God-Soaked Life by Chris Webb Book Review

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I first became acquainted with Chris Webb when he was the president of Renovaré USA. For those unfamiliar with Renovaré, it is a Christian ministry “that models, resources, and advocates fullness of life with God experienced, by grace, through the spiritual practices of Jesus and of the historical Church.” Currently, Webb acts as Deputy Warden of Launde Abbey and Diocesan Spirituality Adviser to the Diocese of Leicester.

God-Soaked Life (InterVarsity Press – Formatio) is Webb’s second book, after previously releasing the delightful and beneficial The Fire of the Word in 2011, and it certainly lives up to his previous accomplishment.

God-Soaked Life takes the reader through seven chapter-sections each with four sub-chapters within, all pointing and progressing towards the aim of living one’s life in the presence of God and in the reality of the Kingdom. Webb reveals and emphasizes the significance of the Christian living in community. Living alert to the Kingdom and conscious of the ever-loving care and compassion of the Father, motivates the Christian to live with that same desire. A loving Christian community is the natural outworking of a God-soaked life.

Chris Webb beautifully articulates the deep meaning of living as the community of God, the church, here on the earth. Life is not a precursor to eternity. Life is not a waiting room before we get to Heaven. Life is the marvelous opportunity to live in the presence of Christ, furthering and continuing His ministry, His Kingdom, now.

A quote from the book that summarizes well the direction the author is leading the reader, comes near the end of the book: “To follow Jesus is to accept his call to participate in the gift of God’s kingdom realized in our own time and place, and so to live as members of the God-soaked community of love” (Webb 2017, 170).

Rather than simply defining or outlining how one should live, think, or act within the Kingdom, or God-soaked life, Webb also sympathizes and identifies some of the struggles and mistakes we all make as human beings. This establishes authenticity and credibility between the author and reader, but also allows for feasibility, user-friendliness, tangibility, and practical application into one’s life.

I highly recommend reading God-Soaked Life. It is an easy read (under 200 pages), but not lacking in profound communication and insight. Although the intriguing stories and illustrations keep the reader turning pages, I suggest reading this book slowly, prayerfully, and contemplatively. The magnitude of the transformation that a God-soaked life necessitates is worth the time and patience.

One characteristic of the book that I absolutely loved was the Scripture and Reflection pages, found at the end of each of the seven sections. These extra reflections allow the reader to not only engage the topic in a more profound manner, but also to provoke thought and behavior change. Don’t read past these. Take the time and effort to “soak” it all in.

Overall, God-Soaked Life was a thorough, comprehensive, and transformative look at what it truly means to live in the Kingdom of God right now.

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary publicity copy from the publisher. (This in no way affected my honest review of the book)

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Silence & Solitude – Five Minute Moments

Today in Five Minute Moments, we explored the spiritual disciplines of silence and solitude.  A practice of removing oneself from the hurry and busyness of one’s life, in search of quiet and isolated time with God.

In the video presentation we read a brief excerpt from Ruth Haley Barton’s book Invitation to Solitude and Silence, as well as practice a short meditative devotional listening time focused on Psalm 46:10.

I hope you enjoy, as we seek to connect deeper and more intimately with God through the spiritual disciplines.

Life Without Lack by Dallas Willard Book Review

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Dallas Willard has been instrumental in my life at helping me move from being simply someone who says that believe in Jesus, to someone who actively and intimately loves Christ Jesus. I was presented with Willard’s The Divine Conspiracy at a point in my life when I was heavily considering walking away from my calling into ministry. I was done. I didn’t want to go down that path anymore. I still “believed in Jesus”, whatever that really means, but I didn’t find significance or purpose in ministry. I’d rather just watch from the sidelines. Exposure to Willard’s books changed all that. Not that Willard pushed the for call back into ministry, but his explanation of the intimacy found in Christ Jesus and what he means to truly follow Him, helped me to see life through a new lens, a new perspective. I will forever be grateful and thankful for Dallas Willard.

