Getting To the Root Of the Problem

As the discussion of ecclesiomethodology has unfolded over the past few months, a number of problems have been identified and discussed. Among these problems are lack of or stunted Christian growth, “worshiptainment” (that’s a good word that Steve coined) replacing genuine praise and worship, biblical ignorance, misunderstood and misapplied roles of leadership and probably several more that I am not listing here. If you think of one that I haven’t listed, feel free to add it to the rest.

These are legitimate concerns, please do not think that I am not giving them the attention they deserve. Anyone who thinks that I am overlooking these problems need only dig through the archives of some of the blogs I mentioned yesterday (especially Steve’s) and they will find that I have already stipulated the existence of these problems. So I see no need to revisit them in their details at this point.

There are two considerations that I would like to suggest before I progress any further.

First, I would suggest that, serious though these problems may be, they are but symptoms of a larger and deeper problem within the church.

Second, while these problems are certainly present in the traditional church model, could it be that they are not inherent to that model, but are so visible in that setting only because (until recently, at least) the traditional model has been the only game in town?

Church “systems” are, I believe, a product of the evolution of the church within its culture. Look at history and you will see the impact that culture had on the way that church was “done”. Persecution of the early church caused its dispersal around the civilized world of that time. The persecution by the Roman Empire literally drove the church underground. The politicizing and corruption of the medieval church gave birth to the Reformation, etc., etc.

Even in our time, if you look around the world you will see how geography, economics, political tensions, persecution and a host of other factors impact the way that church is carried out in various cultures. Believers may meet under a tree in the Sudan, in a house in China, in a hut in the South Pacific, in ancient buildings in Europe or in modern facilities in Western settings. I believe that this suggests that ecclesiomethodology is a fluid concept, not bound by rigid mandates of scripture, but a liberty given by God to adapt to the best way of letting us demonstrate the graces of God.

In whatever form the church has appeared, there have been problems. Every “system” has had its strengths as well as its weaknesses. Like forms of government their effectiveness is largely based upon the abilities of the people who administer them (I know, the church has a spiritual source of power, I am coming to that.). Monarchy can be a good thing, if you have a good monarch. Democracy is wonderful until elected officials become corrupted (are we there yet?). Some would even argue the merits of socialism, yet history is full of examples of the abusiveness of that form of government when it is in the hands of greedy leaders.

My point is, every church “system” is a method that is developed by flawed people. The problems that each system experiences are not a result of the structure, but are a reflection of the tensions between what the church ought to be and our sinful human nature (Romans 7:14-25).

So what then? Is the church just to limp along in its humanity, limited to the abilities of its members? Not at all. It is the body of Christ. We have a spiritual head that is able to compensate for and overcome our weaknesses. We have the power of the Holy Spirit to enable us to carry out the legitimate functions of the body. We have the gifts and grace of God to strengthen one another and complement the individuality of each member.

Why then do we still have problems?

I believe the source of the problems as well as the solution is identified in the warning to the Ephesian church in Revelation 2:1-7. The Ephesian church was characterized by their work, their labors for others, their patience, their separation from worldliness, their doctrinal purity and their steadfastness. Sounds like a pretty good church doesn’t it? And yet we find they are chastised because they have departed from their love for Christ.

When the church, regardless of its format, is motivated by anything other than passion for Christ, its methods are doomed to failure. When we fail to obey the Great Commandment, we lose our connection to the source that guarantees our success. We become guilty of committing the most satanic of sins, pride.

Consider the difference that passion or Christ makes. If the Word of God is presented, whether in a sermon or around a table of fellowship, a heart that is in love with Christ will benefit from it. When music, drama or any other art form is presented by one who is truly performing as an act of worship, Christ will be glorified and it will cease to be entertainment. When leaders are motivated to serve others because of their love for Christ, abuses of leadership will not take place.

Christ is the foundation of the building, He is the husband of the bride, He is the head of the body. Whatever analogy you choose to use to describe Christ’s relationship with the church, it all comes down to this, the church’s first priority is to worship Christ Jesus. The church is about Him, not us. It is not about our needs, frustrations, hurts, or any other human factor. We are called to worship Him with all that we are.

