The Church browsing by tag


Guest post from R.P. Amos: “What God Looks for in a Local Church”

Saturday, February 7th, 2015

When talking about a local church many will mention its “worship music”, or youth group, or dynamic preacher that leaves them inspired. Some will highlight the liturgy that emits holy feelings, or how their needs are met, or that they feel happy there. Others will focus on friendly care for the hurting or big numbers showing successful growth or gospel mission outreach. In the Corinthian church you will see 9 characteristics the Lord Jesus commissioned Paul to teach. These please the heart of God in His house.

1 – UNITY      1Cor. 1:10-16 – “perfectly joined together in the same mind and the same judgment”

The unity the Lord is talking about is not just the absence of fighting or agreeing to disagree. It’s not just a unity of purpose – all sharing a common goal like fans do for their ball team. It’s unanimity: all speaking the same thing with the same mind by having the same thinking in discerning right and wrong. It’s a unity of truth!   This can only come by owning the Name (authority and wisdom) of the Lord Jesus Christ alone.

 2 – GLORY     1Cor. 1:29 – 4:21 – “That no flesh should glory in his presence”

The church is to glory only in the Lord. As condemned sinners we by grace alone have been given (not earned) every spiritual blessing. So since all was given to us by grace there is no reason to “glory in men”. The Lord censures identifying our ‘Christianity’ by a man’s name – or – giving special titles to a man based on his gift or calling. Clerical vestments for the “ordained” that marks one out as more educated than other brothers and sisters are found not in NT Scripture. This would give a measure of glory to man. All believers are equally called “brethren” in Corinthians, matching the teaching of the Lord Jesus when on earth, (Matt. 23:6-12). The only one who gets a title is Jesus: the Lord Jesus. Things like a clapping ovation for man’s “performance” in the church would be strange when the Lord says, “He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord”.

 3 – PURITY (HOLY)     1Cor. 5 – 6 – “put away from among yourselves that wicked person”

A major characteristic of God’s house is holiness. We tend to focus on happiness. “Holiness becometh thine house, O LORD, forever” says the OT. And the NT says, “for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are”. Holiness is a separation from sin and consecration to what is right. That’s why a “brother” living in certain sins is to be dealt with by excommunication, not toleration. That is not “shooting your wounded” but removing a cancer so health can be restored. Also, joining our body in an immoral sexual union is to be fled from for we are the Lord’s temple and His Holy Spirit lives in us.

 4 – FIDELITY   1Cor. 7 – “remain unmarried, or be reconciled – let not the husband put away his wife”

Faithfulness in the marriage union until death is to characterize a man and a woman in God’s house. The Corinthian letter to His church instructs a believing woman not to depart from her husband. But if she does separate (perhaps for some safety reason, etc.) from her husband, she is to remain unmarried or seek to be reconciled says the Lord Jesus. Only her husband’s death frees her to remarry, (1 Cor. 7:39).   And the believing husband (though he has marital authority) is commanded by the Lord not to put away (divorce) his wife. For the husband as head is to mirror Christ and the church. Will Christ the Head ever put away His church from His body because of our failure?

5 – CHARITY (LOVE)           1Cor. 8 – 10, 13 – “charity [love] edifieth”

Charity of course means to give. Charity or love is more than words but the giving of self for the welfare of others. Charity in matters of liberty is willing to give up personal freedoms before the Lord when it might offend another person’s conscience in his walk before the Lord. Charity will foster edifying over dividing. Paul said, “if meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh while the world standeth …”. The Lord taught, “By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if ye have love one to another”.

 6 – AUTHORITY 1Cor.11:1-16 –“the head of every man is Christ – the head of the woman is the man”

Based on creative choice, the Lord has established man as the authority over the woman. This will demonstrate itself among the churches of God with the woman being covered and the man uncovered when praying or prophesying. Also to show God’s choice, the man is to have vocal responsibility in the churches while the woman is to be silent there. Submission is not stating inequality in value for “the head of Christ is God”. However, the man is not without a head for his head is Christ. Therefore, whatever man does in relation to the woman needs to come from Christ and not his own personal desires.

