What constitutes a Church? According to Paul

According to Paul, the Church at Corinth was made up of a separated (sanctified) and called out group of people who believe (called upon the name) on Jesus Christ. 

There is a lot in this one verse that should cause us to take a second look at our ideas and comfort level with our local church. I’m not talking about interdenominational community, I’m referencing our view of who we are as a community in our church. 

The verbs “sanctified” and “called” remind me of the act of a shepherd or a cattle rancher who has to separate specific animals from the flock or herd. He would first find the ones who he needs, separate them from the larger group and finally he would grab the animal he intended to retain.

Maybe the idea is best expressed in our culture by using a child’s birthday party. Let’s say it’s a bounce house full of 25 3rd graders. Your boy is the one in the middle of the group who is having the time of his life. The cake is ready to eat but the kids are so loud you can’t get his attention. 

Finally, you jump into the bounce house and crawl over to his area. One after another kid jumps over your back. Some are successful while others…not so much. You make it to the back left corner of the air filled sweat factory and your boy is in the middle is 3 other boys all trying to reach the top of the bounce house. 

Your voice is timid at first because you don’t want to scare the little girl that is next to you already transfixed by all the action going on and is just sitting in the middle watching you make your way past her. But when your voice doesn’t carry far enough into the tough skinned ear canal of your child, you yell. This gets your son’s attention and you reach out and grab him. He yields to the persuasive look on your face and jumps on your back to get out of the war zone.

He hangs on for dear life and you both make it out of there alive. Leaving behind a mess of kids struggling to get back on their feet. 

That is what it means to be called out by God. Everyone in the church has experience the spiritual separating and calling of God. The public profession of that alignment is baptism and then membership with a local body of these called out believers. 

The basic foundation of the church is this fundamental look at the body of people called the church. It’s an amazing organism and ordained by God Himself through Christ. All the more reason to not neglect the gathering of your local church. It’s incredibly special to be able to be apart of it. 

I believe if we could all get back to the basics of what makes up the church, our ministries would be much more impactful.

And…who doesn’t need a picture of Zeke to rest their eyes upon? Good looking and great smelling. Debbie calls him out all the time. “Zeke! You stink!” Who knew mature goats were so impressive with their smell. I didn’t, but now I do. 

Corinth was not much unlike our culture

The culture of first century Corinth appears to be eerily similar to our modern culture here in America. In many ways we have just changed the methods of our excessiveness and corruption but the heart has remained as bent toward distorting truth as ever.

Lest we take a “higher view” of ourselves and miss the insight of these 2 books, check carefully the mindset of your view of today’s culture and remember that we are influenced every day by the culture we live in. As much as we like to deny the inevitable “transfer of paint”, our lives can only be sharpened if we finally surrender ourselves to God’s hardline on sin and it’s ever present effects in our lives and churches.

It appears that in the city of Corinth’s corrupt culture was shaped by 3 main aggravates:

  1. Connections – it was at a pivotal crossroads in history during Paul’s day. It had no lack of information. The educational and social centers were known through the world and had few places that could match the level of “culture” this connectedness brought to the city.
  2. Influential – it is estimated that this city consisted of a population of 600,000-700,000. Politics was a heavy hand in the culture of Corinth. It had deep connections with every part of the known world at the time. I would assume that if Rome wanted to see it’s rising stars, it looked into the political elite of Corinth.
  3. Affluent – money and fortune were the driving forces of the Corinthian people. The population had a huge disparity between the wealthy and the poor (slaves). Those who had, wanted more and those who had not, needed more. Always chasing the next opportunity drove this fast-paced work addicted society. 

To finish out the intro I wanted to share a picture of a boy (Garrett) in a tree! It has nothing to do with the study of 1st and 2nd Corinthians (or does it).

Can my zeal for God turn away His wrath?

Rock of agesCould my efforts save me from the punishment I deserve in my rejection of God? My sin cannot be overcome by my hands or wisdom.

This experiment of trying to save myself has been repeated and failed in every soul that has walked the earth from the beginning of time. It is impossible to please God through my hands or intentions. 

Accepting the atonement of Christ’s sacrifice is the only way to escape the wrath of a Holy God. 

It’s His mercy that allows us to see the way. It is His Grace that allows us to be accepted.

Poem: “Rock of Ages” by Augustus Toplady – 1776

What does the Law actually do?

The law was given to Moses and was not an introduction of sin. It simply magnified the true nature of sin and our desperate condition of being condemned. 

There is more to it though.

The Law did not create Grace. Grace was always there since the Fall of Adam and Eve. Like a good school teacher, the Law shows us what was already in existence by magnifying the nature of something through a series of laws. 

