Bible reading: 1 Peter 2:1-10 and Hebrews 5:11-6:3
Theologian: Dieter Kemmler–Jesus’ primary pastoral ministry in house and way… rejection of Synagogue/Temple
Implications: One huge difference between the NT church and today is that we all have the Bibles in our hands. There is probably the most significant socio-religious change from past to present. It’s almost as if the writers are here… their letters are here. And every believer has access to the testimony/teachings of the Lord.
The consequence of this is partly that while our Churches are like NT churches, they will naturally be different. Perhaps our churches would be (should be) similar in vision and motivation to the NT; but also more dynamic, effective and capable. That is because there are many more who have access to scripture and teaching; many more people who can think for themselves… many more potential theologians, pastors, trainers… The implications for the Church is listed below.
1 Priesthood of all believers. Flattening of hierarchies a desired reality
We need churches where each individual learns to think about who their God is; and what He means to Him… ie… each person who has a living relationship with God… who are growing not just ‘spiritually’ but also relationally, emotionally, mentally, in the Lord.
Along with progressive vision… The role of leaders is not to stay leaders but to build leaders. The role of teachers is not to make students learn alone… but enable them to teach. The role of pastors… is to enable the congregation to become pastors and ministers. The role of missionaries… to inspire missionaries. Each theologian; makes/inspires other theologians. But not a single Christian should be where they were when they first met the Lord… they move/progress/reach out…
Practically: Every single person… according to their gifting… is required (by the call of God) to serve the Lord in ministry. Emphasis on faith/faithfulness/gifting… servant leadership.
Other implications for Preaching. What have we made our Churches into? Our members enter every Sunday, ‘hear’ the word and are expected to do something in response to the ‘word.’ However, little do they realise that to hear and know God has a responsibility which we cannot deny. A congregation member must understand that ‘preaching’ is a temporary need for a believer. The more important need is to grow in the Lord, through methodology, through skills, through group interaction, deeper learning.
2. Body of Christ: Family of God
Cross-denominational participation… where there is no priority given to one denomination, but the common denominator is being followers of Christ and willingness to live/die for Him. Each ‘congregation’ learns within itself and learns from others.
So how do we stand for truth. The word of God is central… but no one reader of the word of God gains priority.
Still… with a desire to listen… we look forward to listen to teachers of the word… because we cannot do it alone (therefore we don’t isolate ourselves from others)…
Yet, with the help of the Holy Spirit and the fellowship of believers who know/understand us… we also look to stand firm on the truth that we know.
Which means… even the standing firm on truth is a corporate affair… in the post-NT church… it is no longer an individual concern alone… but a corporate responsibility.
Practically: House/cell group churches (small teaching community), emphasis on Bible study, listening to ‘teachers’ from other congregations, authority rests in no one man, importance of Christian families/homes. More people able to rightly distinguish between ‘sin’ and ‘sinner.’
3. Kingdom of God: Church is not caught within walls/institutions
The answer to the question ‘where is the Church’ must be harder to answer; especially for non-Christians… as the Church exists less in walls… and more in people who are involved in ministry.
Decentralised structures… less institutions like Bible colleges and Churches in a future of suffering… most of the work of these institutions happens in a smaller visible scale; though larger scale in the sense that it encourages greater involvement.
Practically: Christians involved in preaching, teaching, serving, loving, mission, evangelism, digging drains, healing the sick, washing the wounds of the needy, giving to the poor, planting trees, praising and worshipping God through music and song, working hard and with honesty, understanding the lives of prisoners and associating with them… outside the walls of the church… that is the kingdom of God.