14 December 2005

Purpose


Purpose

"Going to church does not make you a Christian anymore than going to the garage makes you a car."
~ Dr. Laurence J. Peter


In reviewing scripture, my comments, and past notes I have made for myself let me introduce this topic by submitting this brief but conclusive reminder to the reader: “The author of this writing is not inspired, and is subject to error, ignorance, and prejudice. You must go to the bible for answers – all I can do is challenge your thinking.” That being said, a relevant quote to much of what is said in the realm of purported Christian thought (or theology) is this, “It is amazing the amount of light the bible can shed on many of our commentaries.” Many a supposed ‘high-church’ individual could befuddle one with amazing terminology such as hermeneutics, soteriology, and eschatological arguments that would lead one to their “Wits End” if not the end of the age. I will do my best to avoid such theological acrimonious transduction as possible in its presentation. It is not due to lack of understanding the terms, they’re just not very useful in explaining things in a straightforward and concise fashion. The best word picture that comes to mind is throwing “big rocks” into a small pond. (Lots of fun if you’re a kid by the way.) Ok, to the point, almost….

Please do not confuse the purpose of the “meeting” of the church with the “purpose” of the church which I would place it’s primary emphasis of seeking and saving the lost. (Mathew 28:19-20) If there is any debate as to this emphasis let it be with the author of the verse and not myself, I didn’t write that He did. On to the point, again, almost…..in writing this I gave a lot of thought as to various ‘functions’ of the church with in the members of its body. Please do not mistake my writing as to avoid or dismiss the various functions which would include, but not limited to, items and thoughts found in Ephesians 4:12-13 and James 1:27. There are many others and through "meeting" many of these things take place and are fostered.

As to my first use of scripture John 4:23 was to reference the scriptural application of worship as given by the author Himself where He referred to a time when the true worshipers would worship the Father is spirit and in truth. Which leads me to pose the question: When is the Christian not to be in the spirit and in truth? As stated in Romans 8:9 by the apostle Paul in writing to the church in Rome, the very evidence that one is His, is the indwelling spirit of Christ. (Paraphrased) One of the greater sources of error is when we use non-biblical terms to define biblical concepts. The “church” in scripture is the very body of Christ, and its members are that which make up His body. To conclude that we go to “Church” is to infer that in some way a subtle or unconscious deviation of biblical thought transpires, that “worship” takes place in a “building” or structure outside of these ‘tents of flesh’ we inhabit here on earth. Now I know many would say, “that’s not me” or “I don’t think that way” and to this I would say “bully for you!” good that you don’t. It is a risk that we run though for our weaker minded brethren in the context of conscious that what we “win them from” is as important as what we “win them to” and can lead to, though not always, a sense of double mindedness. This though is not a doctrinal thesis of worship, just a reference to my use of the scripture in John 4:23. I would say that our worship need be as one put it 24-7-365. An individual’s ability to attain to that standard does not negate the standard. Just as Paul referred to the brethren in Rome, as “saints” does not infer that all acted so “saintly”. Please understand the differentiation in usage and context of my explanation. Since I try to avoid addressing Jesus as CEO, in turn I will avoid the use of a non-biblical term “Corporate Worship”, I’m sure the use and practice is infused into the various doctrines of men and denominational creeds, though I imagine it has led to many misunderstandings and fisticuffs in the history of its use and misapplication.

As to the meat of the matter, I would reference Acts 2:42 which carries the greatest portion of “scriptural thrust” (if you will) regarding the “meeting” of the church. When they were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. The observation of the Lord's supper and the proclamation of His death till He comes as evidenced in I Corinthians 11:23-26. The public reading of scripture as instructed to Timothy by the apostle Paul (I Timothy 4:13) would be of benefit to those gathered and speaking to one another in psalms, hymns and spiritual songs as stated in Ephesians 5:19 in the letter to the saints in Ephesus could do no harm either. These seem to be consistent with what the bible provides as to the purpose of the meeting of the church. To the contrary the bible gives us some warnings to heed as in Hebrews 10:25, I Timothy 6:3-5 and II Peter 2:1-3. So as to keeps alert and not quick to have our ears tickled.

Through these things we are edified. Though these things we find fellowship. Through these things we learn love (for one another) and through these things, in prayer & petition and thanksgiving to God will He (Christ) guard our hearts and mind. Preserving spirit, soul & body until that day of His sure return. (Paraphrased) I Thessalonians 5:23.

