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philologos
Member



Joined: 2003/7/18
Posts: 6566
Reading, UK

 Just who IS responsible for this state of affairs?

The breakout session I did at Greenock had an underlying theme that I want to raise again. We hear constant criticisms of 'the church' and what it is doing and what it ought to be doing, but just who is responsible to do something about it? The knee jerk reaction will be 'we are all responsible' but this is only partly true. You are not responsible for things that God has entrusted to me and I am not responsible for the things that God has trusted to you.

I really believe many of us have a fundamental flaw in our understanding of 'the church' which creates a fatal flaw in our theology of revival. It is an axiom that we are to give an account for our own lives and that we must give an account of those things which have been trusted to us. So just who is 'responsible for the church'?

This may come as a surprise to many but the Bible does not use the word 'church' in the way that I have been using in in the previous paragraphs. We frequently hear reference to 'the church in America' or the 'church in the 21st century' or 'the church of today', but the Bible never refers to 'the church' in this way. This is not an academic point. The way we think effects the way we live.

It is significant the the scriptures refer to the seven churches which are in Asia (Rev 1:4) and NOT the 'church (singular' in Asia'. Biblically there is no such thing as the 'church in Asia' only the 'churches (plural) in Asia'. These churches were individual units which were individually held accountable for their life and witness.

The key point I am trying to make is that, biblically, the unit of responsibility is 'a church' not 'the church'. To blame 'the modern church' for conditions as we find them is a mistake. There is no such thing as 'the church' in this sense. There is an entity that we can call 'the church' and the one responsible for it is its head, Jesus Christ. To suggest that anyone else has any responsibility for 'the church' is either arrogance or biblical ignorance.

So where does that leave us? Where 'does the buck stop' for the current conditions were live in the midst of? There are two 'units of responsibility' for the testimony on earth at this time; one is the individual believer, the other is the local church.

To read the first chapters of the Revelation is to see spiritual responsibility as Christ sees it. Each of the 'churches' is unique, there is no general condition that fits them all, they are each unique. Christ presents himself in a unique way to each of these churches and begins by declaring that he 'knows' their current state. He reveals this 'state' to the messenger of each individual church and adds the necessary word for each church. The 'buck' stops with the messenger!

There is little point in ranting about the state of affairs in the US or the UK or anywhere else. We are not responsible for these things. As individuals we are responsible for our own lives and those lives that God gives us access into, but to complain is just blowing off steam. Such steam may make a piercing noise but it won't move the wheels one inch.

I have a simple word for all who complain about the state of 'the church'... mind your own business! ;-)


_________________
Ron Bailey

 2008/12/22 9:35Profile
enid
Member



Joined: 2006/5/22
Posts: 2660
Nottingham, England

 Re: Just who IS responsible for this state of affairs?

Wonderful post, I love it!

But enough euphoria, let's look at scripture.

Eph 1v22-23, 'And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church,

vs23, which is His body, the fulness of Him who fills all in all.'

Frankly, we are indiviually responsible for our own salvation, Phil 2v12.

Complaining aboout the condition of the churches, does not remove responsibility from us to do as we please, or to join in with the crowd because 'everybody is doing it'.

Or, safety in numbers.

It does hurt to see the name of the Lord dragged in the mud, or maligned, because someone who professes the name of Christ, acts in opposition to His name.

But, as scripture says, the end is at hand, therefore be serious and watchful in our prayers, 1 Peter 4v7.

God bless.

 2008/12/22 9:50Profile









 Re: Just who IS responsible for this state of affairs?

Hi Ron

Well that was certainly an interesting point of view. And I totaly agree that

"You are not responsible for things that God has entrusted to me and I am not responsible for the things that God has trusted to you."

I think the problem with your position is that it may be an academic one. The reality is that, as much as I hate the fact, the Roman Catholic church emerged and dominated for centuries. This was definately a "church," singular. Luther definately believed that it had to be reformed and he knew where the blame lay.

There are certainly Bishops and Apostles and they lead and guide and influence, not on a singular church, but accross a wide range of churches. Brother Denny Keneston(whom I love) has planted 50 churches I believe. He certainly operates in an "Apostolic," role having great influence among those churches. If he was to influence them in a way that was not of God, he would be responsible for that. There are sheep, and their are shephards. One has a certain responsibility, the other has a different responsibility.

In the US, their are many "leaders," of the Church. And by that, I mean people who influence across the board. Dr Dobson, influences millions and speaks to them on a daily basis. Rick Warren, Benny Hinn. Ted Haggart was the head of the "Evangelical Alliance ," which included 33 million people. Pat Robertson and Gerry Faldwell come to mind as well. These last two guys in particular, have little to no influence outside of America, but their constituency here in America goes across denominational lines. They
"speak to the Church in America."

