Monday, December 29, 2008

Being The Body: A Conversational Example

Over the past twenty-four hours or so I’ve been in an ongoing online dialogue with a young man whom I’ve never met. We got to talking about a certain “somewhat known Christian leader” and his public stances on some issues. What unfolded was some great conversation that really addresses several issues that I seem to encounter A LOT as I talk to people online and in person. I thought it’d be a nice change to post some excerpts of our conversation because we really discussed some fantastic issues that the Body needs to address. Just for informational purposes, Ben is a 16 year old, new Christian who lives in United Kingdom. He is a perfect example of the countless Believers that desire Truth but can’t seem to see how it fits into todays modern culture and society. The positional church and the average biblically ignorant Believer just aren’t aiding them in their spiritual growth, for obvious reasons. It is our role to openly share what we know as well as what we don’t. This is life in Christ… this is the Body.

Ben stated that he thought a certain “minister” was “incredible”, so I simple started things off with the following (the only thing edited is our grammatical errors).

Joel: Curious..... what makes him "incredible"?

Ben: Just the things he says. His outlook on things. His message.

Joel: Do you believe that what his message aligns with the Word of God?

Ben: Yes and no, really. I believe that his message is a much more positive one than most "Christians". I also think he's a lot more truthful and honest than a lot others.

Joel: I agree with that, but I wasn't asking if he's "a good Christian" or "more positive". For example, I know he has been known to say that homosexuality is OK if that's what you want to do. Do you feel like Christians can ever be too accepting? Is "positive" always best?

Ben: After listening and reading what he has to say on homosexuality I must admit that I agree with him. One thing I agree with 100% is the fact that he says about their rights. It is a right for humans to be able to get married to the one that they love, and I feel you can't take this right away from them. Of course, it doesn't mean we have to necessarily agree that what they're doing is right, but I feel once you take away the basic rights that all human beings have (of any race, creed, gender) then that's really not loving, as Jesus taught us to do. We seem to confuse "love" with "control". We should not judge others because it is not our place to judge, that belongs to God and only God. We may not agree with them or their views, but we need to love them as a brother or a sister nonetheless. I think the same goes with anything, even within the church. Faith is interesting because we all have different ideas and interpretations on the Bible and what certain bits of it mean. And I think that's completely ok, because we are all individual and we all have different views on everything. We're never going to completely agree with one another on everything. I guess that’s why there are so many Christian denominations (I heard somewhere that it stretches into the thousands?)

Anyway, just a few thoughts there. It's a tough, but interesting, topic.

Joel: I completely understand and agree with you regarding unconditional loving, no matter what the circumstance. I do however disagree with your approach to marriage just being a "right" that people have the freedom to define. Marriage originated with God's Law and is in place to exemplify Christ and His Bride. Every aspect of marriage is in place to metaphorically represent our relationship with Christ.

From your standpoint, do you believe that Jesus, if He were physically on the earth today as High Priest would perform gay marriages and endorse them as valid before God?

Ben: I think that, like you said, marriage originated with God's Law and is in place to exemplify Christ and His Bride but I feel this has completely changed and is not so in our modern world, which is why i see it as more of a "right" nowadays. Seeing as anyone can get married nowadays, no matter what you believe in. I'm not saying that this is right at all, but I feel this is just the way things seem to be. surely a homosexual couple have as much right to marry one another than two crack-smoking straight Satanists? Because the latter could in this day and age, seeing as marriage is seen as a lot less religious as it really should be.

Joel: OK, I've got a couple responses to what you said then I'll leave you alone:

"Marriage originated with God's Law and is in place to exemplify Christ and His Bride but I feel this has completely changed"

God's Law has never changed and never will- it is His Law that is to be honored, not man's.

"I'm not saying that this is right at all, but I feel this is just the way things seem to be."

When will Christians stand up for what God deems as right and wrong without excuses and stop just accepting "the way things seem to be"? We're becoming pushover pansies for Jesus in my opinion - we sure don't want to offend anyone. Perfect love offends... it is ALL throughout Scripture.