 7 – MEMORABLY     1Cor. 11:17-34 – “this do in remembrance of me”

The Corinthians had turned the “Lord’s supper” into their “own supper”. What was meant to focus on the Lord in the church was abused and turned into meeting their social needs. They are reminded when they come together in the church that a primary purpose is the remembrance of the Lord. The Lord’s Supper is a continual object lesson to show forth the Lord Jesus Christ’s great redeeming death till He comes. It is a time of mutual fellowship in Christ when thanksgiving is offered as the Lord did. In a memorial service one in love focuses on the person who died, not his or her own personal needs.

 8 – PLURALITY    1Cor. 12 & 14 – “ye may all prophesy one by one, that all may learn”

Because the Spirit gives all believers various gifts, there is to be the liberty of a plurality of brothers involved in a church meeting. This will provide a varied and full spiritual diet to help the believers learn and be comforted. It will also help keep the brothers in the Word as they (not just one professional man) have some responsibility in contributing to the growth of the church. It’s not just sitting in the “pew” to take in. However, this liberty of gifts is an orderly plurality controlled by the Lord’s written commandments for His churches to promote learning and His headship protocol.


9 – VERACITY (TRUTH)      1Cor. 15 – “I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received”

While charity (love) is a key characteristic, we learn that charity “rejoiceth in the truth”. Truth gives the right understanding of God. Truth sets free from satanic deceptions to entice one away from the Lord’s ways. So in chapter 15 the Spirit guides Paul to correct the doctrinal error that the resurrection is past. He does not keep silent so as not to offend. But he reveals truth to encourage the church as “the pillar and ground of the truth” in a dark world. He did not use opinion or popular consensus but the Word from the Lord.

Notice this all starts with the unanimity of chapter one of having the same mind in God’s wisdom – “the mind of Christ”. If this is off, the rest will be harder to reach. Are we seeking a church with these characteristics and helping such with our involvement?

Guest Post by R.P. Amos: 7 Meeting Places of God with His People

Friday, June 27th, 2014

The Lord’s desires to be near His people.  “Gather my saints together unto me; those that have made a covenant with me by sacrifice” (Psa. 50:5).  There are 7 places in Scripture where God’s people as a whole habitually meet with Him.  Not just going to a service or a school to learn, but to meet Him.  Three are history from which we can learn. One is present of where we meet with God now.  Three are future of which it gets better.

1. MOSES’ TENT      “Moses…called it the Tabernacle of the congregation”

God had just judged Israel for its golden calf idolatry.  The sanctuary tabernacle with its holy places and altar had not been constructed yet.  Because the Lord was announcing He would not be in the midst of such a hard people, Moses took the tent where God met with him to talk, and moved it outside the corrupted camp of people.  God’s glory cloud then came to that tent (tabernacle) door and now; “every one which sought the LORD went out unto the tabernacle of the congregation [meeting], which was without the camp.”  Now to meet with God, the people had to separate from the popular corrupted encampment and meet the Lord outside it where He was.  Meeting with the Lord would now have feet to it.

Now believers in Christ Jesus (He suffered outside the religious city gate) are told to “go forth therefore unto Him without the camp” [Christless corrupted religion], Heb. 13:13.

2. THE WILDERNESS TABERNACLE   “there I will meet with the children of Israel”

Once the portable tabernacle with its holy places had been pitched, God’s desire was to be in the midst of His people journeying home.  Now his people’s occupation was to “bring an offering [sacrifice] unto the Lord” at “the door of the tabernacle of the congregation [meeting]”.  It was first a place of bringing to God, not to get something.

Now the church is His spiritual house.  We are His holy priesthood that offers up to God (not for ourselves) spiritual sacrifices (praise, good works, charity, service) by Christ.

3. THE TEMPLE      “his habitation shall ye seek, and thither [there] thou shalt come”

Once Israel came into their land, God would choose a permanent place to reside among His people.  God eventually chose Jerusalem and had a permanent temple built by Solomon.  Now there was one holy city on earth where His presence was.  This one place was to be where His people could meet with Him.  All other places with names of other gods were to be destroyed.  Only His Name at His place was the only meeting place.

We learn in the church that God has placed His Name of “Lord” only on Jesus Christ.  All other names of identity are not to be taken by believers.  We are to gather in and call only upon the Name (authority and wisdom) of the exalted Lord Jesus Christ.

