Recently, I have noticed—albeit this is not a recent development—that today’s modern church seems to confuse the idea of what is discipleship. Today’s churches have drifted away from the teaching of doctrine and moved towards the teaching of relationships. Instead of teaching the foundation principles of faith, the focus appears to be more on building a relationship with Christ and fellow man.
What’s in a Name
The most obvious evidence of this can be seen within the names of today’s churches. Churches today are no longer named for their doctrinal stance, but rather they are named to express a desire for relationships. For example: remember all the traditional names – Grace Lutheran Church, 1st Baptist church, Associated Reformed Presbyterian church. United Methodist church, St. John’s Catholic Church, “Any town” Pentecostal Holiness Church, even (gulp) Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Right from the name a person gets an understanding and idea of the doctrine supposedly held by that congregation—although not guaranteed. Not so in today’s names. For example: Any- town Community Church, Centerpoint Church, Life Way Church of Any-ville, Cornerstone Church, Destination church, and the ever so popular Inter – Faith church. The concept of relationship building seems to be at the forefront of not only the names but also the teaching.
Nearly everyone professing Christianity—at least here in America—will quickly and readily disagree with the unbiblical concept of “works righteousness.” That is, the idea of earning in some way one’s own salvation. However, the equally unbiblical concept of “works righteous sanctification” is not so well understood.
Just as your salvation is wholly unmerited, neither is your sanctification your own. Righteous living is a result of the indwelling of God’s Spirit within the heart of the believer. When the believer, enabled by the spirit, understands the weightier concepts such as justification, imputation, atonement, depravity, original sin, omnipotence, hypostasis, and many others, he is then thereby driven to a righteous lifestyle.
‘Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God,
And saying, the time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.”Mark 1:14-15
Repentance is the proper response to the gospel and belief is the proper lifestyle for the saved. This is the proclamation of the evangelists.
In earlier blogs I have noted that the visible church has certain responsibilities and duties one of which is ensuring the purity of the faith. It is by teaching sound and solid doctrines, yes, even the very complicated concepts, for the edification of its members that leads to Godly relationships within the community.
If you are indeed a Christian, Christ has already established the relationship. He began it, He sustains it, and He will secure it through the future. The Christian has only to work out this salvation. Instead of trying to establish, maintain or improve this relationship with our rightful living, we should focus on understanding what Christ has and will accomplish within our lives. Rightful living will naturally flow from there.