I believe that the overall effectiveness of the body in fulfilling this priority is determined by the willingness of individual members to comply with God’s command to love Him. I have a personal responsibility to each of you as fellow-members to worship Christ.

For the sake of the body, let us look beyond our problems, our methods, our preferences, yes even beyond our ideals and return to our first love.

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50 responses to “Getting To the Root Of the Problem

  1. http://www.freewebs.com/friendsareagift
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    Just thought I’d drop in and say great site.
    I’m Joe’s Jottings Wife, BJ.
    God Bless You.

  2. Hi Gordon-

    I’ve taken a slightly less scholarly approach to a very similar topic…life in the body. Shameless plug link to…
    http://pastortony.wordpress.com/2007/01/31/crate-training-a-puppy-at-330-am/

  3. Great series Preacher. I think in this article you’ve fully defined “Tinkling Bell” syndrome as “our” primary problem and the cure, as you stated, is to return to that most precious first love.

  4. gordon

    thoughtful approach to the question of institutional church issues. i would like to respond on two different strains.

    FIRST, i think you hit something about the fallibility of human systems, and i would like to relate that to the political systems you described. i think it is a very apt analogy to think about church systems and political systems hand in hand. you often find that churches mirror the political system in which they exist (because people of that community make up the system).

    with that said, let’s talk a little political philosophy for a moment. in america (which i dont completely agree with), we see a democratic capitalistic political structure. thus, our churches are often similar (by in large). while the american system has its flaws (as all human political systems), there is much to be said for some of the characteristics leading to a more balanced government. i think that the church often has done best in similar systems. look at the reformed tradition. there are checks and balances, etc. so while all political systems are relatively just as valid (some to be excluded), i think there are some that TEND to OFTEN be better than others.

    i think in the same way, some church systems (which are human in origin) are better than others to protect against our own human errors. i used to be fairly against the entire church system because i saw flaws in them all, but i have recently been more and more attractive so a system that has checks and balances to our human flaws.

    SECOND, i would like to talk about the “loveless” church of ephesus. i think that you are right on the money about the greatest command being the key to it all. i think that the reason church systems fail is because we fail with love. as paul says, love completes the law. so for any church to be good it must have love.

    but i would like to discuss the losing your first love in rev 2:1-7. if we look at the context of the ephesian church, we find that the problem wasnt necessarily losing their love for Jesus. (although ultimately that was the issue) check out acts 19, which is about paul and the ephesian church. he and a group of disicples get rejected by the city. so they withdraw to a lecture hall, where paul trains these disciples for two years. the conclusion of this training is acts 19:10, “the whole province of asia heard the word of the Lord”. so paul and his disciples spread the good news so well that the entire asia minor heard the Word. that’s incredible. and yes, it is because they loved Jesus, but more than that they loved their fellow man. they went throughout a huge region of the world and preached the good news out of love for those people.

    now, look at the way the church changed. paul tells timothy to go to ephesus to stop the heresy that was beginning. so a church that had always been focused on sharing the gospel, now focused inward toward right doctrine. (by the way, i think often the church splits and fights today are often because we are worried more about EXACTLY right doctrine rather than sharing the gospel)

    now, in that context, if we look at rev 2:1-7, we see that Jesus thinks that their doctrine is great, but that they have lost the love the had at first. the love they had at first was for Jesus and to share the good news of Him to others.

    finally, put this together with the greatest commandment. what did Jesus say it was? love God? no, that was only half of it. He said love God and your neighbor. they cant be separated. thus, the real issue with the church systems i think is an issue of love. we must love the LORD our God with all of our heart, mind and strength and love our neighbor as ourself. only as churches (of any system) obey the greatest commandment, can they truly be a good system.

