Saturday, May 31, 2014

140601 The Church, the Body of Christ

In order for us to understand the nature of the church, Scripture gives us a wide range of images to show us what the church is like. When Paul writes to Timothy he views the church as a family. A different family image refers to the church as the Bride of Christ and our relationship to him resembles an engagement waiting to be consummated in heaven. Jesus referred to the church as branches on a vine. Paul uses an olive tree, a building, and a field producing a crop. The apostle Peter views the church as a temple and as a new group of priests. The writer of Hebrews refers to the church as God’s house — not at all talking about the building we meet in! He is referring to the people as God’s house. We come today to the image of the church as the body of Christ.
Ephesians 1:15-23  For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, 16 I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, 17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, 18 having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might 20 that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. 22 And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.
There’s really a lot going on in this passage and we don’t have time to go into all of it now. Paul is telling the Ephesian church about his prayers for them. Paul was their founding pastor and they were very much on his heart. I can understand that concern of his. Paul knew that the Spirit of God lives in each one of them. He also knew that Christ is their, and our, wisdom but we really don’t use that wisdom as we should. So he asks that the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Christ be given to them so that they will know the hope that he has called the church to. I pray that the same spirit of wisdom and revelation be given to us so that we can enjoy all the privileges we have in Christ. Paul wants the Ephesian church to remember that their Lord, and ours, is seated at the right hand of God in heaven. Yes…
Jesus is seated at the right hand of Majesty. Let’s look at Hebrews 1:1-4. Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs.
Jesus came into the world exactly as it was prophesied. He was born in a stable, grew up in a carpenter shop, he taught for about three years, he was arrested, tortured and executed. Just as he had promised, he was raised from the dead on the third day.
There is a very dangerous trend today going on in the entertainment industry that is designed by the devil to denigrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ. That trend is multiple movies and TV series portraying the so-called “undead”. The zombies have become very popular and they are portrayed as people who have come back from the dead and who are very frightening and evil.
Last year, while teaching Vacation Bible School I discovered that when I referred to the resurrection of Jesus Christ a couple of the children immediately envisioned him as a zombie! Obviously that’s not someone that they want to identify with! I had to take a little extra time to teach them that Jesus rose from the dead with a perfect body and a perfect plan from God the Father. I do not believe I was able to really overcome the images implanted by these evil shows they had seen. I realize that for many people these horror shows are just entertainment. I have come to believe that Satan has a vested interest in the entertainment industry! We need to guard our minds, and especially our children’s minds, by giving serious consideration to what is taught by what they see.
Jesus entered into the heavenly Temple with his own blood to offer on the altar there for us! He is our substitutionary sacrifice. He took our sins in his own body and became sin for us so that we could become the righteousness of God in him. When he did this, and after his resurrection from the dead, he was seated at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven. Ephesians 2:6 affirms that there is a lot more to it than that. He didn’t just take our sins, as separate from us, he took us to the cross with him. And when he entered into the heavenly place he took us there with him.
That seems impossible, I know! After all, we are still here. How can we be seated in heaven with him? Well, the answer may simply be in the fact that with God one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years is as one day. This is not a math problem! It’s just a statement of fact that God is not hampered by time the way we are. I can make educated guesses about the future and some of them are close to right. Kind of like the weather man who is very successful if he is right more than he is wrong. Since God exists outside of time, this blows my mind, our God can view the past, present, and future all at the same time as though they are happening right now!
Jesus came to the earth for the very purpose of becoming sin and paying the price. You see, the wages of sin is death and Jesus died instead of us. He did this as a demonstration of the love of God. During his life on earth…
Jesus knew all things would be handed to him. We know this is true because of a teaching that Jesus himself gave. It’s found in Matthew 11:25-30. At that time Jesus declared, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; 26 yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. 27 All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. 28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
Jesus was in on the plan! Father, Son, and Spirit existed long before the foundation of the world. However, it was known then that the Son would come to the earth and redeem, out of all mankind, a chosen people who would place their faith in him. The result of his having accepted the responsibility of taking our sins and paying the price would be, and was, that all things would be handed over to him by the Father. There was never any doubt in Christ’s mind that he would do this from the time that he became aware until the time that he hung on the cross. He was prepared to bear our sins.
