Monday, January 26, 2009

Gospel Talk -- Thursday February 5, 2009

Thursday Feb. 5 -- The Parable of the Sower (Mark 4:1-20)


ken desjarlais said...

wes, hello my name is ken desjarlais,
my query to you is actually very simple, why the need for organised religion today? you know-- with paychecks, sabbaticals,extended holidays and travel ,church commitees, c.e.o pastors overseeing a heirarchy of underlings, straining the flock for tithes to pay for a so- called leaders vision of a purchased building well beyond their means just to appear successfull.?

Wes Bredenhof said...

Hi Ken,

Thanks for the question.

In your question I sense some (a lot of?) disillusionment with the state of a lot of what goes by the name of "church" these days. I understand that. There are a lot of abuses taking place; a lot of problems. For instance, you mention the notion of a pastor as CEO. Such an idea is utterly foreign to what the Bible teaches.

However, the abuse or perversion of a Biblical concept does not itself negate the concept. The Bible speaks about pastors -- the pastoral epistles are filled with instruction for pastors like Timothy and Titus. However, the Bible also speaks about elders who rule (e.g. 1 Tim. 5:17) and that's something that's missing in a lot of churches today. I believe the Bible teaches that churches are to be governed by Christ ruling through a group of elders.

The Bible teaches that Christ has churches on earth (see Rev. 1-3 where there are letters from Jesus to seven churches). Each church is to be ruled in an organized way (1 Cor. 14:40). But in the North American context (and elsewhere), we've seen the eclipse by and large of the Biblical concept of office and specifically the offices of pastor, elder and deacon. Instead, we have professionalization and a common view that the ministry is just another job.

So, to answer your question, there is a need for "organized religion," because the Bible speaks about that and Jesus Christ has instituted that. However, that doesn't take away from the fact that there are serious problems in much of North American Christianity. There is a massive need for a modern Reformation -- another movement back to the teachings of the Bible.

Anonymous said...

wes just to respond to your remarks now,
no disillusionment here wes, just good awareness and trying to avoid spiritual abuse so common amongst church goers. the c.e.o. business type scenario is very common today in some churches with accountants, p.a.'s , boards etc.. far cry from 2 century's in the past. the concept of a local church is fine .
fine for corporate worship and fellowship.
you state that elders are to rule, explain that in detail wes.? how are elders , deacons and pastors to personify that notion. .
that word is a misnomer in some ways and can be quite misread and outplayed.

Anonymous said...

wes, this is ken again,how about a church where there is no politics , paycheques, position, power.?
man that would make life easy!
just assemble people together under 1 roof with like minded christians for worship, praise corporate prayer, prayer for each other,lots of music by happy to volunteer for that individuals.
a mic at the front for testimonials of how the lord worked in your life , some who are asked to read scripture, give everyone a stake in the place , with no 21st century church politics and $$ going to '' leadership''- a bucket at the front to donate for the hall rental.[ if you wish to] everyone works and volunteers for for free-- garnishing my respect at least

Wes Bredenhof said...


With regards to your first question: what I believe the Bible teaches about the government of the church can be found summarized in articles 30-32 of the Belgic Confession. You can find it online here:

This is worked out in more detail in our Church Order, especially article 22:

As to your second question, it has been tried (I believe that this is the Quaker model). However, what if the Bible is our standard, and what if the Bible teaches that there are to be elders (Titus 1:5)? What if the Bible teaches that there are to be pastors who preach the Word (2 Tim. 4:2)? Or what if the Bible teaches that those who preach the gospel have a right to receive support from those who hear the gospel (1 Cor. 9:1-18)? What if Jesus' idea of the church included the possibility of people being excommunicated from membership (Matt. 18:15-18)?

It all boils down to whether we recognize the authority of the Bible in these matters.

Wes Bredenhof said...

Hi again,

You are absolutely right about the character of Jesus Christ. He is merciful and loving -- his yoke is easy and his burden is light and he calls all who are heavy laden to come to him and he will give them rest (Matt. 11:28-30).

In the first three chapters of Revelation, this same Jesus writes letters to seven churches. In his letter to the church at Laodicea he says, "As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten." (Rev. 3:19). Chasten is another word for discipline. When he writes to the church of Ephesus, he warns them to repent or he himself will excommunicate the whole lot of them (Rev. 2:5). This is one of the churches that Jesus Christ loved so much that he gave himself for her (Eph. 5:25).

In 1 Corinthians 5, the apostle Paul writes to the church at Corinth and exhorts them to excommunicate an incestuous man. Why? So "that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus." (1 Cor. 5:5). Discipline and excommunication are for the purpose of bringing people back from their unbelieving ways. They are a way of demonstrating that we actually care for them and love them -- that Jesus Christ loves them. Turning a blind eye to sin and unbelief in the church is not loving -- in fact, it is destructive.

Having said that, I recognize that there have been abuses of authority in various churches. There is a thing called "spiritual abuse." That often happens when there is no accountability. Accountability is the key and if one has proper church government, accountability will likely be in place and abuses can be prevented.

Finally, with regards to your comment about youth in the church, if you're in our area, I would cordially invite you to join us for a worship service some time at the Langley Canadian Reformed Church (Sundays at 9:30 and 2:00). You might be surprised. I know that elsewhere it might be bleak, but our church is living proof that you can have a church that practices discipline according to the Bible, and still has huge numbers of young people.