Archive for the ‘Articles of Interest’ Category

Church Discipline

Articles of Interest | Posted by admin
Nov 18 2017

Church Discipline

 

Athenian Christianity

Articles of Interest | Posted by admin
Sep 12 2017

Athenian Christianity

“(For all the Athenians and strangers which were there spent their time in nothing else, but either to tell, or to hear some new thing.)” Acts 17:21

Truly, there is nothing new under the sun, but each generation seemingly discovers things never heard or seen before. Whether it’s clothing, music, food, sports, entertainment, language, politics, or philosophy; the latest fad always receives a great deal of attention. People can’t wait to jump on the bandwagon. If a person is creative enough, they can really impress by starting their own bandwagon. And social media feeds our craving to announce to everyone the latest and greatest before anyone else. It makes us feel special: more in tune, more noble, more intelligent, more caring, more innovative, more in-depth, and on and on. The appetite is insatiable. To create or postulate something that no one else has ever thought about, or to promote something that very few have discovered, is exciting to say the least, especially to the ego.

Don’t get me wrong. Innovation is admirable. New things aren’t all bad and all new things aren’t bad. The need to stay ahead of the game is obvious in many areas of life. And it is certainly beneficial where efficiency is being improved or where insufficiencies are being corrected. Continual advances in technology in practically every arena prove to be needful, useful, profitable, and sometimes just plain fun. How much easier life has become because of ‘new’ things in manufacturing, electronics, transportation, and communication. What a debt of gratitude we owe to those innovative minds that have helped raise our standard of living and brought us the many modern conveniences we enjoy.

But what about our Christianity? What about the Bible? Is innovation the answer to what appears to be an ongoing falling away from the faith? Do we need new interpretations of the Bible, and new ideas regarding worship? Have profound truths been hidden for centuries but only recently discovered? Are we just now uncovering teachings and gifts intended for the church since its infancy but unknown until now? It is becoming more apparent every day: a large segment of Christianity has fallen prey to the same mindset that was rampant in ancient Athens – the temptation of being the first to know and the first to tell some new thing. We have allowed ourselves to be captivated by an approach to ‘worship’ and ‘evangelism’ that is much better suited for the business world. The marketing strategies and measures of success that motivate business leaders are dependent on being the first, the best, the loudest, the brightest, the most exciting, and the most memorable. Such is what we are seeing develop in modern Christianity. Athenian Christianity: dependency on innovation to attract people, leading to the continual evolution of doctrine and practice, with no apparent concern about imitating the world.

We have reached the point of basically ignoring the words of Jesus in John 4; at least half of them anyway: “But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.” (v.23-24) What we are seeing in modern Christianity, it seems, is an emphasis on the ‘spirit’ part, but not much regard for the ‘truth’ part. And even then, there seems to be much confusion about what Jesus means when he exhorts us to worship God in “spirit”. It is evident that we have confused spirit with emotion. Our emotions certainly can be stirred when we worship. Perhaps we should expect our emotions to be stirred at least occasionally, maybe even often, when we worship. But emotion is not the basis of our worship; neither is it the determining factor on whether we have truly engaged in worship or not.

Emotions are deceiving. They are not consistent within any individual and certainly not consistent among individuals. Emotional experiences have become the driving force behind the modern worship movement, and truth is quickly and easily overshadowed. Emotions are not self-sustaining, so whatever stirs our emotions and produces a positive experience, we must have more and more of it to keep our emotions running high. We have to become more innovative and more exciting than the last time to keep the ‘spiritual’ adrenalin going. However, if truth accompanies spirit, then God is pleased, whether our emotions are stirred or not. If truth accompanies spirit, and our emotions are stirred, then we find ourselves wanting more and more of what pleases God. Pleasing God then becomes our motivation rather than stirring or attempting to satisfy our emotions.

