The Church has Always Been Wireless

The Church has Always Been Wireless

It was only a little over 50 years ago, in 1966, when Gene Roddenberry’s Star Trek first came on the scene. And oh what fantastic and incredible, ‘unthinkable’ and ‘impossible’ science fiction advancements and ideas it featured! Doors that slid open automatically as people approached them; machines that delivered fully cooked, hot and ready meals in mere moments and without the benefit of fire; and then, there were those wireless ‘communicators!’ Surely such fantasy equipment as imagined in the mind and supposedly pictured on the screen could never actually come to pass…could it? Today, just 50 short years after such ‘unthinkable’ ‘sci-fi’ fantasies appeared on our television screens, many millions of people cannot even imagine or remember a world where automatic doors and microwave ovens were not the norm. And today’s ‘pocket computers’ already far surpass the communicator-like ‘flip-phones’ capabilities of but a mere decade or so ago…

When “The Running Man” was released in 1987, its plot-line was developed from a video, wherein the hero in the film was framed for a crime he didn’t commit, by the insertion of his image, in action, into a crime scene, doing things he didn’t do. The movie’s plot continued to utilize the idea of such things as “digital body doubles,” in the name of seeking to satisfy America’s insatiable appetite for “reality television and televised violencehttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Running_Man_(1987_film). Today, just a short 30 years later (and in the very year that the movie supposedly depicted as it started), it is almost impossible to go to a movie that does not feature such computer-generated imagery (CGI) or “special effects.” You can routinely watch human heroes battling forces, facing creatures, and fighting other-worldly creations which you know in your heart, simply do not exist in any form or fashion… But boy that movie star sure looks like they’re locked in a real-life battle to the death against that fierce but fantasized non-existent foe, and in that computer-generated, non-existent environment!

Technology has changed, but the Church does not change.

Technology has changed, but the Church does not change.

Today’s technological advances and innovations are able to transform what was only presentable by Hollywood movie-makers just a mere few decades ago, and turn them into today’s realities. We currently have automobiles that can not only park themselves, brake themselves, and even drive themselves in some cases, but we can also – with the right gadgets and gizmos – turn our lights and televisions on and off in our living rooms from half a world away! (You know, with all of today’s technology, perhaps we aren’t too awfully far off from a Terminator-type, world cataclysmic event after all!)

But here’s the thing. No matter how much the world changes; no matter how much showmanship and science fiction Hollywood produces; no matter how many technological advances may be made or made master over humanity; and no matter whether the earth is here for another two milliseconds or two million millennia; some things, will simply never change. God will never change (Mal. 3:6). His Son Jesus Christ will never change (Hebs. 13:8). Their word, the Bible will never change (Psa. 119:89). The one faith (Eph. 4:4), once for all delivered to the saints prior to the end of the first century (Jude 3) will never change. And neither therefore, can Christ’s one, New Testament, first-century-established church, ever change (Eph. 1:21-22, 3:8-12, 4:4-6). Her faithful members can never, must never, dare never then, surrender or compromise for even one millisecond, to any new doctrine or dogma that has come along in the centuries since her divinely-appointed, first-century establishment (Rom. 16:16-20; 1 Cor. 14:33-37; Gal. 1:6-10, 2:4-5; Col. 2:4-10; 2 Tim. 3:12-4:4; Rev. 22:18-19). God’s devoted New Testament people must surely have learned from the history of God’s Old Testament people (1 Cor. 10:1-11), the awful and horrible consequences of not staying in and on the “old paths” of scriptural obedience, which their ancient, eternal, timeless and ever-present God, ever-presently requires (Jer. 6:15-19).