In summary, having feared saying to much already, I would say that the “obedience of the faith” referred to in scripture is much more than the keeping of a ‘spiritual scorecard’ and to checking off 1) Assemble 2) Read Bible 3) Pray 4) etc. that mindset, if you will, is flesh and does not please God. Again though as previously stated in my other post, I roast and count beans and am not a through source for biblical exegesis, for that stuff you have to go to the professionals. Best I could do, hope it helps and does not hinder your understanding.

16 Comments:

At 7:25 PM, Blogger black feline said...

very interesting thought provoking postings..is there any hope for an agrarian sector in an urban society? Are u an Amish? sorry for the rude query..anyway keep it up!

 
At 3:44 AM, Blogger ctroutma said...

Thanks Scott. On a slightly different subject, you mention what you believe is the purpose of the church itslef (as opposed to the purpose of the assembling together):
it's primary emphasis of seeking and saving the lost. (Mathew 28:19-20)
This is something else I have been studying and working through as well. While I do believe the church is supposed to seek and save the lost, I question the modern use of this verse as the foundation of all our "ministry" and "missions."

Jesus was specifically addressing the apostles in this verse, and giving them a command that they in fact fulfilled. Wihle I don't think that nullifies our duty to share our faith and seek to spread the gospel, I do think it should cause us to question those who always feel that we must go out to spread the gospel, while we comfortably neglect our next-door neighbors.

I find it interesting that most Christians know "the great commission", and even though it was directed to the apostles, try and make it their personal and corporate command. But most Christians are ignorant of the plain teaching that is directed to simple Christians such as themselves found in 1 Thes 4:11-12 :"But we urge you, brothers, to do this more and more, and to aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you, so that you may live properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one."

What do you think?

PS - sorry this is a bit of the topic of the post, I don't mean to sidetrack that discussion either!

 
At 7:35 AM, Blogger The Settler said...

Interesting post. What bearing does the pattern of worship of God's people in the old covenant have on the new covenant? Is there a way of applying David's high view of the assembly, seen, for example, in Psalm 89?

 
At 11:43 AM, Blogger Scott Holtzman said...

James,

As you can imagine the ‘discussion’ that has been going on regarding the topic of worship and how it plays out in scripture has been lengthy and heated. Some of which has contributed to not only (local) splits in the church, but global divisions that has rent asunder and shipwrecked I’d dare say many a faith. It’s sad. Seems, next to the color of the carpet, the organ could quite possibly be the most divisive subject of the assembly at times. I say this not to make ‘light’ of any serious concerns an individual may have regarding the issue, just that at times, our ‘pettiness’ rises above our petitions & prayers in the light our scriptural sculpting in the Potter’s hands.

Quite honestly, I began to write something regarding this issue when I formed the post and in prayer and conscious consideration removed the references. I didn’t think I could do the matter justice or provide and means of clarity regarding the issue at this time. I have some notes on the subject regarding service & worship, and an idea someone I know put forth regarding your question of OT & NT worship, which I think are different in many respects. My notes, borrowed from a good friend are labeled Worship 1.0 (OT) and Worship 2.0 (NT). These require a bit more Greek then I am comfortable with right now to study them out properly, so they will have to wait till time avails it’s self, if at all.

Sorry for the long answer, in short, I don’t know. Though I will review some things and maybe I can reply back to you via email. I don’t want to change the nature and focus of my weblog outside of the general them of a Christian Agrarian format. I hope you understand. Thank you for taking time to comment. It’s nice to have feedback when you write something and wonder if anyone reads it, or not. Regards.

 
At 1:06 PM, Blogger Scott Holtzman said...

Christo,

Bravo for you dear fellow! Yes, I sort of ‘strung that one out’ with out tying the scriptural knots on to the use of the phrase “seeking and saving the lost “. I thought about that last night before publishing it, but did not feel as though I should neglect the emphasis of separating the two. It’s such a “quaintly” used catch phrase in the mind of the modern day church, which leads us to use it so liberally at times that it (to me) seems to act as ‘liability lubrication’ for a seared and callous conscious. This can be evidenced it statements such as, “Well WE have our missionaries” or “that’s what we pay the pastors/preacher/evangelist – {insert name or position here} for” and others like these, types of statements.

