Update to THE MANUAL on Church Growth.

NOTE:  More on THE MANUAL FOR CHURCH GROWTH in these days of the Falling Away. Scofield mites can not advise you on what the Bible says about the subject, as they presently hold on to the strong delusion that their churches and the world are not now in the great apostasy called the Falling Away. It is sad but true, that the majority of the Southern Baptist leadership are so outspoken on the subject, like Thom Ranier of Lifeway and J.D. Greear and Beth Moore, yet there beliefs, or lack of beliefs on the present Falling Away, leave them disqualified! THE MANUAL seeks to fill in the gap as a watchman on the tower.

The following chapter from Volume 3 of the Learn Christ Commentaries, and soon to show up in you local bookstores, will in part be added to THE MANUAL ON CHURCH GROWTH. It is another effort to get more into Bible and less into denominational ism and professional ism of Theology.

 

CHAPTER 16     Philippians, the Gospel of Good Church Behavior

There is no grounds for the argument that God has changed His mind on human pride.  I recall in Lexington Park Maryland a few years ago teaching a men’s Sunday school class of military officers and civil service workers–probably typical middle income Americans and successful according to the world’s standards of success–but being surprised as in the course of Bible teaching, I routinely brought up the necessity of “humility” in the sight of God.  The response of the group was natural and instantaneous as they said, “Humility in this day and time, huh, people will run over you.”  While I tried to stress that “humility” in the Bible was more a relationship between a person and God, we all knew that it also had to have implications between man and man; and I know from similar training in Aerospace big business on practical management dynamics, that the dominant concept in the class–and no doubt typical of in any and all churches today, is that somehow the Biblical concept of humility had become outdated.  Management dynamics, primarily today based on behaviorism but with also the elements of the cognitive, and always with the Machiavellian motivations in mind, is dominate in education, in educational psychology, in big government, big military, and big business.  It is perhaps the dominant movement in the American free enterprise system, and certainly a dominant and practical thought pattern in the American Democratic Faith.

Somehow with this practical psychology of management dynamics aided by all the self-help, self-growth, and self-improvement books, we have somehow come to think of “humility” as being outdated, and as pride being much more acceptable.  Indeed the American Style of life and thought has rationalized and justified, even developed, human pride to the extent that it has become an idol.  However, the Word of God stands firm, although faintly or seldom heard today, that God hates human pride.  The Bible is still valid on the “six things the LORD hates” (Proverbs 6:1619); it is still indelible recorded in God’s Word of Proverbs 6:16-19 that “seven things are an abomination to God” with “a proud look” leading the list of sin and seven; and it is still as applicable to any human on this earth as it was, based on the character and personality of God, as the day God through the Prophet Solomon had it recorded in His book.  You might as well expect the changing of the tides, or the force of gravity and gravitational attraction, or any other natural laws of God as seasons, day and night, as to really expect that God’s attitude has changed on human pride and humility.

“These six things the LORD hates, Yes, seven are an abomination to Him.  A proud look, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that are swift in running to evil, a false witness who speaks lies, and one who sows discord among brethren.”  (Proverbs 6:1619)

God, who is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow, does not change His mind on his expectations for human behavior and attitudes, nor does He repent of them since the words of the Bible are really reflections of what God is like.  His holiness and righteous demands will not permit, men today or in the past, of the luxuries of discord among “brethren”, of the devising of plans for control in a local church independent of that of Jesus and Jesus through the Pastor, and of a “proud look”.

16-1:  II Timothy versus Philippians on Church Behavior.

Even as II Timothy can be considered as the book of bad church behavior and attitudes, so Philippians can be considered the book of recommended good church behavior.

You get that right after the long preamble, as is most often the custom of Paul in writing Scriptures, and with Philippians 2:3.

“Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.”  (Philippians 2:3)

Think of how many problems are caused in your local church by one member or a group of members, riding hard on Democratic expressions and self-improvement, allow themselves to be controlled by “selfish ambition”–in other words actions that promote only themselves–and “conceit”–where self is put before the welfare of the total church body, before the welfare of Christ, and before the welfare of the pastor.  {Here, I think Rick Warren with his concept of “protect the church” would be more Scripturally valid if this was protect the pastor, protect Christ, and protect the total church body rather than to protect the “cover-up” of the church.}  While not based on Scripture, if you read the 40 day purpose books you will find that Bible is only added as an appendage to the previous extra- and non-biblical conclusions, sort of like window dressing but subtle enough for readers not to realize that it is the opposite of exegesis, the protect your church movement based on PR, cover-up, agreement with Warren and his staff, it is far from being based on a “lowliness of mind” among church members and church leaders, and it is far from an “esteem {for} others {as} better than himself.  It rather picks a certain group of members that have sold themselves to a man-written church covenant as the basis for the esteem to other church members.  It is more consistent with the management dynamics of American Society than of Philippians and  Philippians 2:3.