4. THE CHURCH    “In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ when ye are gathered together”

When believers in Christ gather in His exalted Name and authority – Lord Jesus Christ, He promises to be in the midst of them by His Spirit.  So now in this age there is not one holy place on earth to come to but one holy Name to gather in, no matter where you might geographically be.  God’s Name has gone from Jerusalem to Jesus – the Lord.

So now “all that in every place that call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord” constitutes His house, the church.  He is where all believers in any locale on earth continually come together into one place – in the Lord Jesus’ Name.  So now we don’t just “go to church” or to Bible study or to meeting – but to meet-Him.

And it’s His very presence that forms the church’s character:  Glory to be given only to Him (“no flesh should glory in His presence”).  Holiness is to be pursued (separation from the false and not letting sin spread among believers).  Reverence to be present.  Praise led by the Lord Jesus in the midst of the church in the power of His Spirit (not some worship leader or team).  Plurality of gifts involved in a gathering delegated by Him (not one ordained man).  Headship order His way with man and woman having different roles.  Remembrance of the Lord and His death at His Supper is to be the focus (not a human performance).  Word of the Lord is to be heard by His sheep (not using the Bible to prove our ideas but using it to form our ideas).

5. THE MEETING IN THE AIR     “to meet the Lord in the air…ever be with the Lord”

As important as it is meet with the Lord in Spirit on earth, He desires to be physically with His bride-body forever.  And so there is coming a great gathering to the Lord Jesus Christ of every believer in Christ – dead or alive.  He will descend and somewhere in the air between heaven and earth, all will be caught up to meet Him in the air to be united.  And so will we be forever meeting with the Lord Jesus Himself whether in heaven above or the kingdom beneath.  As the hymn writer said: “where Jesus is, tis heaven there”.

6. THE KINGDOM TEMPLE IN JERUSALEM    “all nations shall flow unto it”

The Lord Jesus will return with His united bride to rule on the earth for the thousand-year kingdom.  Once the unrepentant sinner is removed and judged there will be peace, justice and good will toward men.  His headquarters and palace will be out of Jerusalem, Israel with the rebuilt house (temple) of God there also.  Because King Jesus will now be there the name of Jerusalem will be changed to ‘Jehovah Shammah’ – “the LORD is there”.

But since the Lord desires to meet with all believers the door will be open for all nations to come to worship and meet with Him to learn His ways and word.  This will not be a union of all religions coexisting with each other but a “religious unity” where all agree that Jesus is Lord and His Word is right to walk in.  The fruit will be the abolition of war and the military for in the love and the fear of the one Lord Jesus Christ all will be united.

7. THE NEW JERUSALEM  “God himself shall be with them”

Even in the eternal state of the new heaven and new earth where the New Jerusalem descends from heaven, God desires to be with His people.  There won’t be a physical temple there for now the Lord is the worship center as He Himself with the Lamb is living with His redeemed – the bride.  And the Lord in this city will be the gathering center as all the saved nations will come to meet with Him and have their kings bring their glory and honor unto it.  And the door is never shut for no night is there – continual access to meet and fellowship with God Himself and His Lamb – Jesus Christ!

Yes, God desires to be near and meet with His people in His way.  Do you?

{Some Scriptures for the seven meetings.  MOSES’ TENT – Exodus 33:1-17.   WILDERNESS TABERNACLE – Exo. 29:42,43 / Lev. 1:1-3 (Church – 1Pet. 2:5 / Heb. 13:15,16 / Philp. 4:18 / Rom. 12:1).  TEMPLE – Deut. 12:1-14 / 1Kings 11:36  (Church – Philp. 2:9-11 /1Cor. 1, 5:4).   CHURCH ASSEMBLY – 1Cor. 1:2, 3:16, 5:4, 14:23 / Matt. 18:20/1Cor. 1:29-31/2Cor. 6:14-7:1/Psa. 89.7/Heb. 12:28 /Heb. 2:12/1Cor. 14:23-31/1Cor:11:3, 14:34,35/1Cor. 11:16-26/2Tim. 2:15, 4:2.  IN THE AIR – 1Thess. 4:16-18.  KINGDOM ON EARTH – Rev. 17:14/Isa. 2:1-4 / Ezek. 48:35.  NEW JERUSALEM – Rev. 21}

