We’ll be looking at a biblical view of church function by starting with examining the false gospels at large in America today.
But before that, let’s look at some idea’s for structures and functions of the local church:
- the gospel – what gospel is preached? How is it lived?
- Membership – what are the requirments, markers, training, etc?
- spiritual and physical nature – How does the church embrace its dual nature?
- leadership and structure – What does leadership look like?
- Communion – what does it mean and how is it performed?
- Baptism – What does it mean and how is it performed?
- worship gatherings/evangelistic gatherings – How does the church gather? Why?
- spiritual warfare and spiritual gifts – Is the church battling with weapons in both hands?
- the church functioning in the world – How does the church engage and minister to the world?
False Gospels in America
The Ticket to Heaven Gospel – Popularized by Dwight Moody and Charles Finney focusing on a personal savior and the Sinner’s Prayer. Repent of your sins and confess with your mouth and you will be saved, and end up in Heaven when you die. This puts the focus on getting to heaven and bypasses your life here on earth. Sort of a distortion of the gospel of John the Baptist, which was, “Repent!” But repentance is the start, not the fulfillment. The Gospel of Jesus was about the Spirit of God being returned to us, to have fellowship with God. Adam and Eve “died” at the fall, but they did not drop dead in the dirt. They lost something. So what did they lose? How do we get it back? Anxiety about our “final destination” doesn’t lead us to the Lord; it doesn’t lead us to our Ephesians 2:10 works.
Genie in the Lamp Gospel – If you turn to God, He’ll fix your problems. This enslaves people to a new law. It shrinks God down to a manageable size. It puts the focus on God doing something to make your life easier. It puts your will at the center, instead of God’s will. And it puts the relationship into the context of a transaction that is earned or unearned. You’re not healed because you lack faith, you’re poor because you don’t give, you’re not blessed because you’re too sinful. This logic breaks down when you look at rich or healthy people who hate God. It breaks down when you look at righteous people in the Bible who suffered in poverty. This gospel encourages pretending, to pretend that things are better than they are so people won’t think you are sinful, doubtful, selfish, etc.
The Acceptance Gospel – Everyone and everything is ok because God is love. This bypasses the eternal attributes of God – it denies His justice, judgment, and holiness, and redefines love. This desires a God that doesn’t judge or harm in any way. Usually, this is tied to pride on the part of the person accepting this Gospel. It gives them a pass for all their flaws, and demonizes those who would speak out against sin.
The Gospel of the Kingdom
The Gospel of the Kingdom is sell all your possessions, be separate from the world, be separate from the world, follow Jesus, live in the power and dominion of the Holy Spirit. Through this Gospel, we see and understand what others do not see and understand. What is the proper response to this gospel? Live for others and not your self. This is a difference from the false gospels present in America today. This contrasts with the hypocrites of Isaiah 58 trying to impress God and earn His response with their religious actions. Jesus’ Gospel completely changes us, not just our behavior, or our political beliefs, or our traditions. Jesus’ Gospel does not call us to ignore the evil around us, but to overcome it through the Spirit. Jesus’ Gospel calls us to walk in His ways – giving up of our status, position, and privilege to serve those who have not. Our lives are exchanged for His. It is a Gospel of rest – of resting in Grace, in the work of the Spirit, in humility. Jesus’ Gospel is one of transformation. Jesus is the only way to have eternal life – which is to know Him and the One who sent Him.
Derek Webb – A New Law
Madison Greene – The Turning
This episode originally broadcast live on September 25, 2015 on KXEN 1010AM in St. Louis, MO