In this time of history during the Falling Away, where the rising tide of “sin and lawlessness” sweeps over the church, churches, as well as over the world, can we really expect such church behavior among church members as that recommended by the Apostle Paul in the book of Philippians.  I doubt it; as except for periodical revivals, the love of many more in the churches will wax cold as the rising tide of sin and lawlessness overwhelms us to the point of–to use the words of Daniel about the historical period of the Falling Away–until “the power of the Holy people is completely shattered”.  It is shattered now, I think you would admit if you were honest, but it is not “completely shattered”.  It will be completely shattered according to II Thessalonians when the Holy Spirit is withdrawn from this earth.  Suddenly some week, in the not too distant future, we are going to have the sick feeling among God’s people that things have so changed drastically that they can never be the same; and that will be the week that the Holy Spirit is quietly withdrawn by God the Father from doing His work here on earth, the only remaining work of the Spirit will be in the lives of individual Christians.  There will no longer be the work of the Spirit in the world to convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment; and even as it would be a drastic work of history if suddenly the influence of all churches in America were removed, so that removal of the restraining work of the Spirit will be more so drastic and sickening among those who have any love left for righteousness.

Well, since revival is a special blessing and work of the Holy Spirit on a group of people, then we can still have revival right up to the time of the Holy Spirit’s withdrawal. It will hardly make an difference when the Spirit is withdrawn in the Pentecostal and charismatic practices of many, for they have so simulated and faked true worship, a loud and show-off worship with the lips and mouth in song, praise, tongues, and shouting, that they will carry on as if nothing happened.  But real revival as summarized in the famous quote of II Chronicles 7:14 about which we seldom here today, because the simulations have taken the place of the realities, is still possible for short periods of time and in certain places, as long as the Spirit is still on earth. {To list just a few of the simulations:  increased church or Sunday school attendance which is falsely considered to be the same as real church growth like in Ephesians –this is where we have been faked out by Saddleback Church and Rick Warren, not realizing that even the Mormons and the Roman Catholics can fill churches with empty people–excitement on Sunday or at other meetings for an hour or two as a replacement for living up to the calling of Christ for six other days, highly organized endeavors of a denomination which can make God’s people feel good as a substitute for obedience to Christ, going to retreats and mountain-top conferences of large numbers and lead by those who would take first place in the kingdom, that is in their own mind and in the mind of those easily lead astray by the popular-itching ear Bible teachers, and so on and on such as with extra-biblical revelations.}

“if My people who are called by My name {don’t you and your church call yourselves by the name of God or of Christ, most do}…will humble themselves {oh, there is that word again “humble” and “humility”, how did that sneak into our Bibles}, and pray {much of the little of prayer that is heard in churches today gets no higher than the ceiling of the church, because it comes out of the mouth of a church member that is active by their church behavior and attitudes in the grieving of the Holy Spirit}…and seek My face {it takes much more prayer, it takes the seeking of the face of God, the opposite of the OT and common today practice of substituting loud lid and moaning mouth to compensate for a heart that is far from God–you know I have observed through fifty years in churches that as the closeness of a human heart to God goes down, the outward demonstrations of simulated sincerity especially in worship services goes up; and it is as though some of God’s people knowing their own hearts and fakeness in worship, want to keep others from suspecting what they already know to be true.}, and turn from their wicked ways {well, this is too much:  for God’s  people at the Temple where Jeremiah preached at the gate to stop their weekly evil practices in order for God to honor “We Are Safe” and “the house of the LORD…the house of the LORD”; and likewise for God’s people in the churches today to really seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, put the seeking of things in second place…well, that is too much.  Let us have a Gospel of Peace, Security, and Comfort…let us be encouraged with self-achievement, self-improvement, and the Gospel of Prosperity.}, then {then….then….then, we don’t want the “then” today, and perhaps that is the reason that we so seldom here about it any more coupled with the ways in which we can fake and simulate revival}…then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal there land.  (II Chronicles 7:14) Part of the reason we don’t hear this prayer much any more in the churches, is because we do not believe that the present drought in Texas and New Mexico has come from God.  We do not believe that God sent hurricane Katrina, and other earthquakes; and we do not believe that God allowed 911 to happen in an effort to get our attention before the Falling Away is complete and the Second Coming is here.  However, also still part of God’s Word is the thirteenth verse before II Chronicles 7:14 {and which by the way is from God to the one of the wisest men that every lived and in an answer to his prayer to bless the temple of God}…

“When I shut up heaven and thee is no rain, or command the locust to devour the land, or send pestilence among My people…”  (II Chronicles 7:13) 16-2:  Good Church Behavior and Good Church Attitudes in Philippians.

