If We Are the Body …

That song continues:

… why aren’t his arm reaching? Why aren’t his hands healing?

I don’t know if that’s supposed to be a rhetorical question, but in case it’s not I’d like to try to answer it.

Because we’re not the body.

The Body of Christ

Our Gospel at Rose Creek Village gets expressed a number of ways, but my personal way is to reduce it to two things:

  1. Give up everything and follow Jesus Christ wholeheartedly
  2. Do it with everyone else who does the same

The body of Christ is the local, united gathering of disciples following Christ together as one family.

That wonderful, beneficial song by Casting Crowns assumes that the body of Christ is all the Christians making a profession of faith in the death of Christ. Chances are the closest thing they have to a local expression of the body is weekly meetings where people who are mostly strangers gather to sing songs, give money, and listen to a sermon about Christ.

That’s not the body of Christ according to Scripture and that’s why its arms aren’t reaching and its hands aren’t healing.

The Problem

One of the things that used to bother me immensely when I was in a typical, traditional church was that Paul could be confident that “he who began a good work in you will continue it,” but we could not share the same confidence.

Instead, we could be confident that 80% or more who made a profession of faith would not even be attending church 5 years later and that the great majority of those who do attend church would be cold, living like typical Americans, and not growing in Christ.

Many Christians disagree with that assessment, especially when someone like me–someone asking for change–says it. However, if I’m wrong, why do so many Christians believe that we’re in the “Laodicean church age”?

Why can groups like Casting Crowns sing “why aren’t … ” and become popular singing it?

It’s because everyone knows it’s true.

The Gospel

The Gospel that we’re preaching is either the power of God to salvation or it’s not.

When the result of the gospel is that we’re in the Laodicean church age and Christ’s arms aren’t reaching and his hands aren’t healing, then the gospel is false.

And we need to change to the real Gospel; the one that is the power of God to salvation.

Finishing the Tower

Jesus once said to count the cost. The reason he gave for counting the cost came in the form of an illustration. The illustration was of a man who set out to build a tower but had to quit before he was finished because he ran out of money.

Today we like to say the Gospel has no cost.

That isn’t true.

Because we don’t count the cost, more than 80% of the people who listen to the American gospel don’t finish the course. And we know that only those who continue to the end will be saved. The Scriptures say that repeatedly.

And even among those who do finish their course in “the body” as it’s understood in America are not living anything like the early disciples.

The Gospel

I’d like to suggest that the problem is our gospel.

What does Jesus say in the context of “count the cost”? That statement is made towards the end of Luke 14.

The answer is that he says we have to hate our families and our own life, deny ourselves, take up our cross, and forsake everything we own.

I’ve suggested on numerous internet forums that we do that. The responses I get are almost 100% scoffs and mockery.

Well, no wonder his arms aren’t reaching and his hands aren’t healing!

Faith vs. Works

If we preach a Gospel that proclaims that we must deny ourselves and forsake our families and possessions, then aren’t we preaching works rather than faith?

Obviously not!!!

What, do you think Jesus Christ was a preacher of works?

I shouldn’t have to explain myself because I’m just quoting Jesus. If you say you’re a Christian, then you must believe that he is your Master. After all, to quote him, why would you call him “Lord” and not do the things he says?

If he’s your Master, then you figure it out. You figure out how you can hear the Gospel of faith and also be required to deny yourself, take up your cross, and forsake everything. It’s supposed  to matter to you!

My explanation is here.

About Paul Pavao

I am married, the father of six, and currently the grandfather of two. I run a business, live in a Christian community, teach, and I am learning to disciple others better than I have ever been able to before. I believe God has gifted me to restore proper foundations to the Christian faith. In order to ensure that I do not become a heretic, I read the early church fathers from the second and third centuries. They were around when all the churches founded by the apostles were in unity. I also try to stay honest and open. I argue and discuss these foundational doctrines with others to make sure my teaching really lines up with Scripture. I am encouraged by the fact that the several missionaries and pastors that I know well and admire as holy men love the things I teach. I hope you will be encouraged too. I am indeed tearing up old foundations created by tradition in order to re-establish the foundations found in Scripture and lived on by the churches during their 300 years of unity.
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3 Responses to If We Are the Body …

  1. Shammah says:

    Okay, Nate, I answered you. Now I have to ask you this, as you really threw me.