Therefore, the Lord’s people must never seek to change or alter their steps from following His straight and narrow path (Matt. 7:13-14), nor should they even “associate with those given to change” (Prov. 24:21). Hence, they shall always seek to be the kind of worshippers the Father is seeking (Jn. 4:23-24). How? By not forsaking the assembling of themselves together no matter how easy modern technology may make it for them to stay at home and still hear a sermon (Hebs. 10:24-27). By singing without the use of mechanical instruments no matter how popular they may become in the modern-day, man-made, religious denominations and radio and satellite stations all around them (Eph. 5:15-19; Col. 3:16). By having only males serve in certain leadership positions no matter how far the feminist agenda may progress in other religions (1 Tim. 2:9-15). By not straying from God’s plan of salvation (Matt. 28:18-20; Acts 2:37-41; Rom. 6:1-23) no matter how many new, man-made churches, doctrines, religions and belief systems never seen in scripture may spring up over time (Mk. 7:1-13; Gal. 1:6-10; 2 Ptr. 2:1-3:18). And by loving, serving, and sacrificing for one another without regard to personal or ethnic differences (Gal. 3:26-29; Eph. 2:11-22; 1 Ptr 1:13-2:3), despite however much hate and savagery might thrive in our world. Whatever changes the future may bring, the Lord’s true church will remain the same.

 

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Dying Man, or Counselor? Why Preaching Matters

Dying Man, or Counselor? Why Preaching Matters

In most occupations there are different ways of approaching things—and this is true even in preaching. There are different styles of preaching and different methods that men use to try to communicate God’s Word. However, over the past decade or so there has been a division in the very methodology behind preaching. This latest division is watering down the Gospel and is ultimately responsible for weakening the church and the authority of Scripture.

Preaching stories and experiences? How about His Word?

Preaching stories and experiences? How about His Word?

Al Mohler recently wrote an excellent article on this division. He wrote: “An open debate is now being waged over the character and centrality of preaching in the church. At stake is nothing less than the integrity of Christian worship and proclamation.” Mohler points out that for many congregations expository preaching is now a thing of the past. He noted, “In its place, some contemporary preachers now substitute messages intentionally designed to reach secular or superficial congregations–messages which avoid preaching a biblical text, and thus avoid a potentially embarrassing confrontation with biblical truth.”

While this non-confrontational approach may appear, from an outsider’s perspective, to be the solution for increasing numbers, it actually does the opposite over the long term. It weakens the congregation and will ultimately result in the spiritual death. A congregation that receives a steady diet of milk will not grow. Not only do they not grow, the frequency of their attendance and commitment begins to decline. [For example: if 200 members attend every week the average attendance would be 200. However, if one-half of those members begin to miss only one out of four weeks, the attendance drops to 175. Did you catch that? No members left the church. Everyone is still relatively “active” in the church. But attendance declined over 12 percent because half the members changed their attendance behavior slightly. The have grown apathetic and are not truly convicted in being servants to Him.]

Mohler gives the reason for this new divide: “Two famous statements about preaching illustrate this growing divide. Reflecting poetically on the urgency and centrality of preaching, the Puritan pastor Richard Baxter once remarked, ‘I preach as never sure to preach again, and as a dying man to dying men.’” Mohler continues, “Contrast that statement to the words of Harry Emerson Fosdick, perhaps the most famous (or infamous) preacher of this century’s early decades. Fosdick, pastor of the Riverside Church in New York City, provides an instructive contrast to the venerable Baxter. ‘Preaching,’ he explained, ‘is personal counseling on a group basis.’”

Consider for a moment this massive difference in approach and what it will ultimately mean to the hearers. Mohler observed, “’For Baxter, the promise of heaven and the horrors of hell frame the preacher’s consuming burden. For Fosdick, the preacher is a kindly counselor offering helpful advice and encouragement.’ Ask yourself: Should the preacher seek to preach a biblical text through an expository sermon? Or, should the preacher direct the sermon to the ‘felt needs’ and perceived concerns of the hearers?”

As you are considering that question remember that the Bible is the source of all Truth. John 17:17 reminds us, “Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth.” Opinions are not truth. Cute narrative stories are not truth. Reader’s Digest narratives are not truth. Drama and skits are not truth. Only God’s Word is truth.