"Marriage is seen as a lot less religious as it really should be"

Agreed. But, it is this way because years and years and years of people saying, "well, we don't want to offend...." or "well who are we to say what is law and what is not?". The thing is, I don't think it's fair that the church is against gay marriage, but the deacons pregnant daughter marrying her boyfriend is a non-issue. I'm saying, let's get back to the Word of God and leave our opinions out of it. All is becoming more and more corrupt within the Body and seemingly everyone is becoming OK with it. I am an Ambassador for Christ - all that an Ambassador is to do is to speak on behalf of His King - my opinions mean ABSOLUTELY NOTHING.

Until the Body of Christ realizes that it is God's standards that need established, the Church will continue to fade away into oblivion. Who else is going to do it? If not us who claim to know Him and speak on His behalf, who?

Ben: Well, I must admit that your strong arguments have indeed changed my perception of things quite a bit. I agree with what you said, especially, about us being pushover pansies for Jesus. maybe that's where I feel like I'm going wrong all the time? I guess it's a fault I shall have to work on as best I can. and I agree with the fact that you say about us not wanting to offend; that is definitely the main reason I may hold back sometimes because I feel as offending is not loving. But, I'm obviously wrong.

Maybe someday they'll restore God's Law of marriage and things will be fine again. I dunno. It's a tricky one and because people are becoming a lot less religious these days things seem to be getting more complicated. I know America is very religious but over here in the UK it seems to be a very small percentage, dropping rapidly. It deeply saddens me that there are only a few (literally a few) Christian people in my entire area. Thanks for talking anyway and shedding light on where I'm going wrong.

Joel: Well first of all, I'm just not trying to tell you you have it all wrong, OK? It just saddens me when I see Christian after Christian feeling like if they ever stand up for what God says is Law, they are not loving.

Pertaining to your "alone-ness" - my wife and I, and many of our handful of close friends don't attend traditional church, so I know what you mean about feeling alone alot of times. For me, this makes it even more challenging. I know that I can't just blend in with the crowd or do what everyone else is doing. I have been called to represent the Creator of the universe in this hour. It is why I exist. He recreated me into the image of His Son and now it is my privilege to be His Ambassador.

Again, it's not about my opinions anymore than its about anyone else's. That's why the world won't tolerate Christianity - we've made everything about what "we think it should be" instead of allowing God's Word alone to "judge" ALL people, ourselves included. The "church" has classified and categorized sin and excluded themselves. It's no wonder people don't like Christianity really - I don't know why everyone is so surprised.

So, my viewpoint is, what will I do to redefine Christianity in my world? Someone has to do it! Easy, hard, alone or with many, it is why I exist. To show my world the reality of Jesus Christ, without excuse or wavering - no matter what it looks like.

Matthew 24:12 & 13 - "Because lawlessness is increased, most people's love will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end, he will be saved."

So what do I do with this? I keep the Laws and endure to the end because the one who does will be saved.

Romans 13:10 - "Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law."

Perfect love, rooted in the love of His Law first, then the love of others second, is the fulfillment of the Law. It is the completeness of the Law - it comes full circle when our motivation is love! So you see, one can love and keep the Law... when we do it how God intended. Enjoying this discussion - good stuff.

Ben: It's great to be able to talk to and to listen to someone like yourself. I’m a very "new" Christian who was not raised in a Christian household, who does not go to traditional church and who has very few Christian friends, so I've pretty much had to find out and do everything by myself, which I feel is definitely not working out for me because i feel very confused and alone in my studies; a lot of topics seem to confuse me to the point of feeling apart from God, which I hate.

I'd like to ask you a question that i feel confuses me, if you don't mind? What's your view on world suffering, both man-made and natural? I see wars, fighting, poverty, earthquakes, hurricanes, etc. etc. all the time that destroy and kill fellow brothers and sisters, and it confuses me that I don't understand why these things happen? Surely God would rid the world of suffering and anguish? This is a question that a lot of my deeply atheist friends challenge me on, and I feel as if I can never answer them truthfully as I myself really do not know.

Joel: In a nutshell, this world is fallen. It is in a sinful state where men do as they please with no regard for God or neighbor. When God created Adam, He gave Him dominion (rule) over the entire earth (Gen 1:26). What has man done with that dominion? We've squandered it all. We've abandoned God's Law and created our own (funny how this all ties together huh?).

