Hi there CovenantBlood!
Nice to hear from you. Glad too that although I sound rebellious you are at least giving me a chance to say a bit more about where I am coming from
Incidentally if there is rebellion in my heart may the Lord cause it to come to the surface that I might repent from it for it would be most displeasing to God not to mention hypocritical of me to go around with such in my heart.
I couldn't help but notice that under your name there is the term "Persnickety Presbyterian" so perhaps the Lord will humble me through one such as you and cause me to see what I do not at present see in my heart
. I never noticed that term before...a term which is not neccessarily very commendable with respect to how it is defined in the dictionary.
My further comments are interspersed in between yours below...
Despite what you say about not having an independent spirit, it sure does sound like you have an independent spirit!
Just curious CovenantInBlood...if you care to share, I am wondering what I said that might lead you to believe that I have an independent spirit? I am not asking from the standpoint of defending myself. Who knows. Maybe the Lord wants to point out something in me that needs attention but I am going to have a hard time seeing it as clearly as you seem to see it. Maybe the Lord can use you to help me in that regard.
Now, perhaps all of the churches in your area are promoting a false gospel, in which case you would have reason not to be joined to them.
Well...now you are being a bit, how shall I put it, fascitious I think. Of course not all the churches are promoting a false Gospel CovenantInBlood. That would be quite ridiculous and altogether arrogant if I or anyone else thought such a thing.
Though in truth such a thing might be more common that we might realize in that many churches today teach that one can accept Jesus "into their heart" without submitting to Him as Lord (a most unblical Gospel if I ever heard one).
But that is not the reason I don't attend Sunday churches.
But the church has a visible manifestation - as the body in which the word of God is faithfully preached, the sacraments (baptism & the Lord's Supper) are rightly observed, and sin is disciplined.
You are correct in saying that the Church is a Body and that within her the word of God is (or at least should be) faithfully preached. And yes, of course, Baptism and the Lord's Supper are part of what the Church does or is involved in doing. And I am very glad to hear you say that the Body is a place where sin is disciplined (that too is greatly lacking in most assemblies).
We see in Scripture that these are done in the context of local assemblies (Greek ecclesia, translated "church," means "assembly"), in which godly men have been called as elders/overseers & deacons.
I believe I might differ with you just a tad CovenantInBlood in that it is my understanding that the Church or ecclesia is not so much an assembly (as in a building or something associated with a building) as it is a group of called out one's. Called out from the world to proclaim the excellencies of Him who calls us.
Nowhere in the entire New Testament is Church associated with a building. It is true that New Testament Christians met at first in a building, the Temple in Jerusalem but that was incidental and simply a convenience to their being Christians (not to mention that it was the most convenient and natural place to meet given their Jewish background).
It would be more in line with what they did in the New Testament to say that Church was a field or even a home than a specific Church building (if we were to superimpose our understanding of Church as a building today on the New Testament Christians such that we would start looking for a place to associate with Church as opposed to being
the Church wherever we might be).
I am also glad to hear you talking of elders/overseers as opposed to Pastors which is definitely more in line with what Church leaders were. In New Testament times they were not called and labeled by their work, that of shepherding, but by a recognition of their being more mature and qualifying to lead by virtue of that maturity as elders.
So I think you and I would agree a great deal if not entirely on what Church is CovenantInBlood
Perhaps you can tell us a little more about what you think the church is supposed to be like, according to Scripture?
I'd be glad to.
I was just discussing this with a good friend of mine just a couple of days ago. He too does not attend a regular Sunday Church (there are a lot of us by the way and many more opting out of organized representations of Church these days...dare I say it might even be a move of God?). But both of us are absolutely committed to having Jesus be Lord of our lives and we are both surrendered to whatever He might want to do with our lives.
In 1 Cor 14:26 is an interesting description of what Church was supposed to be like in Corinth and what I believe it should be like, overall, today. My quote is from the New American Standard Bible...
What is the outcome then, brethren? When you assemble, each one has a psalm, has a teaching, has a revelation, has a tongue, has an interpretation Let all things be done for edification.
Interesting set of verses those. Now why are we not allowing the Holy Spirit to lead our get togethers as a Church today. Do you know of any
Church where God through His Spirit is given control of an assembled gathering like that? I sure don't. And I've either been involved or have attended a great many Church assemblies in my lifetime as a Christian.
I've only ever seen one such practice of Church. And that was not in an established and organized Church assembly. Rather it was among a group of Christians who the Lord knit together in an apartment building that we all lived in at the time. Some of us did not attend Sunday churches, some did, but we all met as equals in the eyes of our common Father and we allowed Him to lead us.
It was the most wonderful fellowship I ever experienced in my life and the most wonderful and true manifestations of God happened in that small Body that I think I have ever experienced.
At most Sunday emphesizing Churches I am expected to go and sit and listen and learn and give some money perhaps. But I must sit and stand and sing and then sit back down in line with what is expected of me. Not by God but by the Church leaders of that particular assembly. Much of what passes for Church today is about control. About controlling the sheep so that things happen according to an expected norm of supposed order in the Church.
The order spoken about in the context of the verses I shared is not the kind of order that most Church leaders have in mind!
It is an order that allows the Holy Spirit to have free reign to move through members of His Body to speak out and otherwise do through them whatever He wills to do through them.
Why is that spiritual gifts among the Sheep must lie dormant or relatively unused in the pews while only a very few, and usually the same one's, get to exercise their gifting up front?
Where is the biblical justification for that?
I don't see it.
This is just one point CovenantInBlood. There are many, many other things I could say.
But I don't want to emphesize the many things wrong with the practice of Church as we know it today. Rather I want to be free to implement what I see in the New Testament among my Christian brothers and sisters without undue and unscriptural restraint being placed upon us by Church leaders who are more interested it seems in promoting their Church programs, structure, and traditions, than in allowing God to be God in our midst.
When I have tried to be a part of traditional Churches I have without exception bumped into the conflict between what is (in current practice) and what I see in the New Testament. From wanting to baptize people in water in public (instead of in a Church baptistry) to wanting myself and others to be free to share what the Lord might lay on our hearts...the practice of New Testament Christianity doesn't fit into the traditions of most existing Churches today. Rather one must put on a straight jacket of Church traditions in order to be able to fit in.
Something new is needed and I am seeing God do a most wonderful thing among Christians at large who are getting sick of the straight jackets they are being placed into by Church traditions that are not of God's making.