    CONCLUSION, i think that some systems tend to be better at protecting the church against human error, BUT the only thing that truly matters is the church’s love for Jesus and other people. without this, any system will fail. but with this any system will succeed(to include even something like a tyrannical dictatorial hierarchy).

    let me know what yall think
    in Christ
    peter

  5. BJ and Bro. Tony, thanks for the commercials. 🙂

    KC, thanks for your support. It means a lot.

    Peter, I would tend to agree with you concerning the value of checks and balances. We need accountability and I believe that is a scriptural mandate in church.

    How that accountability is carried out can vary, and I would tend to think that it can be utilized in almost any “style” of church.

    Thanks for your thoughts and participation in the discussion. Stick around.

  6. Gordon,

    I appreciate what you have written here. What does it mean for us to love God? What does it mean for us to love others? Perhaps you are going into this later, but if not, I’d like to know what you think about these questions. Thanks!

    -Alan

  7. Gordon, some very good thoughts here. I’m very glad to be reading your thoughts on this topic.

    I can wholeheartedly agree with you that love is absolutely mandatory.

    However, are we certain what the “first love” was that the church in Ephesus left? The text does not clearly say that it was a love for Christ.

    There are an awful lot of instructions written in the NT regarding our love for one another. And our love for Christ seems to be inextricably linked in the NT to our love for one another. (For example, the early part of 1 John)

    Just curious of your thoughts on that.

  8. This is completely off the subject. I have been doing a weekly missions prayer calendar for my church for a while, and when I have a little space left, I look for a quote about missions to put at the end.

    While I was looking, I found this one by lottie Moon. “I pray that no missionary will ever be as lonely as I have been.” That’s sad, isn’t it.

  9. Good post Gordon. I agree completely, and I picked up one of your lines to move forward with.

    ” We have the power of the Holy Spirit to enable us to carry out the legitimate functions of the body.”

    I think this demonstrates part of the problem. A lot of churches don’t really recognize or realize the Holy Spirit’s active, daily participation in our lives and church

  10. Alan and Steve, thanks for your input, guys. I am going to be away from my computer this morning. I will try to respond to your questions later today.

    Beverly, that is a touching quote. We need to remember to uphold our missionaries in prayer.

    Bonnie, you are right. We often fail in the strength of the flesh when we could succeed in the power of the Holy Spirit.

  11. Very, good post. Well written and weighty.

  12. Gordon,

    Excellent post. It resonates well with what I’ve been learning through a “Church History” class I’ve just taken. Unfortunately, I can speak to first hand experience about the influence of the culture on a church. But more importantly the core of your discussion rings true. When the love fades (for Christ and others) too much falls apart.

    As a corollary, the efforts to “get back to the first century church” may be an impossibility in the 21st century (unless Rome comes and occupies the US again) because of the influence of culture and the political landscape.

    I’m Okay with that. But love has to be present, regardless.

    Steve, I think that our love for God, Christ, and our fellow man are linked together so tightly that it’s hard to parse them apart. In fact, I think that parsing them apart actually weakens them individually… My 2 cents…

  13. Tim A. Blankenship

    Gordon,
    I very much appreciate this article. The Ephesus chuch had left its first love which was Jesus.
    It does seem to me that there are a lot of local congregations getting into the ‘drawing a crowd’ mode. There is a “church” here in Missour, called “Journey” which meets in a brewery. They have meetings through the week, and some come and get a beer and join in the conversations. It is “Growing”, but at what cost.
    I, myself find it to be a shame to the name of Jesus Christ, and I am also ashamed to say it has been sponsored by the Missouri Baptist Convention.
    Is this really church as Jesus would have it? I do not think so.
    Good article Gordon. Thanks.

  14. Bro. Garry, thanks for stopping by and commenting.

    Bro. TA, I would definitely agree with you in your sentiments toward what you discussed.

    Byevad, Alan and Steve, when it comes to love, I would agree that loving God and loving man are linked together. Steve, as you pointed out in I John, it indicates that we cannot love God unless we love the brethren, and our love for God will enhance our love for the brethren. I discussed this as aspects of vertical and horizontal fellowship in the series on I John that I posted last year.

    Alan, as for defining them, I tend to think that love for God is somewhat different than loving man, and yet it is similar.