Lest some may think me somewhat ‘heretical’ I as of recent have brought to mind the question, to myself, the modern use of the term “missionary” in light of the complete absence of the term (role) in scripture as we give use to it today. I think as a universal body of believers we have gone astray of the mark, if you will, with our application of it in light of the very issue you pose “that we must go out to spread the gospel, while we comfortably neglect our next-door neighbors.”

Excellent point.

In fact I’d dare say the term “great commission” while headlining the text in our bibles above the fore mentioned verse Matthew 28:19-20 is a commentary in and of its self apart from any clear or indirect reference of the command it headlines. (Is that saying too much?) At (the very) least, we have the use of the term ‘to seek and save the lost’ (paraphrased) used by Christ Himself in speaking with the tax collector, Zaccheus. (Luke 19) I say this boldly only in the context and light of the scripture you put forth, I Thessalonians 4:11-12.

Note: I do not mean to disparage or split hairs regarding the strong command of the Lord Himself in saying that such a charge of importance as the “headline” alludes to is not accurate, just not very well connected and very much ‘mistreated’ and misconstrued, is all.

The verse you put forth is one of my personal favorites, alas, over time I could seem to say that more and more about a lot of scripture as I get to read, study and memorize more and more of the Word. I still ‘lean back’ on that verse when I get “stretched” over issues concerning the church (local) over some issue or discontent sets its self upon me or towards me with my fellow advocates of Christ. It is a well serving admonition to me also, as I weigh it in context of the agrarian principles my wife and I have come to embrace and strive towards.

I will say this; I believe Jesus was directly addressing the apostles in this verse, and giving them a command that they in fact fulfilled. (Mathew 28:19-20) I also belief that there is more to this as well, and does not in any fashion contradict what the bible says on the subject as a sum total. I will save the remaining portion of the subject for a latter post, as this is becoming one quickly in its own right. Fair enough? Regards.

 
At 1:27 PM, Blogger Scott Holtzman said...

To my UAE visitor, sorry I'm doing these replies in reverse order - first shall be last, last shall be first stuff - in regards to the question I'd dare say (for now) "we're it" (my wife & I) the "plot" of land in which we cultivate is but a 'postage stamp' in comparison to our personal goals for the future, though our urban community is far smaller than a speck in comparison to such ‘urban centers’ (local) as say NYC or it’s kin here in the US. We are on “new lines of frontier thought” for ourselves as we of recent have only begun to think and tinker with the concepts of community and agrarian principles and contemplation. Regarding the issue, men such as Chad Deganhart and others have addressed this issue more in depth than I could at present time. I am for lack of better expression “Green Timber” when it comes to the topic and quite willing to watch and learn from those more seasoned. My best advice, as it was once given to me, “Bloom where your planted” and that’s how the story ‘Grows’. Thank you for visiting and your kind comments. Regards.

 
At 4:56 PM, Blogger ctroutma said...

Scott,
Glad to hear that I am not too way off base here. It's nice to know your not alone! I completely agree with you.

 
At 8:22 PM, Blogger Scott Holtzman said...

Oh, and black feline, no not Amish, but I have a high regard for many of their principles and practices, and Chad of Mr. Yoder calls your cell ~ tell him I said “Hi”.

 
At 9:50 PM, Blogger The Settler said...

Scott, thanks for the friendly non-answer :-). I'm also wondering how deep I should plow into theological areas on my own blog. I have no desire to wrangle over worship, but I am trying to better understand some of the objections to what is called high worship. Obviously there are major differences/discontinuities that must be dealt with, which is why I chose a question with a limited scope. The question has to do with whether or not God is honored in a special way by the worship of the assembly or congregation (corporate worship) in the OC and whether that would change in the NC. For myself, it's difficult for me to see how this would represent an area of discontinuity. But keep posting on this, perhaps God will allow us all to move towards greater clarity and obedience.

James

 
At 10:05 PM, Blogger Scott Holtzman said...

James,

Your welcome. :^)

 
At 8:57 PM, Anonymous KS Milkmaid said...

"I'm also wondering how deep I should plow into theological areas on my own blog. I have no desire to wrangle over worship, but I am trying to better understand some of the objections to what is called high worship."

