Category Archives: News

Seal of Approval

Welcome again to my blog. Thank you for visiting.

We recently began discussing the results of personal salvation in Christ and why it might be associated with enhanced wellbeing as found through Teleios research. This blog series is describing what happens, as taught in the Bible, at the time of salvation resulting in a steadfast new and wonderful position of a believer. We have covered already several wonderful promises accompanying salvation. This week let us discuss the Spirit sealing, another fantastic biblical promise!

The Holy Spirit is often misunderstood, but He is a key component in our salvation, resulting position before God and subsequent Christian walk. At Salvation the Holy Spirit is given to us. This is a great promise and is a part of the results of our belief to salvation by faith alone in Christ’s substitutionary work on the cross (Ephesians 2:8-9). These are the main points to review about the Spirit at salvation. Read and enjoy!

  • Spiritual baptism – We discussed this great promise two weeks ago; that the Holy Spirit regenerates us to a new life in Christ, identifying us with His death and resurrection upon the cross. We are a new creature in Christ (Romans 6:2-9; Ephesians 4:24; Colossians 3:10).
  • Entry into the church – The Spirit places us in the church universal through which serve Christ.
  • The Spirit sealing – This week we learn that the Holy Spirit at salvation is given to us as a seal unto the day of our redemption, the second coming of Christ, when we will live with him eternally (Ephesians 1:13-14; 2 Corinthians 1:22; Corinthians 5:5).

Fortunately, this seal is not talking about a cute aquatic mammal, but it is speaking of a secure seal to bind us to Christ. Seals were used in the ancient world as a legal means to close a document. If a king had created a new law or order, molten wax might be poured on the document to seal it and the king’s signet ring pressed into the wax. The king’s symbol in the wax would tell the carrier or the recipient that the contents of the document were the king’s will and breaking the seal inappropriately or ignoring the order was done at a person’s own peril.

We are sealed by our King and it reflects the same legal and unbreakable character as ancient law. Further, the Spirit seals us throughout our whole life on earth until we go home to heaven. Importantly, all those who believed by grace in Christ’s forgiveness on the cross are Christians and have the Spirit and the seal (Ephesians 2:8-9).

What great promises we possess as believers in Christ with a position so eternally secure with a great hope for the future and a steadfast anchor our souls while we are on Earth (Hebrews 6:19; 1 Peter 1:4-5).

Thank you for joining me on this fascinating Journey of who we are as a Christian before God. Please join us again next week to learn more.

All praise for Christ’s church

Welcome again to my blog. Thank you for visiting.

This blog series is describing what happens, as taught in the Bible, to individuals at the time of their salvation. We started last week with the fantastic promise of spiritual baptism, resulting in a steadfast new and wonderful position of a believer. This week let us overview our membership in Christ’s church.

At salvation the Holy Spirit places each of us into the church of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:13). This is a great promise and is a part of the results of our belief in salvation by faith alone in Christ.

The form of the church into which we are placed by the Spirit can be called, in theological terms, the church universal. This form of the church roughly can be described as the following:

The practical outworking of the church universal is multiple organized bodies of believers often called the local church, but in our current age might be virtual (online) as well. Para-church organizations (e.g. independent missions or college ministries) function within the church universal, but similarly to the local church. Scripture gives broad definition to how churches are organized which allows great flexibility to serve Christ in various times and cultures.

These concepts of the church I’ve tried to base on scripture without cultural overlays of expectations and definitions. Regardless, the concept of the universal church is controversial. For example, some denominations may not accept the concept of a ‘universal church’. However, as the Apostle Paul states, we do what we do in faith using what we need to serve God, filtered by prayer and God’s word (1 Timothy 4:4-5; Romans 14:23).

In this series so far, we have covered that at our salvation through faith in Christ’s death on the cross we have a spiritual baptism that identifies us as resurrected to a new life and places by the Spirit in Christ’s church.

Praise be to God for such wonderful promises and positions resulting from such a great salvation. Stay tuned next week as we continue our discussion of the results of salvation. Thank you for joining me today.