    I believe that loving God involves adoration, submission, worship, affection and especially obedience. However we define or describe it, I believe that to truly love God, we must do so on His terms, not ours. He reserves the right to define “love”.

    I think that loving the brethren would involve loving them in the way that God would love them. I used to think that this love was based on affection for one another, I am rethinking that position. I believe it is possible to demonstrate godly love to someone without actually having a “warm, fuzzy feeling” toward them. Now it is certainly possible to have affection for the brethren, and it is good when we do, but I believe that true agape goes beyond the scope of emotion and is an action. Loving others involves showing them kindness, mercy, compassion, etc. for the sake of Christ. When we can reach this point of demonstrating love to those brethren with whom we may not get along, I believe that is a manifestation of the grace of God and is undoubtedly fruit of the Spirit.

    In Romans 5, Paul refers to the “love of God (being) shed abroad in your hearts by the Holy Spirit”. The more we love Jesus, the more capacity we will have for loving others.

    While the two are, as Steve said, “inextricably linked together”, I believe that love for Jesus comes before love for man. Everything about the Christian life begins with our love for Jesus. The walk of discipleship itself is an act of love for Him that causes us to deny ourself and take up the cross to follow Him.

    “Does that make sense?” 🙂

  15. Gordon,

    Thanks for the reply. I agree with almost everything that you said. I think I understand what you mean when you said, “I believe that love for Jesus comes before love for man.” However, I think 1 John teaches that love for God and love for others must go together. You can’t have love for God without love for others.

    Also, I agree with your definition of love for God, as long as we do not leave out submission and obedience. I think Jesus said something about this as recorded in the Gospel of John. I’ve seen much “adoration”, “worship”, “affection” without submission or obedience. I’m not sure that God would call that love, and I don’t think that you are calling that love.

    I hope we continue this discussion.

    -Alan

  16. Alan, thanks for your reply.

    As I said, I believe that love for God and love for man are linked together. I say that love for God comes first, because when Jesus responded to the question of the Great Commandment, He named love for God ahead of love of man.

    A person may lack love for either man or God, or they may have a measure of love for man without loving God, but when they come to a loving relationship with God, it enables them to love man on a different level.

    I do not believe love is static. I believe what we are discussing here could be described as a spiral. The more I love God, the more I will love man, then the better I will be able to love God, and then even better able to love man, etc.

    Or perhaps we could summarize it this way: love for God is the root, love for man is the fruit.

  17. Tim, you wrote: I, myself find it to be a shame to the name of Jesus Christ, and I am also ashamed to say it has been sponsored by the Missouri Baptist Convention.
    Is this really church as Jesus would have it? I do not think so.

    I’m not necessarily disagreeing with your conclusions, but I’m curious what leads you to those conclusions?

    Gordon, I’m not sure I quite understand the point you’re trying to make about love of God vs. love of each other. You said that love of God comes before love of each other, yet in 1 John, the question isn’t “How can you say you love your brother if you don’t love God”, but rather “How can you say you love God if you don’t love your brother?”

    It makes me wonder if our love for God isn’t dependent on our love for each other.

    This actually relates to the core of your post here, because you have stressed that you believe the purpose of “church” is largely about worship of Jesus. You wrote:

    the church’s first priority is to worship Christ Jesus. The church is about Him, not us. It is not about our needs, frustrations, hurts, or any other human factor. We are called to worship Him with all that we are.

    I’m actually not sure I would completely agree with this at face value. Besides the fact that I think this creates something of a false dichotomy, I also think that it downplays the larger teaching of the New Testament (as I referenced in my earlier comment) about our obligations toward one another as the church.

    I dunno. What do you think? I said I wasn’t gonna debate much here, but you said I could comment if I wanted, so….I hope it’s not going too far for this blog. It feels so different disagreeing with you on your blog!! 😉

    And I would still be curious to your response to my question about being certain what exactly the “first love” is (or was this most recent comment your way of saying that the first love has to be Jesus since you said that comes before love for each other?)

