This Blog's purpose is to offer information about congregations voting to leave the ELCA. Pastor Barnhart's other Blog offers information about current news events relating to the Church and the nation. It may be found here: http://livinginthetimes.blogspot.com/
Tuesday, April 26, 2011
NOTHING BETWEEN by Pastor David Barnhart
“For there is one God, and one
mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Tim. 2:5).
None but Christ should ever stand between the Church and God. The Church is the Body of Christ, comprised of those who have been redeemed through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The Church was established by Jesus Christ. He is the head of the Church. Christ alone empowers the Church, and one day He is coming back, not for denominations or religious organizations, but for His Church.
Under the New Testament pattern the Church is identified through local congregations in specified geographical areas, with no authority over them, save the Word of God. Paul wrote: “Now you are Christ’s body, and individually members of it” (1 Cor. 12:27). When Paul sent letters to “the church of God which is at Corinth,” or to “the churches of Galatia,” or “to the saints in Philippi,” he was not addressing denominations or organizations but only those “sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be saints” (1 Cor. 1:2).
Denominations are man-made organizations, created to better enable local congregations and individual Christians to carry out their missions and ministries. This is well and good if the servant role is maintained by organized denominations. However, many denominations have changed the role of a servant to one of domination and control over local churches. Today many denominations, including the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), have usurped the right to control the property of local congregations, even subjecting them to accept beliefs that are contrary to the clear teachings of Scripture. The bitter consequence of this unbiblical type of church polity is evident as local congregations endeavor to break the shackles of their denomination’s imposed authority.
Over the years denominations have placed themselves between local congregations and God through their arrogant insistence that they are the supreme authority regarding matters of faith, truth and practice. The hubris of denominations to draft statements and position papers concerning doctrines and social issues that go against the Word of God stinks to high heavens. Such arrogance has all but destroyed the credibility of these denominations to speak authoritatively to our society about anything.
No denomination, local congregation or individual Christian has the right to say or do anything that contradicts the clear teachings of Scripture. Denominations may pass resolutions or adopt official statements that seek to justify abortion, euthanasia, homosexuality, same-sex marriages and a host of other evils, but that does not make it right in the eyes of God. When a denomination makes sin and apostasy part of its official doctrine and practice, Christians have an obligation to oppose it and, where necessary, depart from it.
God’s Word alone is the supreme authority concerning all issues of faith and life, and God will have the last Word! Every denomination and congregation should be pro-life because the Bible is pro-life. Every denomination and congregation should stand for the biblical concept of marriage between one man and one woman, and they should oppose all teachings that are contrary to the Bible.
Over the years, it has been painful to watch local congregations being swallowed up through denominational mergers. Why would a congregation allow itself to be brought under the control of a national church body that requires it to accept teachings and practices contrary to Scripture, or obtain permission to end its relationship with that same denomination? Such decisions could occur only if people are no longer sitting at the feet of Jesus to learn what the Holy Spirit has spoken through His Word!
It is gratifying to see church bodies such as the Association of Free Lutheran Congregations, the American Association of Lutheran Churches, the Lutheran Congregations in Mission for Christ and the North American Lutheran Church establish polity wherein congregations have the freedom to control their own property and make their own decisions.
None but Christ should stand between the local congregation and God, and no higher authority should exist for the local congregation than God’s Word. The only stand a local congregation should take on any matter of doctrine or practice should be one based on God’s Word, not on denominational statements or policy.
Nothing between my soul and the Savior,
So that His blessed face may be seen;
Nothing preventing the least of His favor:
Keep the way clear! Let nothing between.
Charles A. Tindley
The article above is an editorial in the Spring 2011 issue of The Vine and Branches. If you would like to be on the mailing list to receive this magazine produced by Abiding Word Ministries, send your name and address to firstname.lastname@example.org. There is no charge for the publication. AWM depends on the freewill gifts from those who stand with us.