Memphis Belle

What is the "Perfect Church"?
To log onto UNITYINCHRIST.COM’S BLOG, Click Here
Unity in Christ
Introduction
About the Author
Does God Exist?
Gospels
Epistles
Prayer
Faith
the Prophets & Prophecy

Psalms

OT History
Early Church History
Church History
Sabbatarian Heritage

The Worldwide Church Of God
Messianic Believers
Evangelism


America-Modern Romans


Latin-American Poverty

Topical Studies
Guest Book
Utility Pages
Share on Facebook
Tell a friend:
 

[Suggestion: Read the whole article once before clicking on any links to properly grasp the powerful concepts being presented]

 

If you could decide what the perfect church would be, what would it be, especially if you were using biblical standards? Augustine had this to say, and he was basing this saying on Romans 14: "Unity in the Essentials, Liberty in the Non-Essentials".  This is the biblical standard the apostle Paul laid out for the Roman Church of God, a congregation made up of at least two divergent groups of worshippers.  As a matter of fact, the two groups of worshippers were about as divergent in non-essential beliefs as one would ever expect to find.  One group was made up of Gentile Christians, and the other was made up of Torah-Observant Messianic Jewish believers.   So to carry this thought to its logical conclusion, let's take a look first at what really makes a person a Christian (or believer in Yeshua for our Messianic believers). 

        First, to be a born-again believer from the Bible's definition, strangely enough, does not depend on a person understanding all the essentials of biblical Christian doctrine.  Often a new believer in Yeshua or Jesus will merely have called on Jesus or Yeshua to enter his life and save him, simultaneously asking for forgiveness of his sins.  Then God acts, and pours his Holy Spirit into that person.  So, in the strictest and most biblical definition, a believer is someone who has called Jesus (Yeshua) into his life, and then God has caused that person to become indwelt with the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:9, 16).  It makes no difference at all whether that person has come to understand or been taught right doctrine in the essentials.  This person, oddly enough, may not have a proper understanding about the Triunity of God, or other essentials and still be a believer.  [As a matter of fact there are whole Sabbatarian sections of the body of Christ who do not have a proper understanding of the Triunity of God, and yet this has not prevented or stopped God from calling and drawing people to Jesus by means of these groups, and they are nourished in the other essentials of salvation right within those denominations!]  Remember, salvation is primarily an act of God.  Man merely responds to God's calling and drawing (John 6:44, 65).  So that is a major biblical criteria of what makes a believer in Jesus, a born-again believer. 

        As a believer studies the Word of God, the proper "essentials" often are highlighted and illuminated by the indwelling Holy Spirit within that new believer, right within his or her mind.  New believers are often like new-born babies though, and need to be fed the Word of God from a healthy spiritual mom.  Paul referred to the Church as the mother of us all, while God the Father is our spiritual Dad, Abba. 

        But now, if you were looking for the perfect church according to biblical criteria, you would have to follow Paul's and St. Augustine's criteria:  "Unity in the Essentials, and Liberty in the Non-Essentials".  So let's do a mental exercise and put together that perfect biblical church--which is what all Christian churches should be striving to become.

One: The church as a spiritual mom, should be really good at preparing spiritual "meals" for her kids, the born-again believers God has sired through the Holy Spirit.  So, one should look for a church that clearly teaches the Word of God, and the best method I have yet encountered is what I term the "connective expository sermon" method, which teaches verse by verse, chapter by chapter, going from one end of the Bible to the other.  In two or three years, a believer will have been fed the entire Word of God in clear, concise teaching, everything in proper context, no passages taken out of context.  [see http://www.unityinchrist.com/pom/philofmin.htm .]

Second: This church will major in teaching the Essentials of Christianity, or the essentials of being a Messianic believer in Yeshua.

  Third: This ideal church will be making a conscious effort to de-emphasize the non-essentials, giving it's members more liberty and freedom to chose their beliefs in the non-essentials.  Anywhere churches take a rigid, unbending stand on non-essentials, they're headed for trouble-I'll explain the reason why more thoroughly later.  But Paul in Romans 14 legislated that believers have freedom of choice in their secondary or non-essential beliefs.  That is basically why the believer has the God-given right to chose the church that fits his beliefs in the non-essentials, and that is one reason why there are so many differing denominations and independent churches.  You have a right to chose, just be sure to choose a church that is majoring in the essentials of salvation.

True Christian or Messianic congregations ought to be striving to move toward this "ideal" within the major two sections of the body of Christ they find themselves in (i.e. Gentile or Jewish branch of the body of Christ).  Naturally, what makes up the major differences in practices of worship between Gentile and Jewish branches of the body of Christ are strictly in the area of "non-essential" beliefs, as Paul brought out in Romans 14, such as days of worship, dietary restrictions or freedoms, etc.  But within these two major groups the ideal church will be nurturing its members, discipling them so that they grow spiritually healthy via effective teaching from the Word of God [best method being teaching from the whole Word of God, and not getting stuck in any one part of it, over another], majoring in the essentials of salvation, and downplaying the non-essentials.  The result of effective nurturing and discipling will be seen in an ever growing number of believers from this church displaying the fruits of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23; 1 Corinthians 13:1-8), and resulting in them doing the good works Jesus said that they would be doing as a way of life (Matthew 25:31-40; James 2:14-20).  Mature Christians or believers in Yeshua are living a life of doing "good works" for others, as described in Matthew 25:31-40.  This maturity comes from being properly nurtured in the Word of God.  It also involves the believer maintaining a healthy prayer/Bible study life.   Even babes learn how to feed themselves as they grow, and so must the believer.  A healthy church teaches believers how to spiritually feed themselves in the Word.  [see http://www.unityinchrist.com/ephesians/putonarmour.htm.]  Now lets make two lists, one of the "essentials of salvation" and the other, of the "non-essentials of salvation". 