So what do you get? Famine, disease, death, wars..... all is a result from sin and rebellion. People want to raise their fist and blame God, but God gave US the rule over the earth - it is our responsibility to execute His Law.

Ben: Because God is all powerful, surely He can solve it though? Otherwise it would mean prayer for help and for healing is useless, if all of this is our responsibility and our fault? What about natural disasters as well? Surely those aren't our fault? (Unless you count the possibility of global warming.)

Joel: Well, God can intervene whenever He desires, yes. But this is why it's so important for us, His people to seek His will and say as Jesus did, "on earth as it is in heaven". Although I don't understand it all in the slightest, God moves when we ask Him to move. He is not dictated or "ordered around" by us, but He does desire us to call on Him and rely on Him, knowing we don't have all the answers.

As far as natural disasters and stuff, that's a tough one. The Bible speaks of rough times all the way around when It speaks of end times - "birth pangs" within the earth is one of them.

One thing I've learned, as I talk with atheists and non-believers who want to debate - I don't know it all and never will. I have faith and trust that bridges the gaps and that's OK. I'm learning and that's all I can do. I can't explain to you how my eyes allow me to see either - the reality is, I CAN SEE! I don't need to know all of every detail as to why, I just need to move on and see. Make sense?

Ben: Yeah, it kinda does. Like you said, none of us know it all and we never will, which is absolutely fine. we've just gotta keep the faith. It just does annoy me when I see various Christians who claim they know everything and that they are completely sinless and perfect which is, of course, utter crap! I think one thing I do a lot is I feel like I've failed if I don't understand everything. I feel that to be Christian is to completely understand everything in the Bible, and everything He says. going back to before, i guess it's just the facade some of these Christians put over themselves that makes them seem as if they are all knowing.

Joel: Every day we've got to take a good hard look at ourselves. We've just got to remember that in Christ I literally am a new creation - not a better person or somebody who is enabled to do something different now - I am literally completely new. My entire life now is to be conformed into the image of Christ - period. Joel Spencer is dead - opinions, fleshly desires, etc. - I'm dead to it all. It is a process that will never end. I'll never know it all, so I might as well get used to it.

I've gained tons of ground when I realized about a year ago that it's not about what I DO as much as who I BE. Does that make sense? It is who I am, not what I do that makes me a Christian. I am a son of God - period, whether I feel like or not. It is my responsibility to mature and grow in Him from now on. That is why the Bible says that He who endures to the end will be saved (but we won't get into all of that). That doesn't give me license to do whatever I want of course, but you get my point. What I know or don't know doesn't define me.

Ben: Thank you very much for taking the time to talk to me and explain some things to me. Like I said before, I was not raised Christian and have very few Christians around me, so I've felt rather stuck and confused for a long time now, so thank you.

Joel: My pleasure Ben, seriously. It's time that the Body start acting like we're actually connected. I may need your help in an upcoming situation you know. Stay in touch if you can.


Mike and Barb said...

:::let's get back to the Word of God and leave our opinions out of it.::: my opinions mean ABSOLUTELY NOTHING.::::
Amen Joel! What a wonderful conversation. I really enjoyed reading the dialogue between the two of you and I completely agree with you in all that you had to say on the subject. I will pray for your friend as well. I know it isnt easy out there in the way of finding a church but we have to always remember we are the church (not the building). I have a friend in the UK that has a church that he says is as in the book of Acts (maybe they live near one another?) Great Blog!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting this - it kind of gives us a look into a good example of discussing some tough issues correctly.

I loved your question, "do you believe that Jesus, if He were physically on the earth today as High Priest would perform gay marriages and endorse them as valid before God?"

What a fantastic point - I'd not thought of it like that before.

NINA said...

Great blog. I too loved the comments about leaving our opinions out of it.I also wanted to comment on what you said about you and your wife not going to church. You said you have a group of friends that are like yourself. And you also have your internet connections. (smile)The bible never said that we must go to church. It says forsake not the assembling of ourselves together. This purpose is simply to encourage one another and strengthen each other. Its purpose is to share the word of God and to worship. I think you have effectively accomplished all of the above. The truth is that the church is not four walls and a roof. The church is the people of God. We are the church. God said he is coming back for a church without a spot or wrinkle, which means God's people have to collectively come together. We must come together on one accord, in spirit and in truth. This just may mean turning away from the traditional church which has been polluted by untruth, ritual, and protocol.Just reading your blogs and coming across people on a case by case basis, I realize that there is a REAL church out there. A church without walls. And I bless God for all of you everyday!!!