Just as countries have national characteristics, so do Churches. That is why the "American Church," is often, and rightly so in my opinion, referred to as the Laodicean Church.Now can Individual Christians all over the planet be guilty of materialism and thinking that they are rich because of their material wealth? Yes. Can individual churche's be guilty of the same all over the world? Yes. Yet here in America that is a common theme that runs in a great majority of Churches. In many ways it is the triumph of the world and its influence over the "Church." In Scotland, the middle class run the "Church," yet the vast majority of the people are working class. This is "class system," of the country influencing the "Church in Scotland." America does not have that particular problem because their social system is different.(and better in my opinion)

I am rambling now, but you get my point(hopefully)..............brother Frank

 2008/12/22 10:11
RobertW
Member



Joined: 2004/2/12
Posts: 4636
Independence, Missouri

 Re:

Quote:
In the US, their are many "leaders," of the Church. And by that, I mean people who influence across the board. Dr Dobson, influences millions and speaks to them on a daily basis. Rick Warren, Benny Hinn. Ted Haggart was the head of the "Evangelical Alliance ," which included 33 million people. Pat Robertson and Gerry Faldwell come to mind as well. These last two guys in particular, have little to no influence outside of America, but their constituency here in America goes across denominational lines. They
"speak to the Church in America."



I think this is a great problem in many local churches. Because many have left off of hearing what Christ is saying to their local church and have substituted listening to the so-called leaders of our times, the masses have come to a similar impasse in their churches. Until they STOP allowing these so-called leaders to influence the affairs of that local congregation with it's unique needs I don't see how we will ever get past the problems that we face.


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Robert Wurtz II

 2008/12/22 10:27Profile
RobertW
Member



Joined: 2004/2/12
Posts: 4636
Independence, Missouri

 Re:

Quote:
Just as countries have national characteristics, so do Churches. That is why the "American Church," is often, and rightly so in my opinion, referred to as the Laodicean Church.



I think I have been guilty in the past of painting with a broad brush whole sections of society as one group when the more I read Acts and Revelation 1-4 I see how individualized and unique each local church was.

The way this plays out in real time can be realized when I have applied messages right here on Sermonindex and other places that did [u]not[/u] apply to me at all. The preacher was speaking to a particular type of person and I was not them. But because I applied the words to my life, though I was already wildly out of balance, I listened to hear how I might apply even more pressure to myself until I have virtually overdosed on a 'medication' I never needed to begin with.

I truly believe that is what Greenock was about for me. I needed a detox from a lot of really potent and caustic teachings. If we continue to give blanket medications we will see more like damage in the lives of people being treated for problems they don't have. :-?


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Robert Wurtz II

 2008/12/22 10:33Profile









 Re:

HI Robert

I dont think its one way or the other, I think its both. Yes, their is individual application and in fact Scripture must always be applied, first and foremost to oursleves. Yet, there is such a thing as leadership. And with more responsibility comes more accountability. We see that you should not "receive an accusation against an elder except before two or three witnesses." Inherant in leadership is the abilty to influence.

You may have made mistakes in the past Robert, in your application, but that is not really the point. When Paul writes to the Corinthians, I am sure that not every Corinthian was dis-ordelry, but Paul was addressing a problem that this particular church was having, and of course, the solution lay with leadership leading and guiding, which was their role.

If we look at the State of the Church in the West, then, if you have been in leadership for the last generation, you carry a responsibility, which is different from the responsibility of the individual believer. Someone like Tozer would not be responsible for the ails of his generation because he never ceased to speak out against what he saw going on and what the results of that would be. This did not make him popular in his time, and there may be the rub...........brother Frank

 2008/12/22 10:58
RobertW
Member



Joined: 2004/2/12
Posts: 4636
Independence, Missouri

 Re:

Quote:
If we look at the State of the Church in the West, then, if you have been in leadership for the last generation, you carry a responsibility, which is different from the responsibility of the individual believer.



I understand. The question I have is what is the extent of the responsibility and has God even ordained that leaders exist as they do today? Is it God's will that men wield such influence over local churches or have men usurped the the prerogative of the Holy Spirit on an individual church level and [u]that[/u] is what they are 'accountable' for doing?

Is it the whole 'grievous wolves' thing of Acts 19 in which the people were hearing the word of God's grace, but men entered seeking to lead folk away from it and unto themselves. It that makes sense.


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Robert Wurtz II

 2008/12/22 12:00Profile
philologos
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Joined: 2003/7/18
Posts: 6566
Reading, UK

 Re:

Quote:
Eph 1v22-23, 'And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church,

vs23, which is His body, the fulness of Him who fills all in all.'