When Dallas Willard died in May of 2013 I was heartbroken. No one knew it until today, but I cried in my car on my way to work after finding out. Although I knew Dallas was experiencing the wonderful presence of Christ, I grieved the loss of an incredible man of God and the end to his books and teachings.

Thankfully, through the work of Gary Black Jr., Gary Moon, John Ortberg, Jan Johnson, and more, Dallas’ influence and work has continued.

Life Without Lack: Living in the Fullness of Psalm 23 is another beautiful continuation and extension of Willard’s work posthumously. Through the efforts and collaboration of Larry Burtoft (a friend of Willard) and Becky Willard Heatley (Willard’s daughter) another public addition to Willard’s catalogue has been preserved.

Life Without Lack is a compilation of Willard’s eight-week teachings series on Psalm 23 originally taught in early 1991 to a group of roughly thirty people at Valley Vista Christian Community. The teaching was preserved on cassette tape, and transposed into this book, a project that Burtoft had planned on for years, but never found fruition until after Willard’s death. As a Dallas Willard enthusiast, I was absolutely delighted to hear the news of the release of this book.

The book is broken into eight chapters, which follow the eight original teaching sessions. Each chapter richly and deeply defines and explains life with God, through the context of God’s ever-present character. Psalm 23 provides the foundation of the teaching yet is not overly expounded. If one were looking for a commentary on Psalm 23, this is not the book for that. What is elucidated is the fact that the Good Shepherd as described in Psalm 23, offers true freedom and peace in an intimate relationship with Him.

Life Without Lack is meaty. It is not a quick read. It is a book that is meant to take time to digest, time to apply to one’s life, and time to dwell upon. This is not a new concept to those who are familiar with Willard. For me, at least, while reading Willard, to read and re-read the same chapter in a sitting, is commonplace. Good content takes time and reflection to grasp and process.

Overall, I highly recommend this book. Read it slowly. Read it purposely. And read it with the hopeful expectation that you’ll be enlightened, encouraged, and invigorated by it. May you grow deeper in your relationship with Christ Jesus through it. If this is your very first Dallas Willard book, then I recommend you borrow or purchase Hearing God, The Spirit of the Disciplines, The Divine Conspiracy, or Renovation of the Heart to read beforehand or closely afterward. Dallas Willard writes and speaks with a breadth of knowledge, worth taking the time to ponder and apply.

Life Without Lack releases on February 27, 2018. It will be available in hardcover, ebook, audiobook, and more. You can preorder on Amazon, Christianbook, and through all major book retailers.

Disclaimer: I received an Advance Reader Copy from the publisher. (This in no way affected my honest review of the book)

Five Minute Moments

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When I reflect on spiritual formation and disciplines, my mind always seems to lean towards Paul’s words in Romans 12, when he said: “I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Romans 12:1-2 NRSV).

The process and progress found in spiritual formation is the lifelong transformation of the heart, mind, and soul in one’s connection, relationship, and pursuit of God.

Dallas Willard once said, “Spiritual formation in the tradition of Jesus Christ is the process of transformation of the inmost dimension of the human being, the heart, which is the same as the spirit or will. It is being formed (really, transformed) in such a way that its natural expression comes to be the deeds of Christ done in the power of Christ.”

As one draws closer to Christ Jesus, in relationship, obedience, and connection, their very whole being begins to change and transform, becoming more Christlike. This moral, character, and soul change activates within the depths of one’s self through the workings of the Spirit.  As Richard Foster said in Celebration of the Disciplines: “The classical Disciplines of the spiritual life call us to move beyond surface living into the depths. They invite us to explore the inner caverns of the spiritual realm” (Foster 1998, 1).

The practice of the spiritual disciplines is not limited to certain exercises, although the classics are presented. Rather, the practice of the spiritual disciplines flow from within, in a natural stream towards a connection with God.

