Monthly Archives: November 2011

How do you make a Pillar?

 

In I Timothy 1:3-7 Paul compares the fruit of false teaching to the fruit of the true gospel.  False teachers who teach strange doctrines generate “mere speculation” that “fails to further the administration of God.”  They’ve turned aside to fruitless discussion and they make bold assertions concerning things they don’t know anything about.   Contrast that with the goal of the instruction that Paul has entrusted to Timothy: “Love, from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.” (vs. 5)

Now I count myself among those who champion solid biblical teaching. And I hope and pray that Cornerstone Church will be characterized as a bible teaching church.  But as I studied this passage last week I became aware that at times I may have misunderstood the goal of good biblical preaching.  Is it possible that I have valued good, biblical preaching as an end in itself?

Last Sunday we saw that in I Timothy 3:15 Paul tells Timothy that the church is the pillar of the truth.  A quick study of pillars in Paul’s day indicates that pillars did more than just hold up the roof.  Pillars made the building beautiful.  Paul says that the church does more than simply uphold the truth of God’s Word.  The church makes the truth beautiful.

The church doesn’t make the truth beautiful by simply possessing the truth.  We make the truth beautiful when we live the truth.  The goal of biblical instruction is love.  When the church hears the Word and responds in love to God and love to each other then we are behaving as pillars of the truth.

Why do we love biblical preaching?  What is the goal? Do we love to hear the truth so that we can out-argue an atheist or win a debate about doctrine?  Do we leave our bible preaching church each week just feeling smarter?  Or are we being stirred to love from a clean heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith?


Suggestions for Avoiding Spiritual Blindness

I believe that Paul teaches us in Romans 1 that we live in a truth suppressing world that is expertly designed to make sin seem good and righteousness strange.  Satan is a real adversary who wants to destroy us.  And as if that weren’t enough we have deceitful hearts that are happy to comply with both the world and Satan at the least opportunity.  Therefore, I have every reason to doubt my own perspective on any issue and to run to the scriptures to discover what is true.

This is especially the case in any kind of conflict.  We need to take active steps so that we can see the situation from God’s (and the other person’s) perspective rather than choosing to remain blind.  I really appreciated this post from Josh Mack about keeping your eyes open when you’re in the midst of a conflict.   He gives 10 suggestions:

1. Make sure you listen to people who are different than you. Encourage others to share with you how they would do things differently.

2. If someone is reacting to you in a way that seems out of character, at least ask whether you might be part of the problem.

3. When someone tells you they think you are wrong, take some time to evaluate whether they may be right even if you don’t think they are as smart as you.

4. Watch out for anger. Anger is a particularly blinding emotion.

5. Pray and pray again that God would make you aware of the sins and mistakes you do not see.

6. When someone agrees with you, consider whether it is because you are right or they are your fan or perhaps their temperament is very similar to yours instead of the fact that you are actually right.

7. Have friends.

8. Try to get outside yourself and look at the way you are acting. Stretch yourself to put yourself in someone else’s shoes. Ask the question and seriously consider, how could I be seeing this wrong? What other possible explanations could there be for what is happening other than the one I am telling myself?

9. Keep reminding yourself that there is something much more important than other people thinking you are right.

10. Understand that if you can not come up with at least one way you were in the wrong, it might be possible that you are more wrong than you realize.

 


No Running in God’s House

If you grew up in the south chances are you were told at some point, “Young man, stop running in God’s house!”  As a child this was terribly confusing and I’ll bet for many it’s still confusing as an adult.  It’s actually a truly amazing thing that thousands of years ago God really did have a temple on earth.  The Living God Who does real things in history dwelt in the midst of His people Israel.  All the other nations had gods made of wood and stone that couldn’t even set themselves up if they fell over. Israel’s God really lived in His temple behind the veil in the Holy of Holies where He could only be visited by the High Priest once a year.

When Jesus died on the cross the Bible tells us that the veil was ripped in two.  Men can now confidently enter into God’s presence because of the blood of Jesus Christ.  Even more amazing is the fact that the Living God Who does real things now lives in the hearts of men.  Paul asks the Corinthians, “Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?” (4:16)

Why is it that so many well-meaning Christians continue to speak of God dwelling in a building when the Bible has made it clear that the Holy Spirit has now taken up residence in the hearts of believers?  Here’s a thought:  it is a lot easier to build and visit a “holy place” like a church once or twice a week than it is to live holy lives all week long.

Human know-how and will-power can easily generate enough money and time to build a building.  Once that building is built we dedicate it, decorate it, and consecrate it so that it becomes a place where we feel like we encounter God.  We dress up our bodies and our behavior.  We sacrifice some time by visiting God in the same way we might visit a relative.  Then, having done our duty we return to regular life not planning on encountering God until the next time we visit.  At the end of the day we feel like we’ve made an effort and God is pleased.

Contrast the effort expended to build and visit a holy place with Christ’s call to deny ourselves, take up our crosses and follow Him.  Paul says that because we are a temple of the Holy Spirit we are not our own.  We have been bought with a price.  Peter tells us that we have been granted everything we need for life and godliness so that we can actually become partakers in the divine nature.  But this kind of consecrated life doesn’t come by paying a visit to church once or twice a week.  In fact, this is something that man, left to his own wisdom and will-power cannot do.

For the Christian, every area of life should be viewed as a holy place set apart for service to God.  Our words, our actions and even our thoughts are to be sanctified and brought under the Lord Jesus Christ.  As we spend our life abiding in Him we will find that the Holy Spirit is doing the work of making us holy.  This process strikes at our pride because we can’t do it ourselves.  And it strikes at our hypocrisy because we’d rather choose to visit holy places than to live a holy life.

Cornerstone Church desires to be a gathering of believers who understand what the bible teaches about the church.  We don’t come to a place where God dwells once a week.  We by God’s grace live as people in whom He dwells every day of the week. We also don’t gather so that we can show of our Sunday best.  We gather acknowledging that even our best isn’t good enough before God.  We gather to celebrate and encourage one another in His grace and mercy through His Son Jesus Christ.


Location, Location, Location

Last week the big news was that Cornerstone Church will be meeting for the first time together on Sunday, November 13th.  We had answered the who and the when which necessitated an answer to the question of where.  In my mind this has always been one of the hardest things to visualize about this church plant.  So obviously this  has been a matter of prayer for some time.

This week we were able to reach an agreement with the Southside Branch of the YMCA to meet in their facilities.  I couldn’t be more excited.  I’m not sure what I pictured but I didn’t expect this.  So next Sunday we will meet at 10:00 for coffee and fellowship followed by corporate worship at 10:30.  The address is 11702 Mercy Blvd, Suite 1-A.

We are really excited about how God is bringing this together.  Every day we’re busy discovering new things that need to be done.  There’s so much about a church that we take for granted.  We’re also working hard to get a website up and running.  And I can tell you that we’ll begin with a series from I Timothy called The Household of God.  I just couldn’t think of a better place to start than Paul’s letter to a young pastor of a struggling church.  Makes sense don’t you think?

Please continue to pray for us and let us know if you’d like more information.