  18. You were posting at the same time as I, so if anything in your most recent comment answers what I asked above, feel free to just reiterate that! 🙂

  19. Okay, Steve, let’s try this approach.

    Unbelievers have the capacity to love each other with phileo or eros, yet God wants us to love one another with agape. An unbeliever does not have the ability to love with agape.

    The first step in the equation is when a person is saved, thus it begins with love for God. This stage of love is adoration, affection, worship, etc. But this love is not fulfilled until it is then shared with others, this is the submission and obedience to which Alan referred.

    Jesus said, “If you love me, keep my commandments”

    Then He said, “This is my commandment that ye love one another”.

    Even in I John chapter one, John begins the epistle by describing his relationship with Christ, then expressing his desire for fellowship with the believers.

    In chapter 2, he states that a person that does not love his brother does not have the love of God abiding in him. (I am at the library right now without my Bible, so I will not attempt to recollect the exact verse 🙂 ) This would seem to indicate that love for man is an expression of love for God.

    The same thoughts are repeated in chapters 3 and 4.

    Again, I would refer you to Romans 5 where the “love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit”.

    Galatians 5:22 states that love is a fruit of the Spirit. We cannot love man to the degree that God wants us to if we do not love God.

    I would reiterate the order that Jesus gave to the “Top Two” when asked about it. He listed love for God first, then love for man. The love for God is to be with “all our heart, soul, mind and strength”. Something miraculous happens when we do that, we find the ability to love man.

    On the other hand, try loving man with “all your heart, soul, mind and strength”, and you will become incredibly frustrated, not to mention shutting out the love of God. Man simply does not have the ability to make me love God, but loving God can surely help me love man.

    I do not see this as a false dichotomy. Truly, love for God is not complete until we love the brethren, but I still say it must begin with love for Him.

    Even our purpose in loving the brethren is to glorify Jesus. “By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, that you have love for one another.” Our love for the brethren identifies us as lovers of Jesus.

  20. Hey, Steve, admit it. Would it be as easy to love me if you didn’t love God first? hehehe

  21. Gordon,

    Do we love God on our own accord? Or is this love prompted/created by the Holy Spirit? If our love for God is a work of the Spirit, could it not be that love for others is also a work of the Spirit, and that both are worked together by the Spirit?

    Can you explain to me what you mean by “the church’s first priority is to worship Jesus”? What do you mean by “church”? And what do you mean by “worship”? Thanks for putting up with our questions, and for continuing to talk with us about this.

    -Alan

  22. Alan, I am about to run out of my time allotment on the library computer. I will get back to you later this evening when I get home.

    Thanks for your participation in the discussion.

  23. Hey, Steve, admit it. Would it be as easy to love me if you didn’t love God first? hehehe

    Actually, I was having similar thoughts/fears about you having trouble loving me!!!! LOL

  24. Good thoughts on the reasons behind your “love God first” points. You’ve given me some things to think about on that.

  25. Alan, those are great questions.

    The first thing that comes to mind is, “We love him because he first loved us.” I am still working on all of the ramifications of that statement but the obvious one is that our love for God is a response to His love.

    I believe that love is a choice, particularly in reference to God. Now when we choose to love God, that love compels us to love others, or else we must abandon the thought that we love God.

    By the “church”, I am referring to the body of Christ. Now, loving God is an individual choice, not a corporate one of the entire body, but I believe every member has the responsibility to love God. This love affects others in the body, hence my statement in my post that I have a responsibility to other believers to love God.

    The definition of “worship” could easily lead to a series of posts, but my short answer would be a desire to be like Christ. The fact is, we mimic what we worship. To what higher goal could the church aspire than to reflect the glory of Christ? I believe Romans 8:28-29 reveals God’s goal for us in this matter.

    Worship causes the body to be subject to the head. As a body, we will not be able to function properly if we do not submit to our head. Thus I say, worshipping or loving Christ is the first priority of the church.

    Thanks again for your participation in the discussion.

    Steve, some folks are just easy to love. Fortunately you are one of ’em. 🙂

  26. Gordon,

    Thank you for your well-thought out response. This really is a good discussion.

