This material accompanied the sermon A QUALITY BUILD from the sermon series: Be the Body – Seeing the Church as the Body in the Bible and Making the Body a Priority in the Present by Pastor Howard Lawler on 11/12/17.
“The ways of destroying the church are many and colorful. Raw factionalism will do it. Rank heresy will do it. Taking your eyes off the cross and letting other, more peripheral matters dominate the agenda will do it – admittedly more slowly than frank heresy, but just as effectively on the long haul. Building the church with superficial ‘conversions’ and wonderful programs that rarely bring people into a deepening knowledge of the living God will do it. Entertaining people to death but never fostering the beauty of holiness or the centrality of self-crucifying love will build an assembly of religious people, but it will destroy the church of the living God. Gossip, prayerlessness, bitterness, sustained biblical illiteracy, self-promotion, materialism – all these things, and many more, can destroy a church. And to do so is dangerous: ‘If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him; for God’s temple is sacred, and you are that temple (1Cor. 3:17)’.” D. A. Carson
“Division doesn’t always begin with clear-cut sin. It quite often begins with disagreements in perspectives and preferences. A lot of churches embrace these divisions and will create separate groups and even worship services to accommodate them. Not all of these segmentations are sins, but many of them are, especially as they capitulate to the consumeristic idolatry of the Western churchgoer. Mountains are easily made out of molehills when preferences fill the center of spiritual desire. Two people may develop a difference of opinion about music style. It’s not an argument at first, just a difference in personal taste. But as discussions go on, factions are formed. Unequivocal statements like ‘I can’t worship to that kind of music’ get bandied about. New is pitted against old, or contemporary against traditional. To keep the peace, church leaders may introduce an alternative gathering. Has division been prevented? No, it’s been accommodated. Division has now been made a feature of the church, treated like an asset instead of a liability.” Jared Wilson
“The missing ingredient in the lives of many Christians today is motivation. Given our false assumption that what we do in this life won’t have eternal consequences (apart from our decision to place our trust in Christ for salvation), it’s no wonder we’re unmotivated to follow God’s directions regarding money and possessions (and everything else). When it comes down to it, what difference will it make? According to the prevailing theology, everything comes out in the wash, so it won’t make any difference at all. But according to the Bible, it will make a tremendous difference! The doctrine of eternal rewards for our obedience is the neglected key to unlocking our motivation.” Randy Alcorn
“Take up the epistle of the blessed Apostle Paul. What did he write to you at the time when the Gospel first began to be preached? Truly, under the inspiration of the Spirit, he wrote to you concerning himself, and Cephas, and Apollos, because even then parties had been formed among you. But that inclination for one above another entailed less guilt upon you, inasmuch as your partialities were then shown towards apostles, already of high reputation, and towards a man whom they had approved. But now reflect who those are that have perverted you, and lessened the renown of your far-famed brotherly love. It is disgraceful, beloved, yes, highly disgraceful, and unworthy of your Christian profession. And this rumor has reached not only us, but those also who are unconnected with us; so that, through your infatuation, the name of the Lord is blasphemed, while danger is also brought upon yourselves. Let us therefore, with all haste, put an end to this state of things; and let us fall down before the Lord, and beseech Him with tears, that He would mercifully be reconciled to us, and restore us to our former seemly and holy practice of brotherly love.” Clement (a second century church leader who wrote this in a letter to the Corinthian church about 40 years after Paul wrote 1Corinthians).
“No one wishes at the outset to make a spacious home, but first he makes it mighty and excellent, then spacious. Let us first aim at this, and then at the other. Where this is, that also will be easy; but where this is not, the other, though it be, is of no profit. For if there are those who are able to shine in the church, there will soon be numbers too; but where these are not, the numbers will be no good for anything.” John Chrysostom, (a fourth century church leader so gifted at preaching he was nicknamed “The Golden Tongued,” yet he refused to try to grow the church on human talent including his own).