So, what did Jesus mean when he exhorted us to worship God in “spirit”? A word study would be helpful; perhaps a Greek lexicon; do some cross references, etc. But here is the gist of it. God is a Spirit; that much is plain. What do we know about God? God is a Being with countless attributes, many of which we can barely scratch the surface of understanding. Truly, His ways and His thoughts are infinitely higher than ours. But He has revealed to us a great deal about Himself through His written word, and He calls on us to seek to know Him according to that revelation. He tells us His word is sufficient; a furnisher through and through, so anything that enters our minds about God must be filtered through His word and must harmonize with His written revelation. If our mind conjures up something about God not in harmony with His word, then we have a false idea rooted in emotion, feelings, personal preferences, or some other misleading or deceptive force.

What do we know about God? We know He is a rational Being; that is, He is a Being of purpose, principle, and reason. God is also a God of love and pleasure; hate and displeasure; compassion, pity, comfort; chastisement, righteousness, and wrath. We often mistakenly think about some of those attributes as being emotions. But what we might perceive to be a display of emotion by the Lord shouldn’t be compared with the emotions of man. In fact, can it even be truly said that God has emotions? Whatever you want to call those types of attributes, one thing is certain: God is always motivated by purpose, principle, and reason; not emotion. For example, if God manifests love, it cannot be compared with the fickle sensations of man. God’s love is an action and a choice motivated by purpose. When God acts in a compassionate manner, His motivation is to bring about His purpose, and is based on His will. The “spirit” within man, to which Jesus refers, is similar in nature, with respect to purpose and principle and reason. That is, the spirit in man is the source of our reason, our logic, our knowledge. It might be manifest through emotion at times but this spirit of man is not motivated by emotion. God is not motivated by emotions that are stirred by external influences; neither should we think of our spirit in that light. The relationship between God and man is not based on emotions.

So, external factors and forces, which target our emotions, should never be the basis of our worship. This is what we see in many efforts to worship God in modern Christianity. The lights, the sounds, the props, the hype: they all serve to create an environment that first stirs the emotions. Once the emotions are stirred, people are convinced they have engaged in worship, regardless of what else is said, taught, preached, or promoted. Couple this emotional environment with the seemingly endless pursuit of the latest, the newest, the most hip, the most urgent, the most connected, the most desperate… and we have all the makings of the most efficient marketing and advertising strategies found in the business world. We might promote something as having an impact or being a ‘riot’ or being relevant and real, but if we can’t find a basis in Scripture for what we are doing, then it is not something God is pleased with. It is not of the Lord. We might be tempted to gauge the ‘success’ of our efforts by the apparent effects, but when our efforts are working in reverse – from outside in – then our ‘results’ will be misleading. If something looks more like worldly entertainment than reverential worship, we won’t find the basis for it in Scripture.

This brings us to the definition of “truth”. The philosophy of the world promotes the idea (and often smugly declares) that absolute truth is an impossibility. How can a standard exist without some alteration or adaptation as time progresses? Surely we wouldn’t expect a standard that was established centuries ago to still remain intact and continue to be suitable or efficient or even relevant today. While many of us would be reluctant to admit it, modern Christianity has been grossly tainted by such worldly philosophy. Athenian Christianity might promote its ideas as being revolutionary, but they are more accurately described as being evolutionary. Many of us would probably agree on some ‘general’ truths; fundamental doctrines espoused by the Christian world at large down through the centuries. But what about “truth” when it comes to worship?

There is no question as to the subject of this part of the conversation between Jesus and the Samaritan woman in John 4. It is undoubtedly worship. Just as Jesus declared to her that the Father seeks those who worship Him in spirit, so too Jesus plainly declared that the Father seeks those who worship Him in truth. As stated earlier, when spirit and truth accompany each other in our efforts to worship, God is pleased; He is sure to find us. Now, we won’t likely find perfection in either area – spirit or truth – but are we not obligated to continually seek a greater understanding of both?

