Transcript: Episode 0055

This transcript:
  1. Was machine generated.
  2. Has not been checked for errors.
  3. May not be entirely accurate.


00:00.000 --> 00:02.000
Subscribe to our new content!

00:30.000 --> 00:45.920
Welcome to the Stone Choir podcast. I am Corey J. Moeller, and I'm still woe. On today's Stone

00:45.920 --> 00:51.280
Choir, we're going to be discussing the subject of the church, and we'll talk about the definition,

00:51.280 --> 00:55.920
the form, and the scope of the church and what we mean when we use that in different contexts.

00:56.880 --> 01:00.160
Before we get into the subject, just a brief bit of housekeeping.

01:01.040 --> 01:06.800
This is the end of the calendar year, almost the end of 2023 as we're recording this. So

01:06.800 --> 01:11.120
Christmas isn't a couple weeks. The church calendar just began a couple weeks ago with the

01:11.120 --> 01:16.080
advent of Advent, because that's what that word means. So we decide that next week we're going to

01:16.080 --> 01:21.360
be doing the church calendar. And this week, we thought that before getting into the details of

01:21.360 --> 01:25.840
the blessing of the calendar that the church has given us throughout history, we should probably

01:25.840 --> 01:31.280
define what church means first. So we are going to do that now. And then next week, we'll have the

01:31.280 --> 01:35.040
calendar. These are probably both be shorter episodes, kind of give you guys a little bit of a

01:35.040 --> 01:40.240
break as we get into the Christmas season. And we're going to be taking two weeks off,

01:40.960 --> 01:45.600
because the following week is going to be Kwanzaa, where we would normally record, and I don't

01:45.600 --> 01:52.480
know wrong, Kwanzaa. No, we didn't want to record during Christmas week. And because

01:52.480 --> 01:57.040
when we record, we pretty much immediately began worrying about the following recording,

01:57.040 --> 02:00.960
we're going to take the next week off just so I can actually, we can both have a break,

02:00.960 --> 02:06.720
kind of week of Christmas. So after next week, the following recording that we release will be on

02:06.720 --> 02:12.160
the 10th of January. So just giving heads up, there will be a two week break. You can go back

02:12.160 --> 02:17.520
and listen to previous episodes if you feel like there's good stuff back there. Today, as we're

02:17.520 --> 02:24.800
discussing church, I want to give you just a very brief example in three sentences that probably apply

02:24.800 --> 02:33.600
to virtual everyone listening. You were baptized into the church, you joined a church, you attended

02:33.600 --> 02:39.840
a church. Now for virtual everyone, all three of those senses are true. All three of those senses,

02:39.840 --> 02:46.000
the direct object is the noun church. And yet in each of those, church means something slightly

02:46.000 --> 02:53.440
different. They're all fundamentally related. But they're all essentially different forms or

02:53.440 --> 02:59.360
different levels or layers of forms of the same thing. And so today, we're going to be talking

02:59.360 --> 03:06.320
about the particular forms of the church. I want to say up front that this is not intended to be

03:06.320 --> 03:13.120
a fiddly philosophical episode. We're not trying to make some sort of big brain, needless taxonomy

03:13.120 --> 03:19.360
of things. The specific reason for tackling the different forms of church is that when there are

03:19.360 --> 03:27.040
discussions among Christians, functionally, you can only ever really talk about one of those at a

03:27.040 --> 03:32.000
time. So we'll talk about those distinctions in this episode. But when you're talking about them,

03:32.080 --> 03:37.040
like when you're talking about the big C church, you're not talking about it in the same context

03:37.040 --> 03:41.920
as you're talking about your local congregation, or about your denomination, which are kind of the

03:43.040 --> 03:48.880
first is the big C church, the second is a denomination, or a church body. And then the third

03:48.880 --> 03:54.640
is your local congregation. And we'll refer to those throughout this in places as first, second,

03:54.640 --> 04:00.560
and third just for the sake of clarity. It's only really possible when you're in discussion to talk

04:00.560 --> 04:06.400
about one of those, or maybe two of them at once. But it's never possible really to functionally talk

04:06.400 --> 04:10.480
about all three, because there's not a context where all three of those apply. So we'll get into

04:10.480 --> 04:16.800
that. And so the reason that this is important is that a lot of people will try to set them against

04:16.800 --> 04:25.280
each other. Particularly in the American context, been a movement against organized church or

04:25.360 --> 04:30.480
organized religion, which is a new term. It's something that's, I think, probably fundamentally

04:30.480 --> 04:36.800
American. It certainly sounds American to sort of reject any form of joining or partnership with

04:36.800 --> 04:45.680
others. It's interesting, if you ever see videos of public events in Europe, maybe like a concert

04:45.680 --> 04:51.440
or something, some sort of performance, when crowds start clapping, European crowds in particular

04:51.440 --> 05:01.360
will very frequently rapidly start clapping in unison, where their claps will all end up on

05:01.360 --> 05:06.880
the same beat. So they're all clapping as one. Americans never, ever, ever do that. That's

05:06.880 --> 05:11.920
fundamentally different than us. We will go different volumes, different rotations of the

05:11.920 --> 05:16.880
hands, different loudness. We're going to do our own thing when we're Americans. It's very much a

05:16.880 --> 05:23.200
part of our spirit. And it's different than most of Europe. I don't know that that's necessarily

05:23.200 --> 05:30.160
always bad, but that spirit in the context of church in general is not good. We'll get into

05:30.160 --> 05:37.440
why that is. So it's a lot of times when someone says one version of the church, they're going to

05:37.440 --> 05:41.520
be doing it in rejection to the other. You're going to say, I don't want, you know, deeds not

05:41.600 --> 05:46.880
creeds. I don't want anything that's come from an organized church. I'm a non-denominational,

05:46.880 --> 05:52.960
independent, whatever church. There's just one of us. There's Pastor Jim in his King James Bible,

05:52.960 --> 05:57.120
and we believe what it says, and we're all by ourselves doing our own thing, and we're being

05:57.120 --> 06:02.240
faithful. We're going to make the case for why that causes problems, and it's not good for anyone.

06:03.120 --> 06:06.000
But first, we have to understand kind of what the broader context is. So

06:06.720 --> 06:10.240
this, again, is not, we're not trying to be fiddly and philosophical. We're trying to

06:10.960 --> 06:16.240
help make everyone able to understand and to communicate clearly when we're talking about

06:16.240 --> 06:20.560
these things. Because if I say church, and I mean one thing, and you're thinking of church in

06:20.560 --> 06:27.040
other contexts, we're automatically going to talk past one another. And that's, it's needless. It's

06:27.040 --> 06:33.280
frustrating and causes miscommunication. And a lot of times, you know, arguments and hurt feelings

06:33.760 --> 06:37.280
when there's no need. It's important to understand where we disagree, and there's

06:37.280 --> 06:42.240
plenty of disagreement among Christians, for good reason. But when we're not even using the

06:42.240 --> 06:48.160
same words in the same way, we create a mess. So the first one we're going to talk about is the

06:48.160 --> 06:55.120
capital C church. And fundamentally, what is meant by that in all times and all places

06:55.120 --> 07:01.920
is all believers, the bride of Christ, the body of Christ. We are members of one body

07:01.920 --> 07:07.920
with Christ as our head. That is the capital C church. That is all saints living and dead.

07:07.920 --> 07:14.560
We are all unified. All Christians who have the Holy Spirit are members of that church. And

07:15.360 --> 07:20.000
this is the reason, for example, that we as Lutherans in particular, and I think most Protestants

07:21.040 --> 07:28.560
flatly refuse to acknowledge Rome's claims, for example, in the West, that Rome is the Catholic

07:28.560 --> 07:34.800
church, capital C, meaning universal or according to the whole. When Rome says Catholic, it is

07:34.800 --> 07:40.080
saying, we're the whole thing. We're the capital C church. And if you're outside of Rome, you are

07:40.080 --> 07:45.920
outside of the church. And that was what the Reformation was fundamentally about. Can you

07:45.920 --> 07:52.160
still be Christian without the Pope? That was a lot of being inquisitive and blood was shed

07:52.240 --> 07:59.360
over that question because the argument was made, obviously, we believe correctly, that

07:59.360 --> 08:04.480
it is possible to be Christian without being Rome and Catholic. They're not mutually exclusive.

08:04.480 --> 08:08.800
We certainly recognize that there were many Christians in Rome before that day and since

08:08.800 --> 08:15.440
that day, including today. Even in the state that Rome is in today, we still gladly and

08:15.440 --> 08:19.600
thankfully acknowledge that there are many Christians among them. The only way that that

08:19.600 --> 08:26.080
works as we talked in the Reformation episode is if there is something larger than the denominations,

08:26.080 --> 08:30.880
which is the second sort of church that we're now talking about, where Rome is one example,

08:30.880 --> 08:38.240
the second Lutheran is another, and the Catholic answer is boilerplate, snark is that after the

08:38.240 --> 08:43.040
Reformation, there were 30,000 dominations, which is complete nonsense. It's a lie. But

08:43.920 --> 08:50.400
we do agree that it was bad for that fracture to exist. The reason for the fracture was because

08:50.400 --> 08:56.720
of disagreement over theology, over what Scripture says. And that is the reason that the second

08:57.520 --> 09:04.240
split. And at the third, you have the basic unit of Christian life, which is the local

09:04.240 --> 09:10.880
congregation, which in some ways, to us as individuals matters the most because it's the

09:11.440 --> 09:17.200
one that's immediate. The Capitol C church, the eternal church, the bride of Christ,

09:17.200 --> 09:20.240
you can't see it. You can't touch it. It doesn't have a mailing address.

09:21.520 --> 09:26.080
Denominations have mailing addresses. There are men with names and addresses who are responsible

09:26.880 --> 09:32.720
for whatever those denominations do. So that's something that's concrete, but is generally

09:32.720 --> 09:39.680
distant. What is local is your actual congregation. It's your family. It's your friends and your

09:39.680 --> 09:46.320
neighbors, all gathering together in one physical place around, hopefully, the Word and sacrament

09:46.320 --> 09:54.320
of God. That is where God comes among us in a particular way akin to, not identical to,

09:54.320 --> 10:01.120
but akin to what was found in temple worship. Now, things have changed with the advent of a

10:01.120 --> 10:08.080
new covenant. I'm not making that sort of claim, but the gathering of the faithful has always

10:08.160 --> 10:12.800
existed. You know, wherever, throughout the Old Testament, whenever something special happened,

10:12.800 --> 10:17.520
they built an altar. They worship God right there and named the place. And from then on,

10:17.520 --> 10:24.880
that place was considered holy and special and had a name oriented around something godly.

10:25.680 --> 10:31.280
When Christians gather together, that is the local gathering of the faithful. And where that

10:31.280 --> 10:35.520
happens, it's participation in the first. It's participation in the Capitol C church.

10:36.160 --> 10:40.640
Usually, it's also a participation in the second. So as we talk about this today, we're kind of

10:40.640 --> 10:45.280
trying to figure out where the boundaries are between those, where one slides into the other,

10:45.280 --> 10:51.600
and what happens when you confuse them. And sometimes when they're frankly at odds with each

10:51.600 --> 10:55.680
other. You know, one of the fundamental reasons for doing this episode is not only to eliminate

10:55.680 --> 11:01.120
confusion, but frankly, not to bury the lead, but we're in a position, all of us today, where

11:01.680 --> 11:09.120
many of the second type of church, the other denominations, are departing the faith in small

11:09.120 --> 11:17.200
ways and in big ways. And as this happens, our local congregations are faced with a dire and

11:17.200 --> 11:23.840
unprecedented question of, what do we do? If you're part of something bigger, and the bigger thing

11:24.640 --> 11:29.600
separates itself by its false confession from the biggest thing from the first church,

11:30.160 --> 11:35.440
what do you, as the third form of the church, what do you do? How do we, in the third position,

11:35.440 --> 11:40.080
remain faithful to the first when the second's getting in the way? So there's been a lot of

11:40.080 --> 11:44.800
inks spilled over the years, over the centuries, about dealing with this stuff. And thankfully,

11:44.800 --> 11:49.440
as Lutherans, we have some of the best written theology from past centuries addressing this.

