I believe that, in general, the North American Church in all of its expressions is facing an ecclesiological identity crisis. I believe that the most critical issue in North America – in the life of the local church as well as in church planting – is an ecclesiological issue. We struggle in answering the question, “What is the Church?” And, if we don’t really know what the Church is, what God intended for His Church, what it is Jesus is building – then we are working in vain because the Lord is really not building His House. We are simply playing a game called “church.”
Many years ago I sat down and spend considerable time thinking through what I believed the Church was to be according to the Scriptures. As a result of this heart and head exercise I also needed to think through what the Christian faith was really all about and then what a Christian (disciple) really was. It seemed to me that I had ended up opening a much larger issue than I first thought. Instead of one item I was dealing with numerous items – all of which formed a package that needed to be unwrapped and assembled together.
I ended up with three definitions which I have, over the years, refined, adjusted, updated, changed, and added to. These definitions are still a “work in progress” but they do form the basis of all I do as a church planter and leader. Let me give you my definitions. Not that they are the best there is – but they are mine and so they influence everything that I do in life and in ministry. And they may help you to begin to think these things through for yourself if you have yet to do that in your Christian journey.
The Christian faith is a daily, ever-deepening, very dynamic, personal, inique, intimate LOVE RELATIONSHIP with God the Father and Jesus Christ whom He sent, empowered and enabled by the Holy Spirit and lived out in long-term committed relationships with others who follow Jesus in a local family known as the church.
Let’s talk a bit about this one and move on to the others tomorrow….
The Bible states that a Christian is someone who has been born again. That means many who attend church on a regular basis and call themselves Christians are really cultural Christians and not biblical Christians. Biblical Christians are disciples, followers of Jesus who are walking with Him on a daily basis, coming to know Him better and better every day, and becoming more like Him. As a result of this, the disciple can then do what Jesus did (see 2 Timothy 3:15-16 and John 14:12). But let’s back up a bit…
To be born again a person must admit that they are separated from God because of their sin and the resulting life-style that sins creates. Everyone every born is a sinner by the very fact they are part of the human race and a descendant of Adam and Eve. Of course, it does not take long to commit sin which is breaking one or more of God’s Ten Commandments (1 John 3:4b). This sin separates us from God (Isaiah 59:1-2). But while we were still sinners God sent His Son, Jesus, to live as one of us (the Christmas miracle – John 1:1-14) and to die for us (Romans 5:8). He took upon Himself our sin and became sin for us. He shed His blood so that we could be forgiven because without the shedding of blood the Bible states there is no forgiveness.
As this becomes a reality – as we grasp our lostness in our heart and not just understand it in our head – we respond to the conviction of the Holy Spirit (John 16:8-10) – and experience godly sorrow which leads to repentance and forgiveness resulting in our salvation (2 Corinthians 7:8-10). We are then born again. This then means that God the Father can place a gift in our new born again spirit or heart. This gift is called eternal life (Romans 6:23b). This gift of eternal life is defined in John 17:3 as a personal and intimate relationship with the living God. This means we can walk with Him daily, hear His voice, see what He is doing, and become involved in His plan and purpose for our lives. This is what it means to be a believer, a disciple, a Christian.
Just because you go to church does not mean you will go to heaven when you die. You must be born again and have this personal relationship with Him here and now and thus this allows you to enter into heaven and avoid hell when you do leave this planet at the time of your death.
So, back to my definition…
The Christian faith is all about having a relationship with the living God as revealed to us in the life, ministry, death and resurrection of Jesus (God in human flesh). This relationship means we are part of His family and thus members of the Church. You can not be true Christian and not be active in a Bible believing church family. Just not possible biblically. So, we work out this relationship within the relationships found with others who share our values within the local church. And, this whole effort and life is empowered and enabled by the Holy Spirit – because God is supernatural and so we need the help of His Spirit to function within this new relationship.
To come to understand and define the Church we first need to understand how we can become the church. You see, the church is simply God’s people. So, we become part of the church, a member of the Body of Christ, by being born again.
Need more information, have a question, disagree, or want to become a true believer and born again Christian – give me a call +1 306-536-9574 (Central Canada). Leave a message if I am not available