Joel Spencer said...

Mike and Barb: The comfort is in the knowing that if I keep my gaze on the LORD, He will align me with others who are also fixed on Him.

Anonymous: The "would Jesus officiate/condone gay marriages?" thought is sure a good way to look at it - I think.

Nina: It is encouraging to see the true Church standing up and joining together. We are here and we will settle for nothing less than what God deems as truth.

Anonymous said...

What a great conversation Joel. You are truly God's mouthpiece and speak with such confidence and accuracy. I don't attend traditional church either and I truly see where God has awaken his bride........We have to keeping on 'just BEing'. I am blessed by this dialogue. Your friend Rhonda from myspace.....

Anonymous said...

Well Joel - I think you handled the situation very well. I remember a discussion I had with a young man online many years ago who basically told me that my position (that there wasn't anything that had disproved Jesus or His teachings) was absurdly pompous. Unfortunately, he couldn't face anything absolute. Absolutes being a major irritant to many. Cultural relativism - what a joke. Praise God the young man appeared to be very open to what you said - may God bless him with some brothers and sisters in Christ near where he lives.

God is Truth in the deception of the world - absolutely. May your New Year be blessed.


Joel Spencer said...

Rhonda: If people only realized how much power and life-changing power is in just BEING who we are in Christ, all of this other "stuff" wouldn't even be necessary.

Lillium: Well, all we can do is share what we know and believe. God is surely the ONLY One Who can do the drawing. He is at work in many!

Monika said...

I think many people are forgetting to "Render unto Ceaser what is Ceasers". Getting caught up in laws is something I don't tackle, unless it is the law of life, as in abortion. I don't feel murder is ever permissable, and when it comes to mothers life situations (which are VERY RARE), that is a doctor mother thing.
I have a friend that is really offended about the teachings off homo-sexuality. The facts are the facts. People can choose to live together in harmony, but when sex comes into play they are going into an area that can cause sickness, disease and problems. Sex is meant to be 1 man, 1 woman. Anything else is medically dangerous. Period. God says he puts before us life and death, blessings and curses, we choose. We die to self and sacrifice the desires of our flesh, or die to the truth of the word and sacrifice the blessings God has in store for us. But we never have the right to judge, only to show people what is right and true and good, and will lead them to be more Christ like. If same sex couples wish to marry in the eyes of the state - go ahead, but leave God out of it, he does not approve. That's just a fact.

Monika said...

If people are not supposed to have a church building to gather at, why were the churches written to at Phillip, Ephesus, Corinth etc? Why does the bible say to choose leaders? Yes, we as the body of CHrist are the "church", but I truly believe the gathering of believers in a common place, uniting for the common good and to make sure widows and children are taken care of is much more efficient than a generation that thinks they can minister to people just by gathering with some other like minded people.
As we move more and more away from churches, our communities suffer more. The Acts church demanded that we take care of those that had less, now we expect welfare to do it. We must unite, and if we cannot even get along to be able to gather in a common area, how can Christ even look at us?

Joel Spencer said...

Monika: Thanks for sharing your input and alternate view. The problem is that your response is typical of those who know little of the true origin of the church (myself included for 30+ years). The “birthing” of the church in Acts was, without question, in the upper room of a house. The entry of the NT church into the world started in a group of “like minded people” – people with the mind of Christ (I could go on for days as to why gathering in one accord is absolutely biblical). If you research early church, you will find time and time again that they met in homes as they knew what the Word stated about God leaving the temple, choosing to dwell within them. They were now His dwelling place!

