025.2 Purpose and Function, pt 4

We will continue our discussion of function and purpose by looking at some analogies of the Church and Christ that we find in Scripture. These pictures display the relationship between Christ and the Church.

  • Colossians 1:18 – Christ is the head, the church is the body
  • Ephesians 2:20-21 – Christ is the cornerstone and the church is the temple
  • 2 Corinthians 11:2 – Christ is the beloved and the church is the virgin
  • 1 Peter 5 – Jesus is the shepherd, the church is the flock
  • Ephesians 2 – Christ is the firstborn, the Church is the household
  • Revelation 19 – Christ is the bridegroom, the Church is the Bride
  • Ephesians 2 – Christ is the creator, and the Church is one new man built from two, and built for peace
  • Matthew 16:18 – Christ is the builder and the Church is His church

The Church is obviously central to God’s heart, to His creation of the universe. And yet he communicates about it more frequently in pictures than in blatant instruction for procedure and positions. As the church, we should take this to heart. We should not neglect the things that are clearly instructed, nor should be divide over the things that are not clearly defined in Scripture. If God wanted the “pastor” to be the focal point of church function, He probably should have mentioned it more than once, and should have given some explanation. We see way more discussion of the “apostle” in scripture, and yet few people could point to one today. Same goes for prophets.

Every local church will be a unique expression of the Lord Jesus Christ in their community. This doesn’t mean “anything goes,” but it does mean that we should focus on our Lord and allow freedom in how He leads.

So let’s re-examine our churches in the light of God’s clear priorities, and His pictures that speak of relationship more than defined systems. If the Church is made up of those who have been born of the Spirit of God and been baptized into the one body of Christ by the one Spirit, then the question is, does that describe your church? Or is your church more accurately described by its meetings, events, buildings, as a group of people (believers and unbelievers) present in the same room at the same time? There is only one church, and only God can add people to it.

So then, what about membership?

Today, we have varying church membership requirements. Some “churches” have no memebership recognition, some require that members be baptized in that church building in a certain manner, some require letters from past churches, some require tithing, some people have to sign covenants, some require classes. Where do all these varying requirements come from? The Bible? Or have we invented them along the way?

The most significant sign of of “membership” in scripture is having received the Holy Spirit. So then, can you receive the Holy Spirit and NOT be a member of God’s church?

Membership in the church, which was entrance into the community of the Church, was based on the presence of the Holy Spirit in a person’s life. There is no other church membership requirement listed. The church is a community of Spirit-transformed people. There are many people in Scripture who are not baptized, or have no baptism recorded. Baptism isn’t a requirement, but a response. It is displayed as a response to the reception of the Gospel in Scripture. It should be a shared, celebratory event, not a legalistic requirement.

The danger here is not necessarily in what you do or don’t do. It is how you view what you do, and how you view membership. Do your laws apply to Jesus, to Scripture, to the heart of God displayed in the works of the Spirit we see in Acts and elsewhere? Or can we agree on God and the things He makes clear, and give freedom and grace to those who vary on things God never bothered to nail down?

Why do theology and ecclesiology matter? Because they affect our definitions, our language, our thinking, and our expectations. The Church we find in Scripture is communicated by God most often by relational pictures, and exressed as a people transformed by the Spirit, living life together in a fallen world, to steward the mysteries of God and care for the entire creation. Do our physical tools help us be the church, or do they consume our time and treasures on an unbiblical organization? How can we discern this? Discover what the Church is supposed to do to see of the tools fit the job. Let’s see if our tasks, function, and purpose all line up.

The Church is primarily spiritual and eternal. Physical tools are not eternal. We must indentify the world so that we can be separate from it but minister to it, without falling prey to its ways. We can’t have a vague, amorphous definition, because we can abuse that as liberty to do anything. If there is confusion here, it can lead people into fruitless endeavors. With the prevelance of event-based ministry and friendship evangelism, it is easy to assume that your current passions are always a valid pathway for ministry. The problem is that this is self-focused. God’s works for you might have nothing to do with your present passions and interests. Or your present passions and interests could be informed by sinful desires and false ideas. It is better to lay down your will at the foot of Jesus and ask Him to transform your mind. To identify the enemy and get to know the heart and ways of your Master. When we commit corporately to indentify the ways of the world and separate ouselves from them, to serve God by serving others, then we establish a filter to view our ministry efforts. We have commited to sacrifice, consecration, seeking the will of God.

