Alright, forward and onward! I discussed the church and how there is an issue especially here in America, where we stay within our own church walls and are reluctant to venture out into the world and make disciples in my post Beyond The Walls. I need to finish defining the Church by addressing what the Church truly is. Here are the points I hope to make between the two post.
1) Tower of Babel to be used as an example of expanding the church walls, rather than expanding the church Body.
2) Define the church.
3) point out real life connections and how to remedy the issue.
4) What makes a believer? What makes a disciple? (Simon the magician)
5) Mission minded versus number minded.
I spent more time explaining what the church is NOT supposed to be in the prior post. Here I hope to explain what we are as the Church and what that entails. Scripture will be my voice here, Lord knows I’ll take some long journey to explain it in a roundabout way thousands of words later.
For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit. – 1 Corinthians 12:12-13
Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. – 1 Corinthians 12:27
For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. – Romans 12:4-5
I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift. – Ephesians 4:1-7
And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, – Ephesians 4:11-12
Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church, – Colossians 1:24
For you see, the Church is not a building, but rather each Christian makes up a member of the Body. We are the temple of God, the Holy Spirit dwells within us and by the blood of Christ we are redeemed. God does not dwell within your church building, so before you stand up at your next budget meeting and say “We must build a bigger steeple in the name of the Lord!” or “We need red carpets to represent the blood of Christ!” Check yourself and understand that God will not thank you for causing an uproar over carpets. In an instant that building could be wiped from the face of the earth, but the Body of Christ is eternal. We cannot allow ourselves to be so wrapped up in bringing people to the church building we built, rather we need to urgently take the Church to people! We each represent a part of the Church and we each hold a responsibility to carrying out the task of the Church, to make disciples.
What is a disciple and how do we go about making them? Well first off we have to go into the world proclaiming the name of Christ to all.
for “Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher? How will they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news of good things!” – Romans 10:13-15
Second, we must mentor new converts and guide them as they grow in Christ. We must care for those who are in need and not neglect our fellow brethren.
If anyone thinks himself to be religious, and yet does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this man’s religion is worthless. Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world. – James 1:26-27
We must also not be fooled by simply believing in the power of Christ and forsaking the name of Christ. In Acts we encounter a man who performs magic and has amazed many. When Philip came to his region to preach he was amazed by the power Philip had through the power of the Spirit. It is said
“Even Simon himself believed, and after being baptized he continued with Philip. And seeing signs and great miracles performed, he was amazed” Acts 8:13
Now when Simon saw that the Spirit was given through the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money, saying, “Give me this power also, so that anyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.” But Peter said to him, “May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain the gift of God with money! You have neither part nor lot in this matter, for your heart is not right before God. Repent, therefore, of this wickedness of yours, and pray to the Lord that, if possible, the intent of your heart may be forgiven you. For I see that you are in the gall of bitterness and in the bond of iniquity.” And Simon answered, “Pray for me to the Lord, that nothing of what you have said may come upon me.” Acts 8:18-24
For whatever reason, we aren’t told what became of Simon, but we can see his errors. In verse thirteen he was baptized by water and followed Philip amazed by his power. In the verses to come Peter and John come through the same region and pray for the people to be baptized in the Holy Spirit. When Simon saw that the same power that Philip had could be bestowed on others, he tried bribing Peter for the Holy Spirit. Peter quickly corrected him and made it clear that the Spirit will not enter him due to his heart and intent, by prayer and repentance he could be redeemed. Simon had all the belief in the world that the power of Christ was real, but he did not seek to serve the Lord, he wanted to use that power to continue his magic. His request to Peter in the end, hmm perhaps that was his final request and then he went away. Regardless of what became of him, he believed for all of the wrong reasons. Much like those who seek and expect blessings from God. Simon was a believer, but not a Disciple. Even the Demons believe in the power of Christ and acknowledge His sovereignty, but they serve a different master.
To become a disciple goes beyond belief in power, it’s through a repentant heart and by prayer to God directly to forgive you of your transgressions. The Spirit knows your heart, and He will not enter a person who is unwilling to become a new creation in Christ.
Brethren, my heart’s desire and my prayer to God for them is for their salvation. For I testify about them that they have a zeal for God, but not in accordance with knowledge. For not knowing about God’s righteousness and seeking to establish their own, they did not subject themselves to the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes. – Romans 10:1-4
You can’t earn or buy your salvation. No number of good deeds will bring about a new creation with a new purpose and desire. If being good was the requirement for salvation, then we are all utterly doomed.
This brings me to my final point on my list, being mission minded. As stated before by Paul, how can they believe if they do not hear? How will they hear if no one is sent? The Church MUST wake up to this reality. Do you know where South Korea sends most of their missionaries? It’s here! In the united States, where we boast being a “Christian Nation”. I say “Christian Nation” because I am not convinced that our population is a majority Christian, neither are South Koreans convinced of it it seems. Believing God exists does not make you a Christian, and that’s how a lot of people answer those polls. We must break through our walls and reignite the flames to spread the gospel like wildfire. If we want to see our congregations grow, then we must first realize our first priority. At home and abroad we must preach the Word of Christ. By our own gifts and talents bestowed by God and the Holy Spirit we must each act accordingly to our part of the Body and together the Body of Christ can truly reach all the nations of the world! We must break down the walls we’ve created for ourselves and go beyond the church building and truly begin building the Church of God.
May the Lord Bless us and keep us as we venture into this endeavor.