There is both something “cognitive”–”for as man thinketh in his heart, so is he”–and something of “behaviorism” in Philippians.  Even the useful paragraph headings of your Bible tell us this with subjects like:  “Thankfulness and Prayer {first an attitude of thankfulness this a behavior or action of prayer}; “To Live is Christ” {a life style of attitudes and actions like Christ}; “Striving and Suffering for Christ” {“not only to believe in His name, but to suffer for Him” (Philippians 1:29)}; “unity through humility” {the setting aside by church members of personal conceit and petty personal ambitions in the church in favor of a certain mental attitude called “lowliness of mind” with subsequent actions and attitudes of esteem for other church members as better than yourselves}; “Example of the Humbled and Exalted Christ” {whose humility led Him to the complete obedience of the Cross}; “All for Christ”, “Pressing Toward the Goal”, Improve your attitudes by “Meditating on These Things”, and it would help if you thought of your true citizenship as in heaven, beyond your own church doors.

Actions and Attitudes consistent with “to live is Christ”.

To be able to based on the start of a good conscience toward God that started with the Gospel of the One Baptism, and what the Apostle Peter meant, to continue with a good conscience toward God and Christ that can say when I speak and live in the church or elsewhere, it is the equivalent of Christ living through me.  In other words, the people who listen and see me, are reminded of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Conduct yourselves worthy of the Gospel of Christ.

Everyone knows of the greatness of the Gospel of Christ, even some of the greatness of the Gospel of the One Baptism; well, here is an Apostle of Christ, Paul, and with Words from God as Scriptures, admonishing us to live worthy of that Gospel.

“Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come {and Paul will certainly be among those who sleep in Christ who come with Christ as the Second Coming; I think then you will recognize his authority as given by Christ as he with other apostles governs part of the new earth even if you do not adhere presently to the authority of the Apostles and Prophets as given in Scriptures, as authority from God and Christ} and see you or am absent, I may hear of your affairs {how are you affairs, do they seek things or the kingdom of God and His righteousness?}, that you stand fast {even more important during the Falling Away, only now you have to find a select group in your church with whom to stand fast} …in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel…”  (Philippians 1:27)

How long, if ever, has it been since you could say that your local church was of “one mind”; or that the attitudes of your fellow church members was such that it could be considered as “one spirit”.  Well, you see we don’t even look at it that way anymore.  We stress the personality individuality and personal differences of all human beings; we stress how not persons even church members are perfect, and that some human frailties often prevail which we must overlook.  Well, that is far from the one mind and one spirit recommended, yea even commanded by the Apostle Paul with authority from Jesus and God.

Take the mind of Christ for actions and attitudes.

“Let this mind be in your which was also in Christ Jesus…but made Himself of no reputation {how long has it been since you have seen a church make himself of no reputation, rather than seeking to promote his own reputation and status in your local church, regardless of the gifts he or she may or may not have received from the Holy Spirit}…taking the form of a bondservant…He humbled Himself and became obedient to the death…”  (Philippians 2:5-8) May I make a suggestion based on Scripture that instead of praying like the extrabiblical revelations of Jim Baker and “Praise the Lord” where you thank God for every mud puddle that you can step in or see, you should pray as any “care” comes into your life:  “God through Christ, As I humble myself under your mighty hand that You may exalt me in due time {it may be here on earth or it may be in heaven, leave that to God the Father}, casting all my care upon You because you care for me, I now cast this particular care {mention in by name no matter how small or large} upon you.”  We know Christ taught us to pray this way; we suspect that Baker’s prayer like the famous Baker’s dozen is extra-biblical and even non-Biblical.

“Work out your salvation with fear and trembling”, Philippians 2:12.

Yes, shock of all shocks, and contrary to many of your church conversations and your personally held attitudes, YOUR SALVATION IS NOT COMPLETE.  What has been worked for in and what has been worked in you has to be worked out in the open by you.

This is the Gospel of the One Baptism

You continue in the beliefs of the “believe” of “believe and be baptized” and God continues to “work in you” (2:13) according to His good pleasure and will to the extent that you will allow Him to continue to work in your for His good will and pleasure.  Never say die, or never say complete, or never say saved until the Second Coming of Christ, and then your salvation with sanctification and glorification of the new resurrected body is complete.