11:50.000 --> 11:55.600
But it's important to understand why these things emerge, why they're important, and how we can

11:55.600 --> 12:02.960
preserve them faithfully. On the note of Lutheran theology written in the past on this particular

12:02.960 --> 12:10.000
topic, I will again take the opportunity to point out that CPH needs to release many of their materials

12:10.000 --> 12:16.560
into the public domain, because these are resources that belong to the church and should be available

12:16.560 --> 12:21.200
for any Christian to read. These are not things that should be copyright encumbered, particularly

12:21.200 --> 12:25.360
given some of them were written many years ago and really should not be in copyright at all.

12:25.600 --> 12:30.560
But that is a separate issue. We've covered another topic. We will link to some of those in

12:30.560 --> 12:35.920
the show notes. So unfortunately, you will have to purchase them because they are generally not

12:35.920 --> 12:42.080
available publicly. You may be able to find a PDF. I don't know if those are available at any rate.

12:42.080 --> 12:48.080
I want to start by reading a couple of paragraphs from Peeper, one of the dogmaticians of the LCMS,

12:48.080 --> 12:52.480
who does a great job on this and basically every other issue that he addresses in his

12:52.560 --> 12:58.480
three-volume work on dogmatics. The first is just a general definition of what the Christian

12:58.480 --> 13:05.920
Church is. The Christian Church consists of all those and only those who believe in Christ.

13:05.920 --> 13:11.440
Since, however, an anti-scriptural meaning is today given the words believe in Christ,

13:11.440 --> 13:17.520
we must make our definition more specific and say, the Christian Church is composed of all those

13:17.520 --> 13:23.600
and only those in whom the Holy Spirit has worked the faith that for the sake of Christ's vicarious

13:23.600 --> 13:30.960
satisfaction their sins are forgiven. And so that's the definition of that first level of

13:30.960 --> 13:38.800
Church, capital C, Church. It is composed of all believers throughout all time. Those who lived

13:38.800 --> 13:44.880
before Christ's life on earth, death and resurrection, believed in the Messiah who was to come,

13:45.600 --> 13:51.840
those of us living after that believe in the Messiah who has come. It's always belief in Christ

13:51.840 --> 13:58.000
that makes one a member of the Church and that faith is always a gift of the Holy Spirit. It's not

13:58.000 --> 14:06.720
a work of man. And then second, a more extended definition of the Christian Church and commentary

14:06.720 --> 14:12.880
on a couple other matters from Peeper. In short, according to Lutheran teaching, it is faith in

14:12.880 --> 14:18.640
the Gospel which in every case establishes membership in the Christian Church, both

14:19.280 --> 14:25.440
sees their uppercase. To him who believes the Gospel, membership in the Christian Church

14:25.440 --> 14:31.840
may not be denied. Of him who rejects the Gospel, membership in the Christian Church may not be

14:31.840 --> 14:38.400
asserted. Excommunication pronounced against true believers does not deprive them of membership in

14:38.400 --> 14:44.640
the Church. Also, those who in their ignorance believe false doctrines are members of the Church,

14:44.640 --> 14:50.640
whether they belong to an Orthodox or heterodox Church body, if only they cling sincerely to

14:50.640 --> 14:57.360
God's grace in Christ. Also lack of baptism, if there was no opportunity to receive baptism,

14:57.360 --> 15:02.720
does not deprive believers of membership in the Christian Church, because baptism is not

15:02.720 --> 15:09.840
absolutely necessary, as was shown in the Locus di Baptismo, the title or section on baptism.

15:11.840 --> 15:18.400
And so here we have a more extended version of what it means to be a member of that capital C

15:18.400 --> 15:25.920
Church. Again, you enter the Church through faith. It is belief in the Gospel, which is to say

15:25.920 --> 15:31.840
Christ's vicarious satisfaction for sin. That is what makes one a member of Christ's Church.

15:32.800 --> 15:39.840
And you are a member of Christ's Church by virtue of that faith, not by virtue of membership in a

15:39.840 --> 15:48.640
synod or an overarching Church body lowercase C, or even a local congregation. Now, it is good to

15:48.640 --> 15:55.760
be a member of those insofar as they are teaching rightly. But to be a member of Christ's Church

15:56.480 --> 16:03.680
is to have faith. That is a matter of God. That is not a matter of men. Men do not get to declare

16:03.680 --> 16:08.160
whether you are a member of the Church or not a member of the Church. They can declare whether

16:08.160 --> 16:13.600
you are a member of a corporation or not. But that is a different matter. That is typically the form

16:13.600 --> 16:18.880
that the second level of Church takes. So you have a synod, or you have Rome, or you have whatever

16:18.880 --> 16:26.000
the body happens to be in various traditions. That is a different thing from the uppercase

16:26.000 --> 16:32.960
capital C Church. Now, those second level bodies should be faithful. And insofar as they are

16:32.960 --> 16:40.480
faithful, they are in fact parts of the uppercase C Church. But you as an individual Christian,

16:41.200 --> 16:46.240
ultimately your membership in the Church is a membership in that uppercase C Church.

16:46.320 --> 16:50.480
Now, as we've mentioned already, and will undoubtedly say a number of additional times in

16:50.480 --> 16:56.400
this episode, you should still be a member of a local congregation. And if possible,

16:56.400 --> 17:02.000
that local congregation should be a member of a larger community of churches. That's what it means

17:02.000 --> 17:07.680
to have that life together as Christians. We are not to forsake the gathering together of the saints.

17:08.640 --> 17:13.120
As a first order matter, that means don't forsake your local congregation.

17:13.520 --> 17:19.760
Now, we have to add the caveat, and this is unfortunate, but we have to do it today.

17:20.720 --> 17:27.200
If you do not have any faithful local bodies, we are absolutely not saying that you have to attend

17:27.200 --> 17:34.320
an unfaithful or a faithless supposed Church. It may be that for a certain amount of time,

17:34.320 --> 17:40.080
you will have to have basically what is a home Church. Now, is it fully a Church in the sense

17:40.080 --> 17:47.520
of a traditional congregation constituted of local believers? Over time, perhaps it could become that,

17:47.520 --> 17:52.880
but to start off, no, it's more of a Bible study. Now, that is still fellowship with the saints,

17:52.880 --> 17:59.600
that is still important. You can still study God's Word, but it is not that full communion that you

17:59.600 --> 18:06.800
should have with a local congregation. Because of the reality of the situation in which we find

18:06.800 --> 18:11.920
ourselves, that sort of thing may be necessary if not today, then maybe in the not so distant future.

18:12.960 --> 18:19.040
And that is, again, better than the alternative of simply being isolated and not having that

18:19.040 --> 18:26.000
fellowship with other Christians. It's not ideal, that's the point. But sometimes the ideal is not

18:26.000 --> 18:32.400
an option. Sometimes we must do the best that we can with what we have been given in the era,

18:32.400 --> 18:40.320
in the time in which we live. And house churches are not inappropriate. Those were what we had

18:40.320 --> 18:45.120
in the early days of Christendom. That is how things started in many of the Greek and Roman

18:45.120 --> 18:50.080
areas. They started with house churches. Over time, they became more organized and became

18:50.080 --> 18:55.520
proper congregations joined together and formed synods, larger groups, larger church bodies,

18:56.240 --> 19:03.280
all still part of that first sense of Upper KC Church. We may be in a similar situation

19:03.280 --> 19:07.680
today in having to rebuild in the same way that they built originally.

19:09.360 --> 19:14.000
There are two specific examples in the New Testament that come up frequently,

19:14.000 --> 19:19.440
usually in the context of baptism. But as we made the case in the baptism episode, which is

19:19.440 --> 19:27.760
functionally a part of this, is that the thief on the cross became a member of the Capitol C

19:27.760 --> 19:33.360
Church with his confession of his sins and with his confession of Jesus Christ as a Savior. He

19:33.360 --> 19:40.240
was also on the cross. He was about to die. He confessed. He became a Christian. He was saved.

19:40.240 --> 19:46.560
He was with all the saints of that day, as Christ promised. He never joined a denomination or a

19:46.560 --> 19:54.560
congregation. He was never baptized. The crucial element there is we made the case in the baptism

19:54.560 --> 19:59.600
episode is that if by some miracle he had come down off that cross, he would have done those

19:59.600 --> 20:04.640
things. He would have gone and been baptized. He would have joined with other local believers

20:05.600 --> 20:13.200
every Sabbath, every Sunday as things evolved. He would have lived the Christian life that every

20:13.200 --> 20:20.960
Christian was also leading. It's an example that the second and third are not absolutely

20:20.960 --> 20:28.880
necessary for the first. However, despising the third, despising the local gathering of the saints,

20:29.440 --> 20:35.520
is condemned by scriptures, Corey just mentioned. The Ethiopian eunuch is another example. He wasn't

20:35.520 --> 20:42.720
facing a death sentence, but he was from Ethiopia. He was from a place that had Jews. They had had

20:42.720 --> 20:51.920
the gospel from the pre-incarnate Christ for a while. When he was convinced by the gospel and said,

20:51.920 --> 20:58.160
why should I not be baptized here? He desired baptism. He received baptism. But then he went home

20:58.160 --> 21:06.480
to Ethiopia where probably not a lot of churches, at least not yet, they grew. He was in a position

21:06.480 --> 21:13.920
where he was going to a place that did not have a lot of believers. He probably went back as an

21:13.920 --> 21:23.200
evangelist. In part, he didn't leave his vocation, but he now as a believer in Jesus Christ had

21:23.200 --> 21:28.960
something new to share with people, to explain to them the scriptures that we already had have

21:28.960 --> 21:34.560
been fulfilled in this man. Here's this wonderful, incredible news that all those prophecies were

21:34.560 --> 21:42.480
fulfilled. He would have certainly desired to gather with other believers by virtue of making

21:42.480 --> 21:49.280
others around him Christian. I think this is a good example for us today that he was going to a

21:49.280 --> 21:53.520
place where maybe there weren't a lot of believers. Maybe in order for him to have a congregation

21:53.520 --> 21:59.440
locally, he might have had to make it. Again, there were Jews there. There were some who certainly had

21:59.440 --> 22:06.640
faith to that point. But with the birth of Christ, it became an inflection point for the Jews. Were

22:06.640 --> 22:12.640
they going to recognize the Messiah who was promised? Or were they going to rebel against God

22:12.720 --> 22:19.360
as they had done their entire history? Most continued to rebel. Some became Christians.

22:19.360 --> 22:24.560
Some continued in their belief in the Messiah and were known by a new name as Christians.

22:24.560 --> 22:30.960
But it was the same faith. They didn't switch faiths. Their faith was fulfilled in the moment of

22:30.960 --> 22:38.720
that being delivered in the body of Christ. So he was blessed that that information was transmitted

22:38.720 --> 22:44.480
to him by witnesses. But then he was going to a place where the gathering of the faithful

22:45.360 --> 22:49.920
might have been a long road to hoe. It might have taken a while for there to be others. Yet,

22:50.800 --> 22:57.440
as we face similar circumstances, certainly in a day where more and more the second-order

22:58.000 --> 23:02.480
church bodies have gotten weaker and weaker and more and more have apostatized,

23:02.480 --> 23:08.080
some of us are living in the wilderness now. One of the points we want to make today is that

23:08.160 --> 23:14.080
that is no excuse for despising the gathering of the faithful. As Corey said, it may not be

23:14.080 --> 23:19.680
immediately possible for you. But insofar as it depends on you, as much as you're able,

23:19.680 --> 23:26.400
it is important to gather with others. I want to go into a little more detail, just briefly,

23:27.040 --> 23:34.480
on the issue of what it means to be in schism or to be a schismatic, because this obviously is

23:34.560 --> 23:39.040
at least tangentially related to the topic we are discussing. It was already mentioned.

