Strong Words About Church Membership

It is high time for every Christian to consider well his relation to the church, and the duties which it involves. No covenant is more sacred or binding, than that which unites a member to this body.

The matrimonial covenant has upon it the seal of God; to prove faithless to it, is a sin of deep die. But this is, in some respects, even more solemn and sacred. It is a union to Christ, publicly solemnized; a union of imperishable minds in interests of infinite moment. The matrimonial relation is dissolved at death; this endures forever.

In this age of numerous and imposing associations, making strong and bold claims upon us, we need to be doubly guarded lest any of them be suffered to divide our affections with the church. Better, a thousand times, that all other associations should be scattered to the winds, than that they should be allowed to divide churches and alienate its members, secularize and profane religion, and scatter the seeds of iniquity in the very garden of the Lord.

–John Angell James, in The Church Member’s Guide (1838), pp. xv-xvi.


Social Gospel Again

“Again,” referencing an earlier post I made about social efforts by churches.

Today’s is from the National Council of Churches’ letter to President Obama, urging him to cut poverty in half–

There is no greater concern among the churches of Christ than for those in this nation who live in poverty. This could hardly be otherwise because Jesus himself lived among the poor: loving them, eating and drinking with them, healing them, and speaking words of justice and assurance that God’s own love for the poor is unsurpassed.

Really? No greater concern?

I suppose this does become a church’s greatest concern when they deny the gospel and a host of doctrines fundamental to Christianity. But I’ve addressed this week already too. 🙂

A Great Question and a Great Answer

Once in awhile we’ll take our Wednesday Bible study for an “Ask the Pastor” session. It’s usually a lot of fun, in addition to being helpful. Occasionally someone will ask a real tough question that I have to answer with “Uh, I have no idea. I’ll have to get back to you on that one.”

In a jail in Philippi, there were two men who were asked a great question:

Sirs, what must I do to be saved?

An answer was readily and confidently given:

Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.

Let’s pray that that great question is asked more often, and we’ll have the opportunity to give the great answer!

A Social Mandate?

What role should the Christian church have in helping the poor and downtrodden?

This pastor says that it is a “biblical mandate” to spend our lives helping the poor, regardless of their response, for these reasons:

  • The OT clearly expects it, Deut 15:7-8
  • “The sin of Sodom was their lack of concern for the unrighteous poor, and the result of this sin was God’s judgment on both the rich and poor alike”, Ezek 16:49
  • Jesus expects His followers to serve “even the least of these,” Matt 25:40
  • Doing so is the best way of reminding yourself of the gospel

Thus, helping the unrighteous poor is something that should be done for its own sake, not even with the pretext of establishing a “bridge” for evangelism. This is what many evangelical churches, schools, leaders, books, websites, and radio stations hold to and promote.

However, I believe that there is no “social mandate” as described above, for the following reasons:

  • Social action for “pre-evangelism” is unbiblical for it ignores the depravity of the human heart and denigrates the power of the gospel
  • Appeals to the OT for explicit commands to social action ignore the dispensational differences between Israel, the Church, and the Kingdom of God
  • The Bible never commands the church to be involved in social issues
  • The Bible only commands the church to be involved in “social action” toward fellow believers

Go to Mark Perry’s article here for more detailed discussion on this matter.

This is yet one more reason why ministry fellowship with “conservative evangelicals” should not be pursued. I’m not calling their salvation, commitment to moral purity, devotion to missions, or anything like that into question (so don’t start that, please). I am saying, “how can we have working fellowship with those with whom we have fundamental disagreements over essential beliefs of Christian life and ministry?”

Try This on Any Other Religion

This Doritos and Pepsi commercial scheduled to air during the Super Bowl is abominable:

As has been noted by many, if a similar commercial was made “just in good humor” with another religion in view–say, Islam–I doubt it would make it to the airwaves.

Christianity? Oh, that’s different. And those (such as myself) who shake their heads in disgust at it are told to “lighten up,” “have a sense of humor,” and etc.

The commercial mocks the Lord’s Supper, that ordinance which our Lord and Savior established to remember His substitutionary atoning sacrifice for our sin. And I should have a sense of humor about it?


Gay churches don’t have the built-in ability to attract families with children, teenagers with youth programs, and young people with church services like rock concerts. There are no “crying rooms” for babies at Joy MCC or Sunday-school classrooms or a day-care center during the week.

“What I’m finding is they don’t want to go to a church where they are segregated by their sexuality,” said the Rev. Jenn Stiles Williams, who has about 50 young gays in her contemporary service at St. Luke’s United Methodist Church in Orlando. “Their relationship with God is first, but they want a church where they can be who they are and not have to hide it.”

Anthony Larry, a 23-year-old gay black man, said he also tried Joy MCC before joining St. Luke’s United Methodist, where he found an outlet for his desire for community involvement — and a rocking contemporary church service. “This generation, we want to be able to serve God through serving people outside the church. But it’s also about dynamic worship. Retire the organ,” Larry said.

One way for Joy MCC to prosper is to address the need that young people, gay and straight, have to express their spirituality in ways far different from the traditional church service. It might be through interest groups or book clubs or services that start at 5 p.m. on Fridays or midnight spirituality-discussion sessions.

To sum up, church should be about “me,” and the only way for “me” centered-churches to continue their existence is to continually adapt to the changing whims of “me.”

Source: Orlando Sentiel