Baptism, it is not just for dunking anymore!

Welcome again to my blog. Thank you for visiting.

Last week we began discussing the effects of personal salvation and why it might be associated with enhanced wellbeing as found through Teleios’ research. Let’s discover the biblical reasons why. This is a fantastic journey!

The next several blogs will talk about what happens, as described in the Bible, at the time of salvation resulting in a steadfast new and wonderful position of a believer. The blogs are based on the list presented last week.

Let’s start with spiritual baptism. This important biblical truth is vital in understanding who we are as Christians. Our knowledge about baptism will transform the way we think!

First, let’s consider the word itself. Although controversial, in the Epistles when baptism is mentioned it speaks generally of spiritual baptism. It does not mean dunking or sprinkling primarily; water baptism might be considered as an external ritual to signify the internal event. The word is βαπτιζω (baptizoo) in the Greek (this is the language in which the New Testament originally was written), and was an old term borrowed from the dye trade. It meant that a piece of cloth immersed in the dye became identified with the new color.

Secondly then, what does being identified with Christ have to do with us as Christians? Fortunately, a lot!

When we become a Christian we are identified with Christ’s gracious death and His resurrection. Otherwise, at salvation our old self died and was buried with Christ. We are raised now to new life with Him and we sit with Him on the right hand of God the Father (Romans 6:2-12; Ephesians 2:4-7; Colossians 2:12-13).

Why is this concept so important? Similar concepts in Scripture that also appear to speak probably to spiritual baptism are: regeneration (Titus 3:5), born again (John 3: 5) and a new man (Ephesians 4:24; Colossians 3:10):

  • Believer’s sin – Although every believer sins we can say ‘no’ to sin because as a new person in Christ we have the power to live a victorious life.
  • The reason for the resurrection – Baptism teaches us the importance of the resurrection because we are raised with Christ to new life without which we would still be dead in our sins (1 Corinthians 15:17).
  • Eternal security – Baptism helps prove we cannot lose our salvation. because scripture does not indicate that if we commit sin that our new self can be killed and the old dead self re-resurrected like some bad re-make of the ‘Night of the Living Dead’!

In other words, you are transformed permanently to a new life, resurrected with Christ and sitting with Him in heaven. These changes cannot be reversed. What a great comfort we have in truth of scripture.

Therefore, as a new person, we are liberated from sin and are free to serve Christ. We cannot be defeated by the misdeeds of our old self.

Christ is a fantastic and true Savior! The nature of our salvation is so important that we will continue to address each of the individual promises overviewed last week. We’ll see how they will enhance our wellbeing. Come back next week as we continue this exciting journey about the nature of our great salvation.

Wow, what a great salvation!

Welcome again to my blog. Thank you for visiting. We’ve been discussing in recent weeks the church, God’s chosen method of administration for our time before Christ returns, and that all members should be productive believers, born again through faith alone. This is important so the church may advance the Gospel and positively affect its community. However, it is also important for the individual believer. Why is this?

This question is multi-leveled, complicated, but wonderful. As understanding our salvation is transformative. Let’s spend the next few blogs discussing it.

Teleios Research has found that knowledge of salvation and eternal security enhances our wellbeing. What are the biblical reasons why? Today’s blog will talk about what happens, as described in the Bible, at the time of our salvation which results in a new and wonderful position for the believer.

We know from scripture that our merciful God chose us (Ephesians 1:4,5,11; Romans 8:29-30), convicted us by his Spirit (John 16:8), and dragged us to Himself (John 6:44) that we might believe in Christ’s forgiveness. All this by grace through the Christ’s sacrifice on the cross to grant us salvation by faith alone (Ephesians 2:8-9). Indeed, God is worthy of praise for such a great salvation!

However, it is vital for us to know exactly what happens at salvation as it enhances our wellbeing and confidence, and certainly our praise to God.

