Dabar [theme]

He shall cover thee with His feathers, and under His wings shalt thou find refuge: His truth is a shield and buckler
Psalms 91:4

Be it ours,when we cannot see the face of God, to trust under the shadow of His wings. C.H. Spugeon

Sunday, July 01, 2012

What Is the Church?

Matthew 16:19, "...and I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”

This appears to be the mandate for the inclusion or exclusion of any or many that would call upon the Church for acceptance or tolerance. The catch 22 is in accepting and tolerating with a view to the moral integrity, otherwise biblically called 'holiness', and the application of that code of conduct to life-style and/or a living faith. The Church is called to be holy, a living testament to the goodness of God exhibited by His goodness in providing salvation at His expense through His Son, Jesus Christ. We owe nothing, if we do not at least owe all, to God for this gift and this gift alone.

So I find the discussion of What the Church is? or What the church is to be? rather redundant.

But nonetheless the questions are asked and therefore need an answer.

Leviticus 23:

3, "The priest shall examine the sore on the skin of the body; and if the hair on the sore has turned white, and the sore appears to be deeper than the skin of his body, it is a leprous sore. Then the priest shall examine him, and pronounce him unclean."

23, "But if the bright spot stays in one place, and has not spread, it is the scar of the boil; and the priest shall pronounce him clean."

It is an interesting note, that Jesus never cured lepers, He only cleansed them.

In this we see the correct operating mentality of the Church, at least for the purpose of this discussion in a theological and philisophical context.

The beginning of the Church was commenced with the sacrificial death of Jesus and the Day of Pentecost.

Isaiah 51:1, “Listen to Me, you who follow after righteousness,

You who seek the Lord:
Look to the rock from which you were hewn,
And to the hole of the pit from which you were dug."

Those who desire and want salvation and are seeking the means to that goal, should find their justification when they seek the Lord and find His Son, Jesus Christ.

This is a double-edged sword, an acceptance of an act on our part, on our behalf, which is beyond understanding or compensation, in which we find ourselves owing a debt for which there is no payment due or sufficient in amount and for which only grace can answer the question of Why?

This is double-edged because, we must know where we came from and acknowledge the greater power and mystery which has saved. We must always as a Church remember the pain of our human condition and how unworthy we were and still remain to receive and have the opportunity to accept such a magnanimous gift.

I find it ludicrous that those who purport to be Christian, yet condemn and judge, and do not have the insight to identify their own pride and prejudice, having forgotten what they have been rescued from and holding fast to an explicit inclusive doctrine and yet believe or even have the ability or motivation, that they are fulfilling the mandate of Christ in reaching out to the lost and the broken of our day, and still maintain they are serving God's purpose through the Church. Every person is to believe by faith that they are a gifted, important and carefully placed 'key' in the efforts of the Church. Hebrews 3:12-15, "Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God; but exhort one another daily, while it is called “Today,” lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. For we have become partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end, while it is said:

“Today, if you will hear His voice,
Do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.”

Our experience must be the precurser of our outreach. 2 Corinthians 5:18-21, "Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God. For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him."

Our human condition may never be 'cured' in this life, but it is 'cleansed' if we hold fast to our faith. Our mission should we choose to accept it, is this, the power and privilege of living out our redemption in a world fraught with sin and idolatry in the power of the Holy Spirit, giving assurance of the forgiveness of sin by God by correctly announcing and proclaiming the terms of forgiveness. We can announce the forgiveness of sin with certainty when we ourselves have found repentance and faith.

In this world of 'tolerance' and 'acceptance' it must be clearly understood that redemption is linked to repentance, salvation is part and parcel of our status before God, 'holiness' is a requirement, and a living faith must be an example of both orthopraxy and orthodoxy.

So the question was; What is the Church?

A bunch of broken, displaced, fallible degenerates who without an other recourse, threw themselves down at the foot of a Cross, where God had displayed His love by sacrificing His Son, so that these same people could experience a life of peace and  contentment and in turn tell others of their experience. We have been 'called out' to live a life in front of 'others' and to assure 'others' of God's love for them. We have been 'called out' to change our lives, our perspective, our outlook, our reactions, our prejudices and the expectation is that that change will have to occur as well in 'others'. It really isn't to much to ask, especially when the person asking is God Himself.

I hold to the Word of God and the 'code of conduct' and moral integrity it mandates. I believe that there are 'conditions' of salvation and that we, as those who have been called, are 'to work out our salvation, with fear and trembling'. We can attempt to water down the Christian, and we can dampen the work of the Holy Spirit, but God will never be whitewashed to some mediocre human form of religiosity.

What is the Church?

It is the living, breathing faith in the goodness of God, beyond the realm of understanding apart from it being.
"Faith is not a law. Rather, faith is a gift. Therefore, faith's meaning cannot be found within the context of its public enforcement.

Instead, faith's meaning, like any gift's meaning, can only be fully understood by the receiver of the gift, who cherishes it for reasons they alone know."

For most of us, there is only the unattended

Moment, the moment in and out of time,
The distraction fit, lost in a shaft of sunlight,
The wild thyme unseen, or the winter lightning
Or the waterfall, or music heard so deeply
That it is not heard at all, but you are the music
While the music lasts. These are only hints and guesses,
Hints followed by guesses; and the rest
Is prayer, observance, discipline, thought and action.
The hint half guessed, the gift half understood, is Incarnation. T.S.Elliot

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