Although these practices and disciplines are beneficial, they achieve nothing outside of a deep connection and relationship with God.  Jan Johnson, in her book When The Soul Listens, said: “The contemplative approach isn’t so much about doing these practices as about living with Christ in the midst of them so that they shape my life with God” (Johnson 2017, xx).

I am in the process of creating “Five Minute Moments”, a video series focused on living a life with Christ.  Through these videos I hope to engage certain topics within Christianity, and focus on how to apply them to our spiritual lives.

In this “first season” of Five Minute Moments, I will be concentrating my attention on the spiritual disciplines.  You can check out the introductory video here:

It is my goal that you grow closer and deeper in your relationship with Christ.  Even if it takes just five minutes at a time.

I believe that the life-long process of spiritual formation and the practice of spiritual disciplines are a fulfilling and transforming path towards Christlikeness in the believer through the power of the Holy Spirit. This God ordained transformation can and will naturally lead followers into a deeper relationship with Him as we seek to become disciple-making disciples of Christ Jesus here on earth.

New Beginnings, New Pursuits

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Sorry it’s been a while. I’ve had some major changes occur in my life over the past few months. New ministry. New baby. New home. New city. All new, and all wonderful blessings. Nevertheless, busy.

In the coming weeks and months, I plan on gearing this back up again with some continued insights on the disciplined life (spiritual formation), as well as some new book review entries. I have been gifted with a few advance review copies of some upcoming books, that will be sure to please. Also, along with my spiritual formation blog entries, it has been stirring within me to begin a short vlog series on my YouTube page on the same topic. I am currently working on these things, so keep an eye out.

Today, I wanted dive a little deep, into a passage I have been studying: Romans 12:1-14.

Most Christians find Romans 12:1-4 to be a well-known, frequently referenced, set of verses. New Testament scholar Douglas Moo goes as far to say that it’s “one of the best-known passages in the NT.” (Moo 1996, 748). The reputation and recognition of this portion of Paul’s letter to Rome is due in part to its robust language and use of “vivid imagery” (Moo 1996, 748). The use of strong and concise verbal imagery paints a picture in the head of the reader, fully encapsulating Paul’s main drive, which is to promote the appropriate response and behavior in and of Christians, despite the world around them.

The struggle, that has lasted for centuries and beyond, is resisting the urge to live and act like those in the surrounding community and culture. No matter where or when in history, the problem of living as a Christian, while being influenced by society and ruled by a government system has weighed on the religious and moral life of the individual and the church. Although Christians desire to live within the framework lived and modeled by Christ Himself, the world is fallen and sinful, limiting the believer’s ability to flourish. New Testament scholar James Dunn calls the current condition of the world, this side of sin, “the age of Adam”, when he says that “a redefined people of God, no less than ethnic Israel, must address the question of how it should relate to the power structures within which it must live in the age of Adam.” (Dunn 1988, 705). So, then how ought Christians to live in a world surrounded by unchristian structure? New Testament scholar Stephen Westerholm, though basic and rudimentary, says that “Christians are to align their behavior unequivocally with the good.” (Westerholm 2004, 159). Paul mentions exactly what the good truly is when he says, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Rom 12:2 NRSV). Ultimately, Christians are to align their thoughts, actions, and lives with the will of God.

Worship must be done on a much larger and wider scale than just some singing and music on a Sunday morning and/or Wednesday evening. Worship must fully encapsulate the individual and drive the church body. “By the mercies of God” (Rom 12:1 NRSV) we are to worship our Father in Heaven. This is so much more than a list of what we should do, or what we shouldn’t do, it’s an attitude and lifestyle of constant and consistent worship. Just as an Israelite brought to the altar their sacrifice of worship, Christians are to bring to the figurative altar their entire lives. Christians are to stand out among the crowd, becoming the loyal and devoted example of Christ Jesus, until He returns. The knowledge and understanding of God’s grace and justification is the motivation and inspiration behind fully dedicating one’s life to Christ in worship and renewal. Paul expects all Christians to be the exceptional example of faith, because they know and understand God’s word, God’s promise, and God’s plan through Christ Jesus. Those who believe and accept Christ have access to a right relationship with the Father, and therefore want to and learn to walk in His ways and follow His teachings. This example is twofold, however, not only must the Christian live within the framework of Christ’s teachings individually, they must also live, love, and come together fully as a unified body of believers. God not only expects individuals to grow in their ability to transform and conform to Christ Jesus, but He also expects them to associate together as His family and people in a pagan world.

