What is a church? | Frequently asked questions

4. Are you saying that church structure is the only thing that really matters and that all you need to do is to get that right?


Absolutely not! Church structure on its own without those in the church growing in the Lord and in their relationship with Him is like having a wineskin with hardly any wine in it. And of course the whole idea is for us to be all the time being filled up more and more with Jesus himself. Being part of a church is one of His main provisions for this in order that we are facilitated to grow and mature spiritually together, and it is therefore of considerable importance that everything about churches be based on what the New Testament reveals rather than on teachings and traditions which go against it. However, unless Jesus is becoming all the time more and more of our Lord and Life then it’s all just so much dust and hot air. There is absolutely no and/or on the issue of wine and wineskin, it is rather a definite and completely non-negotiable both/and. The solution regarding any biblical churches which aren’t very much alive in the Lord is not for them to become in any way less biblical in their structure and set up, but to just become more alive in Jesus.

Think of a church as being a glove into which the Lord wants to put His hand in order that He might be able to move through it. That and that alone is what it’s all about! However, a glove without the hand in it is pretty useless, and that’s what a spiritually dead biblical church would be like. (As I have said elsewhere, I have been in churches which were biblically based in every way in so far as their structure and practice was concerned, yet which were spiritually quite deathly and oppressive because of wrong attitudes and lack of love.) Yet imagine, equally, the Lord trying to get His hand in a glove that’s completely the wrong shape. Too many fingers, perhaps! No thumb, maybe! He’ll always do His best, of course, and move through it to whatever extent He can. (We are not in any way implying that the Lord doesn’t use or bless unbiblical churches.) But how much better to just be the right shape.

But perhaps even more accurately we could imagine a spiritually dead biblical church to be like a glove made from metal. It’s the right shape; that is, biblical in setup and format, and the hand is inside; that is, those who comprise it are true believers and the Lord is with them. But because the glove has such little give in it it’s pretty useless for the purpose for which it is supposed to exist; that is, in order for the hand to move through it! Indeed, a hand could arguable do somewhat more through a compliant glove which was the wrong shape for it to fit in properly than it could through a correctly shaped but immoveable metal one. Thus there are doubtless biblical churches which wise believers would do well to stay away from and, should there be no spiritually alive biblical churches to be part of that they are aware of in their area, stick in with a good spiritually alive unbiblical one.

So the answer is a most resounding No! Biblical church structure on its own is far from being enough. As I sometimes like to say, eleven dead men don’t make a football team! You can lay them out on the pitch in all the right kit and with each player in their respective positions. The whistle can blow to start the game and the crowd can roar all it likes. But nothing can change the simple fact that there’s no life there, but just eleven corpses lying in a football field! Believe me, if that’s the case then the game just ain’t gonna happen!

I will end with some very biblical advice. If you are an alive-in-the-Lord-unbiblical church then I urge you to get biblical as a church and thereby get even more alive in Him. If you are a dead un-loving biblical church then I urge you to get alive in the Lord and right with Him. And if you are an alive-in-the-Lord biblical church I say....yeah, right on!!!!

 

 

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