(1).  Believe it or not part of the working out of your own salvation, is not to complain or dispute in church meetings or with church people, or even anywhere. “Do all things {that is the anywhere–church, work, or otherwise} without complaining and disputing…”  (Philippians 2:14)

(2).  That is, if you really want the end results of working out your own salvation: (a) become of such a character as to be “blameless” and “harmless”; (b) to be called a child of God without fault in a world that excuses most faults; (c) to shine like a light in the darkness of American Society and the rest of the world; (d) hold fast and faithfully to the Scriptures of the Word of God, all of them and not only your favorites if you would work out your total salvation with fear and trembling {Paul said in the last of Hebrews that it is a “fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God”, especially if you have not worked with the salvation that God gave you as a gift}; (e) so that you and Paul, or anyone else had anything to do with your initial salvation might rejoice in “the day of Christ”–the Second Coming of Christ {the Day of the LORD of the OT becomes in the NT the Day of the LORD and Lord, LORD God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ}.  This sort of summarizes the answer of a good conscience, toward God and more so than any justification or rationalization of the American Conscience–if it seems right to me, I do it–as the One Baptism, not “the putting away of the filth of the flesh” as in water baptism, or the theoretical second, etc. “anointing” baptism of the extra-biblical revelations of the Pentecostals and other charismatics.

In the place of seeking “your own things”, seek the things of Christ.

“For all seek their own, not the things which are of Christ Jesus.”  (Philippians 2:21)

Paul saw this behavior and attitude in young Timothy so that Paul called him “likeminded”.  Sometimes you will notice in the epistles of Paul that there is the “we” of Timothy, Titus, and others, almost as if they also were apostles; although Paul never really defends this position as He does his own Apostleship, it seems that he considers them to be so like-minded that when they bring a message it is as though Paul Himself, or really Christ through Paul, is speaking to them.  It is like a faithful ambassador of the US to another country, like-minded with the government in power; but these are ambassadors for Apostles and Prophets, for Christ and God.

Seek out such men that strive after the examples of Paul, Timothy, and Titus;and having found those in a pastor or other church leader “Receive him therefore in the Lord with all gladness, and hold such men in esteem.” (Philippians 2:29)

We might contrast such men as Paul, Timothy, and Titus that we should hold “in esteem” with the ones that we most generally, even in church, hold with esteem. Would you not give a movie star or other famous person, or person of position in our society, a better seat in your church that a man poorly dressed?  Yes, and by doing so we have become a “respecter of persons”, condemned by the Word of God in the book of James as in the same category of murder or adultery.  You see what accepted church behavior has departed almost entirely from the Word of God!

“Beware” as an attitude that becomes church members:  “Beware of dogs,beware of evil workers {that are, and increasingly will be as we plummet more deeply into the Falling Away, more “evil workers”}; beware of the mutilation.” (3:2)

Well, today in America we do not have to worry about the mutilation of circumcision.  That is not one of our problems, although we do have the power of who are the real people of God, those “who worship God in Spirit”–this is the real circumcision that sets the real people of God apart, the real Israel of Romans and of the real Jews; and related to that is our problem with the mutilation of the Word of God whereby today many popular Bible teachers and preachers {another characteristic of the Falling Away, that is of itching ears teachers} mutilate what was given in the Word of God of the Prophets and Apostles with their extra-biblical revelations of “God told me” or “God gave me”.  Why don’t you next time when a pastor or leader, tells you be “forget” any unsound doctrine or practices in your church, simply because it is for his personal benefit for you to do so even though a compromise, while pragmatic of Scripture, to respond in term to him by saying, “BEWARE”.

Press toward the UPWARD call of God in Christ Jesus, Philippians 3:12-16.

Walk with a pattern, not like the enemies of the cross of Christ–whose end isdestruction, whose god is their belly {I bet that is an idol, the belly, that you never thought about}, and who glory in what they should be ashamed of, that pattern determined by faithfulness to your real citizenship in heaven.

“For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ.”  (Philippians 3:20)

Wow, would you not like to so live in the church and otherwise, so that the Apostle Paul Himself, or even better Jesus Himself, might say of you, “and the rest of my fellow workers, who names are in the Book of Life.”  (4:3).

There is no judgment for you if your name is written in the Book of Life.  At the Second Coming, before Jesus sends out the angels to the four corners of the earth to collect and separate the living and the dead “tares” and “wheat”, the angels do their homework in heaven to decide who is a tare and who is a wheat; and then those already written in the Book of Life of heaven, with this record of their citizenship in heaven, automatically are picked up by the angels as wheat.

Meditate on “these things”, Philippians 4:8-9.

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