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A CHURCH church

The church should be a healthy, fruitful vineyard that will bring honor to Christ, a church after Christs own heart where He can look at the travail of His soul and be satisfied. Among the people should be a beautiful simplicity and a radiant Christian love so it would impossible to find gossips and talebearers. There should be a feeling of humble reverence and an air of joyous informality, where each one esteems others better than himself or herself, where everyone is willing to serve but no one jockeys to serve. Childlike candor without duplicity or dishonesty should mark the church, and the presence of Christ should be felt and the fragrance of His garments smelled by His beloved.

Prayers should be answered so regularly that we think nothing of it. It would be common because God is God, and we are His people. When necessary, miracles would not be uncommon. Is that, in the light of Scripture, unreasonable and undesirable to expect of a church? . . . Is this impossible? Is anything impossible with God? Is anything impossible where the Lord Jesus Christ is? Is this unscriptural? No! The only thing that is unscriptural about this vision is that it is not up to the standard of Scripture yet. The scriptural standards are still high. If you answer, No, it is not unreasonable, undesirable or impossible,then you are saying you believe in this. If you believe in this, if you would like to become the church that could begin this reformation, this change toward the better, this recapturing of the ancient power of God in the souls of people, then there must be a radical psychological break with the prevailing religious mood.

Accepting Christ means rejecting all else

The notion that we enter the Christian life by an act of acceptance is true, but that is not all the truth. There is much more to it than that. Christianity involves an acceptance and a repudiation, an affirmation and a denial. And this not only at the moment of conversion but continually thereafter day by day in all the battle of life till the great conflict is over and the Christian is home from the wars.

To live a life wholly positive is, fortunately, impossible. Were any man able to do such a thing it could be only for a moment. Living positively would be like inhaling continuously without exhaling. Aside from its being impossible, it would be fatal. Exhalation is as necessary to life as inhalation.

To accept Christ it is necessary that we reject whatever is contrary to Him. This is a fact often overlooked by eager evangelists bent on getting results. Like the salesman who talks up the good points of his product and conceals its disadvantages, the badly informed soulwinner stresses the positive side of things at the expense of the negative.

 

A Church cemented in the routine

What is the worst enemy the church faces today? This is where a lot of unreality and unconscious hyprocrisy enters. Many are ready to say, "The liberals are our worst enemy." But the simple fact is that the average evangelical church does not have too much trouble with liberalism. Nobody gets up in our churches and claims that the first five books of Moses are just myths. Nobody says that the story of creation is simply religious mythology. Nobody denies that Christ walked on the water or that He rose from the grave. Nobody gets up in our churches and claims that Jesus Christ is not the Son of God or that He isn't coming back again. Nobody denies the validity of the Scriptures. We just cannot hide behind liberalism and say that it is our worst enemy.

We believe that evangelical Christians are trying to hold on to the truth given to us, the faith of our fathers, so the liberals are not our worst enemy. Neither do we have a problem with the government. People in our country can do just about whatever they please and the government pays no attention. We can hold prayer meetings all night if we want, and the government would never bother us or question us. There is no secret police breathing down our backs watching our every move. We live in a free land, and we ought to thank God every day for that privilege.

The treacherous enemy facing the church of Jesus Christ today is the dictatorship of the routine, when the routine becomes "lord" in the life of the church. Programs are organized and the prevailing conditions are accepted as normal. Anyone can predict next Sunday's service and what will happen. This seems to be the most deadly threat in the church today.

When we come to the place where everything can be predicted and nobody expects anything unusual from God, we are in a rut. The routine dictates, and we can tell not only what will happen next Sunday, but what will occur next month and, if things do not improve, what will take place next year. Then we have reached the place where what has been determines what is, and what is determines what will be.