aware of their sinfulness than is average. But the relationship to God will be a full one that encompasses the total person -- heart, soul, and mind.

To be continued (d.v.)


Bro. Matt said...

This may be your greatest post yet! I totally agree with what you are saying (I'll allow you time to recover...) Okay, now back to what I was saying - this is a subject that needs to be taught, written about, preached on, etc.! I can't wait to hear the other posts.

R. L. Vaughn said...

Better be careful agreeing before you've heard the whole story!! ;-D

I have another ready to post tonight, Lord willing.

We can often take great care straining at gnats -- making sure all our doctrinal i's are dotted and t's are crossed -- while overlooking weightier matters like loving God with all the heart, soul, mind; loving our brethren, loving our neighbor, etc. My blog posts reveal to readers that I obviously have some doctrinal beliefs and convictions (some even complain about them!). But one can be rigidly right on such points while at the same time being distantly departed from a loving relationship with the only Saviour.

Bro. Matt said...

I do agree!