The Greek word “ekklesia” is the original definition of the church and it referred to an assembly of people, not a place. The early church knew nothing of structured settings and campuses with programs and rituals. They had been told by the LORD Himself to leave that for that was no longer how He would meet His people (as He did in the OT). They met with one main agenda, praise and worship of the LORD and edify one another. They didn’t pay pastors salaries, power bills or Lottie Moon offerings. And what happened when this took place (since you said without the modern day church, poor and orphaned will be lost)? People came to know Jesus by the thousands! Hungry were fed, needs were met! Noone was in want. Why? Because the people of God could do the work of God.

Positional, organizational churches cannot do this because there are just too many others responsibilities to tend to. Bills, programs, choirs, “ministries”. There is simply no time left to do God’s work.

Regarding your “choosing leaders” comment, there is One Head of the Body – Christ Jesus, period (Col. 1:18, Eph. 5:23). All others under His leadership are equal parts of the Body of Christ. Clergy/laity is a man-made concoction that has no place in the Body whatsoever. The origin of the word “pastor” is “poimen” which simply means shepherds. It is a function, not a title or an office. The myth that there must be a single pastor that “leads” the sheep is just ridiculous when looked for in the Word. It makes us reliant on men and allows us to put responsibility on them that is supposed to be ours (the “I go to get fed mentality”).

Lastly, you stated, ”We must unite, and if we cannot even get along to be able to gather in a common area, how can Christ even look at us?” I say, Christ is looking for those who gather for Him, not for ritual or for selfish gain. Organized church pretends to say that all is OK, but it is dying. It is primarily all about what I want, what I like, what I need. I will continue to stay outside of its walls and gather with others who truly long to know the heart of the Father above ALL else, for in this place, I am truly seeing Heaven come down to Earth.

I know this seems tough to one who is “sticking it out” within organized religion, but it is biblical truth. It is time we forsake the traditions and doctrines of men and only go by the Word (Mark 7:7).

My prayer for you is that you can do what I did – lay aside EVERYTHING that I ever thought was truth and allow the Holy Spirit alone to teach me His ways. When I did that, all substitutes rose to the surface and were removed. It is truly a work only God can do.

Seriously, thanks for your input – we must know the origins of the church.

Anonymous said...

monika, pray that you will hear what Joel wrote as an answer to you. I too struggled and thought as you think. After much prayer and study of the greek words and the true meanings, I came to the same conclusion Joel mentioned to you. I also will add when they called together the Church of ___whatever city,the church at that time was connected to the government. they would meet in a public place, sort of like us saying we will me at the town square. They came together to share their goods as well. Praying for you as you hear the bold words below and praying for you to listen to God and not man, Joel is only the messanger.

Monika said...

Therein lies the problem. People that choose to gather with others in a "building" other than someones house or seen as the enemy of those that gather in homes, and sometimes vice versa. The spirit of God and the work of God is not specifically retained in any building, or home for that matter. It is within each and every individual. Organization is nothing different than the way God planned, organized and orchestrated the beginning of the earth.
People in Home churches have the same "I want" problem. "I don't want this, and I don't want to do that" and I don't want to answer to elders etc. I have been hearing both sides of the argument for years, and pray constantly that I will not grow weary of bringing peace to all and teaching everyone that we MUST unite and work together. This includes respecting the differences in where people choose to worship. I chose the place I attend not because of doctrines and I am not "hold on". I see the Pastor as a shepard, just as God appointed him, I do not worship him, nor his words, I am only thankful that he chooses to serve in a day when people call the position a heresy.
We are ALL ministers, but we are not all called to do exactly the same things.
I know that are church just collected 5000 for missions. I know that we serve the widows. I know that our coordinated efforts and the fact that we provide a place for people to gather has brought peace to a countless number of families. I know that because I work with my elders, they teach me not to make the mistakes that others, or they personally, may have made, and this has helped my walk in the Way of my Lord and Savior, Y'hua, Jesus, the Christ.
So for that I am thankful. I just think that we need to be about preaching his word, and all followers need to unite in doing that. It's all about the motive of the heart.

Joel Spencer said...

Monika: It goes so much deeper than where you choose to gather. And it is surely not about being rebellious, as you seemingly seem to reference. (Unless you would choose to call going against the accepted grain of traditions rebellion - in that case it is).

