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Church: Old Fashioned? Pt 7

Hellfire and Brimstone Preacher

Rom 7:7 What shall we say then? Is the law sin? Certainly not! On the contrary, I would not have known sin except through the law. For I would not have known covetousness unless the law had said, “You shall not covet.” (NKJV)

A key reason many people have either left the Church or live a defeated lifestyle is because we are preaching/teaching a Gospel of law not grace.Paul (Scripture above) teaches us that it’s the law that exposes our sin. But we are no longer under law, we’re under grace, Rom 6:14 For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace. (NKJV)

Under the O.C. (Old Covenant), the law (based on God’s righteousness) had blessing and curses attached to it. Blessings if it was obeyed, curses if it was disobeyed (Ex 20:1-6). Under the N.C. (New Covenant), Christ fulfilled the law on our behalf (1 Jn 2:1) and because we are now In Christ, we too are righteous. Therefore we have died to sin that we might live in righteousness. (Rom 6:17,18)

Preaching O.C. law means that wherever people fail, they will be judged, condemned and made to feel guilty until they confess their sin to God and receive His forgiveness. This makes people ‘sin conscious’ forcing them to always search their hearts, making them feel even more judged, condemned and guilty (Heb 10:1-4).

This kind of preaching traps people in their sin, always reminding them of their wrongdoing, without showing them a way of escape (Rom 7:24).

Whereas N.C. preaching, points to the work of Christ on the cross where He fulfilled the law and was accepted as righteous by God the Father; because we are now ‘In Christ’, we have been forgiven of our sin, delivered from law and share His righteousness.

Instead of pinpointing people’s sin, we now point them to the cross to show them where Christ has set them free from sin: past, present and future. Therefore, we’re not here to preach what’s wrong with people – we’re here to preach what’s right with them.

People now become ‘righteous conscious’. They know that when they sin, by looking to the cross, they see their sin judged in Jesus Christ; they no longer have to confess and ask forgiveness of their sin, they simply receive forgiveness with thankfulness.

People will be attracted to a Church where the preaching/teaching of grace, sets them free!

Meditation Point: Do I have a revelation of grace that sets me free. Or do I have a ‘law’ mentality that keeps me trapped in sin and defeat.

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Church: Old Fashioned? Pt 5

Ps 119:105
Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.  (KJV)

Continuing our quest to make the Church relevant. As you can see above, there is a picture of a King James Bible and underneath a Scripture from the said Bible. I’m sure if I asked any Christian, they would know immediately what this verse means; but would an unbeliever?

The words are in archaic 16th century language which most of today’s generation would find odd, laughable and invite a mocking response. Even today we see preachers on T.V. and in the media, quoting the Bible in such language.

Let’s be honest with ourselves. Without realising, we have developed our own Christian bubble, which is separate from society; and inside this bubble, we live and move and have our being (Acts 17:28).

Within this bubble we have developed our own form of Christian speak. We use expressions such as, ‘The hand of the Lord is upon Bill’ or ‘She is so anointed in her ministry’. We then use this ‘speak’ with unbelievers, creating a wall between us, because to them it’s a foreign language.

What we must do is continue to re-evaluate the words of the Bible to fit modern ‘speak’; and we need to do this inside and outside the Church. Let’s take the phrase, ‘The hand of the Lord is upon Bill’. As a teacher, I will teach and use the word ‘Hand’ and explain that it means such things as, power, consecration and ministry. But when I’m outside the pulpit, I wouldn’t say, ‘The hand of the Lord is upon Bill’. I would say, ” God’s presence is with Bill”.

It’s the same with, “She is so anointed in her ministry’. We could instead say, ” She is very powerful when she speaks”. So we are using words that translate into modern day language.

Wherever we see barriers between the Church and society, we must find ways to remove them so we can fully, ‘Scratch society where it is itching’.

Meditation Point: Do I need to adapt my Christian vocabulary in order to connect with society.

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Church: Old Fashioned? Pt 4

Ecc 3:1,6.
For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven. A time to keep and a time to throw away. (NLT)

We’re all familiar with the items above: Penny Farthing, Iron, Phone; all 3 could be used in society today. There’s only one problem. The world has moved on and we have far more modern versions of each item. In fact, if I came to your home and your transport was a Penny Farthing, you ironed clothes with this iron and spoke to people over this phone; we would all be a little embarrassed.

And if I told you these were now old fashioned, you would be hurt and wounded by my words. Why is this?  It’s because we haven’t moved on with the changing world around us.

Society is always changing; and it’s not that we have to be up to the minute with all the latest gadgets, clothes and houses, but we do have to adapt to changing times otherwise we become what’s called, ‘an anachronism’; which means, ‘A person or thing that is chronologically out of place’. We become outdated and old fashioned.

We all laugh when we look at the gadgets above and yet many of us Christians and Churches have become anachronisms without realising it; and we’ve become like this because we see every new invention or fashion as being ‘worldly’ or ‘self indulgent’ or a ‘moral attack against Godly values’. Not realising that God put the creative spark in mankind for such a reason.

We can embrace the new by adapting it to suit our needs. We can be fashionable without being sexualised. We can use technology without becoming addicted to it. We can be modern without being consumed by materialism.

God has put us in the driving seat by giving us the fruit of self control. If we can’t adapt to changing times, it’s us who are in the wrong, not society. We are saying we are too weak to master the changes.

Failure to embrace the new will always make us irrelevant to society and we’ll lose the ability to connect with the Gospel. So let’s choose to open up and learn from the Churches who are pioneering a new way forward for the Gospel of the Kingdom.

These kind of Churches are irreligious, modern, technological and mobile without losing the essence of relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ; and they are attracting people from all walks of life, from fashion, media, entertainment, politics, sport and business.