'the church' is the one church in heaven and earth stretching through all the ages. This 'church' is truly the 'fulness of Him who fills all in all' but this is not 'the church' on earth, is it? True believers are certainly part of this 'one church' but it is 'invisible' except to the eye of faith.


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Ron Bailey

 2008/12/22 12:01Profile
Compton
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Joined: 2005/2/24
Posts: 2732


 Re:

Quote:
There is little point in ranting about the state of affairs in the US or the UK or anywhere else. We are not responsible for these things. As individuals we are responsible for our own lives and those lives that God gives us access into, but to complain is just blowing off steam.



Ron, I would like to hear more of your thoughts on this topic.

I think you are shedding light on an area of great bondage, pride, and even personal torment for many saints who feel they must shoulder more responsibility then God has given them and equipped them for.

One of the reasons I am increasingly drawn to 18th and 19th century books by Christians, is that their perspectives were much more primitive and simple in regards to living our their faith. Few of them felt the need to worry about the entire planet. They did not sit in judgement of their local church while imagining they are called to prophesy to or reform an entire society...for them the whole of their humble calling was first to be convinced of their own sin, and then, having received the blessing of justification by faith, to seek and live out Christ in their homes and their local church communities. A life of simply serving in their church, and being faithful to the measure of grace given to them in leading quiet Christian lives gave many of the 'old ones' peace like a river sufficient to sing hymns on their death beds.

Again Ron, I think your perspective here is a much needed balm for many sincere but overwhelmed saints who have confused the accessibility of global news with the responsibility to shoulder global responsibility. It is this overwhelmed feeling that eventually hardens into cynicism and indifference...the love of many waxing cold because their love seems irrelevant to all the news they hear every day. We cannot directly effect the sphere of the whole world, but we can touch those in our smaller spheres.

I've been told that such an attitude is indifference, but it is how Christians have been doing it for almost 2000 years. Once in a while we might triumphantly say that 12 men in the upper room changed the ancient world, but in truth this statement is an incomplete history. The Apostles touched lives, and those they touched in turn touched lives. The spread of ancient Christianity is a story of small spheres intersecting with small spheres...a miraculous Mitosis that only God can take credit for.

The technology we have today whereby we can feel like we know more information about the entire planet all at once in real time is giving us the illusion that we have more reach and responsibility then we really do. It is a debilitating illusion that should be recognized as contributing much towards inactivity and paralysis in the actual sphere of humble influence we actually have entrusted to us. It is a paradox that makes us feel aware and alert of the whole planet, while being less aware and interested in individuals. Indeed, individuals can seem like a waste of our time in the face of such national and international crisis' that demand great and drastic action.

In all of this, is there an application of the prophetic portrait of Jesus given by Isaiah...For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder...as opposed to crushing our shoulders?

Blessings,

MC


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Mike Compton

 2008/12/22 12:07Profile
philologos
Member



Joined: 2003/7/18
Posts: 6566
Reading, UK

 Re:

Quote:
I think the problem with your position is that it may be an academic one. The reality is that, as much as I hate the fact, the Roman Catholic church emerged and dominated for centuries. This was definately a "church," singular. Luther definately believed that it had to be reformed and he knew where the blame lay.


No it wasn't and it isn't. Just because men choose to call it 'a church' that does not make it one. Several denominations call themselves 'the church'; it only goes to show that they have not understood the biblical revelation.

Quote:
There are certainly Bishops and Apostles and they lead and guide and influence, not on a singular church, but accross a wide range of churches. Brother Denny Keneston(whom I love) has planted 50 churches I believe. He certainly operates in an "Apostolic," role having great influence among those churches. If he was to influence them in a way that was not of God, he would be responsible for that. There are sheep, and their are shephards. One has a certain responsibility, the other has a different responsibility.


There is no record of a conglomeration of local churches being regarded as 'a church' in the scripture. There were many local churches in Galatia that had succumbed to the Judaiziers but Paul never refers to them as the 'church of Galatia' but writes to the churches of Galatia. In Galatians 1:22 Paul does not refer to 'the church in Judaea' but to the 'churches in Galatia'. There is no conglomeration of churches which is ever referred to as 'a church' in the scriptures.

Your illustrations are just illustrations of the wrong understanding of the biblical concept of 'the church' and 'a church'. I know that people use the language of 'the church' of the USA; what I am saying is that there is no biblical warrant for such a usage.

I reject the eschatological interpretation of 'development' throughout the 'church age'. Try to interpret the Revelation as it would have been understood by the people who first read it.


_________________
Ron Bailey

 2008/12/22 12:11Profile





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