23:40.000 --> 23:46.800
A short paragraph from Peeper on specifically this issue. He has only two paragraphs in his

23:46.800 --> 23:52.800
section in his dogmatics on schism in this context of the church. I'm just going to read the second

23:52.800 --> 23:59.520
one. Such, however, as separate from a church body because it tenaciously clings to false doctrine

23:59.520 --> 24:06.560
are unjustly called schismatics, separatists, etc. This separation is commanded in Scripture,

24:06.560 --> 24:13.200
Romans 16, 17, and is the only means of restoring and maintaining the true unity in the Christian

24:13.200 --> 24:20.480
church. And so the reason this is important, this is something that is vital to understand

24:20.480 --> 24:25.440
in this context, particularly for us today, but throughout the entire history of the church,

24:25.440 --> 24:34.640
capital C. It is not those who dissent from false doctrine, or said another way, it is not those

24:34.640 --> 24:42.880
who insist on right doctrine, who are schismatics. It is always those who insist on false doctrine

24:42.880 --> 24:49.520
or reject right doctrine. It doesn't matter if you are the only one speaking God's truth.

24:50.320 --> 24:57.120
Everyone else would then be schismatics. You would be the only person not in schism,

24:57.120 --> 25:03.920
because when it comes down to the issue of schism, it is with regard to the upper case C

25:03.920 --> 25:10.960
church, with regard to that first sense, the grand umbrella over all things. It is Christ

25:10.960 --> 25:16.480
church, with which you agree, or with which you disagree, and that makes you a member or not a

25:16.480 --> 25:24.720
member. If you disagree with the teachings of Christ church, you are in schism. It doesn't

25:24.720 --> 25:30.880
matter if you agree with every other person who calls himself a Christian on earth. If all of

25:30.880 --> 25:36.720
you are wrong and disagree with scripture, you are in schism, and it can be one man who stands

25:36.720 --> 25:43.280
up and speaks the truth. That man is not in schism, because he is speaking the truth of Christ

25:43.280 --> 25:50.400
church. And so today, when we face all of these second level bodies that are becoming apostate,

25:50.400 --> 25:57.680
or in many cases have been apostate for years, recognize that if you dissent from the false

25:57.680 --> 26:04.320
teachings of those churches, you are not in schism, because your duty as a Christian is to

26:04.320 --> 26:10.080
hear the voice of the shepherd and listen to what he says. Your duty is to listen to God's word,

26:10.080 --> 26:17.040
to listen to Christ's word. It does not matter what that second level church body says,

26:18.080 --> 26:26.160
if it is in conflict with scripture. Now, in so far as there are issues of adiaphora,

26:26.160 --> 26:30.800
something that is not in fact binding on the Christian, because it is not in fact something

26:30.800 --> 26:36.720
that is stated in God's word, in those we should bear with these second level bodies. And so if

26:36.720 --> 26:41.920
you don't like the color of the candles that are used in Advent, deal with it, ignore it,

26:41.920 --> 26:45.920
they can be blue or purple or whatever they happen to be. It should be one of those colors, but

26:47.280 --> 26:53.200
if you disagree with something like that, let it slide. That is something where you bear with others

26:53.200 --> 26:58.480
in Christian patience. That is not something where you leave and say, well, I'm going to form my own

26:58.480 --> 27:03.600
church because I want the pyramids to be this color, or I don't like this design of the stained glass.

27:04.560 --> 27:11.600
That is not what it means. That is not the matter here. Those sorts of issues, those are adiaphora.

27:12.720 --> 27:18.000
They're important in many cases, because it does matter how you decorate the church. We will get

27:18.000 --> 27:21.920
into a little bit more of that in next week's episode on the church calendar, because some

27:21.920 --> 27:28.480
of these things are for teaching a preview of that episode. But they're not things over which

27:28.480 --> 27:35.120
you split from the church. The things over which you split from the church, you must split from a

27:35.120 --> 27:42.560
false church, because Scripture commands it, are false doctrine, false teaching, first and foremost,

27:42.560 --> 27:50.080
if they do not teach rightly on the gospel. Because to stay in a church that teaches falsely with

27:50.080 --> 27:55.520
regard to the core matters of the truth of Christ, to God's matters, to God's things,

27:56.480 --> 28:03.440
is to violate your own conscience. And that is the problem here. And so if you split because of that,

28:03.440 --> 28:09.120
you are not a schismatic, you need to be comfortable with that. Because we live in a time where again,

28:09.120 --> 28:15.920
these church bodies are teaching falsely, are becoming apostate. And it may be that you will

28:15.920 --> 28:23.280
be forced out or have to leave. That does not make you a schismatic. That does not separate you

28:23.280 --> 28:30.160
from Christ or from his church. It just separates you from a corporation. And that hardly matters to

28:30.160 --> 28:36.800
a Christian. I won't read the entire thing here, but I commend all of 1 Corinthians 12 to everyone.

28:36.800 --> 28:41.920
Go read it. I'm just going to read a couple of verses. Disconnect a little bit. For just as the

28:41.920 --> 28:49.600
body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many are one body,

28:49.600 --> 28:54.640
so it is with Christ. For in one spirit, we were all baptized into one body, Jews or Greeks,

28:54.640 --> 29:00.000
slaves or free, and all were made to drink of one spirit. Now you are the body of Christ and

29:00.000 --> 29:06.000
individually members of it. This is clearly one of the many passages that deals with the

29:06.000 --> 29:14.960
Capitol C church and with us being direct members of it. And crucially, this is a sort of spiritual

29:14.960 --> 29:21.280
connection that it doesn't bypass the local congregation, but the local congregation is

29:21.280 --> 29:26.880
where it is visible. Because the rest of that passage talks about the different gifts that God

29:26.880 --> 29:35.040
gives to us being practiced in our local congregation, in our lives with our neighbors.

29:36.160 --> 29:42.880
That's crucial because this is where God has placed us. And the gifts that we're given

29:43.600 --> 29:49.760
as members of Christ's body, the church, are for the benefit of our brothers in Christ and our

29:49.760 --> 29:58.240
neighbors. And as Corrie was saying, there come times where there's air and sometimes it's small

29:58.240 --> 30:04.720
and sometimes it's great. If you live in a wasteland of Christianity, which is increasingly

30:04.720 --> 30:11.600
much of the world, it may be that your local congregation, you can no longer say amen to

30:11.600 --> 30:18.400
many of the things that are there. Nevertheless, if that's still the closest to a faithful congregation

30:18.960 --> 30:25.120
in your area, maybe, again, as Corrie said, these are matters of conscience. There's no

30:26.160 --> 30:32.640
script for how to deal with an environment where we see churches dying, the second and

30:32.640 --> 30:38.480
third type of churches, where their hearts are growing cold, where men are becoming evil,

30:38.480 --> 30:45.440
even as they proclaim that they are acting in the name of God. The beginning of John 16 is

30:45.440 --> 30:51.600
something I quoted online earlier today. Jesus, after giving some End Times prophecies, says,

30:51.600 --> 30:56.080
I have said all these things to you to keep you from falling away. They will put you out of the

30:56.080 --> 31:01.360
synagogues. Indeed, the hours coming when whoever kills you will think he is offering service to

31:01.360 --> 31:06.320
God. And they will do these things because they have not known the Father nor me. But I've said

31:06.320 --> 31:10.880
these things to you that when your hour comes, you may remember that I told them to you.

31:12.080 --> 31:16.000
I think there are two crucial things going on there that don't, are necessarily the two that

31:16.000 --> 31:23.440
stand out. The first is that whoever kills you will think he's serving God. The men who will

31:23.440 --> 31:30.400
persecute believers in the church will do it in the name of God in many times and places. We've

31:30.400 --> 31:34.640
seen that in the past and we will continue to see it in the future just as we see it right now.

31:35.600 --> 31:41.760
Often the persecution of the church comes from within what calls itself the church,

31:41.760 --> 31:44.880
which again is the distinction between the second, the first, and the third.

31:45.680 --> 31:50.960
We believe as Lutherans that the persecution of the faithful that occurred during the

31:50.960 --> 31:58.960
Reformation came from the second, falsely embodying the first. We believe that there were acts of that

31:58.960 --> 32:05.040
pope in that time that were evil and it was necessary for Christians to separate themselves.

32:05.040 --> 32:08.960
Initially, as we said in the Reformation episode, Luther didn't want to separate,

32:08.960 --> 32:13.600
he just wanted them to behave. It's like, hey, the Bible says this and you're doing the other thing,

32:13.600 --> 32:18.240
let's do the thing the Bible says. And when the response was, we're going to kill you,

32:19.200 --> 32:24.400
this was John 16 being fulfilled. They threw him out and they tried to have him murdered.

32:24.400 --> 32:32.160
Well, okay. The other thing that Jesus mentions here that I think we all need to hear is that

32:32.160 --> 32:38.160
he says, when there hour comes, you may remember that I told them to you. He said these things

32:38.160 --> 32:42.800
so that when they're fulfilled, we would remember. He didn't say, I'm telling you these things and

32:42.800 --> 32:48.480
I'm going to spare you. Some of us will be sacrificed as an example for others.

32:49.280 --> 32:55.120
Is that a good thing? I mean, it might not feel like it at the time, but

32:56.960 --> 33:01.840
crucially, this is within the context of the church. This is the second church,

33:01.840 --> 33:08.400
persecuting those who were members of the first in the context of the third. I hope this numbering

33:08.400 --> 33:14.800
scheme isn't confusing you. All believers, capital C, when denominations and local congregations

33:15.440 --> 33:22.880
go after individual members in ways that are ungodly, that is a fulfillment of Christ's prophecy,

33:23.680 --> 33:29.440
in particular of an end times prophecy. This was certainly true in Jesus' day. It was something

33:29.440 --> 33:36.480
that came to the believers in those synagogues as they realized that being a faithful Jew meant

33:36.480 --> 33:42.320
ceasing to be a Jew and being a Christian and living a Christian life. When you look at the

33:42.320 --> 33:50.400
extant populations in the territory of Palestine, they are the oldest genetic links back to this

33:50.400 --> 33:56.240
day. They are the people who have always lived there. They ceased to be Jews in many cases.

33:56.240 --> 34:01.040
They're still related by blood if you go back far enough, but not one of them would say,

34:01.040 --> 34:06.720
I'm Jewish because they became Christian and they just stayed where they lived. That's why

34:06.720 --> 34:11.920
we had so many Palestinian and Syrian Christians until fairly recently when they were rounded up

34:11.920 --> 34:18.800
and murdered by the evil people in that part of the world. This is something that's continuously

34:18.800 --> 34:24.640
happening in the church. That's part of why I think it's always important for Christians to

34:24.640 --> 34:30.720
read those end times prophecies and to understand that there's always an immediacy to them as well.

34:30.720 --> 34:36.640
It's not simply judgment day is going to be next week. It's that we should always be prepared

34:36.640 --> 34:43.760
to have an answer for our faith because if you are a part of the first, if you are a member of

34:43.760 --> 34:50.400
Christ's body, the capital C church, there may well come a day when you face isolation or persecution.

34:51.760 --> 34:57.680
There are many in history who have not, who have had godly princes, they've had godly kingdoms.

34:58.240 --> 35:04.320
Their entire lives were surrounded by other Christians being relatively faithful, certainly

35:04.320 --> 35:10.880
not perfect by any stretch, but compared to today, a wonderland. What we face today, I think, is in

35:10.880 --> 35:18.640
many ways unprecedented where the second order churches, the denominations, are crumbling in

35:18.640 --> 35:25.040
almost all cases. We see things happening today in the church where people who are mostly mounting

35:25.040 --> 35:32.560
good defenses are still doing things like letting in a Trojan horse. They are receiving gifts from

35:32.560 --> 35:37.680
those who bear them ill will and saying, yes, I want to take this. I'm going to put this under

35:37.680 --> 35:43.600
the Christmas tree. It's a nice present. I wonder what's inside. These traps that are being invited

35:43.600 --> 35:48.320
in, I'm thinking in particular of guys like Doug Wilson, who whatever else they've gotten correct

35:49.040 --> 35:56.080
when their new big effort is to do some of the things that are openly hostile to

35:57.040 --> 36:03.760
Christian belief, to historic belief, they're leaving themselves open. They're creating a

36:03.760 --> 36:10.160
vulnerability even among places that are trying to be faithful. This is something that's very

36:10.160 --> 36:15.520
tricky for us in the congregational and in the denominational context to figure out where do

36:15.520 --> 36:22.560
you draw the line. I think one of the hardest things for all of us is that most men are not

36:22.560 --> 36:29.520
equipped to weigh these matters. We're simply not equipped by ourselves to figure this stuff out.