At salvation we receive:

  • Spiritual baptism – We are regenerated by the Spirit into a new person and our old self dies (Romans 6:2-9). We become identified (the meaning of the word ‘baptism’) with Christ’s death and resurrection. This marvelous spiritual truth speaks to the importance of the resurrection because it is the vehicle for our new life in Christ and eternity (Romans 6:9; 10:9-10). Indeed, we are a new person and the old sinful self is gone forever.
  • Membership in the church (1 Corinthians 12:13) – The Spirit places each believer in the church universal (the fellowship of all believers under the headship of Christ [Colossians 1:17-18]). We serve others, and God, typically through a local church assembly.
  • The Holy Spirit – He is given in part as a down payment to our salvation (Ephesians 1:13-14, 2 Corinthians 1:21) that we cannot lose (Romans 8:28-39; 1 Peter 1:4-5). He maintains us until the day of our redemption when Christ comes again (Ephesians 1:13-14; 2:10).
  • Adoption – Each believer is a child of God, adopted into his family. As generally in first world cultures today, when a child was adopted in the ancient Greek and Roman world, it was a legal right that could not be overturned. In other words, the adopted child received all the rights and privileges of a natural-born child; so with a believer as a child of God (Ephesians 1:5).
  • Justification – Before we believed we were guilty of sin for which Christ died on the cross to provide his forgiveness and to declare us innocent (Romans 3:24-25). The word for justified in Greek (δικαιος, dikaios) means legally found innocent as in court of law. In other words, there is no double jeopardy: οnce found innocent no one can bring a charge against us (Romans 8:33).
  • Possession– We are the possession of Christ and God (Ephesians 1:13-14; 2:10). No one can take us out of their hand (John 10:27-30).

Christ is a fantastic and true Savior! The nature of our salvation is so important we will speak to each of these topics individually and how they might enhance a believer’s wellbeing. Come back again next week as we start this exciting journey to discover the nature of our great salvation.

More on how to help a non-believer

Welcome back to my blog. I am so glad you can visit today.

The last few weeks we have discussed scriptural methods to recognize true and non-true believers (tares) in the church. Importantly, it may be someone close to you: your friends, your family or perhaps even someone on the church staff. Last week we began considering why helping a tare towards salvation can be difficult. It can be a tough sell! This week we cautiously present some suggestions for how to share your faith with a non-believer (assuming an adult age group), realizing the difficulty at hand. Here are some hopefully helpful suggestions:

  • Become friends – The first step is to befriend your potentially unbelieving acquaintance or increase the depth of your relationship. Ask them peripheral questions over issues related to Christianity and the church, for example: likes and dislikes about their church such as the preaching, choir, Sunday school, leadership, etc. Then listen! People love to talk about themselves and their opinions.
  • Listening is vital because it shows your respect and acceptance of the person. Further, it allows you to analyze their scriptural needs as you learn about them. Every individual is important. After you listen for a while, follow up with more specific questions, eliciting more detail.
  • Advance the depth of questions – Ultimately, when they trust you then you can progress the conversation to what they believe about Christ specifically; who He is, why He came, favorite scripture about Christ, or what they thought about what the pastor said about Christ in his sermon.
  • These questions should be asked in a conversational, non-threatening manner. Again, just mostly listen! These types of questions will teach you more about your friend and especially help you assess if they understand the nature of salvation through Christ.
  • Advance the conversation to the gospel – At some point you need specifically to express the Gospel to your potential tare (Romans 10:9-10) without helping them answer. How to do this? This task is a 100X easier after you have shown your respect and affection by building the relationship and listening to them. Every person is different. Here are some ideas:
    • Should the elders’ preparation class ask the attendees to state how to express the Gospel, what would you want them to say? An alternative, if your friend asked you how to be saved, what would you tell them?
    • If your friend confesses a need to learn scripture knowledge, ask them to do a one-on-one study with you where you can discuss the gospel and who Christ is from scripture itself. Warning, they rarely will mention doing a Bible study themselves, you will need to propose to them directly a study based on the needs they express when you are listing to them.
    • For example, if they have mentioned in prior conversations they do not know much scripture then propose a verse by verse study from Colossians or Ephesians. A Bible study is a great tool as it brings your friend and you to a neutral ground where they can observe the gospel themselves.
    • Ask them during the study, at an appropriate verse, what they believe is important in expressing the gospel to someone. They will need to learn it with your teaching, probably over several Bible study sessions.