For those seeking revival, take note. We will never find revival if we participate in low-cost ways of ministry. The power in the early church was that the commitment cost your life. It required a severe reprioritization. It required commitment and sacrifice. It desired a thirst for God’s truth and love that pushed past our flesh and the world’s demands. When we commit as a church to the sacrificial way of Christ, then we will deter people set on fulfilling their own desires. God’s will and character will be declared in the presence of costly love, instead of in the presence of an event-filled organization that requires little sacrifice.

Have you added faith to your life? Or have you “lost your life” in order to receive the hope of Jesus?

The Gospel is an exchange of life – your life for Jesus’ life. You’ve been bought with a price. You cannot add Jesus to your life. You cannot hold on to something else. Jesus is not here to take care of your problems so you can pursue what you want. Jesus wants you to pursue Him with all of your mind, soul, and strength.

So how can the church get fixed? This is a trick question. The assumption is that there is a broken thing that needs fixed. In fact, there is a false thing that needs abandoned. If it were a matter of “fixing”, here is what that to-do list would look like

  • leave its denomination
  • dissolve its corporation
  • remove all unbiblical staff positions, programs, and events
  • stop its open sunday services

For many churches, these very things define its nature. So in effect, it would have to cease to exist. We must come outside the camp to minister how Jesus did (Hebrews 13).

“Here we do not have a lasting city, but we are seeking the city which is to come.” This picture is carried in Galatians 4 (two covenants/two women/two mountains/two cities). One is about doing and one is about being. We whould be a place where the Holy Spirit dwells. The New Jerusalem comes down out of Heaven.

When we go to the Bible to find the description of how to structure the church, we do not find what you would expect. There is not a lack of information, but a lack of information concerning a system. Most of the information describes a group of people sharing life. The instruction is about empowerment, sharing, loving, sacrificing, fellowship, teaching.

In this tension of being and doing, we must make sure our doing is birthed from our being. Do not simply switch your activities and assume that it is better. You are still focusing on your activity. Do not become pridful in your actions, regardless of how righteous they may be. Rest in being the church, and do what flows out of that. The Holy Spirit should be our central motivator. He can motivate some to do something, and not others. Or He may motivate all to do something, but participate in their unique way.

So what then do we do? We must remove the leaven of the pharisees. First, know your gospel! What did Jesus preach? What do you preach? Are you preaching the Good News of the Kingdom, as Jesus did? Jesus’ Gospel focused on death to self. It was not centered around sin, but on denying your self. Repentance is vital, and sin should not be taken lightly. But repentance is the start, not the center. His Gospel leads us to be separate from the world. It is central to the church; there is no church outside the Gospel. The Gospel of the Kingdom involves obedience to God’s commands. It requires sacrifice and suffering on behalf of those who hate you. The church is formed from Jesus’ Gospel. If we structure a church around our design, it distorts the gospel, and removes our source of power.

Do not miss the Gospel of Jesus by accepting and preaching a gospel of man. You will miss out on the fulness of Christ. Read 2 Corinthians 11 and beware.

Jars of Clay – They will know we are Christians by our Love http://www.jarsofclay.com/

Liz Vice – Entrance http://www.lizvice.com/

This episode originally broadcast live on September 18, 2015 on KXEN 1010AM in St. Louis, MO

For more info:

Theme music: “The Resistance” by Josh Garrels (www.joshgarrels.com) licensed by Marmoset Music (www.marmosetmusic.com)


023.1 Creative Expression, pt 3: Logos and Rhema

Creative expression includes most things people think of when they think about art. We are going to start by reviewing some of the big picture ideas we got to in parts 1 and 2 of this discussion.

First obvious signs of creative expression after the fall

Jubal the first musician, Tubal-Cain working with metal. We see records of people desiring to express creatively after the fall. Prior to the fall, man and God have perfect communion. After the fall, communication is impaired.

In the Garden, we had perfect communion. We were fully known, and we knew God in a very intimate way. So will there be creative expressions in Heaven? We will sing, we know that much. And God is creative, and we are created in His image. Are there parallels between creative expressions and spiritual gifts? Obviously spiritual gifts come from God and express who He is. But there will be a day when some pass away, and they won’t be necessary, at least not in our current comprehension of them. They are for ministry and to build us up into the fullness of Christ. What purpose would they serve once we are in that fullness, together with the Father?