36:30.080 --> 36:35.040
And frankly, it's one of the reasons that the historic church has given us things like creeds.

36:35.920 --> 36:43.200
The apostles in the Nicene and also the Athanasian creeds exist specifically so that

36:44.240 --> 36:49.600
all preaching and teaching could be measured against them. Because every word of those creeds

36:49.680 --> 36:56.240
was designed to repudiate specific heresies in those days. Now the heresies were old,

36:56.240 --> 37:02.560
maybe they came roaring back in some cases, but the lies that Satan tells to believers are

37:03.680 --> 37:07.120
they're not eternal. They're as old as Satan, but he's always telling the same lies

37:07.120 --> 37:14.080
over and over because they keep working. And so the beauty of the creeds is that brilliant and

37:14.080 --> 37:20.560
faithful men put together something very simple that a child can memorize that can be used as a

37:20.560 --> 37:27.920
benchmark to evaluate everything around it. It's one of the reasons that for almost 2000 years,

37:28.640 --> 37:33.440
the vast majority of Christian churches have confessed at least one of the creeds every Sunday.

37:34.160 --> 37:41.040
It's crucial to say those words out loud in the collective context of the third order

37:41.040 --> 37:47.680
congregation of the church as a benchmark. Because whatever the pastor said during his sermon,

37:48.320 --> 37:55.520
if the creed contradicts something that he said, even the Christian man in the pews who's

37:55.520 --> 38:01.280
not that engaged, he's not a theologian by any stretch, if Pastor Jim said something that you

38:01.280 --> 38:06.400
hear, you're like, this creed says the opposite of what that guy just said. What's going on?

38:06.400 --> 38:10.400
He may not be the man to articulate a defense for why the pastor did something false,

38:10.880 --> 38:16.240
but he can ask the question. And it's a question that's crucial in all times and all places.

38:18.160 --> 38:22.320
Because Satan's not creative, he's going to keep doing stuff that keeps working.

38:22.960 --> 38:29.360
These old forms that the church has given us, this is one of the debates that some modern,

38:29.360 --> 38:34.320
especially in the American context, Christians say things like deeds not creeds. We've talked in

38:34.320 --> 38:43.040
past episodes about why the creeds are so important. The creeds are quotations from Scripture.

38:43.040 --> 38:48.000
They're a distillation of the words of God himself. And they're put together in a way

38:48.000 --> 38:52.400
that is entirely consistent with Scripture. And again, they were done specifically because

38:52.400 --> 38:57.760
men are going to come along and say things that are contrary to Scripture. When you can have

38:57.760 --> 39:03.360
something that's a condensed version of the entire Christian faith that a child can memorize,

39:03.360 --> 39:09.760
I know because I did it. And even like kids, you know, average kids by 10 years old can all have

39:09.760 --> 39:15.600
easily learned both of the creeds. When that is the case, when it's on your lips and it's in your

39:15.600 --> 39:21.520
heart and it's in your mind, when you hear something that sounds contrary to it, God is going to help

39:21.520 --> 39:28.240
you realize it. And that is something that is missing when you try to go off by yourself.

39:28.800 --> 39:34.000
When you say, I don't want any denominational affiliation. I don't want any of this other

39:34.000 --> 39:37.920
stuff. I'm just going to do it by myself and figure it out. And I got my Bible and I'm going to be

39:37.920 --> 39:44.240
okay. Well, in some ways, that's where Satan wants you, because you've been separated from

39:44.240 --> 39:48.880
not only the other believers who can help to strengthen your faith, but you've been separated

39:48.880 --> 39:56.400
historically from all the different ways that the church has established protections for us.

39:57.040 --> 40:01.040
In church in that context, it's almost splitting the difference between the first and second. It

40:01.040 --> 40:07.200
kind of goes to some of the arguments that Rome made saying, you know, we are the universal church.

40:08.000 --> 40:15.200
I think that personally, I think that the appropriate Protestant view of the councils is that

40:16.240 --> 40:21.360
the ones that produced faithful doctrine were Christian men with the indwelling of the Holy

40:21.360 --> 40:27.520
Spirit and with sound reason who were gifted. I don't think that those men needed any new special

40:27.520 --> 40:33.920
revelation to come up with the specific things like the creeds that they issued on behalf of the

40:33.920 --> 40:38.480
church because they were making arguments from Scripture. Any man can make an argument from

40:38.480 --> 40:44.240
Scripture and it may well be true. You don't have to be a genius, but it's important that

40:44.960 --> 40:52.160
Scripture and reason in that order are what is producing the thing. Now, you don't just go around

40:52.160 --> 40:57.840
making arguments for the sake of making arguments, but when there's a controversy, as Cory was saying,

40:57.840 --> 41:04.960
or when there's a clear error that must be repudiated, somebody's got to do it. And thankfully,

41:04.960 --> 41:10.160
when you look at church history, almost all the errors have already been made. There's very rarely

41:10.240 --> 41:15.280
some new error. We've talked in past episodes that there are a few new errors that are creeping in,

41:15.280 --> 41:20.240
the things that are assaulting creation itself, assaulting the body, that are assaulting how we

41:20.240 --> 41:25.840
are made. Are we made male and female? Are we made a particular race? Is there anything different

41:25.840 --> 41:30.320
about different types of people and do God want to do that? That's what Satan's attacking today,

41:30.320 --> 41:35.200
on egalitarian grounds. So it's not that there's never any opportunity for new

41:35.520 --> 41:42.880
discussion of the assaults, but almost everything can be predicated on past arguments because,

41:42.880 --> 41:49.440
again, the old lies work. People keep gobbling them up. And so when we separate ourselves from the

41:49.440 --> 41:57.200
historic views of the church, you're in uncharted waters, and you're literally off the map when

41:57.200 --> 42:01.600
you're like, I'm going to go do this by myself, because there is a map of that place. But if you

42:01.600 --> 42:06.560
say, I'm not going to look at it, you're going to be blind, and you're going to fall into the traps

42:07.120 --> 42:14.720
that wiser, more faithful men were successfully able to navigate. And in the local congregation,

42:16.560 --> 42:22.400
whatever your denomination, whatever your church polity, it's important for you to recognize that

42:22.400 --> 42:28.400
you, as a member of the Capital C Church, as a member of the body of Christ, you are a part of

42:28.400 --> 42:33.360
all of that, whether you like it or not, whether you agree or disagree with Christians of the past.

42:34.640 --> 42:38.080
If you're going to reject the arguments that they made, you should have a good reason for it.

42:38.720 --> 42:43.040
You know, they weren't necessarily infallible. But if they said something like, I don't care

42:43.040 --> 42:48.640
about any of that, it's you're separating yourself from something that in all likelihood, God put

42:48.640 --> 42:55.360
there for your protection. You mentioned deeds, not creeds. And really, that is at the opposite

42:55.360 --> 43:00.000
end of the spectrum from some of the new heresies we see arising in the church today.

43:00.560 --> 43:04.080
Because in reality, that's just a new catchphrase for an ancient heresy.

43:04.720 --> 43:10.000
It's just works righteousness. That's all deeds, not creeds, ultimately is. And that ties into

43:10.640 --> 43:16.960
the episode that we did last week, really. It's, in part, this is one of the arguments to which

43:16.960 --> 43:22.880
Piper is responding. And that was referenced in one of the quotations I read from Piper earlier,

43:23.600 --> 43:32.160
implicitly, not explicitly. But there are those who argue that Christ came to give us an example.

43:33.120 --> 43:38.800
And that it is following his example that will bring us back into communion with God and ultimately

43:38.800 --> 43:44.720
save us. That's works righteousness. That is a heresy. That is not Christian believing that

43:44.720 --> 43:51.520
puts you outside the church. And that is exactly what deeds, not creeds is. Because saying deeds,

43:51.520 --> 43:58.080
not creeds, ultimately is saying, I am saved by the things I do, not by the things I believe.

43:58.880 --> 44:06.000
And that's false. You are saved by faith. Faith is belief. Again, to give the three levels of

44:06.000 --> 44:11.760
this, because this is an important thing to understand. So it bears repeating. There is

44:11.760 --> 44:18.880
notitia, which is to take notice of the fact that is to recognize that it is said that Christ

44:18.880 --> 44:24.960
died, and that he died for these reasons. There is a sensus, which is to assent to the fact that

44:24.960 --> 44:31.760
Christ died, and he died for these reasons. And then there is fiducia, which is belief that is

44:31.760 --> 44:38.720
trust. That is what saves you. That is salvific faith. Again, that is the belief that Christ

44:38.720 --> 44:45.760
died for sinners, and that you were a sinner, and that he in that death vicariously atoned

44:45.760 --> 44:52.240
for your sins. Yes, the fullness, of course, of his sacrifice is the incarnation life and death.

44:53.360 --> 44:58.160
But to speak in the shorthand, it is Christ crucified for sinners. That is the gospel.

44:59.120 --> 45:05.520
That is a belief. That is not a deed, except on the part of Christ. It's not one of your deeds.

45:05.520 --> 45:13.360
Your deeds will not save you. And so, in fact, it is creeds and deeds. Because again, a living faith

45:13.360 --> 45:19.520
will produce good works. And I do want to turn to the creeds briefly to

45:20.720 --> 45:25.920
make another argument with regard to the uppercase C Church for those who are

45:26.640 --> 45:32.480
concerned about really the second level of these things. What is it that we confess

45:33.280 --> 45:41.040
with regard to the church in the creeds? Well, in the Apostles Creed, it's I believe

45:41.600 --> 45:47.040
in the Holy Catholic or Christian Church, depending on which term you use in your version.

45:47.040 --> 45:55.360
And then there is I believe in the Nicene Creed. I believe in one Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church.

45:58.880 --> 46:05.520
If I were to hand you a coin, and you look at that coin, you're holding it in your hands,

46:05.520 --> 46:11.200
do you believe in that coin? The answer is no, because you don't believe in something you're

46:11.200 --> 46:18.320
holding and can see. You know the coin exists because you're holding it. If I tell you that

46:18.320 --> 46:28.640
tomorrow I will give you a coin, you can believe me or not believe me. And so, belief is not in

46:28.640 --> 46:35.840
something that you have and hold necessarily. There's a distinction there between having

46:35.840 --> 46:41.760
and holding that coin and having the promise of the coin, the belief that I will give it to you.

46:42.880 --> 46:49.040
Now, in the case of Christ, it is the difference between those in paradise no longer have belief

46:49.040 --> 46:54.240
that they will one day see paradise because they're there. We'll ignore for now the issue of

46:54.960 --> 47:00.400
how time works for an eternal God in paradise and those things. Set that aside for the moment.

47:01.200 --> 47:07.200
But the distinction is between those who are still living here on earth in time and those who are

47:07.200 --> 47:11.840
already in paradise, or if you want to think of it that way, will be in paradise.

47:13.040 --> 47:19.040
For those of us living here, it is a matter of belief. We have belief in the promises of God.

47:19.040 --> 47:25.280
We have belief in the things of Christ. And that is the same thing we see here in the creeds.

