VIDEO Why I Need the Church

 BY FRANCESROGERS

Praying this morning on the eve of another Lord’s Day, praising God, my Father, desiring His name to be hallowed, seeking His kingdom and His righteousness, and His will to be done here on earth, it was with worship in mind.

Tomorrow He will meet with us who are gathered in the name of our Lord on the day of our Lord, January 10, 2021. This Eve has become a day of preparation for me, remembering that every day is the day of our Lord for over two thousand years. But, specifically, the first day of the week belongs to Him. According to His atoning work, we, who are His by grace, plan for this day to honor Him. He is the beginning of eternal life for us through His death and resurrection.

So, what difference does it make if I honor Him on His day? And what happens in this celebration of His atoning work of grace? New thoughts came to mind as I prayed for Chris, our pastor. He has specifically asked for prayer that He may preach more faithfully, more pointedly, and more Christ-centeredly. Daily praying for the Holy Spirit to work in Him in His preparation to preach the word in power, we pray more fervently the day before for the sword of God’s Word that will pierce our hearts. We pray for the Holy Spirit to prepare our hearts to receive the truth of His Word and that it will find its resting place to root and grow and produce its fruit in and through us as His children.

 This means more than just saying “Amen” to what we hear. A prepared heart comes to listen to what our Father has given His servant for us. If we “have an ear to hear,” we will take in what He intends to reveal of Himself. The truth in the power of His Word will change our minds and hearts and conform them to His.

So, why do I need to be in church? The church is the place for gathering God’s people to honor His Son and receive the eternal life He came to give. It is the place of His worship and His Word. I need to know and hear from heaven the Father/Creator and Redeemer of my soul. The church was His plan, not man’s. We need under-shepherds who know Christ and the life He came to give His people, who are filled with the Holy Spirit, and who feed His sheep with the manna from heaven.

I need the cutting edge of the sword of His Word, not to desire what makes me feel good about myself, nor to be entertained, but to have all sense of pride and deception stripped from my being. I need to be cleansed of thoughts of, and plans for, myself.

Individual reading and study are good, but these are not all we need. We need the “body of Christ” listening collectively to how He plans to shape us into His image.

Christ died and rose again to give us His life, that we may live through Him (1 Jn. 4:9). The more we know of Him as revealed through the preaching of His Word, the more we become like Him, understanding the reality of His dwelling in us and our dwelling in Him (1 Jn. 4:13; Jn. 14:17, 23), Filled with Grace ~ Wrapped in Glory.)

The supernatural, spiritual work in His incarnation, His resurrection, and His ascension is the same divine power working in us through the sword of His Spirit ~ the Holy Spirit working His Word in our hearts and lives.

His sanctifies us individually and collectively.

We must submit ourselves to the weekly preaching of God’s Word to know His transforming power in the days ahead, lest we lose ourselves in the overwhelming chaos and uncertainty of the world. His Word defines who we are in Christ. We must plan, prepare, and anticipate a newness of life in Christ we have hardly known.

Dear Father, we ask for the unction of your Holy Spirit for the preaching of your Word tomorrow. Prepare our hearts to receive what you have given your ministers. Enable us to receive the truth of your Word for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, and for instruction in righteousness. Let us willingly accept what your Word reveals of the intentions of our hearts, deliver us from our sins, and conform us to the image of Christ. In His name, I pray. Amen.
Fran

The Decline of Fundamentalism

The Decline of Fundamentalism

by John MacArthur Friday, November 6, 2015

We owe a massive debt of gratitude to the pioneers of the fundamentalist movement. Sadly, few Christians understand the necessity of the war they fought in the last century. If not for their bold stand, the vast majority of American churches probably would have capitulated to the influence of theological liberalism—a juggernaut that spiritually devastated Europe, the heartland of the Reformation.

The original fundamentalists were American theologians and pastors who understood that some biblical doctrines are too precious to take lightly. They resolutely defended foundational Christian truths like biblical inerrancy, the exclusivity of Christ, His resurrection, the realities of eternal life and eternal damnation, and human depravity. Those first fundamentalists prevailed through their unwavering commitment to God’s Word and refusal to negotiate on its truth. They are the reason why liberalism never overran the American church landscape, and why we can still find churches today where Scripture is supreme and the gospel is faithfully preached.

