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Personal, Corporate, or Both?

Living Stones

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This blog post is a clarification of some tweets that I made. To be honest, these are some thoughts that I haven’t completely worked out in my mind, but I will do my best to explain them. Thus, you may take the word “clarification” lightly :). This isn’t an argument for my thoughts (I don’t like arguing), just a discussion.

I will begin with the definitions of the words, personal and corporate, that I have in my mind. I got these definitions from the Google Dictionary:

Personal – Of, affecting, or belonging to a particular person rather than to anyone else

Corporate – Of or shared by all the members of a group

1st Tweet

Jesus Christ is not a personal Savior, but a corporate Savior.

I say, “Not saved for themselves but for the glory of Christ the Son.” It’s not about us at all — it’s all about Him! – Whitney McKendree Moore (@WhitneyMcKMoore)

First, I am not saying that God is impersonal, nor am I denying that we are saved as individuals. So what am I saying? I am saying that Jesus Christ does not save anyone for their own sake, but for Himself and His Body. It is obvious that we come into the Body as individuals, considering that a corporate body is made up of individuals. Truly, we are stones, made alive by God, to be put together into one Temple. A Building has individual stones, but they do not have any personal experience that does not affect the Building.

My next point is that salvation does not occur simply between you and Christ. How would anyone hear of Christ unless someone has already been sent to share Him? You may even have learned the good news from a Christian who is long dead, but a member of the Body none the less. Indeed, the Body of Christ shared the Head to you, who was revealed to you through the invisible workings of the Holy Spirit.

Third, we always exist in some form of corporate body. We were born in Adam, and thus have received His sin nature. Through the death and resurrection, we are reborn, by the Spirit, in Christ. Thus, in order to be saved you had to be included corporately in the death and resurrection of Christ Jesus, our dear Lord. Also, Christ died once for all, not over and over again for each person. We don’t have a separate and distinct experience of His death and resurrection, but share in the same act that was performed once for all.

Another thought that I have is if we were chosen in Christ before the creation of the world, were we not already His Nation before we considered ourselves a part of it? We were already chosen in Christ, and when He was revealed to us we learned of our true identity. The identity that was hidden in Him. We no longer think that we are poor peasants, but we see that we are kings, destined to reign with Christ.

2nd Tweet

Is anything really personal? Or is personal a delusion?

We like things to be personal. We think that life is like a personal pan pizza from Pizza Hut. We want to think that stuff is ours and we have our own little bubbles to walk around. It is an awful thing if someone enters your bubble. Honestly, I can’t think of a single thing that does not affect others. Everything that we do affects others. Even if you are absent, hidden away in the wilderness, there are people who will never hear your knowledge, be encouraged by your advice, or hurt by your cruelty. All of your experiences have included someone or something else. The truth is that nothing is really personal, nothing really belongs to us. All is given to us by our God, for the good of all. If you keep what He has given to you, others are hurt and if you give what He has given to you, others benefit.

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Why Have I Chosen to Meet Organically in Christ?

Bexley_Christ_Church

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Just a note, I will be discussing my ideas of organic church, which may not represent every person who meets organically.

The Supremacy of Christ

First of all, the supremacy of Christ over all things is at the very core of the organic gathering. If Christ is not supreme, then our gatherings are a waste of time. Christ must have supremacy in all things. If Christ is to be supreme, then we must submit to Him and His desires. When we meet organically, we lay down our own vision of what “church” is like, to see what Christ wants to do through us.

Christ is Zealous for God’s House

It would be pointless to meet under the supremacy of Christ, if He didn’t care about our gatherings. But, that is not the case! He wants to lead us into all righteousness and glory. Indeed, He is our Righteousness and Glory! No man will ever care about the Church as Christ does. We are the Bride, and He is our Bridegroom. He is consumed with love and passion for us.

Christ is Head

But, what does it matter that Christ is supreme and zealous for us, if He is not Head over us? We must realize that we are one Body, under His Headship. Only the Head is capable of leading the Body. Every believer is simply a body part. If one person leads, it is like a finger leading the body. If a group of people lead the body, then it is like a hand leading the body. Christ is more than capable of leading His Body through anything and everything.

