What is a biblical New Testament Church? There is a principle that says, you cannot hit a target if you don’t know what it is. Simply put, we as “church” cannot be “church” if we don’t have a firm concept of what “being the church” consists of. I read works by people who attack and are antagonistic to the traditional church (mostly negativism), and those who would transform it into something else.
I analyze groups, movements, and individuals, and I see how they react for, against, or indifferent to the NT model and precedent of the church. In this series, I want to react strongly against many of these unbiblical concepts of the church. I also want to bolster, support, and defend the biblical forms of church.
“Church” is not what you or I want it to be. It is a creation of God, and it is only valid (a biblical NT church) when it corresponds to what God has told us by dictate, example, precedent, or model in the New Testament. In this series, we will look at many different concepts, both in Scripture and in practice and in people’s minds. I want to focus on what is scriptural and what is not.
Click on tag: Church-Definition to see the entire series, and each week or so, a new part will come out.
A Church is a “call-out Group”
The Greek word “ekklesia” comes from two Greek words, ek (out of, or from) and kaleo which means to call. Then the foundational aspect of a biblical church is that it is “called out”. This being called out means that it is different and distinct from what is worldly and carnal, that which has its eyes, interests, and goals on purely earthly related things and mindset outlook.
Here I think from my experience I see unbiblical churches taking a certain worldliness or carnality as their main foundational character. They work on the carnal and worldly desires of their people. People want worldly fame, something to claim for themselves as being famous.
Worldliness is a contrast to godliness. It is a mindset that permeates and saturates everything done with an inclination towards the common sin of the world. Many times it is not so much an inclination towards sin, as just an inclination towards what is not godly.
While worldliness has to do principally with the world’s ungodly system, carnality has to do with our individual lusts, excesses, distractions, and wandering from the things of God.
Within the concept and practice of the church, we can see this coming through very loudly. Churches want to compete with the world, so they do what the world does. Take youth as an example. If the world entertains youth, then the church does the same. That is worldliness, being like the world.
The Error of Worldliness
The fundamental error of worldliness in churches is that they do not understand that we are in a different and apples and oranges competition with the world. We do not entertain better than the world does because we are not of the world. Consider if some prostitutes come up and start offering themselves outside of your church. The correct plan of attack is not to take some pretty church ladies, dress them up sexier than these prostitutes, and put them outside in competition. The answer lies in being an example of Christ. While they appeal to the flesh, we appeal to the spirit. We exhort our men to keep their minds pure unto Jesus. We don’t fill them with images of Christian women in sexier roles than the prostitutes.
But if you look across the board in Christianity, churches are competing with the world by trying to better the world’s entertainment and game.
For example, why does a youth group have to always have amazing, exciting, extreme, entertaining activities? Have you ever thought that maybe if your “pitch” to teens is to resolve their life problems, questions, and unsettling lack of knowledge by an excellent, informing, encouraging, and biblical study of some scriptural problem or question? Do you see where worldly church work on an entertainment level while we should be working on a spiritual level?
The comeback is expected. “Brother, you don’t understand the youth of today. They won’t come if we don’t have lots of good food, lots of the opposite sex, and lots and lots of fun. If we try being preachy to them, they will turn us off in a heartbeat.” That may be your experience, but what if in your experience, the people doing this are shallow, worldly Christians and the teens see nothing exceptionally spiritual in these leaders, so all they see is hypocrisy, and that is what turned them off?
The Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts were built on the principle that you can build morality through activities that help the person function in society and with others. Boy Scouts had to “do a good deed” every day. We have watched a marginally Christian organization do this for years (until worldly antagonist to Christianity people destroyed), but we cannot do something similar in the church?
A true church is one that has a different content, method, and motive than the world. It is distinctively “different”, spiritual versus not being carnal, or of the world.
Godliness and Piety
The concept of godliness is to be like God. Piety comes in with essentially the same meaning. When we accept Jesus Christ as our Savior or being saved, what God means by this is much more than a simple prayer. Faith is involved as well as repentance. We turn FROM everything else we are following and exalting as good or God in our lives, and we leave all that (repentance) and we turn to God (have faith in God, that he and his way is what we should embrace and engage in as our role model).
Godliness is being like God. If that is so, and the church concept is a community where these “people who are like God” get together to do the activity of “being like God”, then why are so many churches poisoned? They are the most toxic, horrible, anti-God places short of dens of vice and iniquity. Yes, they are better than a brothel or casino, but many churches are not much better than them.
The key here is that the concept and execution of “church” has to be Christlikeness, and churches just haven’t gotten a hold on that at all. Many churches have dictators running them (that is not how Christ did things), and others are filled with envious, scheming people (ungodly) that only attend to see how they can impose their own greatness on others, or how they can destroy the “false greatness” as they see it of their competition. Unkind, sharp, cutting remarks fly in most churches on Sundays between those who attend. Rather than edifying others, people seem hell bent on making a mark against others, finding some way to hurt, maim, destroy, put down, slander, harm, or some other way do ill towards others. Those ideas and actions and speech should never be allowed in our churches. They define that local community calling itself a church into a church of Satan, that is all they do.