The Beautiful Body

Monday, January 28th, 2013

And from there, when the brethren heard about us, they came to meet us as far as Appii Forum and Three Inns. When Paul saw them, he thanked God and took courage.” Acts 28:15

358px-El_Greco_ApostlesImage found here:

People sometimes imagine that Paul was a spiritual superman: an intrepid missionary, theological genius, and multi-gifted polymath, who never shrank from duty or danger in the cause of Christ. Doubtless, he braved hardships and opposition that would overwhelm most human beings – a survey of his multifaceted trials in 2 Corinthians 11:22-29 makes this apparent (see also 2 Cor. 12:10 & 1 Cor. 4:9-13.) This, however, is only one side of the story; the apostle also depended upon the encouragement of the other parts of the Body of Christ – that well-known metaphor for the spiritual body composed of believing Jews and Gentiles who are indissolubly linked in the church.

“Remember The Prisoners As If Chained With Them”

Paul’s journey as a prisoner being transported to Rome provides an excellent window into the fellowship that he enjoyed with believers – even some who were heretofore unknown to him. When the ship landed at Sidon, the officer in charge of the prisoners permitted Paul to go to his “friends” for refreshment (Acts 27:3); they were probably Christians that he knew from previous trips. Upon coming to territory unknown to himself in Italy, Paul enjoyed the hospitality of local saints (Acts 28:14) and was further cheered by the approach of representatives of the believers from the imperial capital city. As verse 15 says: “…when Paul saw them, he thanked God and took courage.” Though he relied on the Lord throughout his service, the Almighty also saw fit to use His people to comfort and strengthen His apostle to the nations.

“If One Member Suffers…”

So often in life’s hard times I have been similarly comforted by the Body of Christ. When by the bedside of a dying loved one, who can calculate the value of a fellow-believer standing by to pray and weep with those who weep? When in a sickbed, faithful saints who visit, write, or call often make the difference between sadness and circumstance-defying joy. At funerals, in times of family trouble, and even visiting Christians who are in prison, members of the body serve each other by their presence and their prayers.

Like Head, like Members

These activities bear the unmistakable mark of the Head of the Church, the Lord Jesus Christ (Col. 1:18.) He is a master at consoling the mourning (Jn. 11), visiting the sick (Mk. 1:29-31), and dealing with family dysfunction (Mt. 20:20-28.) As His people abide in Him they produce the fruit – righteous acts of beauty – that savor of the Lord’s mercies and goodness. In His Spirit’s power, believers use their time, talents, and spiritual gifts to edify and strengthen one another. Where would we be without such a beautiful body to aid us under the guidance of the perfectly wise Head, the Lord Jesus Christ? Thank God, we need not contemplate this possibility for long, for the Body is eternally linked to Christ and will be with Him forever in glory.