All are Equal in Christ, the Corporate Man

Now that you have seen that Christ is supreme, that He is zealous for God’s House, and Head over the Body, let’s look at this Body. Is one part of the Body, greater than another? Never! All need to participate in the gathering of the Body. Every single body part is needed. Can a mouth speak, without the tongue and the neck and the lungs? Does the mouth speak by itself? Institutional gatherings assume that one person is the mouth and everyone else are the ears. What I am getting at is this: All the body parts are equal in Christ and all should have the opportunity for Christ to use them when we gather together. When Christ is allowed to use every person as He chooses, we will see the fullness of this great corporate Lord of ours. He ascended to Heaven for this purpose: That He may be a Corporate Man, in His People, through His Spirit.

Christ is in All

But, we must also believe that Christ is in all. Christ is not only in the pastor, nor, only in the prophet. Christ is in all! Every single believer, in Christ, has the Spirit of Christ living in him or her. Christ can speak through a young child, as He can through an elder. He doesn’t have favorites. He chooses as He wills, according to His wisdom. Indeed, your strengths will inhibit what the Spirit wants to do through you, but your weaknesses give Him free reign. May the weakest be the greatest among us!

Some Thoughts on the Pastorate

Considering that, there is much disagreement over the authority of the pastorate, I will say a few words about it. Let me say that I do, indeed, believe in the ministry of the pastor. But, a pastor, nor any other ministry, is not a title to be taken. You do not choose to be a pastor, pastors are chosen of God and you will act as one as you learn Christ. A pastor does not stand in front of the Flock, but is among it. A pastor is simply another body part, that is no more significant than any other.

Concluding Thoughts

Lastly, I would like to point out that the Church is a living organism, not a structure. It needs nothing, but Christ. All things flow from Him. He is our Life and our Light. If any one member of the Body is not present at any particular organic meeting, the Body is still able to meet without any hindrance. The member, who isn’t present. will be missed, but Christ will still be free to act through His Body. This gathering under the Christ, is a gathering of faith. By faith we see and hear Him through our brothers and sisters. Sometimes, He acts almost imperceptibly, sometimes through power.

I meet organically that Christ may be all and in all.

“Revise Us Again” by Frank Viola

Are we living by the script of Jesus Christ, or have we strayed from the script given to us by God? In “Revise Us Again”, Frank Viola points out some of the problems that he sees in the script, by which, many modern Christians are living. I enjoyed listening to the audiobook version of this book. Adam Verner is the narrator. He narrated the book well and had an enjoyable voice. The book was quite short and I was able to listen to it several times.

In my opinion, the major issue in this book is overcoming the differences that separate us as Christians. These differences have formed denominations and have hindered unity. Two of the differences mentioned in the book are: how God speaks through us and our spiritual conversation styles. If only we saw that many of our differences are given to us by God and reveal to us a fuller image of Christ. Other differences, the ones that are born of ourselves, should be laid aside if they hinder unity. Unfortunately, we are too focused on ourselves and not focused on Christ and His eternal purpose. If we were, we would be united in Him. Lets embrace our differences as Christians and learn to see Christ in others that are different from ourselves.

In my opinion the last chapter of the book is the most important. This chapter describes three gospels that people believe in. These three gospels are: libertinism, legalism, and the gospel of Jesus Christ. Libertinism is attractive to the flesh, because you are free to sin. Legalism is attractive to the will, because it is your will accomplishing the work. Neither libertinism, nor legalism, are real gospels. Instead, they are false gospels. The true gospel, which the apostle Paul preached, is Christ. He is the narrow path, our highway of holiness.

The chapter on the dark night, was one that I wish I had read before I experienced it. This is a time when it seems as if God has walked off the stage. The dark night is like removing the spiritual training wheels. When you are reliant on the felt presence of God, He removes that feeling of His presence, and it can be world-shattering. We must keep faith in Him, even when we can’t feel His presence.

I enjoyed “Revise Us Again”. Not everything in the book moved me, but I think there is something in it for everybody. I am sure that, if you read it with an open mind, you will learn something from this book.

I received this book free from christianaudio.com through the christianaudio Reviewers program.

90 Days of God’s Goodness by Randy Alcorn

This is a wonderful book that I would recommend to all those who love Christ. It is a devotional book about God’s goodness in suffering. The narrator of the audiobook is Lloyd Jones, who’s voice is comforting in a book that describes so much suffering.

This book is based on Scripture, as well as stories of Christians who have suffered. At the end of each day is a prayer. Christ promised that all who followed Him would suffer and this book has many stories of Christians who have been faithful to Him, in spite of much suffering. Many of those mentioned in the book have found that they are now closer to God because of their suffering. Christ is our example of suffering, for He has suffered more than all of us combined.

There was more than one occasion in which this book caused tears to swell up in my eyes. It is a book of hope, joy, and love in the face of deep pain and sorrow. This is the hope, joy, and love that only Christ can give us.