St. Peter’s question – If all else fails I describe a scenario in which one day they stand before St. Peter and he asks, ‘What gives you the right to enter heaven?’ or ‘Why should I let you in here?’ This question cuts to the fundamental basis of a person’s true faith. They must express exactly what qualifies them for heaven. Try this question with even long-standing church believers and you will get amazing answers.

In my wife, Jeanette’s, and my own experience in teaching the Bible to churched adults, at the beginning of the study probably ⅓ to ½ of our students did not understand the grace of salvation, even on prompting; not even close!

Once your friend knows the gospel, do not indicate they just became a Christian as this may cause discord, but just be joyful that they can express it confidently and can tell someone else. If you think they may not believe what they say, then ask directly if they believe the plan of salvation to hopefully address any questions or doubts.

Have mercy on your friends and your family! Consider carefully if they truly understand their salvation which is so carefully laid out in scripture.

That is all for today. Thanks for joining me as always.

How to help the non-believer

Welcome back to my blog. I am honored you can visit.

We have been discussing that the church is God’s plan to implement His purposes for this time before Christ’s return. It should function efficiently with love and act consistently with God’s word. The last few weeks we covered scriptural methods to recognize true and non-true believers (tares) in the church.

This week let’s think how we might help the church-attending non-believer. It can be a tough sell! How can we bring a non-believer’s attention to their own unbelief? Next week we’ll provide a few suggestions about how to share your faith with a non-believer.

What makes helping a non-believer difficult is if you ask a non-believer if they are a Christian, they most always would respond “yes.” Are they being dishonest? Consider that there are several levels of Christianity accepted in our culture.

  • Christian Seeker – These are typically new church attendees who may not recognize that they are not a true believer because they are interested in learning about Christianity. Generally, they are comfortable in the social setting of the church (which often is designed expressly for that purpose). A seeker may say they are a Christian. However, they may be more willing to admit they do not yet believe as their motivation for church attendance may be to seek a solution to their needs, which might be spiritual.
  • Social Christian – These are individuals, most likely church members or attendees, perhaps longstanding, who would readily indicate they are a Christian. However, when asked to explain their Christian beliefs in specific terms they might be unable to express the gospel, even with prompting. Unfortunately, since they typically are tied to the church and its social structure, they would be embarrassed to admit they are not truly a believing Christian; this would likely affect their self-esteem and social standing. Non-believers would fall into this group.
  • Evangelical, born-again Christian – These Christians identify as saved by grace, by faith alone in the forgiveness provided by Jesus Christ‘s death on the cross (Ephesians 2:8-9).

What’s the problem? The first two groups are accepted socially and are comfortable within the typical evangelical church setting. Consequently, to confront them regarding salvation may (almost assuredly) produce a defensive posture and perhaps a damaged friendship.

How then can we bring these important church members to be willing to evaluate their own salvation in an objective way? Good question! We don’t yet know from research how to best approach them. Further, the method will likely differ per the individual. Consequently, we must cling to scripture where God reminds us to try to bring the gospel to all people. How to do this? We will discuss this interesting topic in the next blog! Thanks for joining me today. I look forward to seeing you again next week!

Why is helping tares important?

Welcome back to my blog. I am so glad you can visit today.

The past few weeks we overviewed scriptural methods to recognize true and un-true believers (tares) within the church. Why is helping tares towards salvation so important? Bringing them lovingly to Christ is vital for the church for two reasons:

  • Salvation in Christ is essential for the individual for eternal life.
  • Salvation for the unbelieving church member is important for the local church. A congregation needs active members to be effective, so they help and don’t hinder the advance of the gospel and affecting society for good.

