Saturday, May 8, 2010

The Church's Sin

In the past few years I've come to a conclusion, rightly or wrongly, about the nature of the institution which is the Church of Christ, the body of believers here on earth, composed of sinful and repenting men hoping in Christ for salvation. Of course the Church is also the bride of Christ and against it the gates of hell shall not prevail. I also believe that the Church is "a pillar and buttress of the truth (1 Tim. 3:15)." But even with these qualities, through my reading of church history, I can't help but come to the conclusion that the Church has been guilty over and over again of one of the worst sins it could commit. This realization only strengthens my conviction that all of my hope must be in Christ and not in myself or any earthly institution. I say all of this as a man who strives, by God's grace, to be committed to His Church, to worship Him there and to serve my brothers and sisters in it. But as I said I think the Church, or at least large portions of it, have been guilty of a sin over and over again throughout history. The following quote pretty well sums up my conclusion:

"Losing the gospel doesn’t happen all at once, it’s much more like a four generation process too:

The gospel is accepted —>

The gospel is assumed —>

The gospel is confused —>

The gospel is lost.”

-J. Mack Stiles (H/T: Justin Taylor)


Anonymous said...

Hi Matt,

Happy Sabbath!

So, do you think that Christianity follows this pattern in sync, or do denominations follow one another into it? (Such as the Protestant Reformation sparking the Catholic counter-reformation)

Anyway, if you feel The Church collectively takes this path, where are we now?

~Scarlet Pimpernel

Matt Perkins said...

Hey S.P.,
Sorry I'm very busy so probably won't have as in-depth an answer as I would like.

I think that individual churches, denominations and even the entire Christian church have at times followed this pattern. I think even in the early centuries of church history the gospel was for the most part "assumed," and in ensuing centuries it was confused and by the Reformation it was either lost or sorely confused with perhaps a few exceptions. Since the Reformation the pattern has been the same with denominations arising which originally had many preachers who were faithful to the gospel but over the generations assumed it, confused it and then lost it. I think this is true of the denomination I was raised in - the United Methodist Church. Whether you agree with Wesley's Arminianism or not, he was a man who preached the gospel. And the original Methodists were faithful gospel preachers but over a little more than a hundred years the gospel was assumed, then confused then lost for the most part in that denomination. God has gracefully shed His light in the hearts of various men throughout history though who have recovered an understanding of and acceptance of the gospel and who have then preached it - sometimes followed by reformations or revivals.

When it comes to where we are now I think it's good for every Christian to ask themselves whether the basic gospel message is preached in their church. Of course if one belongs to a group or denomination which denies the gospel in its basic tenets, that we are justified by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, then the chances of belonging to an individual congregation in that group where the gospel is preached is virtually non-existent.

Anonymous said...

Dear Matt,

No worries, brother. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

Take care.


Anonymous said...

I agree with you Matt that we should never let our guard down because the triune enemies of our soul: the devil, the world, and our own flesh are constantly out to deceive us. It is interesting that you should use this example of how little by little we become less steadfast and vigilant in our watch and walk. At first we are all fired up for the gospel and then as time goes on, we become less enthusiastic; so begins the downward spiral. We let our guard down a little and before we know it, we are walking in the ways of the world, the gospel forsaken and forgotten. I’ve heard it preached many a time how the devil will just get a pinkie and before we know it, he has us by the hand and eventually the person as a whole, if one isn’t constantly in the Word and doesn’t have on the armor and shield of the Lord.
Thanks for the reminder and insight,