Perhaps that explains the passage in Isaiah where Jesus is referred to as, “despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.” (Isaiah 53:3)
When His disciples tried to talk him out of going to Jerusalem because the people there were looking to execute him he clearly said that is the reason he came into the world. He knew without a doubt that all things would be handed over to him and with that authority…
Jesus gifted the church so it might grow up. Look with me at Ephesians 4:11-16. And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, 14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. 15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.
The spiritual gifts, given to the church, are never for individual benefit. In fact, there are many individual benefits from the spiritual gifts but they are all given for the purpose of strengthening the church in spreading grace across the world.
I think it’s very interesting the way some people take this passage apart to recognize the existence of pastors and teachers, and usually evangelists, but who want to eliminate apostles and prophets. This passage says that these gifted people are given to the church for building up the body of Christ with a certain goal in mind. That goal is — until we all attain to the unity of the faith, to the knowledge of the son of God, and to mature manhood equal to Christ!
That goal has certainly not been met! Hardly a partial fulfillment! If the church must wait for maturity in order to give up apostles and prophets that is nowhere in sight. I have to confess that I have a lower view of all present day apostles than some do. And I believe many people confuse the gift of prophecy! I still believe that both these gifts are available to the church today empowered by the Holy Spirit. Modern-day missionaries may be called apostles since they are sent out with a special goal in mind. There are many who possess the gift of prophecy but they are primarily simply telling the truth about Jesus and not predicting the future. All spiritual gifts are given to the church to mature the church. Spiritual gifts are given to serve each other. We are to be good stewards of God’s gifts and use them to help grow the church towards maturity. Numerical growth might come along with that but, in my opinion, a too rapid rate of numerical growth can hamper the spiritual maturity of a church. What our church, and most of the churches that I know of, really need is people who are willing to grow into servant leaders so that the church will mature. God is not looking for ability by human standards. The wisdom of this world is seldom anywhere near the wisdom of God! There are some abilities that God is looking for as his eyes roamed to and fro over the earth. There is avail-ability; there is account-ability; there is adjust-ability; there is approach-ability; there is believe-ability; there is change-ability; there is dur-ability; there is honor-ability; and, there is upgrade-ability. All these abilities and many more enable a person to be more quickly usable by God but the absence of them doesn’t keep God from using a person. Some of the greatest men and women who have ever served God appeared, on the outside, to not be useful. When the world’s standard is applied they just didn’t measure up. D. L. Moody was the greatest evangelist in the 19th century. It is estimated that during his lifetime more than 1 million people came to faith in Jesus Christ! He was born in the home of an alcoholic and became an orphan earlier in life. He was poorly educated and worked as a shoe salesman in his early adult years. Now, there’s nothing wrong with being a shoe salesman but it is not very likely that one would be recognized as a great evangelist. In fact, Moody was a poor speaker in some respects who “murdered” the English language. Yet he not only became a successful evangelist in North America it was also one of the greatest evangelist in Great Britain.
Others, such as John Bunyan and Billy Sunday were tremendously used by God even though they were not formally educated or recognized by the established churches. Human gifts and talents might be used by God but the most important gifts and talents are from those given by the Holy Spirit.
 It is Jesus’ intention to mature the church…
So that God’s wisdom might be known. Let’s look back at Ephesians 3:7-13. Of this gospel I was made a minister according to the gift of God’s grace, which was given me by the working of his power. To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things, 10 so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. 11 This was according to the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord, 12 in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through our faith in him. 13 So I ask you not to lose heart over what I am suffering for you, which is your glory.
I remember coming to this passage of Scripture and realizing that the church throughout history has been a teaching tool for the spiritual forces in the heavenly places. Of course I thought immediately go to angels as the “rulers and authorities” however, toward the end of this letter, Paul refers to the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. So both angels and demons have a lot to learn from God’s use of the church. I realize of course that all learning experiences are not positive! But I believe it is the intention of God to mature the church in such a way that the spiritual forces in the universe recognize that God is going to reach people from every tribe and nation in the world. We need to remember that is not by might nor power but by God’s Spirit that things get done. The Scriptures clearly teach that the world did not know God through wisdom. God makes foolish the wisdom of the world! We must remember that God has a greater purpose than we can ever imagine. God’s Word tells us that…
The church is Christ’s fullness on earth. Listen or read from Ephesians 3:14-19. For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, 16 that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
The fullness of deity lives in Jesus Christ! He came into this world full of grace and truth as a part of the plan of God that has always been a mystery to mankind! When the Holy Spirit enters our life at salvation God lives in us from that day forward. So that Paul could pray for the Ephesian church, and for us, that we will be strengthened with power through his Spirit. That we, as part of the church, may know that Christ dwells in our heart through faith and that we will have strength to understand what is the fullness of the love of Christ that goes beyond knowledge. God intends that we may be filled with the fullness of God and as such we may be used by him to extend the message of grace into our world by his power. Remember, we are not just a group of people waiting to go to heaven! We are a group of people, filled by the Holy Spirit, designed by God to bring heaven to earth and share it with all those around us.
