Is a critique of Ncctk’s actions in our community really necessary (See Part One)?That depends upon whether we believe it's permissible for Christ's church to be built with secular means, because that is exactly what is done in adopting a big business model.Does God care whether a church uses a consumer model of outreach? Are the means for building his kingdom irrelevant?Should the church operate as a business? Is it permissible to market God as just another guy we can text message? If we agree that God has chosen foolish means to save those who believe, then what does God really think about pastors who turn his church into a shopping mall giving the appearance that buying God is a product we can stamp "satisfaction guaranteed"?
Some will not agree with what I write here, but I ask the reader to take the time to thoughtfully reflect on what is presented. What I write is out of sincere concern for my brothers and sisters in this community. I want nothing more than for us all to walk in the truth.
A Marketed God
Do you have a problem?Are you divorced and need acceptance?Are you tired of playing church? Has legalism beat you down? Do you want real life giving worship?Do you need a mentor, a life coach? Recovery step program? Addiction release?Need a prayer partner? What about a connection for your teenager? You name it we have a program for you.If any of this sounds familiar it is because thousands of churches in this land have learned how best to build their churches based upon the wants of the people.The church is offered as a product and the people as consumers.But for this to work, you have to give the consumer what he wants, and to do that properly, nothing can look or feel churchy since those things run up against a God who is a lot more difficult to market.
It must have been an awful scene when Christ walked into the temple of Jerusalem, made a whip of cords, and drove out the money changers. Why did Christ do this? Zeal for the Lord’s house had eaten him up! Radical? You better believe it; his father’s house of worship and prayer had been overrun with false shepherds who had turned the worship of Christ into a business.It was mockery. It was chicanery, and souls were at stake. They were profaning God’s holiness in worship. The message of gospel had been trampled underfoot, and no one cared enough to speak out.The Lord himself had to come as the messenger of the covenant to cleanse his temple from such debauchery and raise it anew.
My local church phenomenon is a microcosm of what is happening and is being practiced in communities all throughout this nation. Proper evaluation of movements requires a certain measure of exposure. As with any kind of confrontation, sincere love sometimes hurts, especially when it’s honest and direct. Inevitably, I will be charged with being envious, or a traditionalist, or even legalistic for the things that I write here. But what I write is out of sincere concern for Christ's church and my brothers and sisters in the community. It is time for Christians to stop being passive and care enough to warn those who are being carried away by church leaders who are profaning God’s holiness and turning the church into a den of thieves. I don't have a perfect church, nor do I think I am better than anyone else. I am a sinner saved by grace who now desires to honor and reverence the risen Christ.
Abounding Grace Radio airs Monday-Friday on KARI 550 Am at 8:30 AM & 2:30 PM. Here is an interview with Rev. Mark Stromberg, pastor of the Belgrade, MT United Reformed Church on his transition from being an Assembly of God pastor to becoming Reformed. Mark actually was asked to be on the power team and was known for tearing a phone book in half. These are a must listen as there will be more to come. Let us know what you think.
Q. How must we hear God’s word, that it may be effectual to salvation?
A. We must come unto it with hunger-bitten hearts, having an appetite to the word; we must mark it with attention, receive it by faith, submit ourselves unto it with fear and trembling, even then when our faults are reproved; lastly we must hide it in the corners of our hearts, that we may frame our lives and conversations by it.
“Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath” – Jam. 1:19;
“And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, which worshipped God, heard us: whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul.” – Acts 16:14;
“For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it.” – Heb. 4:2;
“For all those things hath mine hand made, and all those things have been, saith the Lord: but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word.” – Isa. 66:2;
“And he went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject unto them: but his mother kept all these sayings in her heart.” – Luke 2:51;
“Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.” – Psa. 119:11.
Today I had the privilege of preaching the funeral service for Doreen Woodbridge, the widow of the late Dr. Charles Woodbridge. Charles Woodbridge was mentored by J.Gresham Machen and later became a church history professor at Fuller Theological Seminary.Woodbridge defended Machen at his trial before the New Brunswick Presbytery and would later write “The New Evangelicalism”, a work devoted to the defense of the doctrinal purity of the church. He left Fuller in 1958 out of conviction that the seminary was becoming apostate. Woodbridge was also one of the few who confronted Billy Graham for his conduct at his preaching campaigns (Woodbridge, The New Evangelicalism, 1970, p. 44).
I met Doreen Woodbridge some time ago at a Sunday lunch.There was an immediate connection as I found myself being engaged by an 88-year old woman about the modernist fundamentalist controversy of the twentieth century.She was sharp, teaching me things I didn’t know. It was at this lunch that I learned that Doreen’s pastor in the UK was Dr. Martyn Lloyd Jones and that her late husband was the well-known Charles Woodbridge.During the course of the conversation, she mentioned that she still had many letters from Machen to her late husband—letters never seen before!I’m trying to get my hands on those letters.
I write about Doreen for two reasons.First, she was a woman who at 88 years old still cared about the truth.She lamented how far the church has defected from a Biblical and confessional view of worship and Christ-centered preaching.Her convictions about what worship should be, who Christ is, how he should be honored, deeply mattered to her. All I could think about was, no matter how much we try to make Christianity relevant and hip to the next generation, the wisdom and conviction of Doreen Woodbridge is timeless.Her convictions defy everything that is temporary and fleshly.The gospel is the most “authentic” and relevant truth communicated to sinners, why line pure gold with gilded tin?
Second, she was godly.I’m convinced that behind a man who makes a difference in Christ’s church like Charles Woodbridge is a woman like this.I have done over twenty funerals now as a pastor.As I see many of these aged saints die, the more I feel the cry of David, “Help, for the godly man ceases.” Doreen was a godly woman who diffused the fragrance of Christ.As people like this come and go, we should be perceptive enough to see that no matter how bad things get, Christ will continue to preserve his seed in the earth. This should be an encouragement to Christians to remember why they are here.
THE GORDIAN KNOT
n. 1. An exceedingly complicated problem or deadlock. 2. An intricate knot tied by King Gordius of Phrygia and cut by Alexander the Great with his sword after hearing an oracle promise that whoever could undo it would be the next ruler of Asia.
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