The order of God and order of men are vastly different. Men have compartmentalized what God can and cannot do and when He can do it (take a look any church bulletin across the country). Order has killed the move of the Holy Spirit and interaction within the Body. You speak when you are told and you stand and sit whern it is time. It is ridiculous really.

To clarify a bit more, I don't "attend a home church". Organized services in a home are often nothing more than a service in a different setting. What we live is creating a different environment in our lives that flows over into any gatherings that we may have, whether with one or with twenty. And I'm not talking about environments that cater to Believers, or seekers or non-Believers. I'm talking about creating an environment for the LORD. This is dramatically different than church on a campus or even church within a home.

It is hard to explain but trust me, when people who have been in organized church their entire lives experience it, they see the differences quite clearly - I have seen it time and time again.

I'm not saying "choose sides" here. I'm saying there is only one true side - the side that has no opinions, doctrines and "ministerial responsibilites" that keep them from what it is truly all about, worshipping and adoring our Father. There is no need for anything else. When I love the Father, I understand His love for me and I share that love with others. Birthed out of this, doing all of the "things" for others that you referenced in your first post flow.

I could literally write for hours on this Monika _ I'd sincerely love to sit down and talk to you about it and allow you to see my heart rather than my words on a screen, for it is alive! Nothing can compare to the life that I have found in Christ when I laid down what I thought was "it". Christianity has settled for cold chicken nuggets for far too long. I have tasted of a bountiful banquet table and could never go back.

Anonymous said...

For more years than I wish to count I believed my identity was found “in the church” and God’s plan was in the programs, departments, children’s church, youth services, and what the pastor each Sunday morning expounded on. Several years ago the Holy Spirit began to remove the blinders from my eyes and reveal my identity was IN CHRIST not in the institutional church. What a freeing, powerful, exciting concept. I encourage each of you to check it out, dig in the Word of God for yourself. Find out who you really are as a believer in Christ. Let the author, the Holy Spirit, teach you. You do not have to be a Hebrew scholar to do this, I’m not. Just read the Bible, see from a full standpoint. By that I mean read more than just one verse. Far too long we have cut up and dissected the Word of God. Quoting one or two particular verses that don’t really mean what we think they do when we speak them apart from the full meaning. This is just words that stand alone. I urge you to refrain from a pick and choose mentality. Let the pages of the Bible speak to you as they were penned, not with chapters and verses, but full content. Find out what the writers are saying, to whom they are saying it, and where. Get the full picture. I cannot urge you enough to get in the Word yourself. Too long believers have let men explain what God is saying without checking it out for ourselves. Truly, in my walk of over 45 years with the Lord, this is the most enlightening and rewarding time for me.

Monika said...

While I understand your points, I also know that faith comes in steps. I was not talking about rebellion, it only seems that way. Many people come to the church buildings as a place of refuge. They then grow and realize that the refuge is within God, and God can reside in us, not outside of us. They can then move from the buildings out into the community in their daily lives. Then from their daily lives into the fullness of the spirit, experiencing God and the movement of the Spirit at all times. To me it is like the creation. God planned and executed His plans on specific days. This is the way this world works, there are processes. Sure people get caught up in hum drum and ho hum, but the thrilling experience I feel when the spirit is active. It's like saying you cannot possibly learn in a structured classroom environment. While it is true that it is better to learn out in the world, in active situations, you can also learn in classrooms. Different people learn in different ways. We cannot alienate an entire segment of society because they do things differently. My point was no one thing is right or wrong. As long as Loving the Lord with all your heart soul and mind, and loving others as yourself is the focus of the heart, I truly believe we are honoring and serving God Almighty, and in time, we all will come to the fullness of what is worshipping in spirit and in truth.
I don't go to a church building to be entertained, it is a mission field for me. A place to teach people that God is about more than the walls of the church.

Anonymous said...

