026.2 Church Function, pt 2 – Foundations

Our goal with the show is not to offend or make light of God. Instead, we want to point to the truth of Scripture, and hope that the truth can provoke people to examine their ways, and respond how they see fit. When we fail to reach truth, then we are settling for something else.

Church Membership

Modern definitions of church membership are invented by man. The concept of membership is distorted because the concept of the church is distorted. The church is not the legal organization existing in a building with set public meetings. Only Jesus can add you to the church So the question is, how does Jesus add you to the church? Many churches state that baptism is how you are added to the church. Scripture does not reflect this. Apostles and others in scripture were looking for the Holy Spirit in others, which is the Gift that Jesus promised us. Receiving the Holy Spirit is what includes us into God’s church, the mystical Body of Christ.

So with this concept of church, what are the implications of becoming a member of God’s church?

  • The Bible says if we love God we will obey His commands.
  • We should use our spiritual gifts. “Time, talents, and treasures” are not spiritual gifts, and things that should already be surrendered to Christ. Spiritual gifts are gifts from God that supernaturally empower us to minister.

Church membership in most churches does something very harmful that most people never think about. It creates a social class system. There are first time visiters, random attendees, regular attendees, members, tithing members, lay leaders, paid clergy. These different classes are treated differently and have different expectations placed on them.

God didn’t design the church to be a class system. Scripture (1 Corinthians 12:22-25) states that God utilizes spiritual gifts to give everyone equal value in the Body. Each member should have abundant honor in the eyes of every other member.

Leadership and Structure

There is God’s design and man’s design. God has an order to things. The church is the Body of Christ, a mystical, supernatural being made up of all believers throughout all time, someone the Bride and the Body of Christ at the same time, filled with the Holy Spirit of God. This is not something God would not give guidance in. He is not negligent.

The primary function of leadership in God’s design is equipping. In man’s design, it is control. The leader’s of God’s church should be nurturing and empowering people for ministry, not trying to control who can speak, serve, etc. The only “control” that God’s leaders have is to stand against false doctrine, exclude unrepentant believers from the assembly, affirm God’s call by the laying on of hands and sending out, appointing elders and deacons, and resolving disputes. Man’s design of leadership resembles pharisees. They add requirements of education and submission. God gifts people supernaturally with leadership and forms them to lead. Man’s design also includes non-competes in employment contracts. Man’s leadership structure prevents certain people from teaching, speaking, singing, leading, serving, etc. Man doesn’t have to control the gift of God; we have to affirm and nurture the gift, and set it loose.

The early church was accused by the Roman Empire of turning the whole world upside down. Where do we see that today? We do not accomplish this through political revolutions, through winning elections and passing policy; through oppressively establishing the morality of others. We do it the same way the early church did. We BE. We manifest the body of Christ here on the earth and declare the glory of God through how we love God, love our enemies, value life differently, transcend societal hierarchies and castes.

Some of the aspects of man’s design are subtle, or appear altruistic, logical, and good. Among these is the practice of congregations electing elders. This seems like a minor preference of practice, and makes sense. The congregations would know the people best. America loves democracy. Democracy is good. Voting is good. However, it’s not found in scripture. The elders were appointed by apostles or those they sent. This was important because the apostles were gifted to start these new spiritual works, these faith communities. This is not to say that the leaders are to lord their power over congregations. It doesn’t mean they rule with an iron fist. As we outlined earlier, the leadership responsibilities have a lot to do with equiping, protecting, confronting heresy, etc. If a leader is elected by the congregation and then subjected to them through a paycheck and job description, then they are not free to lead.

Authority is an important topic to God. He establishes and empowers proper authority. He was heavy handed in how He shepherded Paul into his leadership position. Man’s design does not make space for God’s leadership development. Many American churches have a structure similar to a corporation. Many of them are legal corporations, in the form of a non-profit organization. Usually, this is so it can own property. Once it becomes a corporation, it needs to add officers, which are not found in Scripture but are required by law. Then then add offices, in the form of paid positions, to operate the church. These are jobs, with job descriptions, requirements, and paychecks. These also are not scriptural. This methodology is not found in Scripture, is subject to current laws, brings money and transaction into something which should function more like a family (could you imagine paying your father to be your father, complete with a list of job responsibilities and requirements to qualify?), and yet it has become the standard for how churches are formed. So much so that it is rarely questioned. If you dispute paid positions, people counter by saying you’re against people supporting their spiritual leaders. If you dispute job requirements, people say you’re opposed to ensuring righteous leadership. If you dispute having a legal corporation, people say you are opposed to accountability. And yet the early church accomplished all these ideals without subjecting themselves to extra-biblical, secular demands.

So why do we do this? Why does the church in America continue in this way, and why is it seldom questioned, and why is the questioning opposed? A lot of it is due to what we inherit. None of us invented these systems. We inherited them. We were told this was the way, it was good and true. We retrofit things into Scripture by cherry-picking verses to defend present practice, instead of diving deep and headlong into Scripture and the Holy Spirit and obeying diligently.