Sadly, however, the fundamentalist movement began to unravel almost as soon as it had experienced its initial successes. One wing of fundamentalism, desperate for academic respectability, could not resist the pluralism of the modern age. Schools that had been founded to counter theological liberalism were overexposed to liberal theology and began to compromise on the issue of biblical inerrancy, capitulating at the very point where early fundamentalism had taken its strongest stand. Incredibly, some fundamentalist schools and churches abandoned their commitment to biblical inerrancy within one generation of their founding! Most of these institutions and the people associated with them quickly repudiated the designation fundamentalist.

Another wing of fundamentalism moved the opposite direction. They were keenly aware that an obsession with academic respectability had led their brethren to abandon the fundamentals. For that reason they distrusted scholarship or spurned it altogether. This right wing of the fundamentalist movement was relentlessly fragmented by militant separatism. Legalism led to an extreme emphasis on external issues. Petty concerns often replaced serious doctrine as the matter for discussion and debate. This branch of the movement quickly reached the point where some of its adherents spent more time arguing about men’s hair length and women’s clothing than they spent defending the real fundamentals of the faith.

All the squabbling and extreme legalism eventually sullied the term fundamentalism. Intellectually and temperamentally, these fundamentalists utterly abandoned the high ground that the fathers of the movement had held so tenaciously. As a consequence the movement succumbed to a subtle depreciation of doctrine. The published material from this side of fundamentalism is notable for its total lack of any significant works with real doctrinal or biblical depth. The term fundamentalist became exclusively linked with this militant group.

In recent years, the term fundamentalist has been hijacked by the secular media, who apply it to every conceivable kind of religious fanatic.

Widening the Gate

The polemical, theological spirit of early fundamentalism is all but dead. Modern evangelicals are too willing to downplay doctrine. Unlike our fundamentalist forebears, many today are perfectly agreeable to the suggestion that true Christianity ought to be broad enough to accommodate widely differing—even contradictory—belief systems. Many evangelicals are seeking to forge spiritual alliances with Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, charismatic extremists, and even rank liberals—without regard to the fundamental doctrinal differences.

Historically, evangelicals and fundamentalists almost universally have rejected the ecumenical movement. The primary force in ecumenism has been the World Council of Churches, an organization that never really cared for biblical Christianity, preferring to recruit its membership primarily from among ultra-liberal denominations. Consequently, ecumenism has had little or no influence among evangelicals.

Even during the ecumenical movement’s most prosperous era, the 1960s, evangelical churches experienced dramatic growth while ecumenical churches quickly waned. A decade ago the World Council of Churches appeared to be a monument to a lost cause.

But now the picture is changing. Incredibly, today’s most powerful ecumenical forces are all under the banner of a foundering evangelicalism: the charismatic movement, Catholic-evangelical accords, cooperative mass evangelism, and a host of voices in the Christian media.

Lowering the Bar

An aggressive effort is being made to divest “the fundamentals” of key evangelical distinctives. Influential voices within evangelicalism are urging us to pare back the essentials to the barest possible statement of faith, and these voices can be heard across the spectrum of evangelicalism. Appeals for broader tolerance and more inclusivism have come from charismatics, dispensationalists, Calvinists and Arminians, Reformed and Lutheran leaders—so-called evangelicals of almost every stripe.

Paul Crouch, for example, president of the Trinity Broadcasting Network (until his death in 2013), wrote, “As I have said so often, one theologian’s heresy is another theologian’s orthodoxy.” Crouch nevertheless acknowledged that Jude chapter 3 commands us to contend earnestly for the faith once delivered to the saints. “So what is ‘the faith’?”

Crouch, as one voice in an ever-growing chorus, argued that the Apostles’ Creed should be the dividing line between who is in “the faith” and who is not. But does that creed offer us a definitive set of non-negotiable fundamentals for the Christian faith? And how can we be confidant in it as authoritative on these matters? We’ll examine that next time.

(Adapted from Reckless Faith.)

https://www.gty.org/library/blog/B151106