47:25.920 --> 47:33.840
When it says, I believe in one holy Catholic and apostolic church, you are saying you believe in

47:33.840 --> 47:40.320
something that you cannot grasp with your hands. You cannot go and find a building and say this is

47:40.320 --> 47:46.720
the building that contains the church, just as there is no throne currently on earth where you

47:46.720 --> 47:53.120
can go and say this is the throne of Christ. This is where he sits. This is the exact physical

47:53.120 --> 47:59.840
location from which he reigns. And so when you say in the creeds, when we confess as Christians

47:59.840 --> 48:07.200
in the creeds that we believe in one holy Catholic and apostolic church, what we are saying is we

48:07.200 --> 48:17.120
believe in this first order, uppercase C church. We are not confessing belief in any second order,

48:18.080 --> 48:26.320
synod or church body, tradition or denomination. Because those are things we can say, there it is,

48:26.320 --> 48:30.640
that's a physical thing, I can see that. And there those are going to say, well, a corporation is an

48:30.640 --> 48:36.720
abstraction. No, because a corporation, you can go and physically grasp the documents that constitute

48:36.720 --> 48:40.800
the thing. You can go and look at the corporate headquarters. You can go and shake hands with

48:40.800 --> 48:46.080
the corporate officers. These are things that physically exist. You don't believe in a synod.

48:47.120 --> 48:54.160
You believe in the holy Christian and apostolic church. You believe in the uppercase C church.

48:54.160 --> 48:59.760
That is what we confess in the creeds. When we confess this in the creeds, we are not confessing

48:59.760 --> 49:06.400
that we believe in any one earthly institution. Rather, we are confessing that we believe in

49:06.480 --> 49:12.480
the Church of Christ. We believe in the Christian church. We believe in the congregation of all

49:12.480 --> 49:19.280
saints throughout all time. And we, by faith, are members of that very church. And that is

49:19.280 --> 49:23.760
why we confess belief in it, because that is our church, because that is Christ's church.

49:25.600 --> 49:31.520
The reason that things like denominational organizations are so important for the Christian

49:31.520 --> 49:40.480
life is not that by themselves, they are a particular body of faith, but that the collective

49:41.520 --> 49:46.960
wisdom and strength of believers gathered together in greater numbers than you can

49:46.960 --> 49:53.440
amass in a congregation is what is necessary for the perpetuation of the faith. We see this going

49:53.440 --> 49:59.680
back to the very beginning. The church rapidly expanded. It is local congregations got bigger

49:59.680 --> 50:04.800
and bigger. More and more of them spread and they banded together. And from the earliest days in the

50:04.800 --> 50:12.560
New Testament, we see councils forming where the men and the bishops of the various churches

50:12.560 --> 50:20.000
in various places came together to hammer out issues. That is a clear acknowledgement that some

50:20.000 --> 50:28.000
form of organization beyond the local congregation is fundamentally Christian. Now, it is fundamentally

50:28.080 --> 50:34.080
Christian in the sense that it serves a Christian and not that it is by itself a mark of the

50:34.080 --> 50:40.880
Christian church, as Cory was just saying. So, the reason that it's so important to have some

50:40.880 --> 50:47.760
form of church body is that if you are a solo congregation, you're on your own, you have a

50:47.760 --> 50:56.560
great pastor, you have great elders, when the leadership ages out, dies, moves away, whatever

50:56.560 --> 51:02.640
happens, you want to assume, you want to guarantee, you don't want to assume, you want to be able to

51:02.640 --> 51:08.240
guarantee as best as possible that those beliefs and that faithfulness will be perpetuated.

51:08.800 --> 51:14.080
And it is very often the case that the local congregation simply can't do that by itself.

51:14.080 --> 51:21.360
You know, if you have, say, you have a congregation of 100 men, maybe once every 20 generations,

51:21.360 --> 51:26.320
there would be a true theologian that would emerge in such a small place. Even that, frankly,

51:26.480 --> 51:33.120
is preposterous. There may be 30 theologians alive today. Just in terms of being able to actually

51:33.120 --> 51:39.440
do solid, faithful work and not make a hash of things, it's an incredibly rare gift.

51:41.120 --> 51:45.440
The benefit of having someone who understands the stakes is that pastors shouldn't be doing

51:45.440 --> 51:50.000
anything new. Pastors don't need to be doing new theology. They need to know enough theology

51:50.000 --> 51:54.640
that they don't reinvent old heresies because they didn't know any better because it's really

51:54.640 --> 51:58.960
easy. Like the old heresies make sense. They didn't catch on because they were

51:59.840 --> 52:07.440
tricky, wacky, crazy lies. They seemed plausible. The heretics were generally smart guys who made

52:07.440 --> 52:12.080
seemingly good arguments. They were false. They were falsifiable from scripture,

52:12.640 --> 52:18.960
but a naive listener is usually going to gobble it up. Some of them will. And so in the local

52:19.040 --> 52:25.680
context, your congregation by itself cannot assume that it's going to be able to continue

52:26.240 --> 52:31.920
generation after generation to keep raising up faithful men who have the gift and the ability

52:32.560 --> 52:40.160
to receive a call from God to preach and teach and shepherd that flock. You can assure that sort

52:40.160 --> 52:46.240
of thing by gathering together with other similar believers. And that's the reason for, in the very

52:46.240 --> 52:51.760
first century, why we had the church councils. And onto this day, there are denominations.

52:51.760 --> 52:57.440
Christians have always gathered together more broadly than the local congregational context

52:57.440 --> 53:02.240
because you need the best men from each congregation to come together and hammer things out.

53:03.600 --> 53:07.920
Maybe the best guy in your congregation is going to get something wrong when it comes up.

53:08.480 --> 53:13.040
But when that guy is put in a room with 20 other guys from the other congregations who are the

53:13.040 --> 53:19.840
best in theirs, when the right arguments are made, your best guy, even if he didn't get it by himself,

53:19.840 --> 53:24.640
when someone else articulates it, well, he's going to say, yeah, that's it. That is what I believe.

53:24.640 --> 53:29.760
And then he will be able to bring that back to your congregation if you lack the benefit

53:29.760 --> 53:35.520
of the more broad wisdom of the gifts that God has given. Again, back to the 1st Corinthians 12

53:35.520 --> 53:41.120
passage, when you go read that, it talks about the disparate gifts that God gives men. You may be

53:41.200 --> 53:47.440
in a situation where there's no one who happens to have the specific gift that your congregation

53:47.440 --> 53:53.200
needs to perpetuate itself indefinitely, and that's okay because those gifts are elsewhere.

53:53.200 --> 53:57.360
God will send men from somewhere else to come to you if that's what's needed.

53:58.320 --> 54:03.520
When we eschew the notion of any sort of joining together, for one thing, we're not,

54:03.520 --> 54:08.960
we're departing from all of Christian history. That's simply not what Christians have done,

54:08.960 --> 54:15.360
again, until fairly recently. It's not exclusively in Americanism, but it's pretty close to it.

54:15.920 --> 54:20.720
The idea that you just have these crazy little solo groups that don't listen to anybody else,

54:20.720 --> 54:28.400
it's bad, it's abnormal, and it's novel. When we gather together, it's for the sake of

54:28.960 --> 54:34.880
helping each other. And I think this is one of the, it's both a strength and a weakness of these

54:34.880 --> 54:43.920
earthly gatherings, these earthly denominations or synods or whatever they are. When you concentrate

54:43.920 --> 54:47.200
any form of authority, even if it's only perceived authority, that yeah, I'm going to

54:47.200 --> 54:51.760
listen to that guy because he's good at it, it's going to tend to naturally attract the sort of

54:51.760 --> 54:56.720
men who pursue that kind of authority. And that's exactly the wrong kind of man to be in those

54:56.720 --> 55:03.440
positions. You don't want men who want glory. You don't want men who want to be in charge.

55:03.520 --> 55:11.120
You want men who understand the burden of leading others in Christ. It's a tremendous burden to

55:11.120 --> 55:16.960
have someone listen to you because it's one thing if you get something wrong and it's just your own,

55:16.960 --> 55:22.000
it's inside your head and it's your soul on the line. When you speak to others and get them to

55:22.000 --> 55:28.400
listen to what you say, you are now accountable to God for all those souls too. That is why teachers

55:28.400 --> 55:33.680
face the stricter judgment because they are endangering with false teaching, everyone who will

55:33.680 --> 55:38.640
listen to him, everyone within near shot, anyone who would be influenced by a teacher who teaches

55:38.640 --> 55:43.920
something false. He's going to have to give an account for why he lied to those people in God's

55:43.920 --> 55:51.120
name, which is incidentally prohibited by the Ten Commandments. Cursing in God's name, lying in

55:51.120 --> 55:59.200
God's name is telling lies about what God says. It's far worse than using foul language. That's

55:59.200 --> 56:06.400
bad, but to lie about what God said is far more damaging because it's not as offensive to the

56:06.400 --> 56:12.240
ears if the ears are not practiced to hear false teaching. When you can pick up on false teaching,

56:12.240 --> 56:16.960
it becomes much more offensive than someone who's just using very foul and blasphemous language

56:16.960 --> 56:23.200
against God. The true blasphemy, the greatest blasphemy, is that which masquerades as being

56:23.200 --> 56:28.800
Christian and leads people away from Christ because it just happens and no one notices.

56:28.800 --> 56:34.240
That's the most terrifying form of this thing, which is why every congregation needs to focus on

56:34.240 --> 56:40.400
having men who are good to the best of their ability at judging these things, but also banding

56:40.400 --> 56:46.000
together with others and monitoring up and down the chain, making sure that whatever sort of alliance

56:46.000 --> 56:51.760
or grouping that you have, that other men in other places are being faithful and committed to

56:51.760 --> 56:57.520
Scripture as you are because heirs will always creep in. It's constant in numerous places in

56:57.520 --> 57:03.520
Scripture, and throughout all of history, we witness this. Men will creep in and try to mislead

57:03.520 --> 57:10.640
people because that's how Satan works. He doesn't care about the pagans. He's already destroying

57:10.640 --> 57:15.680
them. What he despises is when there are Christians gathered together who are speaking

57:15.760 --> 57:21.120
and teaching and living faithfully, that is the greater threat to him because if you have

57:21.760 --> 57:25.200
true Christians who are going to be the salt and light of the earth around them,

57:25.760 --> 57:30.400
they're going to pollute his pagans. They're going to turn his pagans into Christians

57:30.400 --> 57:35.520
by spreading the gospel. If you destroy the place where the gospel is being preserved,

57:36.320 --> 57:41.360
he can ensure that he can keep everybody. He can get more souls for his kingdom in hell.

57:42.320 --> 57:50.960
We must work together in these synthetic groups, in these groups that do not have

57:51.760 --> 57:58.480
a particular, they're groups that don't necessarily have God's sanction in that they were ordained

57:58.480 --> 58:04.720
by God, but we were ordained to be participants in them for the sake of the Christian church,

58:04.800 --> 58:12.000
if that makes sense. We necessarily reject, for example, Rome's claims that it is a top-down

58:12.000 --> 58:16.880
thing. Nevertheless, that is not the same thing as rejecting hierarchy or authority. Frankly,

58:16.880 --> 58:22.560
I think the Protestantism in general has far too little hierarchy and far too little authority,

58:22.560 --> 58:27.680
which today is actually a blessing because there are basically no good men who would be in those

58:27.680 --> 58:33.840
positions. The men who are in the positions that should have greater authority are already wicked,

58:33.840 --> 58:38.800
so if they had more authority, they would be doing even more damage. In this moment,

58:38.800 --> 58:42.400
I'm thankful that they can't do more harm than they're doing. Nevertheless,

58:44.160 --> 58:50.160
that creeping decay, sometimes it's from the top-down and sometimes it's from the middle-up

58:50.160 --> 58:55.200
where the institution gets captured and then you replace the guy at the top. Eventually,

58:55.200 --> 59:03.360
there are no more good men who can rise to that level. The capture of the institution is, in some

59:03.360 --> 59:09.280
ways, it shows how important they are. We've talked about this in the past as well. If these

59:09.280 --> 59:14.880
organizations, if the second-tier church in the third tier, like the local congregation,

59:14.880 --> 59:21.440
if these things had no value to us as Christians, Satan wouldn't care about destroying them. Even

59:21.440 --> 59:26.880
if you know nothing else, if you see that Satan is going after those things, it's a very good indication

59:26.880 --> 59:31.040
that there's actually something that God was trying to do with that. That's not the same thing as

59:31.040 --> 59:35.040
saying, this is exactly what God wants, and it's perfect, and you must submit it under all

59:35.040 --> 59:41.440
circumstances, but it's saying that in general, the gathering together of those who have greater

59:41.440 --> 59:47.440
gifts of spiritual wisdom and teaching, that is something that should be preserved and defended,

59:47.440 --> 59:52.160
but it must also be kept in check, because those are the very places where Satan is going to try

59:52.160 --> 59:58.480
the very hardest to sneak in the false doctrines that are going to cause everyone else to collapse,

59:58.480 --> 01:00:05.040
and we see it happen over and over again. Watchfulness is a part of being in a body.