    You wrote: >>I know so many who are desperately seeking a true manifestation of Christ on the earth. A place where the tribes gather and are formed into one holy nation.<<

    First, in reference to the tribes gathering and one holy nation. It sounds like you’re trying to gather everyone from everywhere in one place. People like to say that about us, but it’s not true. You’re not meaning that, right?

    Second, on the “so many who are desperately seeking,” do you have a different definition of desperately seeking than I do or are there a lot of people you haven’t told me about?

    Who’s desperately seeking? We’ve talked to several people who are almost desperately seeking. They’ve told us about hundreds and hundreds who love to talk about desperately seeking, but who really aren’t seeking anything.

    If there are many who are desperately seeking, then tell them to drop everything and come to where you are. Or tell them to drop everything and go somewhere where you’ll go with them. If they’re really desperately seeking, then when they gather Christ will meet them because he would never ignore such a gathering of people.

    We wouldn’t, either. We’d be thrilled to come help with that.

    However, …

    I would be SHOCKED–thrilled and overjoyed, but shocked and stunned–to find out that there are many people desperately seeking a true manifestation of Christ in the United States. That would be awesome, and I’d love to help with it.

    Experience says, though, that most people who say that many are desperately seeking find out that those same many desperately run as soon as something is actually being done rather than talked about.

    Please tell me that’s not so! Let’s tell the desperate to drop everything and do something. “Many” will certainly be enough!

  2. Shammah says:

    Maybe you can email me personally and tell me who you’re talking about. I don’t know anything about anyone not responding to you, and I always do.

    Well, almost always. I respond to you as much as I do to anyone else in or out of the village.

    However, on the general point, I don’t agree that RCV isolates itself from an “us” out there that’s looking to us for inspiration. To me the people who are looking to us for inspiration are:

    1.) a group of brothers and sisters in Atlanta

    2.) George in Nakuru and Peter in Kenya

    3.) Jason Fitzpatrick in Mexico

    4.) A lady starting a community in Virginia who’s coming to visit next month

    5.) you

    Since the others are ones we see face to face, I know we’re not isolated from them.

    If you’ll tell me (privately!) whom you’re talking about, I’ll find out why they don’t respond.

    It seems impossible to me to believe that Noah isn’t talking to you. He even talks to people whose emails I myself have marked as spam and never see.

    The list I gave above is is short, but that’s because I’m not including friends like the huge house church that doesn’t have a name in Memphis, David Servant, Pastor Daniel, some local churches and numerous others. Those are friends, but I don’t think they look to us for inspiration.

    That’s enough for this comment. One more to make …

  3. Nate Morales says:

    Great post!
    Great teaching.
    Hard words.
    Difficult to accomplish.

    Why? simply because we are not the body. There are not many places like RCV out here in the wasteland of Americanized christianity. The only thing available for the majority of us who wish to give our lives is that which is the norm today. Sad, very sad but true.
    I know so many who are desperately seeking a true manifestation of Christ on the earth. A place where the tribes gather and are formed into one holy nation.
    But there is no revelation on this and those who try to teach it or seek it are ignored or relegated to the bin of the wierd or fanatical.
    Shammah, I love you and my dear ones at RCV with all my heart (I think on all of you all the time)
    My only hope is that God will have a people from every race, nation, tribe and tongue. I raise up that point because at times RCV seems to isolate itself from those of us out here that look to you guys for inspiration, vision, example, direction and leadership. In my case, I hope that I have not offended anyone there but again I tell you this with true sorrow in my heart – no one from RCV responds to me in any way or form (other than you). I have sent emails, left voice messages, tried to get hooked up on facebook and no one responds!
    So, I repeat the words of the song. “… why aren’t his arms reaching? Why aren’t his hands healing?

    I honestly want to know

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