Just some thoughts from someone watching from a heart filled with sadness to an extent. There is a strong momentum building in the Christian Agrarian Blogging community. God is being glorified and honored on this little segment of the web. The enemy doesn't like it not one little bit. "A house divided against itself will not stand." Think of this when approaching clarification of issues on cyberspace. Contention, division, debates rise up in when getting "theological" whatever that means. I realize just expressing my daily ins and outs on the farm expresses theology in some way. I think the enemy has a vested interest in innocent clarifying conversations becoming debates because the message of hope found in living a simple life is obscured by the confusion and hurt feelings followed by judgements.

It will take me a life time of searching the scriptures daily to understand all the issues raised here...as I gain life experience, the scripture is deeper and richer. Some of this discussion stretches me so much so that my eyes cross. It is good to think on these things...but often times I see division. My sadness is because, what once was joyous proclaimation of the glory of God is reduced to division. Can this be avoided? Maybe not...just thinking out loud.

 
At 7:37 PM, Blogger Scott Holtzman said...

Christina,

Be not sad. (Please) For as I understand it, and (subject me to correction if I am wrong here) James may agree with me, we are far from being “at odds” with each other. In fact it is with deep admiration that I received James reply to a “non-answer”. For I perceived and possibly he as well that we might be approaching a concept that we were looking at from different perspectives, and that is what I hope I addressed when I wrote:

“Quite honestly, I began to write something regarding this issue when I formed the post and in prayer and conscious consideration removed the references. I didn’t think I could do the matter justice or provide and means of clarity regarding the issue at this time.”

I holdfast to the belief that with “liberal applications of grace & goodwill” toward our fellow man, with the desire first to understand then to be understood, that we might come toward the unity of the faith expressed in the scriptures. (Ephesians 4:12-13) That in study, prayer and wholesome communication with one another we might build up and strengthen one another’s faith and so provide each other hope and not despair. (Ephesians 4:29-32)

If anything the fault is mine, in using the term ‘high-church’ I might as well said ‘high-minded’. As I was not referring to any denominational perspective as I was to referring to ones use of terms that (at times) seem to “talk over” the heads of the listeners so as to make one feel foolish or unlearned. Perceiving the potential of terms being “misconstrued”, I backed away from “further clarification” as I am sure many are aware of and you so rightly pointed out “when approaching clarification of issues on cyberspace”.

Some things are better covered in person over a cup of coffee or not at all. (for conscious sake and peace among individuals) As for consideration for a person expressing ones views or thoughts on a mater or subject “barnyard or bible” (even theological) I think that no mater what the topic, if the ‘listener’ approaches it with grace and good will, no offence need be taken and no condemnation but commendation for having put forth something to make one think.

Through this post and subsequent conversations I myself came to learn more about history, the church, my fellow believers and friends. I can say with sincere heart and good conscious, “I am the better for it.” Thank you for adding to my understanding, all.

 
At 8:20 PM, Anonymous KS Milkmaid said...

Scott:

I am so sorry, I was not clear in expressing myself. I have not seen debates of contention among agrarian bloggers at this point. I have seen deep respect and consideration. In this discussion I see exactly that...respect for each other. I see these kind of debates in other blogging threads. I had just returned from visiting one when I saw this posting. My hope is it will not occur the Agrarian Blogging Community. I surmise that Satan will try to use contention to destroy the sense of community that exists. As long as we are aware of the strategy that satan uses I think we can avoid it here. I hope. I don't think it HAS to exist. I felt the need to articulate the strategy of the enemy for consideration. My sadness, is seeing so many Christians wrangle over issues . I, too, am learning so much from other agrarians that I can hardly put my bible down. I think that is a good thing. I just pray for unity to continue in this movement. Thanks for your sincere response. Hopefully, I will be able to clearly express myself in the future. Sorry to leave the impression that I was saddened by the comments on this blog. It is hardly the case at all.

 
At 8:24 PM, Blogger Scott Holtzman said...

KM,

Good. :^)

 
At 5:24 PM, Blogger Northern Farmer said...

Scott,
Thank you for such an interesting thread, and all the others that wrote. Over on my blog I stay away from the heavy thinking on purpose, only because I can keep some control on it being simple.Guess you could call it a blog like a child.But that doesn't mean I don't read with interest on my fellow blogger's sites. I'm more than inspired by the civility of this little community. Bless You All.

 
At 1:12 AM, Blogger JM said...

All,

I echo these sentiments... I think there is room for healthy debate on weighty issues. I applaude those with the mind power and temperment to engage in such debate. This whole blogging thing is stretching me, that's for sure a good thing.

JM

 

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