You mentioned people coming to the church buildings to find refuge. I think that is where some of the confusion lies today. Our refuge first and foremost is to be in the Lord. When we His Body do not display God’s true pattern of assembly, people without Christ see the church building and all it offers as their source of supply, not Christ alone. Herein lies the problem, we settle for mere crumbs instead of the glorious fact that we are seated with Christ in the heavenly places. [Eph 2:6]
I agree people learn differently. However, what I think is being talked about here in this blog is what gatherings should look like, not comparing a classroom with a teacher - student format verses no classroom setting, but rather the true church spoken of by Paul, ekklesia, the gathering of believers as the Body of Christ in Its truest sense. These are gatherings where Jesus the Christ is the true Head. Not levels of distinction pastors verses laity or teacher verses student. The Biblical framework in these gatherings is accomplished not by denominational organization but order orchestrated by the Holy Spirit. There is a big difference between organization and order. As I look into scripture in the days of Paul, Barnabas and Timothy where they talk about the church of God, I do not see anything that resembles “the church” that meets in buildings across our cities each week.
That is why church services will never change anyone. It is when the secrets of the heart of a person are revealed that anyone will fall down and worship God and only then will it be said that God is among us.
My desire is to see the true believers in Christ return to their roots and gather together as scripture describes, seeking Him with all their hearts.
“And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.”
Jer 29:13 (NKJV)
May each of us allow the Holy Spirit to be our Guide.

Monika said...

If you would have read further...they come to the church for refuge, but then learn that our true refuge lies in Christ alone.

Yvonne said...

"I'm talking about creating an environment for the LORD."

"I'm not talking about environments that cater to Believers, or seekers or non-Believers. This is dramatically different!"

Can you tell me about this? said you had many internet connections. Do you have one in the Modesto, Ca area, specifically Turlock? !! (smile)

Joel Spencer said...

Kay: Thanks for sharing what you've personally experienced over the years. I think that when you stated "There is a big difference between organization and order", you made a great point.

Order establishes the LORD as the Head. Organization places men into positions to run things.

Monika: This could go on for weeks - literally. The bottom line is, I have seen throughout my entire life, from the role of "laity" to "staff", organized church as a whole does not produce regenerated Biblical Believers. I've sat in countless staff meetings where all we talked about was how low attendance and offerings were - why "so-and-so" is unhappy with the worship music - do we pay "Jim" for mowing the grass or not?.... it goes on and on and on! It is absurd and is NOT the Father's business that we are to be tending to.

I guess you can never know the taste of the buffet until you've eaten of it. All I'm urging people to do is just step away and look back in through the LORD's eyes. The organized church is a business - period. I have had pastors and deacons state that to me word for word. Therefore, it will continue on functioning as one.

I have tasted of the structured, positional church - I am greatly familiar with it. Have you taken a year away from the church wholeheartedly seeking the LORD without any "services" and "mission work" ? (The church is not meant to be a "mission field" - it is to be a living and active Body.)

Yvonne: Could you elaborate on when you asked what I mean when I say I am into creating "environments for the LORD"? My wife and I would love to be flown out to meet you in California! How's Sunday for you? ;)

Anonymous said...

You said you go for a mission field. I use to use that one too, until I got asked the question, "where is the best soil that the Lord would have you plant in". He also challenged me to look at how unchangable most people in the church really are and to make sure that this was really where God wanted me. I then studied like crazy and talked to God and listeded as I asked Him to show me His way! Well after about 6 months and listeding carefully, I then came to beieve almost word for word what Joel has told you. It cannot e in the church where there is 87% unbelievers trying to worship as a whole and in one accord. It is really not possible. In our home setting it is so much about HIM and not about us that it is no doubt HIm and HIm alone. IT is great to see a group of people, so far, never come to bring themselves but to bring Christ. It is a really beautiful expression of HIS True Church. Still praying for you to hear.

Joel Spencer said...

Anonymous: I always used to find it interesting that what is supposed to be the Body of Christ could ever be referred to as a mission field. It would seem that that alone makes the problem within it quite clear.

Until the Body understands Her role as the representation of Christ upon the earth, I'm afraid little will change.

There is truly no comparison between a gathering for a "service" and a gathering to extol the LORD and edify one another. If only people knew the vast difference!

Monika said...

If you believe you are doing what the Lord has called you to do, then that is in between you and the Lord. It is not up to you to judge my actions are send up futile prayers when you do not even know me.
A gathering of believers must continue to minister to one another, to those around them, to those in other places, and to the ends of the earth. Chastising strangers only distracts you from that goal. Especially chastizing as "anonymous".

Monika said...