We’ll deal with salvation in upcoming blogs but let’s consider today the influence of the unbelieving church member inside the local church.

Scripture stresses the importance of unity in the church (Ephesians 4:1-7). Unfortunately, churches sometimes can be a place of discord with angry splits between groups. No one knows all the reasons for disunity in churches, either on the personal or global level. The causes are probably multiple.

However, an unbelieving church member may pursue an agenda that can be distracting to church unity either by wasting people’s time for their disruptive purposes or a deeper discord leading potentially to division. Although I don’t know that this question has been researched specifically I believe generally a tare could negatively influence the church in several ways, by:

  • Building a power base by which they can control a portion of the church ministry
  • Seeking attention for their emotional pain or desires – While appropriate biblically (Galatians 6:2) this situation can become draining if the tare is not willing to change to conform to scriptural wisdom, or is solely interested in soaking up people’s attention.
  • Living a passive Christian life – Even if the tare is not overtly disruptive they can have a negative influence by merely talking continuously about subjects that are non-biblical, or not encouraging others to seek scripture or act in godly ways. Otherwise, they hide the truth by their words and actions.

For the church to function productively and for individual Christians to attain the greatest benefit from body life, the effect of tares and other unbiblical agendas must be limited. How to do this?

  • Recognize who tares are (please read the prior blog).
  • As we discussed before, bringing them salvation this is the best solution!
  • Expect tares to conform their life to the Bible. If they do not, then members and leadership should consider:
    • Limiting social and fellowship time with them.
    • Refraining from giving them spiritual or non-spiritual leadership positions from which they might build their expectations that they could influence the church.
    • Consider corrective biblical action (by the church leaders) if the tare is clearly disruptive to body life (e.g., Matthew 18:15-20, 2 Corinthians 2:5-11).

The health of the modern church is vital! Each member should be a functioning, growing Christian who facilitates fruitful and positive teaching, praise, prayer and fellowship and enables the church to have a positive impact on their community. Don’t allow the agenda of a limited few, who refuse to come to Christ or be obedient to Scripture, to diminish the progress of Christ’s church!

Next week we will begin talking about methods to bring salvation to tares. Please come back and join us then.

So who are tares?

Welcome back to my blog. I’m thrilled you can visit!

We have been discussing that the church is God’s plan to implement His purposes for this time period before Christ’s return. It should function efficiently with love and consistent with God’s word. Last week we overviewed scriptural methods to recognize true believers in the church. This week we discuss methods to recognize those who might be churched unbelievers or tares (Matthew 13:24-30).

Jesus said there will be tares (who look like wheat, but are false believers) in the church of whom we cannot differentiate until He returns. However, as part of our love for the church and its people we should try, as best we can, to discern those who are not really saved so we might help them understand the gospel.

Who are they? Again it is difficult to determine, but on close inspection, the opposite of scripture and without the knowledge of salvation. Regarding the list below, we all probably struggle with these issues from time to time (I do), but for the tare it characterizes their whole life.

What they say?

  • Self-focused – They talk about themselves usually expressing: self-aggrandizement, desire, jealousy, criticism and lack of gratitude.
  • They speak church ‘jargonese’- It is like learning just enough Spanish to get by in Mexico City, it may sound good on first hearing, but you sure do not want to get into a detailed theological conversation. Tares will pick up just enough church jargon, which is easier than learning scripture, to fit in socially. What is ‘jargonese’? It may possess a grain of truth, sounds good, but generally teaches lies about God and cannot be found in scripture, such as: ‘I was called to do this’, ‘God has one person for me to marry’, ‘God will open a door’, ‘I’m in the place where God wants me’, ‘I don’t have a peace about this (so I will not do it)’, etc.
  • Victims – They often feel they are treated unfairly. Most usually their expectations for the church, its leadership and their fellow members are not met, leading often to bitterness and criticism.

What they know?