“Children of God” (Rom 8:14 NRSV) are called to live to the fullest within the framework of a family, or a body of believers. When Christians respond to the gospel, they find that they function as only a small part of a bigger mission. Paul said: “For as in one body we have many members, and not all the members have the same function.” (Rom 12:4 NRSV). Paul is urging all Christians to break away and live counter-culturally, but also to come together within the loving, close-knit, community of the body of Christ. Westerholm says: “The good life is not lived in isolation, not even in a solitary pursuit of the good. A worthy response to God’s goodness includes participation in the community of the redeemed.” (Westerholm 2004, 159). This concept of drawing closer to God through the community of God is something Paul is familiar with promoting. To the church in Corinth Paul said: “For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ” (1 Cor 12:12 NRSV).

It is clear throughout Romans, but especially in 12:1-4 that Paul is imploring and advocating for all believers to put aside the ways and desires of the world they live in, and pursue only that which glorifies and worships God. There are many ways to gain the approval of mankind, many ways to gain status within a community, and many ways to build upon one’s own ego and pride, but Paul pleads for us to resist the temptation and instead to accomplish the opposite. The world tells you to gather wealth and to focus on your own needs and desires; ultimately to seek that which is beneficial to yourself. Paul claims that one must sacrifice that desire. To present oneself as a sacrifice is to fully submit to the will and power of God. Laying down the desires of the selfish heart, and acquire the heart of Christ, seeking only that which is within the ways and will of God. This circumstance is doubled and magnified by the fact that Paul also wants the believer to renew one’s mind. To give over one’s thoughts and former focuses in life to pursue and practice only that which God desires and plans. The Christian must align their thoughts and lives with the Word of God and the leading of the Spirit, in order to fully discern and determine the will of God.

The critical and most challenging engagement Paul implores is that we are to accomplish all these things within the framework of living together, fully united within the fellowship and community of believers, the body of Christ. The gospel requires transformation, and Christ-like transformation lays down the needs and wants of the individual in humility, boosting the needs and wants of others. Genuine love and humility towards others and towards God is the only true way to appreciate, and live out that appreciation of what was done on the cross. The gravity of the sacrifice of Christ, the faithfulness of God through Christ, the gift of grace, and the ability to have a right relationship with the Father should naturally permeate all aspects of the believer and affect the way they live their lives in all contexts and circumstances.

As one matures and grows in their understanding of God, becoming more Christ-like in the process, a noticeable difference will arise. Paul is quite clear in stating how indeed that difference must look. In terms of description, I believe that Romans 12:1-4 and Colossians 3:12-17 pair nicely in what it means, and how it appears, to truly trust and follow Christ while alive on earth.

Paul said: “As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; teach and admonish one another in all wisdom; and with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” (Col 3:12-17 NRSV).

May this be our pursuit in 2018.

 

Sources:
Dunn, James D. G. 1988. Romans 9-16: Word Biblical Commentary 38B. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson.

Moo, Douglas. 1996. The Epistle to the Romans: New International Commentary on the New Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans.

Westerholm, Stephen. 2004. Understanding Paul: The Early Christian Worldview of the Letter to Romans. 2nd ed. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker.

Filling Up Fasting

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As we approach the end of the year, the holidays will start coming to mind, as we plan, organize, and begin marking up our calendars.

We will be stressed, busy, and sometimes overwhelmed. But with all of this comes some joy and celebration around the holiday tables. Thanksgiving feasts, Christmas dinners, desserts, candy, etc.

