Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Reforming the church is conforming our lives to the Word of God

What does it look like to reform a local church?  

I believe that it must start where the Protestant Reformation started, with Sola Scriptura (Scripture Alone), which is why this blog is called, "Reformed Grace." Every member of the local church needs to understand that the most basic need they have as born-again believers is the Word of God.

I am not saying that they simply need to read the Word of God or hear it preached. They do need that, but if it stops there, then they have not understood why Christ saved them. He saved (predestined) them according to Romans 8:29 to be "conformed into the image of Christ." That's it, that is God's only purpose for every believer. This is not some special goal for really holy believers. This is God's goal for every believer, that they be conformed into the image of His Son. And He will accomplish that goal.

But the only way that can happen is if they "hear" the Word of God and begin to actually apply it to their everyday lives.

The application of the Word of God into the lives of each member of the congregation is the process of reforming a church. It is the process of helping them to understand how to live out the Word of God in every area of their lives: how husbands lead their wives, how wives submit to their husbands, how fathers and mothers instruct their children, how children obey their parents, how young people go about finding a spouse, how workers respond to their bosses and to their co-workers, and on and on it goes. We cannot just believe what the Word of God says, we must desire it to inform every area of our lives.

Jesus was very compassionate to the teachable. But He had no time and no grace for the proud or arrogant.
James sums this up when he says, "God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble" (James 4:6).

Jesus was the harshest against those who did not realize their own sinful condition. When it came to the New Testament pharisees and teachers of the law they thought they did not need anyone because they had so much pride in their own abilities and accomplishments.  Their greatest source of pride and arrogance was their knowledge of the Scriptures.

John 5:39-40
"You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me but you are unwilling to come to Me so that you may have life."

These people have replaced Christ with how much knowledge they have of the Bible. We can know what the Bible says without truly understanding what the Bible means.

I like to say it this way, a person can read a book all about how to drive a car. They can study it from front to back. They read how to start the car and how to stop the car and how to steer and parallel park and all of that. Because they have read this manual and know what it says they may start to think they actually understand how to drive a car. But until they get in the car and start the car and drive the car down the street without wrapping it around a tree or killing someone, they do not understand how to drive a car.

That is exactly what it means to reform a church. You want to take people from a cursory knowledge of what the Bible says to the deeper understanding of what it means by placing it in every area of their lives where they begin to live it out. And until they start doing that, then they will never understand the point of the Bible or have a real knowledge of Christ. They know a lot about the car but they have not gotten in and driven the car.

When Christ saves us His Word begins to inform our lives, but if we think that we already know how to live for Christ simply because we have heard all of this before, we are arrogant and unteachable, and unless our hearts change we cannot grow and begin to be a true church.

This Bible has one purpose and it lines up with the purpose of God, in "conforming you into the image of Christ." The Bible seeks to destroy your thoughts and your desires and your words and give you new thoughts and new desires and new words. That's what the apostle Paul means when He says,
"We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ" (2 Corinthians 10:5).

Until a church is ready to humble themselves beneath the cross of Christ and hear the Word of God with fresh ears and desire to obey it and submit to it in every area of their lives, they will not grow and they will not prosper.

Joshua 1:8
This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success.

The moment we start to say, "I don't mind hearing the Word of God or reading the Word of God or talking about the Word of God, but I will not follow the Word of God in this area of my life" (forgiving someone who has hurt me, heeding my pastor's counsel, leading my wife, submitting to my husband, obeying my parents, leading my family in the Word, examining the movies or television shows that I watch, refraining from gossip, etc) then we have stopped understanding its very purpose for our lives.

The very purpose of God is this: to reform His church by conforming all of its members to the Word of God.

And that is also the reason I started this blog, to discuss all of the above areas our lives as we live as the church and examine our hearts with the Word of God. So I will be discussing all of the above topics and more in this blog. My calling is to be a pastor and so I love the church and want to see her grow and prosper and be a light in a dark world. If you follow this blog you will see my heart and hopefully be challenged and encouraged to pray with me for the ongoing reformation of the local church.

Are you helping the church to reform by your willingness to submit to truth or are you hindering it by your unwillingness to examine every area your life by the Word of God?

1 comment:

  1. Just wanted to clarify something that may not be clear in this blog and that I will deal with more in future entries: Christ does not view His children outside of the local church but as connected to it. 1 Corinthians 12:18
    But now God has placed the members, each one of them, in the body, just as He desired.

    So I want to make it clear that when Christ saves us He places us in the local church. That is His normal pattern (Acts 2:41). He desires to bring us to the faith and raise us in the faith through the local church. Because He has given the local church to believers as "The Pillar and support of the Truth" (1 Timothy 3:15). So, "as He is conforming us as individual believers into His image," He is at the same time reforming His church to the Word of God. They happen together because the church needs every member to function and grow together, but at the same time none of them can function as the body without being connected to the Head and Christ is the Head of His church. Ephesians 4:15
    but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ,


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