The church is the body of Christ planted all over the world. Jesus has all authority in heaven and on earth given to him. That authority gives him the power to gift the church in such a way that men and women, boys and girls are brought to salvation. The spiritual gifts are not just to bring people to faith but they are also given to mature the church so that the wisdom of God can be shown to the spiritual forces. God’s grace gifts enable the church to do its work.
Too often we look on the outer evidence of a person and their talents. We are like Israel who chose Saul to be king because he was the tallest man around. All the time it was in God’s plan that the shepherd boy, David, would be the greatest king that Israel ever had. The world might be looking for talented people! They are all over the place and often are of little use to God. What the world needs are people who are filled with the Holy Spirit and are available to God. God will take care of the talent when it’s needed.
The Scriptures that I’ve shared with you take my breath away! Here the Holy Spirit is revealing to us that the church is a lot more than a holding place until we are to be rewarded in heaven. Jesus has all authority in heaven and on earth! Using that authority, Jesus gifts the church with people in leadership that causes the body of Christ to grow up. He does this in order for the demons to learn about God’s wisdom. And now the church is tasked with the responsibility of spreading the grace of God in every direction. We are to fill the world with the grace of God beginning at home and going outward to the entire world.
The question is: Are you really part of the body of Christ? Remember, we are saved by grace through faith upon our confession that Jesus is Lord and that God has raised him from the dead. We are saved only because of the work of God in our lives. No one comes to him unless the Father calls them. Has he called you? Have you come to him? If not, today is the day of salvation!
All scripture quotes are from: The Holy Bible: English standard version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

140525 The Church in Conflict

Acts 6:1-7 Now in these days when the disciples were increasing in number, a complaint by the Hellenists arose against the Hebrews because their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution. And the twelve summoned the full number of the disciples and said, “It is not right that we should give up preaching the word of God to serve tables. Therefore, brothers, pick out from among you seven men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we will appoint to this duty. But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.” And what they said pleased the whole gathering, and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolaus, a proselyte of Antioch. These they set before the apostles, and they prayed and laid their hands on them.
And the word of God continued to increase, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests became obedient to the faith.
On the day of Pentecost the Holy Spirit called together the beginning of the church. It was immediately recognized that it would be an international church with branches in all parts of the Roman Empire! The core of the church was men and women who were primarily local Jews. There were some from Jerusalem and Judea and there were some from Galilee and perhaps even Samaria. On the day of Pentecost people were called to faith in Christ from Parthia, Media, Elam, Mesopotamia, Cappadocia, Pontius, the province of Asia, Phergia, Pamphylia, Egypt and Libya as well as visitors from Rome. They all heard the gospel in their own language.
So far as we know, there was no “unknown tongue” on the day of Pentecost. Those who talk about speaking in tongues as a Pentecostal experience need to recognize that the experience of speaking in an unknown tongue came later, if at all! What did happen and would be very pleasing to all missionaries is that suddenly the disciples who had been in the upper room were filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke in known languages so that the gospel could get out clearly to the great crowd gathered for the celebration. Suddenly the church went from, maybe 500, to more than 3000. Some people have a problem with 3000 being baptized by immersion in the same day. There are more than 100 people who could do the baptizing and there were many baptisteries available that were used by the people when they entered the temple as a part of a cleansing ceremony. So there were plenty of places to baptize and plenty of people to do the baptizing. Beginning with 3000 converts on the day of Pentecost…
The emphasis of Acts is on growth. Let’s look at several passages of Scripture beginning with Acts 2:41.  So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls. That influx of new believers was not “a flash in the pan”. This was part of an ongoing process as we see in verse 47. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.  They went about their day-to-day activities and as they did so we see the result in Acts 4:4. But many of those who had heard the word believed, and the number of the men came to about five thousand. As the new believers continue to share their experience with Christ many more believers are added and it’s interesting to me that they actually kept a count of the total number of people (men at least) but by Acts 5:14 they began to lose count. And more than ever believers were added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and women, notice that here they included “men and women” in the multitudes. As of today, we are not seeing in the church in America anything like that kind of growth! But if we will follow the pattern of the first century church something important will happen. Let’s look at Acts 6:7. And the word of God continued to increase, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests became obedient to the faith. The key to their growth was not found in the variety of their Sunday worship or in the quality of their music. Their growth was not based on their fine buildings (they had none)! The key to their growth was found in the fact that the word of God continued to increase and as a result the number of disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem. Many of those who came to faith were priests. The priests had been the primary opponents of the new church which, by the way, was called by some the Way! Any time the people of God are making significant headway the enemy moves in. Whenever the Holy Spirit is at work…
Satan brings conflict. Listen to Peter’s experience found in 1 Peter 5:8-11.  Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. 10 And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. 11 To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen.