 "The other major area a really good spiritual mom will be nurturing her "kids" is in the area of prayer. God said of the temple, which would equate to our churches, "My house shall be called a house of prayer." To see how one church very successfully made their congregation a "House of Prayer", which every church ought to be to qualify in this "perfect church" status, log onto http://www.unityinchrist.com/prayer/congregation.htm." Prayer and Bible study go hand in hand, as one is God talking to you, and the other is you talking to God."

THE BARE ESSENTIALS OF SALVATION:

 

1.   The infallibility of God's Word, the Bible (both Old and New Testaments) [since God is infallible, his Word must be too, right?].

2.   The virgin birth of Yeshua or Jesus, and that he is the promised Messiah, both God (Yahweh) and man,

3.   and that this same Jesus, Yeshua led a sinless life, died to pay for the sins of mankind, was resurrected, and ascended to glory,

4.   and that this same Jesus, Yeshua will return visibly to earth (i.e. his 2nd coming). 

5.   And when you call upon Jesus to save you and enter your life, he will do so, covering and atoning for your sins, past, present and future by his atoning blood and sacrifice;

6.   Jesus and the Father will then enter into you by placing within you the Holy Spirit, who will guide and teach you all things (in conjunction with prayer and Bible study, of course). 

 

When a church steps away from those essentials, and starts majoring in any one of the non-essentials of belief, that is where we encounter and set up unnecessary church/denominational barriers that divide the body of Christ.  And in doing so, a church or denomination is helping Satan to divide the body unnecessarily, which is his evil intent and one of his major weapons against the church.  Don't forget, in the most essential criteria, Satan can never divide the body of Christ, those who are indwelt by the Holy Spirit, because it is that same Holy Spirit who makes all believers one, regardless of which church or denomination they belong to, Sabbatarian, Gentile Christian, Messianic Jewish.  Also remember that the two major branches of the body of Christ, Jewish and Gentile will be emphasizing the particular "days of worship" and customs that are distinct to the group they belong to.  You can also include within the Jewish side of the body of Christ the Sabbatarians as a subgroup, and they should never be looked down upon for emphasizing as their distinctives the Jewish "days of worship" or other dietary customs particular to the Old Testament law.  For it is God who has made a distinction here by supernaturally and miraculously restoring the Jewish branch of the body of Christ, by the direct calling of the Holy Spirit.[see http://www.unityinchrist.com/messianicmovement/twobranches.htm.]  So this one apparently "non-essential" distinctive is really a God-allowed distinctive that makes the Jewish and Gentile branches of the body of Christ unique and special.  And there is good reason to believe, based on very scant but still existing historic evidence, that the various Sabbatarian revivals leading back to Asia Minor and Rome of the 300's AD had their origin in the Messianic Jewish congregations in existence during the early 300's AD.  So the Sabbatarians can be considered as a long lost cousin to the Messianic Jewish branch of the body of Christ.  So "days of worship" and dietary customs from the Old Testament are merely a proper biblical dividing line between the Jewish and Gentile side of the body of Christ, as allowed for by Paul in Romans 14.  And don't forget, at the time Paul was writing, the number of Messianic congregations throughout Asia Minor and the Mediterranean may have equaled in number the Gentile congregations in existence. 

 

THE NON-ESSENTIALS:  First, realize, this list is endless, so I will merely give the major non-essentials that come to mind.  And remember, belief one way or the other in these non-essentials in no way prohibits salvation or disqualifies a believer from salvation.  Way too many doctrinal mountains have been built from these doctrinal mole-hills.  And some of these mole-hill beliefs held through improper biblical understanding and research have actually hindered whole groups of people from being effectively evangelized to.  Some churches and denominations need to seriously back away from pounding the pulpit on these non-essentials.

 

1.   New-Earth vs. Old-Earth Creationism

2.   Days of Worship

3.   Dietary codes

 

Comment: # 2 and 3, as previously explained, are major "non-essentials" allowed by Paul in Romans 14, and make up the major dividing line between the Messianic Jewish and the Gentile Christian side of the body of Christ (Sabbatarians being included in the Messianic branch).  It is 100 percent all right for these two points to be considered major non-essentials by those within these two divisions of the body of Christ, with all the resultant emphasis that's placed on them.

Click here to continue
Click here to print

 

 

Content Editor Peter Benson -- no copyright, except where noted.  Please feel free to use this material for instruction and edification
Questions or problems with the web site contact the WebServant - Hosted and Maintained by CMWH, Located in the Holy Land