God has a structure for His church, and it is built on Jesus, on the proclamation of who He is, on the Good News of the Kingdom. The Church’s manifest power comes from the declaration of God’s glory through His people. The local church gains its uniqueness as the Holy Spirit transforms and empowers people to give up everything and separate themselves from the world, and as they use their spiritual gifts in power. As this entity grows, those with leadership gifts rise up and are recognized by the church, and they appoint deacons and elders to minister to the needs of the church. The leadership teaches and disciples people for the works of service.

Man’s design starts with a bad foundation of an incomplete gospel. It builds on that an unbiblical structure of business and leadership. It defines its ministry by the walls of its buildings and hierarchy of leadership. We will continue to examine how these bad foundations distort and divide through things that should unite us, like communion, baptism, and spiritual gifts.

Songs
Sean Carter – The Passover https://noisetrade.com/seancartercarolinecobb/
Young Oceans – We Sing as One https://noisetrade.com/youngoceans

This episode originally broadcast live on September 25, 2015 on KXEN 1010AM in St. Louis, MO

For more info:
www.sunministries.org
www.sunministries.blogspot.com

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

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026.1 Church Function, pt 1 – False Gospels

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:

  1. the gospel – what gospel is preached? How is it lived?
  2. Membership – what are the requirments, markers, training, etc?
  3. spiritual and physical nature – How does the church embrace its dual nature?
  4. leadership and structure – What does leadership look like?
  5. Communion – what does it mean and how is it performed?
  6. Baptism – What does it mean and how is it performed?
  7. worship gatherings/evangelistic gatherings – How does the church gather? Why?
  8. spiritual warfare and spiritual gifts – Is the church battling with weapons in both hands?
  9. 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.

Songs
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

For more info:
www.sunministries.org
www.sunministries.blogspot.com

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

010.2 Sun Ministries, pt 3: Isaiah 61

Isaiah 61 – rebuilding ancient ruins

These devestations are in existance partly because of American public policy to concenrate poverty, largely poor black people.

If God built a new humanity which overcame divisions, should we not be continuing in that work?

Mark Sanford and Jason watched Selma. [https://youtu.be/x6t7vVTxaic] Large scale brutality. There were people fighting and dying for freedom they’re already supposed to have. We have all inherited this history of oppression and have a responsibility to undo it.

Today, the Gospel is largely self-centered. But the Gospel of the Kingdom is one of togetherness, which overcomes differences and knits a new humanity.

The state of most inner cities was primarily caused by racism.

Policing, politics, empowerment cannot wholly solve these problems and heal these wounds. The Gospel of the Kingdom goes beyond salvation, and creates a new humanity living a new life with a new set of values.

Are you walking in the privilege you’ve inherited?

Song: Derek Webb – I Repent

Whose Gospel did you believe?

Two gospels

  • John’s gospel addressed elemental things to prepare for what was coming. More personal, and this “personal savior”, sin-focused gospel became the driving force in modern American Christianity. John’s Gospel is not false, simply not full.
  • Jesus Gospel – The Gospel of the Kingdom. This is outwardly focused because what God is doing is so much bigger than you.

The Gospel does not mean all YOUR problems go away. Simply look at the people in the Bible. Our emphasis must be on the BRIDE of Christ. This is a much bigger picture, and cannot be self-focused.

We cannot force freedom of the Holy Spirit upon someone.

Jesus Gospel brings healing and reconciliation.

Jesus’ Gospel requires us to steward this world with humble service.

Sun Ministries Leadership Center

http://www.isaiah61initiative.org/Leadership.html

Not just a big big house with lots and lots of rooms.

The aspect of the ministry which relocates and trains missionaries. Facilitating a missionary movement to the inner cities of America, building faith communities from a position of reformations, utilizing the other tools in the ministry, the Opportunity Center and the Narrow Gate.

Isaiah 58 – The Gospel has been lost, and if you live the lifestyle of fasting, you will repair the path to the true Gospel.

Leadership Center also facilitates the Urban Missions Training http://www.isaiah61initiative.org/UrbanMissions.html

Those in the Urban Missions Training work in the ministry and engage in teaching, training, and testing.

If Jesus has not transformed you, it will be very hard to make disciples.

Pastoring the Community http://www.isaiah61initiative.org/Pastoring.html

How is satan holding this community down?

Engage in prayer, spiritual warfare, and utilizing resources to meet needs of the afflicted.

Utilizing existing services so we don’t have to recreate things and can build partnerships.

Being an ambassador of Christ.

Leadership Center also leads in the community to equip and organize.

Where you are not consecrated, you leave yourself at risk of being attacked and wounded by the enemy.

Caring for each other, our community, and doing it through service, and not for attention.

The Narrow Gate http://www.isaiah61initiative.org/NarrowGate.html

Taking people from oppressed/hopeless to homeownership, by walking with them through obstacles and need.

Helping people start businesses

This episode originally broadcast live on May 29, 2015 on KXEN 1010AM in St. Louis, MO

For more info:

www.discipledrivenchurch.org

www.discipledrivenchurch.blogspot.com

www.sunministries.org

www.sunministries.blogspot.com

www.isiah61initiative.org

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