So I thought, what better time to write about fasting!

Fasting and prayer may not necessarily be commands, but we should be doing it. Often.

Typically focus of prayer and fasting is on abstaining from food, but it should be more than just that. The motivation behind our fasting should be to take our eyes off the “stuff” of this world and focus our thoughts and prayers on God Himself.

Fasting should always be restricted to a certain amount of time because not eating for awhile can obviously be damaging to the body. Fasting should never be a way of punishing our bodies to the limit, and it is not be used as a “weight loss plan” either. Prayer and fasting should allow us to gain a deeper fellowship with God our Father and Provider.

Author Dallas Willard said: “The role of fasting is to teach you about the sufficiency of God while you are deprived.”

Depravity is not something a lot of Americans are used to. We have an overabundance of food and goods. Stores on every corner, fast food off every exit, and excess of material things everywhere you look.

If we’re not careful, our reliance starts coming from what we can buy, rather than on God. What is being provided to us, becomes more important than the Provider. The more saturated we become in our consumer culture, the less we even recognize the simple blessing of having our daily bread.

So this month, I urge you to go without.

Maybe it’s one meal. Maybe it’s a day’s worth. Keep the right attitude, and focus on God.

Matthew 6:16-18 (ESV):

“And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”

What is the reward? In my experience, a deeper reliance on God and a thankful heart.

As Autumn Approaches

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I love fall. It’s my absolute favorite time of the year.

The air begins to cool. The colors become vibrant.

It’s harvest time.

All of these wonderful things are coming right around the corner.

Before I continue off on a daydream tangent, let me get to the point.

As I sit outside and enjoy the improving weather, for some reason I am reminded of one of Jesus’ parables found only in Matthew. The parable of the workers in the vineyard.

Matthew 20:1-16 (ESV)

“For the kingdom of heaven is like a master of a house who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. After agreeing with the laborers for a denarius a day, he sent them into his vineyard. And going out about the third hour he saw others standing idle in the marketplace, and to them he said, ‘You go into the vineyard too, and whatever is right I will give you.’ So they went. Going out again about the sixth hour and the ninth hour, he did the same. And about the eleventh hour he went out and found others standing. And he said to them, ‘Why do you stand here idle all day?’ They said to him, ‘Because no one has hired us.’ He said to them, ‘You go into the vineyard too.’ And when evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, ‘Call the laborers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last, up to the first.’ And when those hired about the eleventh hour came, each of them received a denarius.”

“Now when those hired first came, they thought they would receive more, but each of them also received a denarius. And on receiving it they grumbled at the master of the house, saying, ‘These last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat.’ But he replied to one of them, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong. Did you not agree with me for a denarius? Take what belongs to you and go. I choose to give to this last worker as I give to you. Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or do you begrudge my generosity?’ So the last will be first, and the first last.”

Let’s just start here: God is the employer in this parable.

His generosity transcends all of our thoughts and ideas on what “fair” means.

There have been plenty of times, whether I like admitting it or not, that I find myself sympathizing with the first workers. Not necessarily on concepts like ultimate reward, but on some of the little things in life. It takes me being deliberate, and purposefully changing my thoughts and motives to be less selfish in the way I view the world around me.

The first will be last, and the last will be first. What?

It’s a tough concept to grasp, or to even want to accept at times. God does not have a firm standard of compensation for services in which we engage. None of us can claim: “Well, I did this, this, and this, so I will get that from God.” Our works are an outpouring of our faith and beliefs, not a checklist for future glory.

Grace transcends our understanding.

No one receives less than they deserve, but everyone receives MORE than they deserve!

God’s grace to those we think don’t deserve it, should be a cause for joy, not jealously.

Whether you’ve been a Christian for a long time, a new Christian, or even someone interested but still unsure about it all, remember it’s not so much about how long or how hard you’ve been working; it’s about your attitude along the way and who you’re working for: Jesus.