If Satan cannot keep us from salvation, he will do everything possible to keep us from being useful to the kingdom of God. As Peter had come to understand, the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for anyone who is weak so he can pull them down! We need to remember that the Bible also says, “For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to give strong support to those whose heart is blameless toward him.” (2 Chronicles 16:9) Never feel like you’re all alone when the enemy attacks you. However, any time things are running smoothly and people are coming to faith in Christ the devil will try to throw a wrench into the gears and bring the progress to a halt. As the church began to grow it became necessary for the apostles to take care of the needy because they were being cut off from the temple system. We have no evidence that the apostles had a meeting and set up a food bank and a clothing ministry it seems that that was simply and quickly done by God. As soon as the church began to grow…
A system had been put in place. We can see how the Lord began to move as recorded in Acts 4:34-35. There was not a needy person among them, for as many as were owners of lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold 35 and laid it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need.
I believe this is a record of individuals selling land and houses that they owned. I doubt that the people were selling their homes. Of course, that might’ve been the case. People with a nice large home might be willing to sell it and move into a smaller place. We know that Barnabas began the process when he sold a piece of land that he owned and brought the money to the apostles to take care of needs in the Fellowship. But the record in the book of Acts tells us that as the body grew it became harder and harder to provide for the needs of all those without some serious organization. So…
Conflict began to arise. Listen while I read Acts 6:1. Now in these days when the disciples were increasing in number, a complaint by the Hellenists arose against the Hebrews because their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution.
Greek was the language of the Roman world and many of the Jewish people adopted Greek as their spoken language. These were known at the time as Hellenists. Those who spoke the language of Israel were called Hebrews. In the beginning of the church all of the leadership were Hebrews. Naturally, they had day-to-day contact with the others who spoke their language. So very rapidly there came to be two parties in church. Greek speaking and Hebrew speaking. Satan saw the opportunity and moved right in! The Hellenists were not being cared for as well as the Hebrews and they began to complain. Complaining wasn’t the problem! Lack of organization was the problem. One of the gifts of the Spirit is administration and the spirit moved in the apostle’s minds and gave them a little direction. In fact, the direction was amazing! Remember, anytime the enemy attacks our God knows what to do. Satan came in like a roaring lion and…
The Holy Spirit had an answer. Let’s see what happened by reading Acts 6:3-6. Therefore, brothers, pick out from among you seven men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we will appoint to this duty. But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.” And what they said pleased the whole gathering, and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolaus, a proselyte of Antioch. These they set before the apostles, and they prayed and laid their hands on them.
The apostles immediately called a business meeting and had a plan for how to settle the problem. I suppose there was more than one way but this is the one that God guided them in. Instead of the apostles appointing men to guide the benevolence program of the church, they called for nominations from the floor! Guided by the Holy Spirit they knew that the body of believers would have wisdom to solve this problem. They asked for seven men to be chosen. We do not know what the process was in choosing these men. But when the meeting ended the apostles appointed the seven that were chosen. I think it’s important to note that the apostles did not choose them. Instead, the body of believers chose them! It’s not obvious to the English speaking person how important this decision was.
Let’s compare what they did to what our own government is doing today. A select committee has been appointed by the House of Representatives. Since the Republicans are in the majority this committee is made up of seven Republicans and five Democrats. That’s not at all what was done in the early church.
All seven man were Hellenists. Even though I’m sure the Hebrews were in the majority, the church chose seven men of the minority party to make the decisions about the daily distribution of benevolence. It’s important to note that these men were men full of wisdom and the Holy Spirit. That’s the kind of men we need in roles of leadership in the church and also in our government.