  • Scriptural knowledge – They do not know much! They usually are familiar with a few individual versus that they learned in high school or college and fill in the rest with whatever legalistic system is pushed by their domination or church, or the youth group where they first learned Christianity. This makes for a person who may be inflexible and does not know or enjoy the freedom offered by scripture and living by faith.
  • They know they are right – Not knowing scripture and clinging to a legalistic system does not provide them a strong basis to make decisions or handle change. This may cause the tare to become defensive, and cling to their stance despite biblical evidence to the contrary.
  • Salvation by what? – If you simply ask them ‘what gives you the right to enter heaven when you die?’ they will not give you a coherent or correct answer, but they hesitantly may give you a long, circuitous and confabulated explanation.

What do they do? What they do is simple, ‘peudo’-scripture.

  • Christian practice – They may show up for church, but rarely practice on their own the five tools to maturity (prayer, praise, teaching, Bible study and Bible-based fellowship) outside of church. They do not exhibit spiritual growth. They are more comfortable with non-spiritual (but often needed) service activities such as keeping nursery, arranging showers, etc.
  • Scriptural application to their lives – When confronted with scripture they doggedly dig in and hold to the system of Christianity they learned in their youth (e.g., ‘this is the Baptist Church, we immerse here’).
  • Comfort – They typically desire a secure churched-based earthly existence within social Christianity.
  • Teaching and evangelism – These are not parts of Christianity with which they are comfortable with perhaps not their ‘gift’. If they do teach at all it is typically from prepared material from a book or video. In contrast, a true believer, even if young, over time will start to speak and do the things of God in a loving but truthful manner. They will grow to love His Word. We should seek to identify and then help those who do not know the full regenerative power of the Holy Spirit through Christ’s forgiveness in faith so they too may contribute to the church.

That’s all for today thank you for joining me. Please return next week as we discuss how to handle tares in the church.

Who are those people helping the church?

Welcome back to my blog. I’m happy you can visit.

Last week we discussed how the church is God’s plan to implement His purposes for this time period before Christ’s return. It should function efficiently with love and consistency with God’s word. Attendees who push their own non-biblical agendas, whether for emotional comfort or personal power, represent a danger to the church.

How do we recognize these people and what should we do about them? Let us consider the first topic over the next two weeks. We will deal with their treatment afterwards.

A bible-believing church is generally started by well-meaning Christians who, because of their lifestyle and biblical teaching, typically attract other people to the church. This makes sense; good message, nice people! Many of these new members will serve and desire to grow in Christ.

However, others may come for alternative agendas, such as seeking fulfillment of their own desire for personal power or emotional satisfaction, with no real intent to grow in their faith. They may or may not be a born-again Christian, but their effect is often the same, at a minimum slowing the church by consuming the time of effective believers, or actively damaging the church by causing dissension.

Christ himself said there would be unbelievers (tares) in church who would be impossible to detect (Matthew 13:24-30). However, as best we can, I believe we should try to uncover unbelieving or unfaithful churchgoers to prayerfully help them (as they allow) and to protect the church.

The Bible assists us in providing standards for Christians and how to recognize a faithful believer. If we know who is faithful it makes it easier to know who is not (discussed next week). Here are some key sections of scripture.

Spiritual growth process

  1. Basic measures (1 John 2-4) – This important book describes three major criteria that should characterize a true believer in the process of maturing (i.e., those in the fellowship of Christ, 1 John 1).
    • Love – They have a biblical (agape) love. This type of love is not just an emotional feeling but is primarily based on truth and what is good for the believer, both actions and speech (Philippians 1:9; 1 John 5:2).
    • Proper doctrine – This centers around Jesus and that He: came from God, is Man, is God and is the Christ (our Redeemer, 1 John 2:22; 1 John 4:2; 1 John 4:15; 1 John 5:1; 1 John 5:20).
    • Obedience – A true Christian’s life is generally characterized in following the precepts of Scripture (1 John 2:4-5).
  2. Unity (Ephesians 4:1-7) The apostle Paul often stresses unity which involves both proper doctrine and love for each other. 
  3. The true disciple (1 Thessalonians 1:5-7) – A true believer is:
    • Saved by faith.
    • Secure in salvation.
    • Accepting of the guiding principles of God’s Word in their lives.
    • Imitating scriptural principles and mature believers around them.
    • Influencing others to the faith.
  4. Believer’s growth (2 Corinthians 3:18) – In short, a true Christian changes over time to become more Christ-like, as this verse states ‘from glory to glory’.