A new day is dawning for the Church and God wants to include all of us. He wants a multi-generational Church that appeals to all sections of society.

Meditation Point: Father, help me like a snake, discard my old skin. Help me to embrace the new. Help me to see it is the fear of change that I need to deal with.

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Eph 1:22, 23.

And gave him to be the head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him that filleth all in all.  (KJV)

We’ll now unpack some of the areas where the Church needs to change, as mentioned previous Blogs; we’ll start with the Church.

The Church is not the building, it’s the people. We all say we know this but fight against any change. Why is this? it’s because we’re creatures of habit. Habits can be good things but we have to learn to ‘hold them lightly’ otherwise we  become set in our ways and controlling, thus making the process of change more difficult than it needs to be.

The word ‘Church’ in Greek is ‘Ekklesia‘ and means a ‘calling out to assemble’. In Greek society the Local Counsel would call the people out of their homes into the Town square for a meeting to discuss relevant issues

Hence the word ‘Church‘ speaks of the people that God has called out of this world to be His own group so that we are in the world but not of the world.

John 15:19 You do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. (NIV)

1 Peter 2:9 That you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light. (NKJV)

Therefore , whenever God’s people meet together, we become the Church; And it doesn’t matter where we meet. It could be in a home, a movie house, a bar or pub, a cafe, an industrial unit.

So the next time the leaders want to change the interior, exterior or location of the Church in order to be relevant to society, we are now able to flow and change with their leadership.

Those of us in Gt Britain and N. America have become used to a static model of Church – meeting in the same place, at the same time, in the same way; But as the great upheavals of the world intensify, preparing the way for Christ’s return, we must adapt to a mobile model of Church; One that can fit in with changing circumstances.

Meditation Point: Father, help me to hold lightly to the things of this world. My security is in You (Prov 3:5). You are my anchor when all around is changing (Heb 6:19). You never change (Mal 3:6).

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Church: Old Fashioned ? Pt 2


Ps 33:11 The Lord’s purpose is eternal, the designs of his heart go on through all the generations of man. (BBE)

God has promised us that His Word (thoughts) remains the same to all generations. His word is unchanging, secure and established for all time and eternity. This truth establishes and anchors our hearts in an ever changing culture and world. (Mal 3:6, Num 23:19).

But though God’s Word never changes – the vehicles He uses to proclaim and communicate that Word, are always changing. They change because society changes: family, government, business and fashion are some of the institutions that are in a state of continuous flux.

It’s when the Church doesn’t recognise this and fails to change with this flux, that it gets left behind, becomes out of date, an anachronism. The Church then becomes separated from society and loses it’s impact, it’s voice and it’s authority.

In Europe, secularism has reduced the influence of the Church to a minimum; And we now have whole generations arising that have little or no knowledge of Jesus and His Gospel. This alone should tell us that the models or vehicles we used 30yrs ago to proclaim the Gospel, will not connect to the current generation.

Sunday Schools, Ceremonial dress, King James 16th century language of thees and thous, will not strike a chord with the youth of today. For example: many Churches have ditched their old fashioned names such as Zion Baptist Church, Beulah Assemblies of God or Jesus is Lord Ministries and instead use names such as Pioneer, Hillsong, New Life etc.

Their buildings are not shaped like a Church building. They are minus crosses, organs, wooden pulpits, pews and hymn books. Instead they are modern with up to the minute technology, musical instruments, comfortable chairs and fashionable decor.

Instead of Sunday School, Young People’s Fellowship and Bible Study they use titles such as ‘Ignite, Catalyst, Connect, Fuel and Refresh’.

They have been accused of watering down the Gospel and removing any trace of what a Church used to look like; but Christians who criticise, do so because they either don’t realise the Church has to change or they simply don’t want to change.

We are creatures of habit and change is hard. That is why we must adopt a pioneer not a settler type mindset; The Pilgrim Fathers paid a great price when they left the shores of Britain to sail to America. On arrival they built a community to sustain life. These people were true pioneers. But when it was suggested they build a road 5 miles into the forest, those same pioneers baulked at the idea and shut it down. They had changed their mindset from that of a pioneer to one of a settler.

Meditation Point:  Do I have the motivation of a pioneer or have I settled for the de-motivation of a settler.

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Church: Old Fashioned ? Pt1

Latest Fashions ?

If I asked you the question: Imagine in your mind a picture of the Church?  Would that picture show the Church to be – old fashioned, out of date, culturally irrelevant, an anachronism (stuck in the past), unattractive etc. Or would it be a Church that is modern, up to date, culturally relevant and attractive.

I suspect it would be the former. In fact, it would be an embarrassment to invite a visitor to many of our Churches. They would sing hymns that were written 300 yrs ago. Speak to a people who’s language they don’t understand, who’s dress sense is old fashioned and listen to a sermon that is full of do’s and don’ts; And leave promising themselves never to return again.

“Harsh words”, you say! Maybe, but I think you would agree there is a ring of truth to such a picture. So why has this happened, why are we so out of touch with the world around us; and I’m not just taking pot shots. I love the Church like many of you and want to see it become relevant once again.

The answer to the question: Why has this happened is because of the teaching of extreme holiness and separation. We’ve been told for decades that the world system is sinful, that we should separate ourselves from anything that has a whiff of uncleanness and should resist anything new lest we become locked into the kingdom of the sinful trinity: satan, the beast and the man of sin.

Because of such teaching, we have extricated ourselves from this world. Cut ourselves off from it’s changes, it’s progress, it’s new inventions. So, there’s the critique. In my next Blog we will look at the remedy and how we can become relevant and in the process become a change-agent to the Church.

Meditation Point: Has this Blog made me aware of my irrelevancy to the world. If so, how can I change?

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