We too live in a changing world…
Today, there is growth in the church.  I recently looked at a news report and found this information: in 1900, there were approximately 10 million Christians in Africa. By the year 2000, there were 360 million. By 2025, conservative estimates see that number rising to 633 million. Those same estimates put the number of Christians in Latin America in 2025 at 640 million and in Asia at 460 million. The sad part of the whole report is that Christianity appears to be declining in Europe and North America. The areas where there is decline is where liberalism dominates the church. The areas where there is growth is where biblical conservatism dominates the church.
There hs not been a significant revival of Christianity in North America in more than 100 years. In fact, about 100 years ago liberalism began take over the church.
Let me tell you about a Chinese man by the name of John Sung. He was the son of a Methodist pastor and he came to America to study so he could be a professor in China. He went to a major university in the Midwest where he was taught that the Bible is just simply a book of fables. This was confusing to him since he had always believed the Bible was the word of God and fully to be trusted. After completing university studies he decided that he had to go somewhere to regain his faith. He could not return to China believing what he now believed. So he enrolled in seminary and found that they were teaching the same things. The liberal theology of the day was no help to him. He turned to his Bible and began to read. He was told by the professors that, of course, Jonah is just a fairytale because there is no known fish that can swallow a man and him stay alive. Also, he was told, among many other things, that there could not have been a worldwide flood.
As he studied his Bible he found that Jesus spoke of Jonah as a real experience and the flood was a real event! He said that he had a life-changing experience from reading the Bible. Very soon the professors at the seminary had him confined in an insane asylum where he stayed for 193 days. Since he was a foreign national he was isolated from the general population. So far as the doctors could see he was not harmful to anyone so they allowed him to have his Bible and he spent that time studying the word.
John was released and returned to China to lead in one of the greatest revivals of the 20th century. Satan tried to destroy his witness through the teaching of theological liberalism. God intervened and put him somewhere where he could study and grow spiritually for the benefit of China.
The same tactics, on a much wider scale, seemed to be being effective in Europe and North America. I want you to know something, God is not deaf to the prayers of his people and his arm is not weak! At the right time he will bring about great revival. In fact, he may use missionaries from Africa and Asia to bring about the revival. Please Lord, don’t delay in changing the hearts and minds of people!
The mixed growth of the church today is…
Just as Jesus had promised. Let’s look at the account in Matthew 13:47-50.”  Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was thrown into the sea and gathered fish of every kind. 48 When it was full, men drew it ashore and sat down and sorted the good into containers but threw away the bad. 49 So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous 50 and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
The kingdom of heaven is the church in the world today. Of course, it includes all those who go before and who will come later. But our concern is for what is going on around us right now.
The church is a mixed catch and pretty fishy! A net has been cast across the world and many different people are being gathered up by it. It will be full sometime. I don’t know when the net will be full but when it is it will be drawn in and the angels will take charge of the harvest. Just as Jesus promised…
God will sort out the good from the bad.
There is a real danger in trying too hard to make sure the church is pure. I am not suggesting that we should not insist on good teaching and sound theology. But I am saying, from past experience, that only God can sort out the good from the bad.
I remember a pastor was saying that when he was in seminary he pastored a church on the weekends. During his course of study one of his subjects was “Church Discipline”. After being thoroughly indoctrinated he went to his church and preached a few sermons on “church discipline”. The result was that they removed from the church roles about half their membership in an effort to make the church pure. He then said that about six months later it became obvious that they had removed the wrong half of the church! We need to be careful how we exercise church discipline.
We are, right now, not blessed with being a part of the growth of the church locally. Yet I’m convinced that God is preparing for a revival in the United States and the Western world. My prayer is that it will happen during my lifetime. When it happens there will be many problems as thousands of people come to faith in Christ and fit together as part of the body of believers. The enemy will bring in false teachers, and already has. Some people will simply be confused and need instruction. Others will be hesitant to do what God is leading them to because they think they have to do it in their own strength. Again and again throughout history the church has repeated the problems of the book of Acts. Always the Holy Spirit sorts out the problem and guides the local church to a good answer. One thing for sure you can always trust God to give his people the organization they need to do his ministry. Have you trusted him as Lord? Today is the day for you to become part of the answer.

All scripture quotes are from: The Holy Bible: English standard version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.