01:00:06.000 --> 01:00:11.280
There's no way around it. Again, some men have these gifts, and some men don't. If you don't,

01:00:12.160 --> 01:00:17.600
you need as best you can to orient your life and your belief around things that you know you can

01:00:17.600 --> 01:00:24.000
trust, which is why scripture by itself is vital. Creed is just another example of something that's

01:00:24.000 --> 01:00:30.000
vital. We believe as Lutherans that the Book of Concord is also something that is essential for

01:00:30.000 --> 01:00:34.720
helping to understand a lot of these conversations. We'll put a link in the show notes to a couple

01:00:34.720 --> 01:00:41.200
of different parts of the Augsburg Confession and the Apology to it that deal specifically with

01:00:41.200 --> 01:00:46.320
what is the church, and I think it's a really interesting example of the three parts that

01:00:46.320 --> 01:00:51.360
we're talking about here, because the fight that they were having in the 16th century was that

01:00:51.440 --> 01:00:56.240
Rome was claiming to be the first and the second church and the third. They're claiming to be the

01:00:56.240 --> 01:01:01.280
whole shooting match, and the Lutherans and the other reformers were necessarily saying,

01:01:01.280 --> 01:01:06.640
no, we believe that we're still Christian. We're still part of the first, but we do reject

01:01:07.280 --> 01:01:13.120
the second that you're holding up in Rome. We're saying, we don't believe that your authority

01:01:13.120 --> 01:01:20.640
is coming from God. Nevertheless, it is important that we maintain continuity with the first,

01:01:20.640 --> 01:01:26.320
with the capital C church. There's a lot of good scriptural arguments laying out the case for

01:01:28.960 --> 01:01:33.520
the relationship of the first to the second. What's conspicuous is that in those days,

01:01:34.080 --> 01:01:39.440
the notion of the local congregation being something radically different from the

01:01:40.160 --> 01:01:46.240
larger church body was pretty much unthinkable. Now, there are obviously different denominations

01:01:46.240 --> 01:01:49.840
that were emerging, particularly things like some of the Anabaptists that went

01:01:50.640 --> 01:01:56.240
completely off the rails, doing things that were utterly alien to the Christian faith

01:01:56.240 --> 01:02:02.080
and to all of Christian history. However, when the reformers were thinking about

01:02:02.880 --> 01:02:09.920
church denominations, they understood that within a body, the individual congregations that made up

01:02:09.920 --> 01:02:14.960
the larger whole were going to be doing the same thing. Today, we don't even see that level of

01:02:14.960 --> 01:02:20.400
continuity within even the Missouri Synod. You will have congregations that are doing things that

01:02:20.400 --> 01:02:26.320
look for all the world like a concert, and you'll have others that look like a 16th century church

01:02:26.320 --> 01:02:32.000
service. They're claiming to be in communion together, but they're clearly not. One of the

01:02:32.000 --> 01:02:38.880
things that Lutherans talk about is altar and pulpit fellowship, because as the Augsburg

01:02:38.880 --> 01:02:43.920
Confession discusses when talking about the church, two of the marks of the church are the proper

01:02:44.560 --> 01:02:50.720
preaching of the word and the proper administration of the sacrament, that those are where the church

01:02:50.720 --> 01:02:58.320
is found, the true church. Word and sacrament is the same as pulpit and altar, because the altar is

01:02:58.320 --> 01:03:04.880
where the communion meal is found. Today, we have churches in our own church body that tear out the

01:03:04.880 --> 01:03:11.120
pulpits and they do away with the altars and then pretend that they're in communion and unity with

01:03:11.120 --> 01:03:16.320
churches that are still doing what Christians have done for a thousand years. It's preposterous.

01:03:16.320 --> 01:03:21.200
Roman Catholics are in the same boat. You have the Novo Sordo masses that are just completely

01:03:21.200 --> 01:03:27.200
abominable in contrast to the Latin mass congregations, which as Lutherans, we would reject

01:03:27.200 --> 01:03:31.200
them not doing in the vernacular, but at least they're trying to be faithful to what they did in

01:03:31.200 --> 01:03:36.800
the past. Given the choice between Novo Sordo and TLM, I would take the Latin, like you can learn

01:03:36.800 --> 01:03:41.440
Latin, you should not learn the evil that's being done in some of those other parishes.

01:03:43.200 --> 01:03:50.480
We're all facing similar problems of a disruption of unity that should exist at the middle level,

01:03:50.480 --> 01:03:56.880
at the second level. In the article in the Apology and the Augsburg Confession, when it discusses

01:03:56.880 --> 01:04:02.960
the church, it doesn't even talk about the individual church's congregations going in

01:04:02.960 --> 01:04:07.840
wild different directions because it was inconceivable to them in that day.

01:04:09.840 --> 01:04:17.440
As another exhortation not to forsake local congregations when and where that is possible,

01:04:19.200 --> 01:04:24.960
I want to point out that Scripture presupposes the existence of such local congregations,

01:04:24.960 --> 01:04:33.600
the existence of that third level of the church from Matthew 18. If your brother sins against you,

01:04:33.600 --> 01:04:39.440
go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained

01:04:39.440 --> 01:04:44.320
your brother, but if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you,

01:04:44.320 --> 01:04:48.640
that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses.

01:04:49.440 --> 01:04:55.200
If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church, and if he refuses to listen even to the

01:04:55.200 --> 01:05:01.600
church, let him be to you as a heathen and a tax collector. Truly I say to you, whatever you bind

01:05:01.600 --> 01:05:06.080
on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

01:05:06.720 --> 01:05:12.240
Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them

01:05:12.240 --> 01:05:17.760
by my father in heaven, for where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.

01:05:19.520 --> 01:05:23.600
And so you can clearly see, Scripture here, the words of Christ,

01:05:23.600 --> 01:05:30.320
presuppose the existence of a church to which you can appeal in the instance of a conflict.

01:05:32.560 --> 01:05:39.520
If at all possible you should not forsake that local congregation, even if there are heterodoxies

01:05:39.520 --> 01:05:47.600
or problems in that congregation, you should work to correct those. But do not go off on your own

01:05:47.680 --> 01:05:51.680
and just sit with your Bible under a tree. Yes, you can do that. That's good study, but

01:05:52.480 --> 01:05:57.760
that's not church. That's not the communion of the saints. That's not what it means to be a Christian,

01:05:57.760 --> 01:06:03.680
because Christian life is lived out together with other Christians. It is not just you,

01:06:03.680 --> 01:06:10.400
the Bible, and God. It's you and other Christians. That local congregation is incredibly important.

01:06:11.360 --> 01:06:17.280
And so we do not want to have anyone listen to this and think, oh, well, there are X, Y,

01:06:17.280 --> 01:06:23.440
and Z problems in my local church, so I have to leave and start my own. If those issues are egregious

01:06:23.440 --> 01:06:27.600
enough, then you've probably already left that church quite frankly. But if this is the first

01:06:27.600 --> 01:06:33.680
episode to which you're listening, unless those issues are so egregious that you cannot stay in

01:06:33.680 --> 01:06:40.240
that body without violating your conscience, stay and try to improve things. Try to correct

01:06:40.240 --> 01:06:47.680
your erring brothers. Try to make that church a better church. That may be the local congregation

01:06:47.680 --> 01:06:54.160
where God has placed you to do some good. Again, these are matters of wisdom and matters of conscience.

01:06:54.160 --> 01:06:58.480
We cannot give you a hard and fast rule because there is no hard and fast rule

01:06:58.560 --> 01:07:05.440
that applies to every situation. Some things are left to human wisdom. And again, this is one of

01:07:05.440 --> 01:07:11.760
the reasons that having that second level is so important and why historically it has been a

01:07:11.760 --> 01:07:19.440
bulwark against many problems in the church. Because you had the ability to appeal to authority,

01:07:19.440 --> 01:07:24.720
to appeal to a hierarchy when there were problems in the local church. To some degree,

01:07:24.720 --> 01:07:29.440
we do not have that today and certainly many denominations in the US do not have it at all

01:07:30.880 --> 01:07:33.760
because you just don't have that hierarchy in many traditions.

01:07:36.000 --> 01:07:39.360
But given the realities of the situation in which we find ourselves,

01:07:40.720 --> 01:07:46.080
there are going to be certain demands placed on Christians, particularly Christian men,

01:07:46.080 --> 01:07:53.120
heads of households. And it is incumbent on you to do the best you can with what God has given you,

01:07:53.120 --> 01:07:57.280
with the wisdom he has given you, with the resources he has given you. Because do bear in

01:07:57.280 --> 01:08:04.720
mind, you're not alone in this. Even if you are in a situation where your local congregation is

01:08:04.720 --> 01:08:10.640
becoming a posthate, issues are creeping in, false teachings are creeping in, you're still not alone.

01:08:11.200 --> 01:08:19.440
We have the advantage of living 2,000 years after the birth, death and resurrection of Christ.

01:08:19.440 --> 01:08:25.680
We have a wealth of resources from faithful Christians of the past. We have other Christians.

01:08:25.680 --> 01:08:30.800
We do have the advantage, it's an advantage and disadvantage, but we do have the advantage

01:08:30.800 --> 01:08:37.120
of the internet. We can communicate with other Christian men. Know your telegram chat room

01:08:37.680 --> 01:08:42.160
or please don't use it, but your discord chat room, whatever it happens to be.

01:08:42.960 --> 01:08:48.160
That's not church. That's not a local congregation. That is not the gathering together of the saints.

01:08:48.160 --> 01:08:52.000
It can be edifying. It can be important. It can be Christian fellowship,

01:08:52.560 --> 01:08:58.480
but it does not replace your local congregation. It does not replace that third order of the church.

01:08:59.280 --> 01:09:05.600
Do not think that that is an alternative to attending church or an alternative to having

01:09:05.600 --> 01:09:11.680
a local congregation, an alternative to having a local Bible study. Yes, there are many good

01:09:11.680 --> 01:09:18.480
resources, many good Bible studies that you can access online or via logos, whatever it happens to be,

01:09:19.280 --> 01:09:25.280
whatever platform you're using, but that is not the same as having that flesh and blood fellowship

01:09:25.280 --> 01:09:31.840
with other Christians. That is vitally important to the Christian life. You need that. You need that

01:09:31.840 --> 01:09:35.760
for accountability and in the case of the congregation, you need it for the word and

01:09:35.760 --> 01:09:41.440
sacrament. Yes, again, you can study the word by yourself or at a home Bible study, whatever it

01:09:41.440 --> 01:09:48.800
happens to be. But part of how the word has always been proclaimed part of the system God has

01:09:48.800 --> 01:09:56.080
instituted is that faithful pastors are to preach the word publicly in the assembled congregation

01:09:56.080 --> 01:10:03.840
of the saints. That is a vitally important part of the Christian life. But to give you some

01:10:03.840 --> 01:10:09.200
encouragement, I'm not going to read the entire chapter. In fact, multiple chapters, I recommend

01:10:09.200 --> 01:10:16.880
you go and read John 9, 10 and 11. But I will read just a little bit from John 10 as an encouragement.

