The Church’s Mission

A major reason for the church’s ineffectiveness in the world is her eagerness to follow the world’s agenda.

Our agenda was set by our Lord years ago when He taught us to pray:

Our Father in heaven,

Hallowed be your name,

Your Kingdom come,

The pursuit of God’s kingdom on earth is her agenda. We become ineffective when we allow our church - people
government or international organizations like the UN to define for us what is pressing for humanity. We have a prophetic role in society and prophets receive their orders from God, not from the state. No matter how much our commission resembles the UN charter, we dare not take it as our manifesto. The Church answers the question of human origin differently, she describes the human situation differently, and she offers an entirely different prescription.

This desire to receive honour from men was rebuked by our Lord ages ago. He said to the Pharisees: “How will you believe who receive honour from men?”. We play to the world’s tune because we seek prestige. We seek to be respected and recognized as educated, progressive, and ‘modern’. To put it bluntly, we dread the world’s disapproval. Alas, our fathers in earlier ages gladly accepted the scorn of the world, for they knew it made them more precious to Christ. Even the very name ‘Christian’ was a term of scorn. They were content to be ground like grain so they could become bread for the Lord. They knew the world’s smile was a snare; the world had murdered her Saviour because He told them the truth. Will they treat His followers differently?

There is an ongoing battle between the seed of Satan and the seed of the woman. The Church has proclaimed allegiance to Satan’s enemy, and should we expect him to aid our cause? The church is on a spiritual mission, and her power can come only from God.

Our faith should rest in the power of God to accomplish his purpose and not in the charm of human wisdom.

The Sacred-Secular split

wedge

There is a wedge in our thinking. We see reality as consisting of two sections: a ‘Sacred’ part where we have God, the Bible, Worship, or Salvation, and a ‘Secular’ compartment where we live our ‘real’ lives. It is in this realm that we have Work, Politics, Community, etc. The Sacred half pertains to our personal relationship with God while the Secular concerns our interaction with others. We stuff Prayer and Church into the Sacred compartment, but they are irrelevant when dealing with the real life issues in the Secular realm.

The Christian writer Nancy Pearcey remarked thus:

“Modern society is characterized by a sharp split between the sacred and secular spheres – with work and business defined as strictly secular. As a consequence , Christians often live  in two separate worlds, commuting between the private world of family and church (where we can express our faith freely) and the public world (where religious expression is firmly suppressed).” (Total Truth, p. 65)

This distinction is so pervasive that we hardly question it. We automatically respond to our life issues depending on where we think it belongs. And the tool we deploy depends on the category we place the issue in. For instance, if I have a challenge at work, my default mindset is to examine the problem rationally, without any recourse to God or biblical principles. Why? Because work falls within the Secular realm, and God does not apply. Alternatively, if I have anxieties about my future state as a human, I could easily draw on the teachings of the Bible, for this very well falls within the Sacred realm.

It seems so logical (and convenient) to partition our lives thus. For we have grown up with the notion that religion has to do with just our relation with God. When it comes to dealing with the external world and other human beings, however, we have passed beyond the bounds of religion.

Such a mindset goes against God’s revelation. For His word reveals that He is the Lord of all the Earth – in all its fullness (Psalm 24:1). He created all that exists and takes pleasure in every detail. As Paul pointed out in his discourse with the Greeks, all things depend on Him for existence (Acts 17:28), therefore it is illogical to attempt to keep any aspect of life away from His oversight. In calling out a people for Himself, He made his word integral to every aspect of their life and community (Exodus 19:5,6; Deut 6:6-9; 8:6); for the Jews there was no Sacred-Secular split. All of life was Coram Deo – to be lived under Yahweh’s oversight and direction. Perhaps no Christian writer better expressed this truth than Abraham Kuyper, who declared:

No single piece of our mental world is to be hermetically sealed off from the rest, and there is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry: ‘Mine!’

SCOTUS – We had it coming

Finally, the US has legalized same-sex ‘marriage’. As expected, the uproar among conservative Christians has been huge. The excitement among liberals is equally deafening. But can we step back a bit and reflect on what has happened. This is nothing but the triumph of a Secular worldview. It is the logical result of an outlook on humanity and society which places man as the measure of all things and pays no regard to the reality of a transcendent God. We had this coming. The legalization of same-sex unions is inevitable if society has no other basis for living other than human reason and experience. If man is autonomous and has no need to heed the revelation of a divine being, then he may alter His life or society as he pleases.