By the way, my identity is not in the church building or being this religion or that religion. I am a follower of Christ alone, and everyone that is trutly HIS follower is the "church", His Bride, His beloved. It just saddens me when people call themselves christians and they only want to be around other people that are just like they are. I thank God that these believers welcomed me in when I was back-slidden and in sin. It had nothing to do with the building, but with the motives of their heart. I certainly do not feel that love from the attacks on this site.

Joel Spencer said...

Monika: I really don’t see how the comment that you’re referencing is “chastizing you ” whatsoever. They just shared what they had personally experienced and said they were praying for you. Is this an “attack”?

This is what always reveals to me the true issue at hand when people get so defensive when anyone questions established religious organizations (ie: organizational “church”). The point of the whole discussion (What is the true Church as the Bible defines it?) gets lost amongst the “who are you to tell me!” responses.

The difference Monika that I believe you have misconstrued to be an “attack” is that we are willing to discuss matters that 99.9% of the religious won’t ever talk about. Noone dare question their pastor or the workings of their church. It would be heresy! I say this is error. It is time to discuss matters that many are ignoring and blindly following. The institutional church has been going in the same direction forever with few Kingdom results and it is time for the Body to stand up and ask “Why?”.

This site exists to encourage all who choose to take part in it to step back and take a good hard look at themselves and their role in the Body of Christ. That is not always easy to do and it is your choice to disagree.

I’m truly sorry that you have not “felt love” from what takes place here - seriously. To me, the greatest act of love is absolute honesty and vulnerability. I well know that neither is embraced in the average religious church so it seems like judgment when in fact it is the heart of the Father. Love has many facets! I have NEVER known love like I’ve known within the group of Believers that we meet with. NEVER! Anyone who says that love is better expressed by sitting next to someone in a pew twice a week sure baffles me. The Body I know truly ministers to the LORD and to one another in ways that positional Christianity will never know for it is not capable, by design.

In Matthew 5:8-10 Jesus addressed the Phariseeical hypocrites who are so often echoed in the organizational church, “THIS PEOPLE HONORS ME WITH THEIR LIPS, BUT THEIR HEART IS FAR AWAY FROM ME. BUT IN VAIN DO THEY WORSHIP ME, TEACHING AS DOCTRINES THE PRECEPTS OF MEN.”

God is looking for those who are willing to loosen their grip on the traditions and doctrines that they are comfortable with and allow Him to define what is acceptable in His sight. I believe this more than absolutely anything else that I know. We must forsake ALL that is not as He desires.

Joel Spencer said...

Monika (and everyone else who might be interested): Back in October, I wrote an article based upon the question I was asked, "In your opinion, according to Scripture, what should the Church look like?". The article is my answer and can be found HERE. It addresses much of what we've discussed.

I would much rather talk about what The Church should be as opposed what She is not. I'm a nice guy... I swear! ;)

Anonymous said...

Joel, I remember that post as I had a hard time with it when you posted it. A couple of the characteristics that you stated the church would have stood out to me: "She would be vibrant, full of life and hope. She would not look deficient and sickly, incapable of offering any assistance to others." For the longest time, I never understood that the Body is too busy ignoring her own needs to ever help others. We've been taught that it is selfish of us to think of our own walk with the Lord, yet without it being tended to first, we can never be Christ to anyone else.

Secondly you said "She would be unified under the authority of the LORD, with no interest or desire to hold any positions or titles that belong to Christ alone, for He alone is the Head of the Body." I'm just not sure church as we know it will ever see this. For the majority of my life I thought pastors and elders were just the elite of God and it was my duty to be under them. Thankfully, I chose to seek the Bible for myself. What I discovered was so different than what I was taught from pulpits. I just wanted to share where I've been so that others can know that there is so much more.

Enjoying the topic, even if it is kind of touchy. Kim (from myspace)

Joel Spencer said...

Kim: You said, "We've been taught that it is selfish of us to think of our own walk with the Lord, yet without it being tended to first, we can never be Christ to anyone else."

I could not have said it better. Christianity has been so busy doing "good things" that it has forgotten to be intimate with Her LORD. Absolutely everything that I do flows out of my intimacy with Him. We've had it backwards for far too long!