01:10:18.320 --> 01:10:24.400
Truly, truly I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door, but climbs in by another

01:10:24.400 --> 01:10:30.800
way, that man is a thief and a robber. But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep.

01:10:31.360 --> 01:10:37.040
To him the gatekeeper opens. The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and

01:10:37.040 --> 01:10:43.040
leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow

01:10:43.040 --> 01:10:48.720
him, for they know his voice. A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him,

01:10:48.720 --> 01:10:54.880
for they do not know the voice of strangers. And then again later in the same chapter,

01:10:55.600 --> 01:11:01.440
my sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life,

01:11:01.440 --> 01:11:05.280
and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.

01:11:05.840 --> 01:11:11.440
My father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of

01:11:11.440 --> 01:11:21.760
the father's hand. I and the father are one. This passage, these passages, give us the definition

01:11:21.760 --> 01:11:29.360
of a Christian. A Christian is a sheep, a sheep who hears the voice of the true shepherd, of the

01:11:29.360 --> 01:11:35.200
good shepherd, the voice of Christ. That is the voice we hear in Scripture, because Scripture is

01:11:35.200 --> 01:11:42.320
the true testimony about Christ, the true testimony about God and his plan, the true testimony about

01:11:42.320 --> 01:11:48.960
God's intentions for us his children. And we hear the voice of the good shepherd, that is what makes

01:11:48.960 --> 01:11:54.560
us Christians, that is what distinguishes the sheep from the goats, the believer from the unbeliever.

01:11:55.280 --> 01:12:01.440
And you will note, it says that the good shepherd calls the sheep by name.

01:12:02.960 --> 01:12:10.560
Christ knows the name of every single Christian. This is the God who named the stars. He can most

01:12:10.560 --> 01:12:15.680
certainly name and number the elect, those who are Christians, those who believe.

01:12:17.200 --> 01:12:23.760
He calls you by name, and you hear his voice because you are a sheep, because you are a believer.

01:12:25.280 --> 01:12:32.080
That is what makes you a Christian. It's not participation in any particular corporation,

01:12:32.080 --> 01:12:40.080
any particular overarching human entity. You are a member of the church, you are a sheep,

01:12:40.080 --> 01:12:46.000
because you hear the voice of the good shepherd. And that is great news, because as it says in

01:12:46.000 --> 01:12:52.720
the second passage I read, Christ will lose none out of his hand. And so you are a sheep,

01:12:52.720 --> 01:13:00.240
you hear his voice, he will not lose you. No matter what happens to the church bodies today,

01:13:00.240 --> 01:13:05.840
no matter what happens to these various man-made entities, and a lot of them are indeed in dire

01:13:05.840 --> 01:13:12.720
straits. Regardless of all that, the good shepherd remains and he still knows your name,

01:13:12.720 --> 01:13:18.080
he still calls you by name, and he will not lose you from his hands. And so that

01:13:19.040 --> 01:13:22.640
is excellent good news. That is something always to bear in mind,

01:13:23.280 --> 01:13:29.680
no matter the conditions of life and the church lowercase C as we find it today.

01:13:30.880 --> 01:13:35.360
I want to reiterate what Corey just said a minute ago about doing the best that you can.

01:13:36.320 --> 01:13:43.120
I hope that in this brief time we've made the case that the best is all three. The first form

01:13:43.120 --> 01:13:48.640
of the church, the capital C, you basically get for free if you're a Christian. If you have the

01:13:48.640 --> 01:13:54.240
indwelling of the Holy Spirit, if you are among the elect, which if you're a Christian then you are.

01:13:56.000 --> 01:14:04.960
That is, that's the free square. The second and third, the broader forms of the church and

01:14:04.960 --> 01:14:14.240
then the immediate congregation are vital. They're necessary to a properly functioning

01:14:14.240 --> 01:14:21.280
Christian society, but they are not necessarily givens in the Christian lives that some of us

01:14:21.280 --> 01:14:30.640
are facing. And so the best that you can do may be only, hopefully the best you can do is a faithful

01:14:30.640 --> 01:14:36.720
congregation. Ideally, the best that you can do is a faithful congregation and a faithful denomination.

01:14:37.760 --> 01:14:45.120
If you are without one or both of those things, the best that you can do should still be working

01:14:45.120 --> 01:14:52.320
towards figuring out how to achieve the other two. And for most men, this is maybe it's a

01:14:52.320 --> 01:14:57.120
long-term thing. It's a thing that is above your pay grade. It's not something you're able to do.

01:14:57.200 --> 01:15:04.000
You should still be working with other men to try to figure out how to get there, because if

01:15:04.000 --> 01:15:13.440
everything were working, all these would be givens. I think that if I lived in 1580, I would be able

01:15:13.440 --> 01:15:21.280
to attend, if I were a German in 1580 at least, I would be able to attend a church where these

01:15:21.280 --> 01:15:28.000
doctrines of these men were being faithfully taught and practiced. And there was support

01:15:28.000 --> 01:15:34.880
from the Prince, from the community, from a broad swath of society. That's a luxury that's

01:15:34.880 --> 01:15:41.920
been lost today. And so in some cases, the best that we can do isn't the best that could be.

01:15:41.920 --> 01:15:48.800
But if that is where we are, we should still be doing what we can to work towards it. If you

01:15:48.800 --> 01:15:54.160
have a good congregation, if you have a good congregation that's a part of a bad denomination,

01:15:55.600 --> 01:16:00.960
you should be thinking about some sort of Axis strategy. Again, as Corey is talking about,

01:16:00.960 --> 01:16:07.200
schism, it's not that you have introduced error or you have introduced disagreement.

01:16:08.080 --> 01:16:14.640
When a man introduces false doctrine, the contradicts scripture, he is the schismatic.

01:16:14.640 --> 01:16:21.040
He's the one who is separated from God. And if the only Christian thing that you as a believer,

01:16:21.040 --> 01:16:27.200
as a pastor, as a congregation can do in the third position to maintain your status as a

01:16:27.200 --> 01:16:34.560
capital C church member is to separate from the second party, to separate from your denomination,

01:16:35.440 --> 01:16:42.720
you should be willing to do that at some point. Again, these things are always matters of wisdom.

01:16:42.720 --> 01:16:46.720
There's timing, there are consciences, there are weakly informed consciences.

01:16:47.280 --> 01:16:51.040
You're not always going to be able to do exactly what you want exactly when you want to do it.

01:16:51.040 --> 01:16:57.360
There's never something for impetuous men. But if you can see the writing on the wall,

01:16:58.960 --> 01:17:02.400
you should still be thinking about the next steps. Where do we go from here?

01:17:03.120 --> 01:17:09.440
In your congregation, in your context. If you see errors coming down the pike, if you think that you

01:17:09.520 --> 01:17:14.320
can tell that something is going to go wrong, if you just have a bad feeling, start talking to

01:17:14.320 --> 01:17:20.160
guys. Ideally, you'd be able to fix your denomination. That is the best case is to say,

01:17:20.160 --> 01:17:24.960
hey, we're not being faithful here, let's get back on track. That should always be step one,

01:17:24.960 --> 01:17:31.920
two, and three. Separation is never done lightly. As much crap as I'll give the Declaration of

01:17:31.920 --> 01:17:38.880
Independence, where it talks about long trains of usurpations and abuses, it's not wrong. Men

01:17:38.880 --> 01:17:45.040
should put up with crap if it's better than the alternative. For a time, you want to fix the

01:17:45.040 --> 01:17:51.440
problem, but it's better to put up with the thing you know than to go off into the wilderness and

01:17:51.440 --> 01:17:58.080
face other things that you know will go horribly wrong without the protections of organization.

01:17:58.880 --> 01:18:09.040
So it's never desirable to split. It's sometimes necessary. And so when those moments come,

01:18:09.840 --> 01:18:13.440
make sure that you have been talking to others and that you're in a position that

01:18:14.080 --> 01:18:20.080
you can do it without losing track of what it was that that body was originally formed for in the

01:18:20.080 --> 01:18:26.400
first place. Every church body, however it was formed, they had some good intent in their own

01:18:26.400 --> 01:18:31.200
minds. You know, obviously, we would have doctrinal disagreements, but they thought they were doing

01:18:31.200 --> 01:18:36.880
something good when they did it. And then later on, when it ceases to be faithful to the original

01:18:36.880 --> 01:18:42.640
intention, even if perhaps the original intention necessarily painted the trajectory that they

01:18:42.640 --> 01:18:49.520
ended up on, if something turns out to have betrayed its roots, if getting back to its roots

01:18:49.520 --> 01:18:55.280
is the best way to approach things, you should be willing to talk to others about doing that.

01:18:56.000 --> 01:19:02.400
It should never be done lightly, but it must always be in view of I'm at the local congregational

01:19:02.400 --> 01:19:08.080
level. How can I be faithful to all the saints in time and all the saints in eternity? How can I

01:19:08.080 --> 01:19:14.160
be faithful to God? How can I be one with them as part of the body of Christ in preaching and

01:19:14.160 --> 01:19:21.040
teaching and confessing faithfully? If it involves splitting from the second, if it involves condemning

01:19:21.040 --> 01:19:27.120
the second, maybe condemnation is enough. You know, we're in such a conflict-averse world today

01:19:27.120 --> 01:19:31.440
where men are terrified to tell other men that they're wrong. It's the worst thing anyone could

01:19:31.440 --> 01:19:38.320
imagine. It's pathetic. It may be that if you point out an error, people will be so terrified of

01:19:38.320 --> 01:19:43.600
conflict, maybe they'll capitulate, which isn't ideal. I mean, it's probably not going to happen,

01:19:43.600 --> 01:19:50.560
but you as a matter of conscience are obligated to first condemn the error that you see before you

01:19:50.560 --> 01:19:56.640
say I'm out of here. You can't just get mad and leave. That's petulant. It violates Matthew 18,

01:19:56.640 --> 01:20:02.080
where you see error. It must be publicly rebuked for the benefit of all. Because again, most people

01:20:03.040 --> 01:20:07.120
don't have the aptitude for this stuff. And maybe most of you don't have the aptitude. You probably

01:20:07.120 --> 01:20:11.680
don't just statistically. That's fine. We're not saying you must all be individual little popes,

01:20:11.680 --> 01:20:17.040
judging all this stuff. You can gather together and you can among yourselves recognize who are the

01:20:17.040 --> 01:20:21.600
faithful Christian men who have their heads on straight, who have faithfulness to God in their

01:20:21.600 --> 01:20:28.880
hearts and minds, who can, if not be leaders, at least be voices that will engage elsewhere to figure

01:20:28.880 --> 01:20:35.040
out where does your local congregation go from wherever you are to wherever you think you need to be.

01:20:37.040 --> 01:20:41.040
When things go wrong in the world, it's not an excuse for us to just give up and say,

01:20:41.120 --> 01:20:48.240
I'm done. I'm fed up. I'm not doing this anymore. That's not Christian. Again, that's what Job's

01:20:48.240 --> 01:20:52.800
wife said to him. Why don't you just curse God and die? No. That's not what believers do. That's

01:20:52.800 --> 01:21:00.240
not what Christians do. You belong to God. Your congregation, insofar as everyone who is there

01:21:00.240 --> 01:21:06.160
as a Christian, belongs to God. Those are his sheep. And his sheep deserve to have a shepherd

01:21:06.240 --> 01:21:12.000
whom he will send to guard them. And you must actively be a participant in that.

01:21:13.120 --> 01:21:18.160
To whatever extent those things are miraculous, we don't see the miracle part. We see the functional

01:21:18.160 --> 01:21:25.200
part. We see men in places doing things good or ill. And we have to judge that based on Scripture.

01:21:27.200 --> 01:21:32.960
As we work through these things, it's just vital not to give up, not to say, well, I don't think

01:21:33.520 --> 01:21:37.840
the second level is working. I'm done. I'm just going to be by myself. You can't do that.

01:21:38.880 --> 01:21:42.480
If you can straighten out the second level through the third level, that's great.

