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Published by MustardSeedNews
Mustard Seed Newsletter (Back Issues 2008)Christianity, Religion, Jesus Christ, Christian Living, God, Filipino, News, Gospel, Bible, Truth, Church
Mustard Seed Newsletter (Back Issues 2008)Christianity, Religion, Jesus Christ, Christian Living, God, Filipino, News, Gospel, Bible, Truth, Church

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Published by: MustardSeedNews on Apr 29, 2009
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Vol.1 No. 2 February 2008
Is God telling you to stay or move? 
ShouldYou LeaveYourChurch?
Starts on Page 3…
Building,social  club, God's exclusive  in-group, ...
Also In This ISSUE:
Did Peter Have thePrimacy? p. 4Do You Just ‘Pay &Pray’? p. 12What is the TrueOrigin of Valentine’sDay? p. 14Who Were the NT‘Elders’ p. 17
What Is The Church"?
he media persistently knocks "the Church". What is it?Will it survive?
"Church attendance under a million" screams the headline, referring tosome dwindling church attendance in Europe. Dismal reading, forChristians. Yet even regular attendance for all Christian churches -generally under 10% in Western World - is uninspiring. Is the Churchfailing? If so - then why?First, let's understand what we mean by "church". Most folk immediatelypicture that big old building with a `steeple' on the corner, open only oneday a week. Or the picturesque country church set snugly behind agraveyard and guarded by ancient yews. Many church buildings are,Sunday by Sunday, almost deserted having a mere handful of faithfulparishioners. Others seem to be bursting at the seams and full of
energetic worshippers - vast megabuck enterprises.And there are still many millions of enthusiastic"evangelicals" around the world.
Founded By Jesus
 Is there a common theme that links all of them?Globally, around two billion claim to be "Christian",the largest single world faith. Yet apart from somemention of Jesus of Nazareth the denominationalvariety would suggest myriad different religions! Theirnames are legion, their doctrinal statements inconflict, their worship kaleidoscopic. Yet all claim tobe representative of Jesus Christ who founded "thechurch".Jesus stated: "I will build my church", and asserted itwould persist through time. Did he intend suchconfusing variety? When he prayed for unity - whatdid he mean?
Called By God
 Christians "go to church", but itis now widely understood that"church" signifies far morethan the complex of buildingsin which the congregationworships and often plays. Thereal church is the assembly ofChristians whether they meetunder a tree, in a home or in acathedral. They are "calledout" (Gk.,
whichmeans "public assembly",translated in the NewTestament as
from the population at large bythe Father: "No one comes to me", said Jesus,"except the Father who sent me draw him" (John6:44).
A couple of times the word is applied to a secularassembly. But elsewhere in the New Testament (112times), it refers to the body of Christians - in general,in an area, in their local assembly, and once refers toall Christians from all time (Hebrews 12:23). Nowhereis it applied to a building.
Who Belongs?
 Not everyone who occupies a church pew, however,is a `Christian', and part of the church of God. Allclubs have `membership rules'. The church is nodifferent.The church is formed from those who have beendrawn by God to Jesus Christ largely by the work ofexisting members. They have on mature reflectionwholeheartedly turned from disobedience to God andbeen forgiven past sin ("transgression of the law" - IJohn 3:4) through the sacrifice of Jesus. Having beenbaptized they are given the Holy Spirit which makesthem children of God - part of the family of God.