Go love on some people who “don’t deserve it”, but need it regardless.

Sinners in the Hands of a Loving God by Brian Zahnd Book Review

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“In his famous sermon “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God,” Puritan revivalist Jonathan Edwards shaped predominating American theology with a vision of God as angry, violent, and retributive. Three centuries later, Brian Zahnd was both mesmerized and terrified by Edwards’s wrathful God. Haunted by fear that crippled his relationship with God, Zahnd spent years praying for a divine experience of hell.”

Author and pastor Brian Zahnd’s new book “Sinners in the Hands of a Loving God” was a beautifully written book describing the gospel as good news.  Actual good news!  Because it is about a God who actually loves us, desires us, and longs for us.  A God who wants to restore and renew our loving relationship with Him.

In a culture and society where God is too often viewed as a distant angry brute in the sky, storming with thunder and hurtling lightning bolts at anyone and everyone who would dare to step out of line, Zahnd points Scripture (and to Christ) to remind and explain that since Jesus is God, then God is like Jesus, God has always been like Jesus, and God will always be like Jesus.  Jesus is the manifestation of God Himself.  God in the flesh.

Throughout this thought provoking and humbling book, Zahnd expounds upon the theology of God as loving, and not one of vengeance.  Zahnd explores and wrestles with his own past, his own theology, and the route he took to find that God wasn’t angry and hateful, but rather loving and redemptive.

I’m sure we’ve heard both sides, and support both sides, but…

Which one is the gospel?  A wrathful God or a loving God?

Which one is good news to those who hear it?

Zahnd believes: “I am a forgiven sinner now being healed in the hands of a loving God.”

I fully recommend reading this book (it’s an easy read and relatively short) and letting this process in your heart and mind while you seek God in prayer and solitude.

 

 

Read more about the book HERE

Read more about the author HERE

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

As Kingfishers Catch Fire by Eugene Peterson Book Review

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Have you ever heard of “The Message” version of the Bible?  I’m sure you have.  Then you know Eugene Peterson.  Peterson translated (or paraphrased) the Bible over several years into “The Message”.  An extremely readable and relatable version of Scripture.

Peterson has done much more than “The Message”, he has also authored over thirty books and taught for many years at Regent College in British Columbia.  I had the opportunity, a month or so ago, to read and review his forthcoming book, “As Kingfishers Catch Fire.”

Moses, David, Isaiah, Solomon, Peter, Paul, and John.  These men of the Bible are the sections by which this book is separated.  Uniquely compiled, this book is a collection of forty nine sermons preached over the years during his service at Christ Our King Presbyterian Church in Bel Air, Maryland.

Through these sermons the reader has access to years worth of spiritual wisdom and insight, with a large focus on spiritual growth, congregational care, spiritual formation, and theology.  Peterson stays familiar with his close attention to Scripture, theological concerns, and simple, yet concise, applications for Christians.  Overall, a wonderful book for gaining insight on living close to God through His Scriptures.

I highly recommend this book.  Although its geared more towards pastors and those in ministry, it is definitely a useful resource for anyone within the church to grow closer to God by reading, studying, and living life with the Word of God.

 

More into on the book can be found HERE

More info on the author can be found HERE

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

The Church

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The gathering together of people to fellowship in the name of Jesus Christ can, in its form, be called a church.  A church is not a building, but rather the name of the group of people who come together as one usually within the bounds of a building.  A church is also more than just one group of people, but rather can be used to describe all believers who choose to fellowship in the name of Jesus Christ.  Overall, the term “church” will be used in the context of both the local congregation, as well as the universal congregation of all Christians.

Paul speaks of the body of Christ in 1 Corinthians Chapter 12, in which he expresses how all who believe in Jesus are apart of the single unified body of Christ.  This is a representation of the church, or how the church is supposed to be, all different parts working together for one goal, which is to spread the love of Christ and to evangelize to all mankind.  The church members all work together for the good of Christianity throughout all the nations, using there various talents and resources to educate those around them of Jesus’ teachings, the problem of sin, and the plan of salvation.