It is no secret that many preachers have abandoned expository preaching in favor of “felt-needs” preaching. Preachers like it because they feel like they’re reaching the members and elders like it because it is non-confrontational. Mohler continued, “These preachers may eventually get to the text in the course of the sermon, but the text does not set the agenda or establish the shape of the message.” In other words they are simply using the Bible to support their story, rather than having the Bible as the primary source for their message. As a result these congregations drift away from biblical authority as they continue to please the people. It is no wonder that many congregations are moving more and more toward entertainment.

You might ask what’s the big deal and why does all of this matter? Mohler remarked, “The problem is, of course, that the sinner does not know what his most urgent need is.” He’s absolutely right—without pointing out sin and the predicament of the sinner we water down the need for Jesus Christ and what He did for us on the cross.

I hear it every weekend. After preaching a simple sermon that deals with sin, hell, and death people clamor that they haven’t heard a sermon like that in years. Or they remark that they remember hearing sermons like that when they were growing up. Brethren, it should not be so. Our pulpits should be ringing out Biblical truths every Sunday. Mohler concluded his article, “The current debate over preaching may well shake congregations, denominations, and the evangelical movement. But know this: The recovery and renewal of the church in this generation will come only when from pulpit to pulpit the herald preaches as never sure to preach again, and as a dying man to dying men.”

As for me—I will continue to preach as a dying man to dying men.

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Our Bodies are Not Made for Fornication

Our Bodies are Not Made for Fornication

Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.

1 Corinthians 6:19-20

Our bodies are not meant for fornication.

Our bodies are not meant for fornication.

Contextually, the apostle is in the midst of condemning the sin of fornication, with a prostitute or otherwise (6:13-20).  As Christians, we are members of the body of Christ, his church (Eph. 1:22-23; 1 Cor. 12:12ff).  We are to offer our bodies as a living sacrifice to God (Rom. 12:1).  While that is commonly and rightly interpreted to mean that our entire lives belong to God and his service, let us not forget that includes our physical bodies and how we use them also.  Earlier, the apostle alluded to food and how it was meant for our bodies and our bodies were meant for food (6:13a), but even then we must practice self-control with regards to what we eat and how much we eat of it so that we do not commit the sin of gluttony (Prov. 23:20-21; Phil. 3:19; Tit. 1:12-13).  But though our physical bodies are meant for food, they are not meant for fornication (v. 13b).  They are meant for the Lord, and the Lord for them (v. 13c; cf. Rom. 12:1).

So shall we take our bodies – which are meant for the Lord and not meant for fornication, which are part of the body of Christ, his church for which he died – and use them to commit fornication with a prostitute and thus become one body, one flesh, with her rather than with our spouse as God intended (6:15-16; cf. Gen. 2:24; Matt. 19:5; Mark 10:8; Eph. 5:31)?  We were joined to the Lord (6:17) when we were baptized into him (Rom. 6:3-4; Gal. 3:26-27; 1 Cor. 12:13; cf. Eph. 1:22-23).  This unity with God which God desires us to have is violated when he use our bodies sinfully by fornicating, which is why God wants us to flee from this sin (vs. 17-18a).

Not only that, but we sin against our own bodies when we commit the sin of fornication (6:18b).  While talking about the act of fornication which is homosexuality, God talked about how those who committed such acts would be “receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error” (Rom. 1:26-27), an allusion to the venereal diseases that come about primarily as a result of heterosexual and homosexual fornication.  By committing fornication, we sin against our own bodies by opening the door for those diseases.  Even more so, we sin against own bodies by using them in a way that is blatantly against the wishes of the Lord for whom they exist, and the Holy Spirit which dwells within them (6:19a).

It’s easy to forget that we as Christians are not our own (6:19b).  When we obeyed the gospel, we gave our lives to Christ.  More than that, he bought us with his own blood (6:20a; Acts 20:28).  He gave his life for us.  We are HIS slaves, not the slaves of sin (Rom. 6:17-18).  So let us glorify him by using our bodies the way he wants (6:20b).

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