5.22.2011

PREDICTING HAROLD CAMPING's NEW PREDICTION

MY PREDICTION: I am going to be so bold and make a prediction about what Harold Camping will say in response. Camping Prediction: "My views have not changed, May 21, 2011 began the 153 day period of judgment ending with the rapture on October 21, 2011--the BIBLE guarantees it!"

I am making this prediction before any public response from Camping, note the date and time, it's Sunday May 22--9:00 AM. 

5.07.2011

5.06.2011

MISSION & MANDATE--What About the Great Commission? (Updated)

What is the church's mission and mandate? Is a church determined to be faithful by what it is doing "out there" as opposed to what happens on the Lord's Day? Just what is the Great Commission? And what did Jesus mean when he commissioned his church to preach and baptize? Is that commission for everyone? I ask this because the minute concerns are raised today about worship practices contrary to the Word of God, responses follow of people trying to discredit the ordinary means that God commisioned his church to honor until Christ returns. So the suggestion today is that a faithful church is marked by how many ministries or social programs it offers to the broader society. Is this correct?

Let's play a little game of church golf. This is from D.G Hart,

How would you rate the work of your church? A ministry scorecard might include the following categories: if your church has a children's ministry give it 2 points; a welcome team ministry, 1 point; a tapeministry, 1 point (but if a tape and book ministry, 2 points). A couples' ministry should be worth 2 points as should an international student ministry, a mothers' ministry, and a newlywed ministry; but subtract a point if it is a newlywed mothers' ministry. Women's ministry should also receive 2 points and-in the spirit of equity-a men's ministry should receive the same, but if your men's group is an adjunct of Promise Keepers don't give any points-you have to start it on your own. AIDS ministries, homeless ministries, and low-income housing ministries all receive 3 points, a score befitting a big church with many resources and talented members. Throw in 1 point each for a weekly Bible study, foreign missions, and the Sacraments (2 points for the latter if your church allows the laity to set up the Lord's Supper). Finally, add 1 point for a Sunday morning service, 2 points if you have both a contemporary and a traditional service.

Now tally up your score. How did your church do? Be careful, though. Before you delight in a double-digit number you should know that this game is like golf-the higher the score, the worse the performance. The reason, of course, for this inverse method of scoring comes from our Lord himself. When he sent his disciples out into the world he prescribed the means that they would use to disciple the nations. In the Great Commission Christ tells the apostles to teach and baptize. In other words, he defined the ministry of the church as encompassing two tasks only-Word and Sacrament.

Such a narrow view of the ministry means that par for the church is 4: 1 point for preaching, 2 points for the Sacraments, and 1 for prayer. Any activity beyond these results in a bogey church.

Hart makes an excellent point with this example. The mandate that Christ gave to his church in the Great Commission is to preach and to baptize. Historically, the Great Commission has been understood to be fulfilled by ordained servants in Christ's church. Not everyone is ordained to preach and baptize. Today, however, all distinctions have been broken down so that there is no difference between what the ordained pastor does and what the layman does. For instance, I saw a church marque the other day, and under the minister section it read, "everyone".

What happens in this scenario? The mandate and mission of the church becomes marginalized as it is assumed that "real" ministry happens "out there". Social programs take a higher seat than what Christ commissioned his church to do in Matthew 28. It's no wonder church services are dying in attendance and the second service dropped. People have been taught to devalue what happens when we "come together" as Christ's body. There is no confidence that anything powerful is happening when the gospel is preached. We have been programmed to lose confidence in the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe.

In fact, I would argue that the more people are taught to value the specific ministry of Word and Sacrament, the other social agendas that the church is obsessed with today, will be actively pursued by those who have already been transformed by this specific means of grace that Christ has chosen to make himself known. As the saints are given the food and drink of eternal life, they are then equipped to "go out" as pilgrims to be salt and light in the world--a very different thing than what Jesus specifically commissioned his ordained servants to do in Matthew 28. The more this occurs, the greater our light becomes in the world.


So let us learn to distinguish what needs to be distinguished and realize that a church is being faithful to its mandate when due attention and place is given to the preaching of the gospel and administration of the sacraments. Return confidence to these "foolish" means, and watch our witness spring forth to the ends of the earth in a real life-changing way.

CJG

5.03.2011

LEGALISM--WHAT IT IS & WHAT IT IS NOT (UPDATED)

What is legalism?  The charge of legalism is so carelessly flung around today that people have no idea what the term means.  It’s become a catch phrase to write off any church that is doctrinal—a word also much of an embarrassment to people today. 

There are three ways this term is being misapplied and abused to attack churches that have remained confessionally Protestant. 

5.02.2011

ABOUNDING GRACE RADIO: The FORGOTTEN HOLINESS OF GOD

ABOUNDING GRACE RADIO airs Monday-Friday on KARI at 8:30 AM & 2:45 PM
Monday, May 2: Isaiah 6 Forgotten Holiness
Tuesday May 3: Isaiah 6 Forgotten Holiness
Wednesday May 4: Isaiah 6 Forgotten Holiness
Thursday, May 5: Isaiah 6 Forgotten Holiness

A Great Class at the REFORMED BIBLE COLLEGE

This was a fun class, thanks for a very enjoyable time in our study through John!  Visit the Reformed Bible College. http://www.rbcollege.com/