What is truth? An infamous man in Jesus’ day asked the question, and it is a legitimate question. By definition, truth is objective; not subjective. In other words, truth is not subject to change depending on the circumstances. Here is the truth about truth. Truth can only be discovered to a greater and greater degree as we become more and more free from opinion, personal preference, emotion, and all external factors. This includes traditions not specifically taught in Scripture as well as the customs of the prevailing culture. Truth remains truth regardless of our likes, dislikes, preferences, or how we feel we about it. Truth remains in spite of what name we invoke upon our customs and traditions. So, to answer the earlier question – if Jesus declared that the Father seeks those who worship Him in truth, then yes! We are absolutely obligated to worship God in spirit AND in truth. If we are to worship the Father in an acceptable manner, we must worship Him in a way that harmonizes with who He is, as revealed in His word. And there is a reason we never find worship in the New Testament (or OT) associated with or trying to mimic any type of worldly entertainment. It is against the nature of God.

The church of the living God is described as the pillar and ground of the truth. The church: established by Christ, built upon the foundation of the apostles, having Jesus as its corner stone; the bride and body of Christ; the only institution ordained of God to be the repository of His truth here in the world. It matters what we believe. It matters how we worship. And the truth is, we have no right to mix the entertainment world with our worship. The truth is, it is more to our detriment than it is to our benefit. Without fail, the emotional entertainment approach to worship leads to the spotlight being on human beings rather than on Christ and the Father. True, in whatever we do, we should glorify God. Wherever our interests and likes and preferences take us, we should seek to glorify God. But the truth is, God has not given us permission to do whatever we want to do based on our likes and preferences in our efforts to worship Him as the church. The truth is, the Athenian mindset to Christian worship – always seeking the latest and the greatest – is only serving to blur the lines between the world and the church. Is the basis for our form of worship found in God’s word? Or are we living in Athens? There is truth, and there is that which is not true. Let God’s word determine which it is, and avoid Athenian Christianity.

 

Singing in the New Testament Church

Articles of Interest | Posted by admin
Oct 24 2015

Singing in the NT Church

Someone might ask why the New Testament is silent on music in the worship service. Actually, it is not silent regarding music. Much is written about singing. The silence only pertains to musical instruments. The music we are to make in the worship service of the New Testament Church is to be produced by the instrument God gave us, the human voice.

What A Church Needs

Articles of Interest | Posted by admin
Jan 24 2015

What a Church Needs from the Pastor

Having spent more time in the church from ‘behind the pulpit’ than in the pew, I am probably not the one who should be writing this. And in making the attempt, I have been greatly convicted, being forcefully reminded of the congregation’s needs and what the flock expects from its pastor. I do not pretend to think that this short article is exhaustive but hopefully it does lay the groundwork. And hopefully it will help all of us, pastor and church alike, reflect on the great needs we all have; the greatest need being the Lord Himself, but also the need we have of one another.

A church needs a pastor who continually seeks the leadership of the Spirit, for it is the Holy Ghost who has made him the overseer. As the overseer, the pastor is expected to take heed unto all the flock, observing them and learning from them, so he might better tend to their needs. Peter reminds the elders what their attitude is to be – not one of lordship but one of willingness; not trying to force people to do things but being an example. A church needs a Spirit-led pastor to lead the flock; not drive them. As Paul instructed Timothy, a church must have a servant who is not given to strife; one who is gentle and patient; a servant who can teach others with the unique combination of meekness and boldness.

A church needs a pastor who is determined to declare the whole counsel of God. He should be always mindful of the usefulness of Scripture – for doctrine, reproof, correction and instruction in righteousness. Peter exhorts the elders to feed the flock and a church needs to be fed a complete diet; milk for the young and meat for the mature so that all may grow thereby. The church should expect the pastor to minister to and teach young and old alike, without showing partiality and without limiting himself to when and how he fulfills his ministry. A church needs a pastor who teaches while he preaches and whose walk is in harmony with his words.

A church needs a pastor who is willing to spend and be spent. It should be expected of the pastor to feel as the apostle Paul did, “woe unto me if I preach not the gospel”; and to heed the exhortation given to the young minister Timothy to “be instant in season, out of season.” The church should expect the pastor to do the work of an evangelist, giving the flock an example so they can do the same. After all, the greatest witness and most effective evangelist is a content church member who is happy in the Lord.