The Law then shows the need for a Saviour by magnification but that need was established in Genesis by Adam and then through Abraham. 

We need to be clothed in God’s Righteousness or we are condemned because HE is Holy and Righteous and that demands everything around Him to be the same. Like two magnets that oppose each, God’s righteousness pushes away unrighteousness. 

But Christ’s righteousness is given to us by Grace through Faith just as in the time before the Law. 

when this all comes together we can more easily see the purpose of the Law given in Exodus and properly understand it’s role in our salvation and explaining it to others.

Help me out, how do you explain the purpose of the Law in salvation?

Our culture doesn’t understand redemption: PROOF

Studies have shown that about $1 billion in gift card money doesn’t get redeemed every year. This is free money so why does this happen? 

There are a few requirements that the redemption process has in it that may hinder redeeming gift card money. 

  1. Value must be locked up
  2. A code must be used to unlock the value
  3. The value must be used in the market it was locked up in

So considering these “hurdles” and the lack of many people’s willingness to act in order to use the value, I am concluding that redemption is a term that doesn’t quite fit into our culture. 

  1. There are too many restrictions or hurdles
  2. The “value” just isn’t worth it to many
  3. The market is not what we want to be in

All of these statements could be made in regards to the problem but it comes down to knowing the process of redemption and being willing to include it into our life. 
Christ has redeemed us. 

Applying these previously listed redemption requirements helps to understand why our culture is limited in it’s understanding of what that powerful phrase means.

God saw value in us and was willing to be “in the marketplace” to redeem us. We are now free to love Him and in return He is able to have a relationship with us and we can experience communion with Him.

“Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us…” – Gal 3:13

What the Law Cannot do, Christ did.

The law is able to curse and punish. It doesn’t know mercy or grace. It only knows justice and condemnation. 

Through the Law we are able to see God’s Holiness and Glory but we also see our state of sinfulness that “falls short” of the mark. But, what the law could not do, Jesus did.

In Jesus the righteousness of the law was fulfilled. Gal. 3:13 – “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us…” 

Jesus took our curse for us. The cost was high but He took our debt and paid it all. No part could I play because I was powerless. 

If righteousness can come by the law…

Paul was amazed at the possibility of those who saw the need for Christ for salvation but then sought to “perfect” their salvation by works. (Gal. 3:3) 

It is Jesus who is the perfection of our faith. He is the Righteousness we need and must continually rely on.

It’s not the works that we have done but the Righteousness that He Is.

What am I relying on for my relationship with God that isn’t Jesus? 

(Press Reset Button NOW)

Bonus: The question I should ask myself after hearing the Abraham and Isaac story is not whether or not I would sacrifice my son but whether or not I am in need of the sacrifice of God’s Son because of my sin. 

Believing in God and Believing on God are 2 different things.

I know it sounds like a simple play with semantics but it could be a clear defining line of where someone is in their relationship with God. 

Abraham believed on God’s promises and it was counted as righteousness before God. 

Judas believed in God but after kissing the face of God he betrayed Him. 

Believing in God is one of the most fundamental aspects of our humanity. It is a natural trait that every human is born with. 

Believing in the promise of God is like jumping in the wheelbarrow of a tight rope walker that you believe can make it across safely. There is a big difference in simply believing in the tight rope walker and believing on the tight rope walker.

Get in the wheelbarrow of God’s promises today! It’s stable and secure. The storms come and the troubles threaten but the promises of God always withstand and accomplish what He says.

3 Years Ago Today We Said Goodbye

It was 3 years ago today that I was forced to say goodbye to a good friend. It was my first blogging community. At the helm was a kind (atleast I thought he was) and giving blogger named @tomfoolery. Then on April 1, 2010 I woke up to this horror of a blog post…

“This is the last post for More Than Useless. Blogging and commenting have been a lot of fun and I really do enjoy it, but maintaining the current format of this site along with the frequency is challenging.

Over the past few months, I’ve had a number of awesome opportunities arise online and offline – I’m passionate about them and excited for the work I’m going to be doing. To that, I want to make sure that I can give each of them the focus and effort that they deserve.

I’m likely going to reboot the site sometime in the future though it will be much more casual in nature (so maintain the RSS subscription if you’re actually interested).

You can still follow me rambling on about a variety of tomfoolery via Twitter, contributing more content to the 8BIT Network, working to push out more awesomeness for the Standard Theme, and focusing on a few other things.

This isn’t an April Fool’s joke. I know, the timing sucks. It never was my thing.”

Sometimes the cruelest April fools jokes aren’t jokes at all. 🙁