    As far as your definition of “church”, I think “body of Christ” is a nebulous term. It is used in Scripture as an image of the church, but not as a definition. So, I guess I would ask, how do you define “body of Christ”.

    You defined “worship” as “a desire to be like Christ”, and said, “Worship causes the body to be subject to the head.” It would seem to me that obedience/subjection is the definition of “worship”, not the result.

    The reason that I asked this question is that I also believe the church should worship. However, when I say “the church should worship”, I think I mean something completely different than is usually meant by that phrase. I’m trying to determine how you are using that phrase.

    -Alan

  27. Alan you said, You defined “worship” as “a desire to be like Christ”, and said, “Worship causes the body to be subject to the head.” It would seem to me that obedience/subjection is the definition of “worship”, not the result.

    I think in general, I agree with that statement. I probably could have worded my comment to say that in the pursuit of our desire to be like Christ, we must subject ourselves to His headship.

    By “body of Christ”, I mean the body of believers, both global and local (however that is exercised). I believe that the definition of worship that we are discussing should drive individual believers, local assemblies and the church at large.

    I would be interested to know how you define the church in worship.

  28. Gordon,

    The individual believer worships God by obeying/submitting to him. The church (when it is gathered) also worships God by obeying/submitting to him. For the gathered church, this means that the church will determine from Scripture what God’s purpose is for them in their gathering. There is actually very few passages that deal with the gathered church, but they are fairly consistent when they speak of God’s purpose for the gathered church.

    -Alan

  29. Alan, I really don’t think we are that far apart in our definitions. Ultimately both of us are defining worship as submitting to God’s purpose. In general, I see the purpose of the church as conforming to the image of Christ. In the gatherings, as you mentioned, it is still about finding God’s purpose as revealed by Scripture.

    The bottom line is, general or specific, it’s all about Him.

  30. Gordon,

    I think may be where we diverge a bit, but not too much. We’ll still both be driving Mazdas. (If you don’t understand that, we’ll get Steve to explain it.)

    I believe that God lays out his purpose for the gathered church. That purpose: the believers should edify/encourage one another when they gather. Thus, in any gathering of believers, we worship God – that is, we are obedient to God – when we focus our attention on one another. By encouraging one another, we are actually loving God and loving others.

    -Alan

  31. The first live of my previous comment should read: “I think this may be where we diverge a bit…” Sorry!

    -Alan

  32. If we can agree that the motivation for edifying/encouraging one another is our love for God then we may even be in the same color Mazda.

  33. Now if you guys can just figure out a place of agreement on what “edifying/encouraging one another” means with regard to the gathering of the church, you’ll even have the same type of transmission.

    Part of me thinks, however, that defining “edifying/encouraging one another” may be problematic, though.

    As for me, I’m in the stands right now watching both of you drive your Mazdas around the track 😉

  34. Steve, sitting in the stands is better than laying back in a kiddie pool on top of a motorhome in the infield of the track. 🙂

  35. Gordon,

    I don’t like to hold love for God and love for others seperately. We love God and we love others: both are produced by the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives and both are requirements for believers.

    Instead of saying “the motivation for edifying/encouraging one another is our love for God “, I would probably say that the motivation for our edifying/encouraging one another is our desire to obey God (that is, to worship him). I don’t make a distinction between “worshiping God” during the gathering and “edifying/encouraging others” during the gathering.

    Steve said that we would probably disagree on the meaning of “edify/encourage one another”. I would define this as “bringing one another into maturity in Jesus Christ” from Ephesians 4:12-16. I think we would probably disagree more in HOW this should be done. You can decide if you want to go there or not.

    Steve… I’ve seen your Mazda… you know you love to drive it.