Many think that suffering should be avoided at all costs. Indeed, suffering would be unbearable if our Father was not sovereign in it. Fortunately, He has measured all of our pains and troubles out for us and we can be assured there will not be too much nor too little of the trials in this life.

I received this book free from christianaudio.com through the christianaudio Reviewers program.

The Radical Disciple by John Stott

The Radical Disciple” is a decent book. I can’t say that there is anything extraordinary within its pages. Instead, it is a solid picture of a disciple of Christ. The narrator of the audiobook, Grover Gardner, had a pleasant voice and made the book enjoyable to listen to during drives to and from work.

The religious might take this book on how to be a disciple. That would be a grave error. This book should be an aid to disciples of Christ to remember some neglected aspects of the Christian life. That being said, there are eight chapters that describe some of the “neglected aspects of our calling”. These aspects are: noncomformity, Christlikeness, maturity, creation care, simplicity, balance, dependence, and death. It can be said that there are many more aspects to being a disciple, but these are ones that the author views as most neglected in our day.

I would suggest this book to any Christian who wishes to have a more well-rounded view of what a disciple of Christ looks like. Do not take this book to be all that a disciple is, but use it to learn how to follow Christ in ways that you have neglected in the past.

The aspect that moved my heart the most was dependence. In a society where independence is championed, it is difficult to feel alright being dependent on another person. Independence is a result of pride and has no place in the life of a Christian. Some even pretend to be content with being dependent upon God, but refuse to be dependent upon other people. This is not true dependence, considering Christ lives in His People and expects us to live as a loving community. If you are to follow Christ, you will have to lay down your old man, and rejoice in your dependence on God and His People.

For those of us still learning Christ, this book might just show you something that you have missed in you walk with Christ.

I received this book free from christianaudio.com through the christianaudio Reviewers program.

 

Christians: Don’t be Dismayed by Your Differences

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For as long as I can remember that God has been guiding me on the path I now walk (although I walk it very imperfectly), I have wondered why other Christians do not see things the same way as I do. Is one of us right, and the other wrong? How can that be if we are both walking with God? Does God tell us different things? Yes, God does tell us different things, as we are ready for them. He leads every person along a different path, according to His Divine wisdom. He uses each of us for a different purpose, in order to fulfill His eternal purpose.

We should not be divided by our differences. Instead, we should learn from each other, and glorify God for the diversity of His new creation. We should not try to force the calling God has given us on another person. Although, you will meet others who have a similar spiritual calling to yours, and you will have a deeper bond with them, than with other Christians.

What really matters is Christ, and that we love Him and love each other, through the love that flows from Him.

 

The Spirit is Our Teacher

But the anointing that you received from him abides in you, and you have no need that anyone should teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about everything, and is true, and is no lie–just as it has taught you, abide in him.
(1Jn 2:27 ESV)

Many people search books to learn about God. It is good to learn from others, what God has revealed to them about Himself. This is much easier for those who have not learned to listen to God. But, those who have walked with God long enough, should be able to move on to learning from God Himself. Of course, the Spirit uses books to teach us, but He is able to use anything to teach us. Also, He will use others to teach you, especially if you are not listening. Sometimes, words cannot even express what He shows You about the glories of Christ. Use Scripture to evaluate what you believe the Spirit is telling you, in order to ensure you are not being deceived by Satan.

If you are willing to practice His presence in humility and for no reason but out of love for Christ, He will share Himself with you in abundance.


Walk in Christ

Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.
(Col 2:6-7 ESV)

Receiving Christ is only the beginning of something magnificent. Together, each body of Christians is to walk in Christ, be rooted in Him, and be built up in Him. These things require that we be well established in our faith in Christ. No individual can do these things on his or her own. Each one of us is given a portion of Christ, according to God’s grace. As we experience the living Christ with other Christians, we increasingly display His splendor.

Don’t be fooled into thinking there is a method to growing in Christ. It takes time, love, and lives spent in the presence of God.

The Lesson of the Fig Tree

Photograph of a large fig tree taken at Centen...

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And seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to see if he could find anything on it. When he came to it, he found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs. And he said to it, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again.” And his disciples heard it.
(Mar 11:13-14 ESV)

As they passed by in the morning, they saw the fig tree withered away to its roots. And Peter remembered and said to him, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree that you cursed has withered.”
(Mar 11:20-21 ESV)

The fig tree was pretending to be something it was not. It looked nice and pretty, but the fruit wasn’t there. Jesus wants us to bear fruit. Note that Jesus wouldn’t have cursed the tree had it been leafless, and without fruit. Be what you are, don’t pretend to be something that you aren’t. Either you follow Jesus wholeheartedly, or you reject Him. The fate of those who outwardly follow Him, but bear no fruit, will be cursed like the fig tree.