01:21:43.040 --> 01:21:46.240
You should always be focused on the first. You should always be focused on

01:21:46.240 --> 01:21:52.160
Capitol C Church, because that is your eternal soul, but it's not your daily life.

01:21:53.760 --> 01:22:01.520
The participation that we have with that is spiritual in a way that is very different in form

01:22:01.520 --> 01:22:06.240
than what we have at the local congregational level. So as you're interacting with other Christians

01:22:06.240 --> 01:22:11.040
in your neighborhood, in your community, with your own family, that is where your actual Christian

01:22:11.040 --> 01:22:16.400
life is being led. And that's what you have to keep straight. So to the best of your ability,

01:22:16.960 --> 01:22:22.960
be faithful to God, be faithful to Scripture, be faithful to the creeds. Hopefully you can be

01:22:22.960 --> 01:22:30.560
faithful to a confession that itself is faithful. And you can use those things to order all of your

01:22:30.560 --> 01:22:35.920
activities at the individual level, at the family level, at the congregational level. And if that

01:22:35.920 --> 01:22:43.520
means reforming or rebuilding or forming a new, the second level churches, the denominations,

01:22:43.520 --> 01:22:47.680
such that they will continue to preserve that which we know is faithful to God,

01:22:48.400 --> 01:22:52.880
then that is where we should be spending our time. We do the best that we can,

01:22:52.880 --> 01:22:58.640
and we're always working towards what God wants, because none of this is about our egos or about

01:22:58.720 --> 01:23:03.760
winning arguments. It's about making sure that we can pass on the faith to future generations.

01:23:04.320 --> 01:23:08.800
This stuff is not just about us. And, you know, the inheritance that we've gotten from past

01:23:08.800 --> 01:23:14.320
generations isn't shambles, because many of them just didn't care. They paid lip service to the

01:23:14.320 --> 01:23:20.480
stuff. Even as they were burning down the very institutions that had been erected by prior generations

01:23:20.480 --> 01:23:24.880
to them to preserve them. When they got ahold of them, they've turned them inside out and turned

01:23:24.960 --> 01:23:32.000
them into things that are destroying what would have been our future. So either we put out the

01:23:32.000 --> 01:23:37.600
fire or we moved down the road, we got to do something. Because what we're inheriting is a

01:23:37.600 --> 01:23:44.000
disaster and it's not okay to just walk away. It's not okay to accept it. We have to fight it,

01:23:44.000 --> 01:23:49.760
we have to fix it, and we have to preserve and keep something, even if it means building a new.

01:23:50.320 --> 01:23:55.840
Because faith must of God means making sure that the future generations after us can have

01:23:55.840 --> 01:24:02.800
something better than what we have been given. Today, that is a universal statement. In past

01:24:02.800 --> 01:24:06.400
generations, perhaps it wouldn't have been. Typically, you would hope that you wouldn't be

01:24:07.040 --> 01:24:11.040
messing with anything. You could just pass on what you had inherited. When you've inherited

01:24:11.040 --> 01:24:17.360
something that's in shambles, you got to fix it up before you pass it on. And so as we're working

01:24:17.440 --> 01:24:24.720
through that, as Christians and our own local congregations, it's a lot of hard work.

01:24:25.520 --> 01:24:32.480
But just remember that when things are going wrong, in an ironic way, that's a good sign. If

01:24:32.480 --> 01:24:36.960
Satan is messing with your church body or with your congregation, it means that there's something

01:24:36.960 --> 01:24:42.720
that Satan fears. Focus on the thing that was good there and try to get that back. Try to do more

01:24:42.720 --> 01:24:47.440
of what Satan fears. Don't do the things that he loves. He tells us that, too. If it's in accord

01:24:47.440 --> 01:24:53.600
with the world, which is if you go back and read John 15 before John 16, the passage I read,

01:24:53.600 --> 01:24:58.400
it talks about that. The world will love you if you do what Satan wants from you. When the world

01:24:58.400 --> 01:25:04.080
is coming after you, it means you're doing the things that are actually beneficial to the kingdom

01:25:04.080 --> 01:25:12.080
of God, to obeying God, and to ruining Satan's day. These edifices that we have inherited that

01:25:12.080 --> 01:25:17.760
are in bad shape. We got to shore them up. We got to give the future something that will preserve

01:25:17.760 --> 01:25:24.000
their faith, even if they're dumb or lazy. If you build a big enough and strong enough structure,

01:25:24.000 --> 01:25:29.360
it can coast for a little while. That's no excuse. Ideally, the best thing is for it to

01:25:29.360 --> 01:25:34.800
be shoring up future generations of men to preserve it so that we would have more men who are

01:25:34.800 --> 01:25:41.120
competent than we have today. That should be the goal. But when you build up a strong foundation

01:25:41.200 --> 01:25:47.120
of organization and faithful confession, even in the very worst case, it would still preserve

01:25:47.120 --> 01:25:54.960
itself for a few generations if men just said the words. We know that that will work. Therefore,

01:25:54.960 --> 01:25:59.920
how much more important is it for us to do better, to say, look, let's do more than just

01:25:59.920 --> 01:26:05.440
mouth the words. Let's create families and communities and congregations that are going

01:26:05.520 --> 01:26:11.840
to build the stuff up and preserve it so that if the world is still around in 100, 200 years,

01:26:11.840 --> 01:26:15.360
churches will be in better shape. On the current trajectory, there won't be any.

01:26:16.000 --> 01:26:19.840
Christianity is going to go extinct in 100 years. On the current trajectory,

01:26:19.840 --> 01:26:25.200
I don't think it's going to happen. God won't permit it. But we today are part of making sure

01:26:25.200 --> 01:26:31.280
that that doesn't happen. Not because we can do it by ourselves. In obedience to God, we are members

01:26:31.840 --> 01:26:37.840
of the body of Christ with him as the head. When we obey what the head says and we act as the hands

01:26:37.840 --> 01:26:46.800
and the lips and the instruments of God's will in these places, we're going to be preserving the

01:26:46.800 --> 01:26:52.960
sort of teaching that he wants to see. That benefits you, your family, your community,

01:26:52.960 --> 01:26:57.040
and everyone around you. When we build something good, people are going to see and say,

01:26:57.040 --> 01:27:01.360
I want to be a part of that. That is one of the best ways to spread the gospel,

01:27:01.360 --> 01:27:05.840
certainly by being a place that is in opposition to the terrible world around you.

01:27:07.280 --> 01:27:13.200
As we've been going over this topic, and particularly with regard to that second level,

01:27:13.840 --> 01:27:18.560
it brought to mind a quote, variously attributed,

01:27:18.800 --> 01:27:32.960
Translated into English, tradition is not the worship of ashes. Rather, it is the passing on

01:27:32.960 --> 01:27:41.120
of fire. And I want to make certain that we were entirely clear in this episode, that while it is

01:27:41.120 --> 01:27:46.560
true that it is that first level of the church, the upper case C church, that is most important,

01:27:47.520 --> 01:27:52.960
the others are also vitally important. We've gone over repeatedly, very clearly,

01:27:52.960 --> 01:27:58.720
why the third level is important. And woe just mentioned why the second level is important.

01:27:58.720 --> 01:28:05.680
But I want to emphasize that it is vitally important to pass forward to future generations,

01:28:06.560 --> 01:28:14.000
Christian traditions, Christian institutions. Because if you do not do that, the odds that

01:28:14.000 --> 01:28:20.880
future generations will be Christian, or at the very least remain Christian, fall off precipitously.

01:28:22.000 --> 01:28:27.440
You will wind up with apostate grandchildren, if you do not pass these things forward.

01:28:28.320 --> 01:28:33.760
Tradition is by and large good. Tradition is something that is passed forward to future

01:28:33.760 --> 01:28:39.280
generations to maintain your culture, to maintain your way of life, to maintain the faith.

01:28:39.520 --> 01:28:44.640
These are things that we pass to our children, and then to our grandchildren, our great-grandchildren,

01:28:45.200 --> 01:28:52.320
so that they can build on the foundation that we inherited and pass forward to them. Because,

01:28:52.320 --> 01:28:57.440
ideally, that is what each generation is supposed to do, pass forward the good that was passed to

01:28:57.440 --> 01:29:04.720
it by the previous generations, and also whatever editions, good editions, have been built by that

01:29:05.680 --> 01:29:11.120
generation. You are supposed to leave a world that is better for your children, the one that

01:29:11.120 --> 01:29:18.480
was left to you by your parents. We live in a time where we are going to have to rebuild

01:29:18.480 --> 01:29:22.960
many of these institutions, because they have been left to decay or deliberately torn down

01:29:23.760 --> 01:29:30.240
by previous generations. We've gone over that in previous episodes. That is the unfortunate reality.

01:29:30.480 --> 01:29:37.440
But we are not making the point that these are unnecessary or harmful things. We are not saying

01:29:37.440 --> 01:29:42.560
that the organization, the higher-level organization, the hierarchical organization,

01:29:43.360 --> 01:29:49.600
of congregations into larger bodies, ultimately all part of the Capitol C Church,

01:29:49.600 --> 01:29:55.840
we're not saying that's bad. That is a good thing. We need that. As human beings, we were designed to

01:29:55.920 --> 01:30:01.760
we were designed to live in hierarchy. Everything in the universe is hierarchical. That is how God

01:30:01.760 --> 01:30:07.280
designed it. God, of course, sitting at the apex of it. But in all things there is hierarchy,

01:30:07.280 --> 01:30:11.840
in all things there is order, and we should wish to maintain that, to carry it forward,

01:30:11.840 --> 01:30:17.680
to pass it on to future generations. Yes, we can do only the best that we can with what we

01:30:17.680 --> 01:30:22.400
have been given, and that is what God demands of us. He is not demanding of us the impossible.

01:30:23.040 --> 01:30:28.320
We can do only what is possible with what we have been given in the time in which we are living.

01:30:29.200 --> 01:30:35.040
So don't despair, because it looks like the odds are insurmountable. They've been insurmountable

01:30:35.040 --> 01:30:42.880
before, and God has carried through His Church. Just take every day as it comes. We've read many

01:30:42.880 --> 01:30:48.080
times that the trouble is sufficient for the day. You don't need to look for more trouble. You don't

01:30:49.040 --> 01:30:57.360
need to worry about tomorrow. That's not what Christians do. You trust in God, and you do the

01:30:57.360 --> 01:31:04.160
work in front of you. As a father that is instructing your children and your wife, your servants,

01:31:04.160 --> 01:31:10.240
if you have them, to use the wording of the catechisms, it is to be the head of the household,

01:31:10.240 --> 01:31:15.760
to lead as you are supposed to. If you're the wife that is to submit to your husband, and also

01:31:16.400 --> 01:31:21.360
to help him work out his faith in fear and trembling, that is one of the duties

01:31:21.360 --> 01:31:27.760
of a faithful wife. Not usurping the headship of your husband, but helping him be the head of

01:31:27.760 --> 01:31:32.240
the household as he should be. And if your children, your duty, of course, is to submit to and honor

01:31:32.240 --> 01:31:37.520
your parents. This is all hierarchy. This is all order. We know how all of these things work.

01:31:38.720 --> 01:31:44.480
Our duty as Christians is to do the work that has been set before us by God as best we can

01:31:44.480 --> 01:31:50.560
with the gifts that he has given us. And we are to do this in joy. Again, not necessarily

01:31:50.560 --> 01:31:55.360
happiness at all times, because happiness is a different thing. Yes, find happiness in the

01:31:55.360 --> 01:32:01.360
things that God has given you. But ultimately, as a matter of joy, it is that expectation,

01:32:01.360 --> 01:32:07.360
the looking forward to the fulfillment of things, the promises of God. It is belief in Christ,

01:32:08.000 --> 01:32:13.440
because his word has never failed and never will. And so I'll close out this episode with a brief

01:32:13.440 --> 01:32:20.800
reading from the Epistle of James. Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various

01:32:20.800 --> 01:32:26.960
kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness, and let steadfastness

01:32:26.960 --> 01:32:32.480
have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.