Worldly Charity

Monday, March 1st, 2010

In yesterday’s New York Times, columnist Nicholas D. Kristof wrote an Op-ed piece on the recent humanitarian efforts of various “faith-based” mission organizations. In the article, he focuses on World Vision, which he describes as “a Seattle-based Christian organization (with strong evangelical roots) whose budget has roughly tripled over the last decade.”i He approvingly references the efforts of organizations such as this in assisting in disaster situations, combating diseases like malaria and AIDS, fighting poverty, etc. Although he is not mentioned in this article, Rick Warren is also urging the churches in his sphere of influence to devote themselves to solving these gargantuan problems.
Throughout the piece, Kristof repeatedly cites a book by Richard Stearns, World Vision’s head in the United States. One of his allusions to this work is especially conspicuous: “In one striking passage, Mr. Stearns quotes the prophet Ezekiel as saying that the great sin of the people of Sodom wasn’t so much that they were promiscuous or gay as that they were ‘arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy.’ (Ezekiel 16:49.)” According to this revisionist understanding of Scripture the great sin of Sodom was apathy towards the underprivileged rather than gross moral sin. Kristof also comments on their lack of proselytizing in these words: “Some Americans assume that religious groups offer aid to entice converts. That’s incorrect. Today, groups like World Vision ban the use of aid to lure anyone into a religious conversation.” These ideas are sadly becoming more common in the professing evangelical church, revealing the worldliness that is rampant in modern Christendom.
Historic Christianity And Charity
Historically, Christian missionaries led the charge in ministering to the poor, the sick, the weak, the oppressed, and the vulnerable. The early church was noted for its care of the poor, as well as unprotected groups like widows and orphans (see Acts 2-6; 1 Tim. 5; James 1:27, etc.) In the centuries after the New Testament was completed, the church continued to extend its missionary efforts to the far reaches of the globe. Everywhere the true gospel went its hearers were bettered through hospitals, education, and development of science and technology. Whereas historic biblical Christianity used these philanthropic endeavors as a platform for preaching the good news of Christ’s death, resurrection, and ascension, some prominent “evangelicals” downplay evangelism. They passionately argue that the church has a moral imperative to help the poor, eradicate disease – even save the planet from global warming! As laudable as these goals are, they actually reflect a worldly attitude.
In many Christian’s minds worldliness is usually associated with gross immorality or perhaps even connected with certain types of music and styles of dress. It is true that these things are
often worldly; nevertheless, they do not exhaust the scope of the term. To be worldly is to focus on this world at the expense of God and His glory (2 Tim. 4:10; 1 Jn. 2:15-17.) If one’s heart is set upon this world, rather than the one to come, they are held in the tyrannical grip of worldliness. If charitable deeds merely have the amelioration of present suffering in mind then they are worldly. What benefit would there be in someone being fed, healed, or educated in this life without their deepest need being touched? Far worse to humanity than AIDS, poverty, or natural disasters is the problem of sin, which separates mankind from their Creator. Any supposedly Christian organization that ignores the spiritual need and eternal destiny of their charges is worldly and inimical to the desires of the Lord Jesus Christ. He healed and did good deeds, but He did not stop there: He also saved souls by leading them to faith in His sacrificial work on the Cross and glorious resurrection (e.g. Jn. 9.)
Déjà vu All Over Again
This new “don’t preach, just help the poor” idea is not really new. It is merely a contemporary evangelical repackaging of the early twentieth century social gospel, which had its origin in the liberal theology of Schleiermacher, Ritschl, and others. That movement was adept at gutting historic Christianity of its biblical belief, leaving behind an insipid shell of Christianity with a false gospel and no lasting hope for its adherents. The modern resurgence of this error risks the destruction and marginalization of the professing church in the west. Christians should – and do – care for the poor and the weak. This philanthropy must not stop there. It must also be coupled with fearless preaching of the gospel of the crucified Christ. Our love for the weak and helpless will lead them to a hearing of the good news that can heal body, soul, and spirit for eternity.

i Nicholas D. Kristof, “Learning from the sin of Sodom,” published 2/28/10, posted on, accessed on March 1, 2010. Link: 


When Rhubarb Isn’t Rhubarb

Monday, August 24th, 2009

My father has a well-developed sense of humor, coupled with an unnerving ability to bring up obscure bits of trivia that sound highly implausible. Usually on the infrequent occasions when he mentions these arcane details, I question the accuracy of what he is saying, only to discover upon further investigation that he is correct. Of course, this fills him with great mirth and gives me a healthy piece of “humble pie” to eat. This occurred a few months ago concerning the word “rhubarb,” and reminded me of the importance of defining terms – particularly in connection with biblical terminology. It all started when my father referred to an argument between two men as a rhubarb. It went something like this:
Dad: “They’re having a rhubarb!”
Me: “What did you say?”
Dad: “A rhubarb. You know: a fight.”
Me: “You’re making that up! That’s 50’s slang from Beech Street. Nobody talks that way. A rhubarb is a plant.” [He grew up on Beech Street in Pottstown, PA.]
Dad: “I’m not making it up. Look it up.”
Dutifully, I opened up the electronic version of the Oxford English Dictionary and looked up “rhubarb.” To my surprise, “4. c.” says “U.S. slang. A heated dispute, a row, spec. a disturbance or argument on the field of play at a sporting (orig. Baseball) event.”i The dictionary further cites confirming evidence from The New York Herald Tribune, July 13, 1943, attributing the expression to “Red” Barber who announced baseball games for the Brooklyn Dodgers. Once more, I acknowledged my father’s astonishing mastery of verbal-historical minutiae.