Spiritual Outcomes

  1. Fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) – These are measures of a person’s maturity in the Holy Spirit and include: love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness, faith, humility, and self-control.
  2. Qualities of an elder/deacon (1 Timothy 3:1-15) – This is a wonderful group of measures we can all use to assess ourselves and include generally: family values, personal attitudes, ability to minister and community reputation.
  3. Controlled by the Spirit (Ephesians 5:18) – This means we think, act and speak as the Spirit would.

These scriptures help you assess fellow believers. Importantly, assessment is not judging! Christ judges ultimately at the end of the age (John 5:22). Our job is to consider others so we can better understand them and help know how to love and help them (1 Timothy 4:16; 2 Timothy 2:25-26).

Interesting discussion! Let’s continue next week by thinking about what a Christian should be doing in the church. Thanks for joining me I’ll look forward to seeing you again next week.

So why are we at church anyway?

Welcome back to my blog. I’m happy that you can visit. The purpose of Teleios is to use the scientific method to show the validity of God’s word as wisdom and guidance in daily life.

Teleios recently performed a survey in six evangelical churches evaluating members’ impressions of their church leadership and the church itself. We presented choices that were positive in relationship to the member’s own maturity (e.g., prayer, fellowship and biblical preaching) and also those which might indicate immaturity, such as self-focused motivations. Fortunately, the negative rating responses were fewer than the more mature, biblically-based scores, but did represent a significant minority of members’ choices.

What are the implications of members using the church for their own agenda? We believe they are extensive and potentially severe. What do these people want? Here are some examples of what we gleaned from our survey.

Table: Most frequently cited ratings potentially indicating using church for a personal agenda

I attend church to:  
Pastoral care. 65%
Providing a warm and comfortable social environment. 60%
Supporting my needs. 51%
Implementing my suggestions. 28%
I have an area(s) that I can control to assist the church. 13%

Who are these people in the church? We do not know for certain but here are my best guesses:

  • Earnest, suffering believers needing help from the church – There are afflicted Christians who are honestly seeking God. Although it may take time and emotion from the church leadership and caring church members, scripture tells us to ‘bear one another’s burdens’ (Galatians 6:2) and assist suffering believers back to spiritual health (1 Thessalonians 5:11-12).
  • Young believers who do not know any better and need to be taught.
  • Immature believers seeking emotional attention with no intent to change – These members may cause significant damage, sucking away people’s time and good grace to satisfy themselves without any intention to change their lives. They are not truly seeking God and provide little benefit the body of Christ.
  • Active anti-church agenda – These members use the church as a personal power base, or to aggrandize themselves in some manner. They may cause harm at a minimum by distracting other members from seeking and serving God and at worst by creating divisions that could divide the church.
  • Tares – Christ mentioned (Matthew 13:24-30) that tares would afflict the church. Tares are non-believers who come to church. They learn the jargon and how to fit socially while maintaining an ungodly agenda that may cause factions, waste people’s time, and distract the church from biblical pursuits. How do we recognize these people and what should we do about them?

The church is God’s plan to implement His purposes for this time period before Christ’s return. It should function efficiently with love as consistent with God’s word. Attendees who push their own non-Biblical agendas, whether for emotional comfort (with no desire to change) or for power, even covered in a pseudo-spiritual façade, represent a potential danger to the church.

We will discuss these important questions over the next several weeks. Our prayer is that this information will help you make your own church more biblically effective while attempting to lovingly bring destructive members into proper fellowship.

Thank you for joining me today. I pray for those of you who read my blog and that the blog might be encouragement to you in your daily life.