So instead of looking at creative expression as a compensation for lack of communion, is it something that is fully realized in unison with God? Is it something that we do WITH God, and in doing it with God, it becomes its true form, and works toward the will of God?

Is redeemed creative expression meant to EXPRESS God or EXPLAIN God? Likely, both.

Is creative expression out of union with God inherently corrupt? While they can be very honest, essentially yes. We had mentioned the urge to build and control related to the urge to create. These are parts of our image of God and part of His purpose for us, that we should be little creators who rule the world on God’s behalf, and with Him. When those are corrupt, we end up building Babels. When we exercise our own creative energies apart from God, it can exalt our pride.

While there is much to be said for all humanity’s creative efforts, the kind that will build us up will in some way point towards the Creator of all. Can our communion with God, our longing for Him, our desolation apart from Him, our questions and doubts, our pains and loss, inspire expressions that bridge the gap created at the Fall?

So after looking at all the ways music specifically was used in Scripture, for godly and ungodly purposes, and exploring lots of modern corruptions, how do we get back to God’s design for creative expression? How do we reform it?

The Bible displays a spiritual connection to expression, and servants, especially Paul, desiring to communicate in God’s ways.

Creative Expression, Rhema, and Logos

Martin Luther believed that the Gospel was Jesus – essentially anything that communicated Jesus was Good News. If everything that could be expressed about God in human form was Jesus, then there is some merit to this idea. There are some who believe God’s expression of Himself has ceased, and is contained entirely in Scripture. Some believe God is always communicated Jesus in some way. Not writing a new Bible, or replacing the Bible, or negating the Bible, but that God expresses Himself and communicates the Good News of the Kingdom always in many ways.

Logos and Rhema are two greek words that get translated as “word”. However, the represent two slightly different ideas, both of which relate to creative expression.

Logos is most famously used in John 1:1 “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” Here, he is clearly referring to Jesus.

Rhema is most famously used in Matthew 4:4 “Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.”

While their literal definitions are very similar, their uses in Scripture show a difference.

Logos is the word, it is declaration. Rhema is revelation. Logos is concrete and clear and trustworthy. Rhema is expressive and fluid, yet still never contradicts the Logos. Rhema is not simply allegorical interpretations of Scripture. It is revelation of God. Sometimes it involves reading scripture. Sometimes it simply happens in ministry, no where near a Bible.

How does art relate to rhema? As God redeems His people, He fills them with His Spirit, grants them rhema (revelation of the truth), and inspires them to express it in way similar to how He expresses. This could be seen as taking what Scripture says, and creatively expressing what it means.

God supernatually revealed the design of the Tabernacle, then He sent His Spirit to empower craftsmen to accomplish the design.

When we are faithful and obedient, we are declaring the character of God. God reveals Himself to people in certain ways at certain times. Sometimes as a burning bush, sometimes as thunder, sometimes as a pillar of cloud, etc. Why? Why does He choose different forms, different expressions? Even in Scripture, there are many literary forms. Why does He choose poems in place, and geneologies in another? Why did Jesus come in human, tangible, physical form to live an observable, historical, concrete life, and yet also grant confounding visions to John? Because He is expressing in forms that express Him, to the recipient, and to others to come after. Because He is the creative Creator. Because there is so much of Him to express.


Newsboys – God is Not a Secret

Nichole Nordeman – I am

Additional music

Ben Pasley – Rugged Old Hand http://www.benpasley.com/ Used by permission.

This episode originally broadcast live on September 4, 2015 on KXEN 1010AM in St. Louis, MO

For more info:



Theme music: “The Resistance” by Josh Garrels (www.joshgarrels.com) licensed by Marmoset Music (www.marmosetmusic.com)

Episode 1, Part 1: What is The Resistance?

Welcome to the Resistance! This is part one of our 2 hour live broadcast radio show. In this episode we discuss the purposes and goals of the show. We explore the core values that influence our life, ministry, and ultimately the content of the show. We interview Emperor Constantine. We ask, “Were you born into a system?” And we discuss the transformation of the church from organism to organisation.

This episode features the song “The Resistance” by Josh Garrels.

Welcome to the Resistance!  This is part one of our 2 hour live broadcast radio show.  In this episode we discuss the purposes and goals of the show.  We explore the core values that influence our life, ministry, and ultimately the content of the show.  We interview Emperor Constantine.  We ask, “Were you born into a system?” And we discuss the transformation of the church from organism to organisation.

This episode features the song “The Resistance” by Josh Garrels.