    -Alan

  36. Tim A. Blankenship

    Steve,
    In answer to your question as to why I have reached the conclusion that I have concerning the Journey “Church” in St. Louis is that the gathering of people at a brewery, sitting and drinking beers is the picture of a barroom not a church. I personally have no problem with a Christian entering a bar to witness to someone, but I believe the Bible teaches against participating, imbibing in strong drink, “Look not on the wine when it is red…” The dangers of alcohol consumption in our society are plenteous without Christians putting their seal of approval on it. That is what it appears to me to be doing.
    Gordon, and Alan,
    I believe that our true worship of Jesus will lead us to be obedient and submissive, and I do not believe it is a matter of Christians should love others, as it is that we do love others. If we do not love our brother we do not love God.
    I agree with you Gordon that it is a “Spiral”, but we could not love at all, had not God loved us first.

  37. Tim,

    You said: “I believe that our true worship of Jesus will lead us to be obedient and submissive”. I would disagree here. I think worship is obedience and submission by definition. What is your definition of “worship”?

    -Alan

  38. Tim A. Blankenship

    Alan,
    My definition of worship is to magnify the Lord Jesus, lift up His name in my heart and my life, to adore Him, to boast of Him and His greatness, To approve of Him in every situation of life, and every circumstance, to see Him as the only source of strength and life, and love. When I truly see Him this way then, I will show my love and worship by acts of obedience and submission.

  39. Tim,

    I think I understand what you are saying. I agree that we should exalt Christ, praise Christ, love Christ. However, our obedience to Christ as he has revealed himself to us results in these things, not the other way around. In other words, I obey Christ (worship him), and by that obedience I exalt Christ, praise Christ, and demonstrate my love for Christ.

    -Alan

  40. Tim A. Blankenship

    Alan,
    It seems to me that worship comes because of who He is, not what we do, and these things, ie. obedience and submission come from a heart of worship.
    I do think these things could be a part of worship, because just using words as worship without acts of obedience and submission would be hypocrisy.

  41. Tim,

    I’m not equating worship with “acts of obedience and submission” in the same way that I would not equate worship with acts of exaltation, praise, love, etc. It is the actual obedience/submission that is worship to God, not that actions themselves. All actions spring from submission. “Words” are never worship, though they may express praise or thanksgiving.

    -Alan

  42. Tim A. Blankenship

    Alan,
    I really do not think we are in complete disagreement with one another. I think we are just wording it differently.

  43. Tim,

    We may be in agreement. One thing you should know, I do not use the word “worship” in the context that it is normall used today. I do not talk about “praise and worship”, and I do not talk about “worship services”. I believe these lead to misunderstandings about how Scripture uses the word “worship”.

    -Alan

  44. Tim A. Blankenship

    And I agree.
    I have often told the people of the churches I have pastored, that worship is not just something you do on Sunday – morning or evening – or Wednesday evening. It is an everyday thing. You honor and revere the Lord on Monday morning when you arise out of bed, until the time you return to your bed, then you do so as you sleep as well. Tuesday – Saturday is no different.
    If you attend Sunday morning and evening and Wednesday as worship, but do not worship Him those other days, then there will be no worship on those days you attend church.

  45. What a great post! If only we, as believers can get it that the Church is NOT about us, our needs or desire…it/ She is His and is FOR Him alone. Our part is to love, to follow..to BE unto Him.

  46. Steve… I’ve seen your Mazda… you know you love to drive it.

    Are you trying to pull me into this discussion more, Alan? 😉 Besides, don’t forget. I drive a Dodge. hehe

    Now where’s the hot dog vendor? I need something to eat while watching this… 😉

  47. Great discussion going on here, folks. Sorry I have been away from the computer all day, I was spending a little “guy time” with my dad and my sons. I will probably share a little more about it in a post soon.

    I would most definitely agree with Alan and TA that there is a significant difference between praise and worship. I believe it is possible for an unbeliever to praise the Lord, in fact I have seen that happen on many occasions, but only true believers have the ability to worship Christ.

    This is edifying discussion, feel free to continue.

  48. Pingback: Is Loving Christ the First Love of the Church? « Heavenly Heartburn

  49. Great post and great responses. This is very thought-provoking yet succinct and accessible.

  50. Thanks, Bobby, it’s always great to have your visits.

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