“And to the angel of the church in Laodicea write: ‘The words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God’s creation. “‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.
(Rev 3:14-16 ESV)

True Christians Walk Like Jesus

but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.
(1Jn 2:5-6 ESV)

Christians are “little christs”. We are created anew in Christ, and we bear the image of the living God. If we are truly in Christ, we will walk in the same way that He walked. None of us can show the entire image of Christ. The entire Body of believers comes together to show the full image of Christ to the world. Our hearts should be set on being like Jesus. If we aren’t growing more and more like Jesus, how can we claim to belong to Him? Chris Sligh, in his song, sings, “…empty me of me so i can be filled with you”. We desperately need God to empty us of ourselves, so that we can be filled with Him.

True Christians Keep God’s Commandments

And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him:
(1Jn 2:3-5 ESV)

I suppose the question we must answer is: what are the commandments of God?

And this is his commandment, that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us. Whoever keeps his commandments abides in God, and God in him. And by this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit whom he has given us.
(1Jn 3:23-24 ESV)

By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.
(1Jn 5:2-3 ESV)

Many people will say that the commandments of God are this or that. The ten commandments of the Old Testament are often suggested as guidelines for our lives. The Christian life is one of simplicity, not one based on a multitude of rules. We are to believe in Jesus and love each other. Take a look at your heart. Do you truly trust Jesus with all that you are and all that you have? Or is your belief in Jesus only skin deep? Likewise, are you growing in your love for God’s children? Is your love for them true, or are you faking it? We must examine ourselves to know that we are in the faith. If we are true Christians, our lives will show the evidence. We believe in Jesus because of the testimony of His Spirit inside of us. Let’s offer all that we are and all that we hold dear to our beloved Lord.

True Christians Know Their Sin

If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.
(1Jn 1:8-10 ESV)

These verses address two problems. If a Christian claims that they don’t have a sin nature, why would he or she need a savior? We are deceiving ourselves if we think we are without sin. Second, if we do something that is a sin, and say that its not a sin, we are calling God a liar. Both of these actions are rejections of God’s Spirit. The Spirit convicts us of the evil inside us and brings our sins to light.

My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.
(1Jn 2:1 ESV)

Note that, sinning itself, does not necessarily disqualify you from God’s kingdom. Jesus, Himself, is the advocate for those who are in Him. But, if you say that you don’t have sin, then there can’t be forgiveness for you. Let’s confess all of our sins to God, and pray that He keeps us from anymore sins.

True Christians Walk in the Light

If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.
(1Jn 1:6-7 ESV)

This is second part of True Christians vs. False Christians. True Christians walk in the light, not in the darkness. If you claim to have fellowship with God, while you walk in darkness, John says you are a liar. So what does it mean to walk in the darkness?

Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness. Whoever loves his brother abides in the light, and in him there is no cause for stumbling. But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes.
(1Jn 2:9-11 ESV)

If you hate a brother or sister in Christ, you walk in darkness. Notice, that there is no gray area given between loving and hating your fellow saints. Take a good look at your heart. Do you help other saints in need? Do you care enough for your brothers and sisters even to pray for them?

Let’s reflect on this in light of the words of Jesus:

Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’ “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”
(Mat 25:34-46 ESV)

If you have failed to love your fellow saints in the past, can you see how your love for them has grown since then? If, over time, you are not walking more and more in the light, you don’t have fellowship with God. Let’s ask God to pour out His love in abundance on us, so that His light will consume us.

True Christians vs. False Christians

I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.
(Rev 3:15-16 ESV)

For a long time, my heart has felt heavy for false Christians. It is my opinion, that the majority of false Christians legitimately believe that they are saved from the wrath to come. What a sad fate it is for a person to believe that he or she is saved, when there is no true salvation for him or her. I would rather a person fully embrace the life of Christ or admit that he or she hates God, than to sit on the fence. In spite of all the claims, there are only two choices in this life: follow Jesus or follow Satan. In the coming days, I plan to take a look at what the letters written by John, say about true Christians and false Christians. The purpose of this study is not so that you can judge the salvation of others, but so that you may judge your own salvation correctly. We must be diligent in making our calling and election sure.

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