Let not the Church mourn; we have work to do. We need to boldly and consistently live out and proclaim a Christian worldview. We may lose our freedom, we may lose our lives, yet God would smile on us. We would have made Him proud.

Battle Hymn of the Republic

Originally posted on The Christian Mind:

 This hymn was written during the American Civil War (1861-1865) and was very popular with the side fighting to keep the seceding states within the American union. Regardless of what one might think of that conflict, the song captures the theme of the progress of Christ’s kingdom. And this truth is at the core of The Christian Mind’s ministry.

howe.Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord;
He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored;
He hath loosed the fateful lightning of His terrible swift sword;
His truth is marching on.

Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
His truth is marching on.

He has sounded forth the trumpet that shall never call retreat;
He is sifting out the hearts of men before His judgment seat;
Oh, be swift, my soul, to answer Him; be jubilant, my feet!
Our…

View original 94 more words

Christ is All

Originally posted on The Christian Mind:

*O Lover to the uttermost,

May I read the meltings of thy heart to me

In the manger of thy birth,

In the garden of thy agony,

In the cross of thy suffering,

In the tomb of thy resurrection,

In the heaven of thy intercession.

Bold in this thought I defy my adversary,

Tread down his temptations, resist his schemings, renounce the world, am valiant for truth.

Deepen in me a sense of my holy relationship to thee,

As spiritual bridegroom,

As Jehovah’s fellow,

As sinners’ friend.

I think of thy glory and my vileness,

Thy majesty and my meanness,

They beauty and my deformity

Thy purity and my filth,

Thy righteousness and my iniquity.

Thou hast loved me everlastingly, unchangeably,

May I love thee as I am loved;

Thou hast given thyself for me,

May I give myself to thee;

Thou hast died for me, may I live to…

View original 58 more words

Christ is All

*O Lover to the uttermost,

May I read the meltings of thy heart to me

In the manger of thy birth,

In the garden of thy agony,

In the cross of thy suffering,

In the tomb of thy resurrection,

In the heaven of thy intercession.

Bold in this thought I defy my adversary,

Tread down his temptations, resist his schemings, renounce the world, am valiant for truth.

Deepen in me a sense of my holy relationship to thee,

As spiritual bridegroom,

As Jehovah’s fellow,

As sinners’ friend.

I think of thy glory and my vileness,

Thy majesty and my meanness,

They beauty and my deformity

Thy purity and my filth,

Thy righteousness and my iniquity.

Thou hast loved me everlastingly, unchangeably,

May I love thee as I am loved;

Thou hast given thyself for me,

May I give myself to thee;

Thou hast died for me, may I live to thee –

In every moment of my time,

In every movement of my mind

In every pulse of my heart.

May I never dally with the world and its allurements, but

walk by thy side,

Listen to thy voice,

Be clothed with thy graces, and

Adorned with thy righteousness.


Source: Valley of Vision: A Collection of  Puritan Prayers

Why Pastors and Teachers?

God interacts directly with every human creature. He is intimately connected with each one of us as individuals. I like the way the Dutch theologian Abraham Kuyper puts it:

…God enters into immediate fellowship with the creature, as God the Holy Spirit…Thus there is no grace but such as comes to us immediately from God.*

We might ask, “What then is the place of Pastors and Teachers?” These two offices, and others besides,  serve to remind us that this original relationship between God and man has been strained.  The classic passage by Paul bears this out. In Eph. 4:11-13, he wrote:

And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.

Verse 12 is crucial: “for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry”. They exist to build up other believers. As Paul said elsewhere, they are all servants and ministers for building up God’s flock (1 Cor. 3:1-7). God has given them to us because our sinful and fallen state has put us in need of direction and instruction. We have become blind and weak through sin, God has shown us mercy by giving us a new heart and sending His Spirit to work in us. And the ministry of Pastors and Teachers is one of the means by which God works to conform us to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ (v. 13).

Thus, they are vital God-given vessels. Nevertheless, we must not forget that they are but vessels; God is the One at work. We dare not turn them into our Saviours or look upon them as dispensers of grace. The trend in the modern age is to so venerate them that we forget their role as servants. God deals with each believer individually, and each one is a priest along with the others. His officers help us to grow in our relationship with Him; they are not meant to alter that relationship.

May God draw our hearts in loving fellowship with Himself.


*Abraham Kuyper, Lectures on Calvinism, p.12