The Value of Verbal Precision
The foregoing story is amusing and trivial, but it illustrates the way in which words may mean wildly diverse things to different people. The cults certainly assign alternate definitions to Bible words like “grace,” “faith,” and “salvation.” To some “faith” is trusting in the sacraments of a religious organization for entrance into heaven. Ephesians 2:8-9 and Romans 4:4-5 show that human effort and biblical faith are completely different. Yet billions of people worldwide trust in their religious ceremonies and good works to save themselves. Misusing Scripture is a timeworn, Satanic tactic: he successfully used it against Eve and unsuccessfully employed it against the Lord Jesus (Gen. 3:1; Matt. 4:6.) It is all too common among the world’s false religions. Therefore, believers must use the Bible carefully – properly defining our terms – in order to ensure that our hearers do not form the wrong conclusions about God and His Word.
Unfortunately, verbal miscommunication is not restricted to the non-evangelical world; believers also use words improperly and misleadingly. Take for example the simple word “change.” During the past few decades the church growth movement in the western hemisphere made that concept central to their strategy for improving local churches. It is obvious that North American churches need to change, for in many places there is less commitment to the remembrance of the Lord, prayer, sound Bible teaching, discipleship, and evangelism (to name just a few weak points.) Nevertheless, when modern Christian pundits use the word “change” they are usually speaking of external things pertaining to the meetings and activities of the local assembly. Thus, the music must be modernized, new evangelistic tools employed, buildings where the church meets improved, technology brought to the fore (do I hear PowerPoint, anyone?), etc.
The Necessity Of Biblical Change
Doubtless there is nothing inherently spiritual about following old, traditional practices out of mere habit. This author does not oppose using newer songs – if their content is sound and deeply Scriptural – to supplement the great songs of past eras which memorialize so much truth. Technology can also be helpful in putting visual aids before the audience. What is disturbing, however, is how the word “change” is seldom employed in keeping with the teaching of the Bible. That is to say, the Scriptures emphasize internal change, not mere external alteration.
When the Lord addressed seven local churches in the Roman province of Asia (modern day Turkey), He repeatedly called upon some of them to repent (Rev. 2:5, 16, 21, 22; 3:3, 19.) With the exception of the persecuted Smyrnaens and overcoming Philadelphians, the churches were solemnly warned to change their attitudes and behavior. Likewise, Paul charged the Corinthians to change their sectarian mindset and overly tolerant treatment of blatant immorality (1 Cor. 1:10; 5:1-9.) Colossians was written to counteract false ideas of spirituality. 1 & 2 Thessalonians address false doctrine regarding the coming of the Lord. A study of Acts and the Epistles shows that the Lord is much more concerned with the spiritual health and doctrine of the church, rather than external issues. Should not the modern church seek to emulate the emphasis of the early church? The first Christians were steadfastly devoted to teaching, the Lord’s Supper, fellowship, and prayer (Acts 2:42.) Their witness was powerful and pervasive throughout the first-century world. They loved the Lord and each other. When their hearts moved from the Lord to other things, He told them to repent (Rev. 2:4-5.)
Without question the contemporary western church needs widespread change: more spiritual prayer, sound Bible teaching, and unadulterated love for the Lord Jesus Christ. In many places, we must repent of legalism; in others, liberalism – both of these errors essentially being a turning away from the Lord. We must eschew materialism and use our possessions as a stewardship for our God. We must warn the lost of the judgment to come and of the mighty Savior who can save them from it. We must live for the age to come and not for this age. If we really want effective change, then we must return to our first Love and His holy Word as the central focus of our lives. May our words and lives accurately reflect the teaching of God’s Word. Joel 2:13 expresses well the need for inward rather than outward change: “And rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the Lord your God: for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth him of the evil.”

i Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd edition, 1989; electronic version. Entry for “rhubarb,” 4. c

To download the article in pdf., click on this link:  when-rhubarb-isnt-rhubarb1

Podcast: The Church As The Temple

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2009

A Brief meditation on 1 Cor. 3:16 & 2 Chron. 2:1; to listen, click on: krkpodcastchurch_as_temple1