A New Creature
 As in any human family, the new Christian is to "growup". Our baptism is symbolic of the death of ourformer self - we are in Christ a new creature. As a"babe in Christ" (I Cor. 3:1, I Peter 2:2), the newChristian, embraced in the bosom of the church,embarks on a life-long learning curve that affectsevery aspect of life. Hence the admonition toChristians: "... not forsaking the assembling ofyourselves together" (Hebrews 10:25).True conversion works inwardly. God, the masterPotter, takes each Christian in hand to fashion into amature reflection of His own perfect character - intothe image of Jesus.His Spirit in us seeks to stimulate a hunger and thirstfor God's Word. It's in the Scriptures that we areconfronted with the values God cherishes, andenjoined to "be transformed by the renewing of yourmind" (Romans 12:1ff).As we voluntarily yield to God we begin to expressthe very character of our Father - summed up as"love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness,goodness, meekness, temperance self-control"(Galatians 5:22). Character traits not common tohuman nature!As we submit to the Word of God much else changes.Our attitude to family and friends and colleaguesimproves. What we eat, how we dress and look, ourpersonal grooming - all must come to reflect the highstandards set by the Scriptures. We evolve towards amature human being respected in the world. Weabandon odd-ball life-styles. We develop towards thecommon example set by Jesus, yet retaining ourunique individuality. How and when we worship, too,reflects the Scriptural pattern.Being a `church member', then, goes far beyondwarming a pew!
The Church Family
The church is usually referred to in Scripture as "thechurch of God". It's a `family'. Christians are `childrenof God' who is our `Father', "of whom the whole familyin heaven and earth is named" (Ephesians 3:15). It isunified in the sense that all Christians are members ofone "Body". All who "have the Spirit of Christ"(Romans 8:9) are part of that Body, and eachChristian is personally responsible to Jesus Christ,the Head of the Body.Yet the church universal is diverse in the sense thateach Christian is, after Christ, loyal to his or her localassembly. Within that assembly mingle spiritualbrothers and sisters at all levels of Christian maturity.Just as in any family, the new Christian - the `babe inChrist' - grows up under the tutelage of the moremature members of the family.To promote and oversee this personal growth, Godhas determined that able Christians (`elders') beappointed to oversee each local assembly. They arenot 'priests' who stand between you and God, but'shepherds of the flock' (I Peter 5:3) and 'helpers ofyour joy' (II Cor. 1:24) charged with the responsibilityof promoting the spiritual growth of that assembly,and guarding it from the ravages of spiritual 'wolves'.Said the apostle Paul to the Ephesian leadership:"...take heed to yourselves and to all the flock amongwhom the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, toshepherd the church of God which he purchased withhis own blood" (Acts 20:28).
A Narrow Way
 Throughout the two thousand year history of thechurch of God ambitious and greedy men and womenhave sought to subvert it. As Paul said to the samemen, "...for I know this that after my departure savagewolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock.Also from among yourselves men will rise upspeaking perverse things to draw away the disciplesafter themselves. Therefore watch..." (Acts 20:28-30).The onslaughts of such, coupled with false demonicteachings (see I Timothy 4:1, "doctrines of demons"),has served to limit the growth of the church. Jesusknew that the church he is building would face fierypersecution, that the life of faith would be hazardous,that "there are few who will find [the narrow way]"(Matthew 7:13-15).`Church' is not a Sunday-go-to-meeting experience.It's a challenging and often uncomfortable way of lifethat demands total commitment day in and day out toJesus Christ and to his commands. Become aChristian, a `member' of the church, and you embarkon a lifetime of constant personal change, frequentopposition - and the loving personal care andcorrection of our heavenly Father and our Savior.
Only those who do so will live eternally in God's Kingdom 
. /James F. McBride 
Is God telling you to stay or move?
Should You Leave YourChurch?
Does what you are hearing from the pulpit cut across what you read in the Bible? Have you perhaps become disenchanted with the clergies' attitudes towards the Word of God, with abuse of authority etc? If so, should you fellowship elsewhere? What factors should influence your decision? 
Some Christians flit lightly from one church to another. Minordisagreement - personal or doctrinal sends them to a new church acrosstown. Then there's the "loyalty atany price" Christian, who clingsgrimly to the church of his birthor of his choice through amorass of doctrinal error, ordespite the dead hand offormalism, or deepeningpersonal unhappiness. Or somewill stay put because there's adeep-rooted
of departing -that in doing so they willsomehow lose salvation.Changing your loyalty is aserious matter, not least in thevital matter of religious belief.What should you do? Before

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