Christ is the head of the church. Paul said […] the church is unique among mankind’s institutions. The church has been given the Holy Spirit in a special way: “For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.” The language of the sacrament of baptism is crucial to Paul’s metaphor of the church as Christ’s body. By placing its members under the covenantal sign of baptism, the church extends its authority and influence in history.
The Holy Spirit is Christ’s agent of communication and direction in history. Paul used a metaphor to describe the church–the body–but he did not rest his case on a mere metaphor. He rested it rather on the historical action of the Holy Spirit within the church. This action is judicial: the sacramental act of baptism. The church is a sacramentally unified institution. No other institution possesses this judicial mark of God’s delegated authority.
It is the Church that is the gateway to God’s salvation of both men and nations.
What is the secret of successful, God-honoring ecclesiastical reformation? Word-and-deed evangelism. There must be straight speaking (orthodoxy) coupled judicially with straight actions (orthopraxy). James was clear about this.
Straight talk, and straight actions, working as one. (James 2:14-26).
This is not “works religion.” This is God’s inspired word. Reformation should begin with a recognition that God’s predestinating grace underlies both our faith and our works. “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them” (Eph. 2:8-10). It is not surprising that modern fundamentalists memorize verses 8 and 9, but then neglect to memorize verse 10 — a verse which announces both God’s predestination and our mandatory ethical response.
A person who wants to advance the kingdom of God through church growth and the extension of church influence must demonstrate his commitment to orthodoxy by means of his orthopraxy. What men see in us is more important initially than what they hear from us.
It’s worth repeating: “What men see in us is more important initially than what they hear from us.”
The Bible is very clear about this temporal relationship between sight and sound, both personally (as we read in James) and institutionally:
Behold, I have taught you statutes and judgments, even as the Lord my God commanded me, that ye should do so in the land whither ye go to possess it. Keep therefore and do them; for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the nations, which shall hear all these statutes, and say, Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people. For what nation is there so great, who hath God so nigh unto them, as the LORD our God is in all things that we call upon him for? And what nation is there so great, that hath statutes and judgments so righteous as all this law, which I set before you this day? (Deut. 4:5-6).
While we are FIRST saved, and then DO good works, the pagans around us FIRST see the works, and THEN – if we have done right by God and man – judge us to be righteous men, with a credible witness worth listening to.
So, the next point sees that we must have a self-discipline life…
The reformer must discipline his life in terms of the ethical and judicial imperatives of his recommended reform. That is to say, point three of the biblical covenant model (law) must govern point four (sanctions). All government begins with self-government. The restraining sanctions should be applied internally before they are imposed externally.
…and then become a recruiting sergeant, before rising to a commanding general:
The reformer needs to recruit people who are self-disciplined. He must encourage all of them to identify those tasks for which their individual skills are uniquely suited. He must draw from them the productivity that others have not recognized–in some cases, not even themselves. He must recruit eyes and encourage them to stand watch–first over their own acts. He must recruit ears and encourage them to listen carefully–first to their own words, unspoken as well as spoken. He must recruit many hands and feet. The point is, he must serve as a recruiting officer before he serves as a general. Men and women must be recruited to serve.
Unlike biblical civil government, an institution of exclusively negative sanctions, the church is an agency that extends both positive and negative sanctions.
Today’s intensely anti-Christian governments provide positive sanctions, as they – and not the Church – are to be seen as the source of salvation for mankind. Any secularist could tell you the same.
For most people in the West, the positive sanctions of the State are
- Free Education – to better teach all, from their youth, to Submit to the Bureaucracy (while getting the kids out of your hair)
- Free/Cheap Government Health Care: “For the People – and not God – will heal you”; and
- Free Welfare Money: “For the State gives you bread without labour. We feed you and house you… we heal you from sickness… we teach your children without cost.”
And the desired reply?
“Exalted be the Name of the Leader! Exalted be the State and It’s Might!” — the natural response of the People to the Idol it has made.
Why do Christian nations insist on looking up to the State their Healer and their Source of Bread, when there are multitudes of pagans who know better – even in China, or the Islamic cultures?
(Yes, they have their own idols: but at least they don’t adore The Leader and The State!)
Anyways, back from dying and bankrupt delusions, to genuine salvation for the long haul:
Beyond collecting the tithe from voting members, the institutional church can extend positive sanctions in history only by recruiting and mobilizing those members who will voluntarily donate their time and money. The church cannot lawfully draft members into particular forms of service. This is the challenge of effective church leadership: providing a vision of victory, a plan of action based on a strategy of service, and specific assignments.
SO: a vision of victory, a plan of action based on service (as opposed to deception or power), placing the right man in the right place.
The successful reformer should begin with a vision of victory for both time and eternity. He needs a strategy of service: a broad vision of what needs to be done by his local congregation, which is a member of the Church international. He needs a step-by-step program for volunteers to commit to for at least one year. This program must be governed by the U.S. Army’s number-one rule governing all tactics, KISS: “Keep it simple, stupid.” That is to say, he needs the division of labor. He cannot be a leader without followers, He cannot logically expect to mobilize followers without a list of assignments. He must match assignments with available volunteers. A full year’s service will show all those concerned whether the match between a volunteer and his assignment has worked.
- a vision of victory, now and eternally
- also, regionally and nationally
- doable by the ordinary people of the local congregation
- (while extraordinary people are welcome, they must not be necessary)
- “Keep it simple, stupid”
- Use the division of labour, with assignments;
- Let a year pass to see if someone is successful in a given assignment.