Locally the function of the church should be to spread the good news of Jesus Christ, build up the current believers of the area, provide help and support according to the needs of the surrounding community, baptize new believers into the faith, and to preach and teach to Word of God.

Spreading the good news of Jesus Christ is fulfilling our duty to evangelize and to make new disciples, as commanded in the Great Commission found in Matthew 28:18-20 which states: “And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.  Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.””

Building up and maintaining the current congregation of the local church is vital to keeping those in the faith strong and dedicated.  Unfortunately there are times in life when Christians get too comfortable or begin to doubt when things get tough in life.  It is the job of the church, the people united together in Christ, to recognize the struggles and questions that their fellow church members might be going through.  Building up struggling or questioning Christians with love, support, and prayer is the job of the church people.  The key to this strength and support is continued fellowship and care for those included in the body of Christ.

Along with evangelism to the outside community who is not involved with the church body, it is also the church’s job to recognize the needs of the outsiders.  The church cannot function properly when it is simply focused on the inside and nothing else.  Jesus taught many times the importance of having a humble servant-like attitude and mindset towards others.  The needs of the church are important, but when it comes to the lost, helping them in their times of need will really show and spread the love of Christ.

One of the more obvious and visible things a church must do locally is preach and teach the Word of God and baptize new believers into the faith.  In today’s culture this might be the only function of many churches out there in America, but this really should only be one aspect of the body.  Preaching and teaching the Word not only helps build up the current Christians with knowledge and insight on the Word of God, it also provides for the Holy Spirit to work and to provide general revelation to believers in Christ.  Preaching and teaching may also work to break down the barrier of sin to the outside world, possibly moving outsiders to making decisions to follow Jesus.  Upon a decision to become Christian, it is then the churches job to provide baptism and continued support during the life of a Christian.  Functionally many churches have this aspect down, but other qualities that a local church must have are just as equally important.

Universally and around the world the church must perform several duties which include: spreading the good news of Christ throughout all nations, providing financial support to other church bodies, missionaries, and missions, and breaking down the barriers of race, language, and denomination to create unity amongst all believers in Jesus Christ.

Christianity is not the most popular religion in all areas of the world, therefore according to the Great Commission, as mentioned earlier, all Christians, the body of Christ as a whole, must do their job to help spread the Word of God to all areas of the globe.  Since many churches are unable to send out people on their own, using all the resources possible to aid in the evangelism of the world, such as financially should be attempted.

As the body of Christ, we are to use any resource that we have, to come together for the one goal of spreading Christ to the entire world.  Missionaries and their missions are simply an extension of the local church body, usually represented by a number of local churches, combining to show the universal church of Christ in one united body.

The body of Christ’s resources should also be spread among other local bodies which can uses the funds and resources that they have attained and help each other out in times of need.  A local church should never have to close its doors due to lack of funds, for the duties of the body of Christ is to help maintain and sustain each other.

Finally, the universal church is represented by all nations, all languages, without denomination.  The goal is to break down the barriers of separation to get back to what Jesus wanted for the body of Christ: unity.  The body of Christ united together to spread throughout the globe is the key goal and aspiration of all who believe in Jesus.  One who understands the great gift of salvation through Jesus’ death on the cross cannot keep this indescribable gift to themselves.  Though we are commanded to spread the news of Jesus, the true motivation of the church to spread Jesus’ name comes from the gratitude and love that overflows from all believers when they accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.

The church as the body of Christ should locally and universally function to spread the good news of Jesus Christ throughout the world, build up the current believers of the area, provide help and support according to the needs of the surrounding community, baptize new believers into the faith, to preach and teach to Word of God, spreading the good news of Christ throughout all nations, providing financial support to other church bodies, missionaries, and missions, and breaking down the all to create unity amongst all believers in Jesus Christ.