A church needs a pastor who is willing to preach on the difficult subjects as he is given light; not one who only preaches smooth things. The church should expect him to be wide awake and to sound the alarm when the enemy is on the prowl. A church needs to remember that the pastor is accountable to God for the condition of the flock; at least, as far as the flock is willing to take heed to his leadership and instruction. A church needs a pastor who is patient and compassionate but still willing to give firm admonition to the disobedient. A church should expect the pastor to not only advise but to lead when hard decisions must be made. The church must have a pastor who strives to maintain a good report with those outside and around the church.

A church needs a pastor with a vision grounded in God’s word. The flock should expect their pastor to lead as an undershepherd, always following the Great Shepherd; not trying to make a name for himself but holding forth the word of life, bringing glory and honor to the Head. Every local church needs not just a preacher, not just someone to fill the pulpit, but a pastor.

For the cause of Christ, Elder Matt Jordan

A Pastor’s Perfect World

Articles of Interest | Posted by admin
Jan 22 2015

In a pastor’s perfect world…

  • He would know exactly what to preach every Sunday morning without any doubts.
  • He could find all the right words without stuttering when he preaches.
  • He would use just the right words when he teaches so nobody misunderstands.
  • He could get around to everyone in the congregation before they left.
  • He would know about every sickness every member had before they got well.
  • He would know about every surgery before it began.
  • He would remember to pray for everyone that asks, as well as those who don’t.

 

In a pastor’s perfect world…

  • Every need of every member would be scheduled at different times.
  • Every member would pray for the pastor at least once every day.
  • Every member would be at every worship service.
  • Every member would be on time at every worship service.
  • Every member would realize that the song service begins the worship service.
  • Everyone in the congregation would keep their eyes open the entire message.
  • No one in the congregation would ever become distracted during the message.
  • All vacations would take place between Monday morning and Saturday evening.
  • All family reunions would be any other day of the week besides Sunday.

 

In a pastor’s perfect world…

  • Everyone in the congregation would greet everyone else before they left.
  • He would never need to preach about supporting the Church financially.
  • He would never need to preach about supporting the ministry financially.
  • Every member’s family would know what he or she believes.
  • Every member’s family could see his or her beliefs put into practice.

 

Well, everyone knows it’s not a perfect world. Perfection is in Heaven. But, Perfection did come down to the Earth. His name was Jesus; and He was the Son of God; and He was the only Perfect Man who ever lived; and He died so that one day you would be with Him and His Father in that perfect world in Heaven. Although we can’t be perfect, have we stopped to think that maybe He deserves more from us than what we are giving?

Signed,

Your Pastor

 

 

Let’s Start A Church

Articles of Interest | Posted by admin
Feb 12 2014

Start a Church

If the “only” thing we had to go by was the Bible, and God told us to take the Bible and start a church, what would it look like? Would it resemble the church we attend today? Have we been given the authority to add to the church things not prescribed in the Bible, specifically in the New Testament?

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Why We Do What We Do

Articles of Interest | Posted by admin
Jan 07 2014

Why We Do What We Do

A serious consideration of our motivation for the things we do; individually as disciples of Christ, or collectively as a Church.

Accusations Against Elders

Articles of Interest | Posted by admin
Jun 11 2013

Accusations Against Elders

In this article, Brother Matt looks at a critical issue that Paul deals with in 1Timothy 5:17-21; making accusations against an elder.

Thoughts on Suicide

Articles of Interest | Posted by admin
Jan 21 2013

Thoughts on Suicide

There is perhaps no more difficult and heart-wrenching situation than for someone to take their own life. We may not have all the answers in this life but I pray, God willing, this short article will help relieve some of the pain and bring a degree of peace to your heart.

Our Founding Fathers

Articles of Interest | Posted by admin
Jul 01 2012

These articles are only a snapshot of the views of our Founding Fathers, whose beliefs permeated the documents upon which this great nation was founded.

founding fathers

founding fathers quotes