Blog Posts on The Nature of the Church

Learn to Fly in the Fellowship

David Mathis
Learn to Fly in the Fellowship

It’s a shame the word “fellowship” has fallen on hard times in some circles, and is dying the death of domestication and triviality. It is an electric reality in the New Testament, an indispensable ingredient in the Christian faith, and one of God’s chief means of grace in our lives.

The koinonia — the commonality, partnership, fellowship — which the first Christians shared wasn’t a common love for pizza, pop, and a nice clean evening of fun among the fellow churchified. It... Continue Reading

Meet the Family of God

Trillia Newbell
Meet the Family of God

There is no denying the importance of family. My husband and children are my first priority and God’s gift to me. When my husband is discouraged, it’s a privilege to come alongside him and encourage him. When my kids are sick, my husband and I are there to nurse them back to health. Our relationships go much further than caring for one another, of course, but often these tangible expressions are the means of expressing our importance to one another. My husband and I are united... Continue Reading

Jesus Sings

Tony Reinke
Jesus Sings

Jesus sings.

If Scripture didn’t say it, I wouldn’t either. But it’s true. In four places in Scripture we read that Jesus, the Son of God himself, raised his voice in worship.1

Which is immediately confusing on one level. It's not that there's anything wrong with singing, just that I imagine our Savior much better suited as the silent recipient of adoration and worship (Revelation 5:6–14). But he also sings. And the only way to understand why Jesus sings is to briefly walk through all four... Continue Reading

If Your Church Is Not All You Want It to Be

Jonathan Parnell

Chances are your church gathering isn't all you want it to be. . . This or that should be different, so and so should talk less, he and she should be on time — and why can't we just get some better aesthetics in here?

Actually, though, this mode of critcism says more about our hearts than it does our local church. Perhaps we've forgotten what the church is. Perhaps we've mistaken it to be just another social club. Or maybe we've confused this gathering to be just... Continue Reading

From We to Me

Tony Reinke

Americans since the 1960s are increasingly expressing themselves in terms that are individual-focused (“me”) rather than community-focused (“we”). So reports USA Today.

Such a trend may not be hard to imagine in society, but what about within the American Church? Are modern-day Christians tempted to find their identity in increasingly individualistic terms? Is #me trending over #we?

Yes, says Michael Svigel in his new book RetroChristianity: Reclaiming the Forgotten Faith. But to find the... Continue Reading

What It Means to Be a Pilgrim

Jonathan Parnell

Michael Horton writes,

There is a significant origin and end point to history, within which we ourselves are cast members. It is a courtroom drama in which we are either false or true witnesses, “in Adam” or “in Christ,” justified or condemned, alive or dead.

Neither masters nor tourists, we become pilgrims.

Unlike masters, pilgrims have not arrived and they do not presume to inaugurate their own kingdoms of glory. They don’t have all the answers and they are not exactly sure... Continue Reading

Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Wolfhart Pannenberg on Schism

John Piper
Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Wolfhart Pannenberg on Schism

Of course, the courage of Bonhoeffer to defy the compromising state church of Germany in the early days of Nazism is inspiring. A church that did not stand with the Jews, he said, was not the church of Jesus Christ. So at great risk he came out.

Wolfhart Pannenberg, 84, is the retired professor of Systematic Theology at the University of Munich where he served since 1968. He was very much the rage when I was in seminary, and I was honored to sit in some... Continue Reading

What Does It Mean to Be a Pilgrim?

Jonathan Parnell

The gospel turns people into pilgrims. It comes with a culture-correcting force that creates aliens and exiles of the world.

Drawing from a 1733 Jonathan Edwards sermon, John Piper offers seven descriptions of what this looks like:

  1. Pilgrims are not diverted from their aim.
  2. Pilgrims are to hold the things of this world loosely.
  3. Pilgrims become like what they hope to attain.
  4. Pilgrims will not be satisfied with anything less than God.
  5. Pilgrims are not grieved by their arrival at... Continue Reading

Getting the Accent Right: "Not of . . . But Sent Into"

David Mathis
Getting the Accent Right: "Not of . . . But Sent Into"

In. . . but not of” — are you familiar with this popular phrase? It captures a truth about Jesus’ followers. We are “in” this world, but not “of” it.

In. . . but not of.” Yes, yes, of course.

But might this pithy slogan give the wrong impression about our (co)mission in this world as Christians? You see, the motto seems to give the drift, We are in this world, alas, but we need to make sure that we’re not of it. In this scheme, the starting place is our... Continue Reading