Wednesday, August 26, 2015

August 27, 2015

"Where there is knowledge it shall pass away." I Corinthians 13:8

Let's face it, the Corinthian Church was not a healthy church but yet it has a lot it can teach the modern church about what is necessary for a church to be healthy.

So far we have learned that a healthy church:
  • Builds around good solid Biblical preaching but not around the personality or talents of the pastor as the church's foundation.
  • Allows for the operation of the gift of tongues within Biblical guidelines and avoids the divisive pitfalls that often accompany the practice of this gift. Building a church upon the doctrine of tongues is a prescription for failure
Today we will learn one other temporary foundation to avoid building your church upon - knowledge.

What does he mean by "knowledge"?

"Knowledge" in this case refers to certain insight or discernment given by the Holy Spirit enabling you to know or learn what you wouldn't know otherwise.

That sounds like a good thing! How can that be destructive to a church?

Here is how I have seen knowledge become a negative factor to a church. In my years of ministering in local churches and serving with pastors knowledge becomes destructive when it becomes a substitute for a clear Holy Spirit vision.

I don't know how many times I have seen a struggling church attempt to revitalize itself by imitating a strategy from another church judged to be successful. They make the mistake of believing because it worked for that church it will work for theirs.

The idea you can build a healthy growing church on someone else's vision and strategy is not a prescription for success or blessing. Trusting in the strategies of men in the place of seeking wisdom and direction from God is not a prescription for healthy growth. And yet we run from coast to coast and from one church growth conference to the next seeking knowledge on how to build a spiritual church.

Shouldn't we start by staying in our place of prayer until we get some knowledge from God?

August 26, 2015

"Where there are tongues they will be stilled" I Corinthians 13:8 

This chapter is introduced as "the more excellent way". More excellent than what?

In short, it is more excellent than the church operating in the flesh.

Chapter 12 finds Paul introducing the concept of spiritual gifts and how they fit into the design of the church. Chapter 14 is instruction in the two most coveted gifts, prophecy and tongues. These gifts are desired because they are the most public and bring the most attention and praise to those possessing them.

The key word in spiritual gifts is the word "spiritual". Gifts are designed to operate in the Spirit of God which is the point of Chapter 13. When spiritual gifts operate in the fruit of the Spirit it brings the blessing of health to a church. But when gifts operate in the flesh they can create strife and division within a church.

So, that brings us to our theme of improper foundations for building a church. Preaching/prophecy can be a tricky foundation when the focus shifts from the preaching to the preacher. And without a sustained and intentional focus that will happen. When it happens it doesn't end well.

Likewise, a church built on a foundation speaking in tongues is not a long-term formula for success. Many churches are built around the doctrine of speaking in tongues. 

What is speaking in tongues?

That is the problem. There are differing ideas and attitudes about what this gift is and how it operates. Some say it is an ecstatic language for the purpose of praying and communing with God. They would call this a "prayer language" or "praying in the Spirit". Others say it is a language that promotes worship and some would say it aids in evangelism. Where there are differing opinions there is a high potential for strife and division.

Because of the confusion around the primary purpose of tongues there is high potential for a congregation to have disagreements. A healthy church enjoys unity but unity is hard to find when they are fundamental misunderstandings and disagreements surrounding their primary doctrine.

If you have been around the faith for awhile and have any familiarity with churches you probably have a story about a church that has split because of disagreements over the purpose and use of tongues. 

The doctrine of tongues and speaking in tongues have probably caused more church splits that any other religious doctrine. So, with this being true, why would we choose to build a church on this foundation of the gift of speaking in tongues? That doesn't seem like a formula for long-term success.

Over the years I have heard stories of churches that have been split over the controversy caused by division over tongues. Some of them have been Wesleyan Churches.

It is interesting to note that in comparing and contrasting spiritual gifts Paul ranks preaching/prophecy as a more useful gift to the Church than speaking in tongues. But he also has positive things to say about them both.

A healthy church needs strong biblical preaching and can benefit from those who properly use the gift of tongues. But using either as the foundation to build a church upon is a prescription for failure.