Sunday, March 7, 2010

Your Church is Too Small book review con't

This continuation of my book review has come about because, as I say on my front page, I write this stuff before my wife has a chance to edit them. And, as she has pointed out, I forgot to tell you what I thought of the book. It is kinda like I am standing at the car door and she walks by and and notices that my shoes are untied. "I think you have left some loose ends," she remarks.

So, in the spirit of charity, I will try to tie up my loose ends.

I feel that John Armstrong has made a good effort. It is written mainly for a general audience with some Biblical and religious background. He tries to come up with a definition of what is Church and what is a Christian that most would agree to. I doubt if any Emergent, Catholic, or Orthodox would agree with him. But, since he is writing out of his evangelical context to, it seems, those who are also evangelical, most of his readers would probably agree. I think the book would have been helped if he had this wider audience in mind. But then it may have become much more complicated, something I'm sure he wouldn't want to do.

Armstrong wrote that Brother Yun, a Chinese Christian, believed that "the solution to division lies in rediscovering our true home in the love of Jesus through his commission to disciple all nations". (pg.162) This is fulfilled through active love towards all, and especially toward the family of believers. I know that Armstrong is keen on having the body of Christ actually love. I am in total agreement. I find that the solution starts with the individual in the local church. This is where true love is to be seen. Armstrong mentions this, but I think could have emphasized this more.

Armstrong ends by saying that our unity is awaiting an outpouring of the Holy Spirit to be accomplished. I believe it will take that very thing for us to recognize the unity we already have in the Son by the Spirit. As Paul wrote the Corinthians that grouping ourselves in distinction from any others who also call on the name of the Lord in faith is carnal, of the flesh, after the way of the world. So what actually needs to happen is for the church to mature by walking in the Spirit and not in the flesh. This will take a church that actually believes Jesus and the Apostles He sent. Notice I didn't say believe in Jesus. The devils do that and tremble. The disunity of the church I believe has come about through the church's fleshly, sinful ways. Armstrong is right in saying that unity will come about when we, as Christians, die to ourselves. [Don't we wish that baptism actually did this?]

So I recommend this book to any and all who call on the name of Jesus. May its heart be your heart as you help to hasten the Lord's return by doing what He commanded.

The last of the loose ends. This book is copyright 2009.
your church is too small


John Paul Todd said...

I like your comments Steven. I love John and share the same vision. I have tried to figure out the "target audience" as well-still not too sure. I think the main thing is that John wanted to get his personal story out there as never before and I think he succeeded. Now who will listen to him with respect and appreciation for one more comrad in-arms, I have no idea. My fear is that many who do read the book will miss the wealth of helpful resources for the way forward.
"I find that the solution starts with the individual in the local church. This is where true love is to be seen." Exactly! We have got to call a moratorium on this insanity of looking for greener pastures and not thanking God for the family He has gifted us with.

Anonymous said...

I've not yet read this book, but after reading this and other reviews, am starting to get intrested. Church unity has seriously preplexed me for years. I'm glad someone is launching a serious effort to remedy schisms. False doctrines and ignorance are the primary reasons for such a currently divided Christian community. One issue of major impact is the correct understanding of the name of the Lord Jesus. You see, the Trinitarian doctrine is correct. But the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, is Lord Jesus Christ. That is why we read in Acts that they baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Unless the Church understands the "Name above every name", unity will remain an unrealized goal.

Steven Ganz said...

Thanks John for your comments. And thank you too Joe. We all need to draw closer to our Lord Jesus the Christ.

A. Amos Love said...

Unity. Hmmm?

Sometimes good and some times, er, not so good?

Just wondering...

What if God is the author of our
disagreements and separations?
“And all things are of God...”
2 Cor 5:18, Rom 11:36, Col 1:16-17, etc.

Are we working for “Unity?”
And NOW working against God?

Didn’t God confuse man’s language once before?
Aren’t those things that happened to others,
written for us to learn from?

Now all these things happened unto them for
ensamples: and they are written for our admonition,
upon whom the ends of the world are come.
1 Cor 10:11

For whatsoever things were written aforetime
were written for our learning, that we through
patience and comfort of the scriptures
might have hope.
Rom 15:4

Didn’t God intervene when “man was in unity”
with their own devices, their own plans,
trying to build something themselves,
to reach heaven and “make a name for themselves?”

Could that be the ekklesia’s problem today also?
Doing their own thing - NOT God’s thing?

**Man trying to build something?
(Movements? Denominations? Church Planting?)
**And make a name for themselves?
(“Titles” on buildings, schools, websites, books, etc.)
**Being in unity they could accomplish anything?

wikipedia lists many, 1,000's, of Denominations.

...let us build us a city and a tower,
whose top may reach unto heaven;
and let us make us a name...
Gen 11:4

Gen 11:6-8
And the LORD said, Behold,
the people is one, (unity?)(this doesn't sound good?)
and they have all one language; (unity-sound alike?)
and this they begin to do: (work together?)
and now nothing will be restrained from them,
(we can do anything, working together?)
which they have imagined to do.
(“the imagination of man’s heart is evil.”)
(Gen 6:5, Gen 8:21, Jer 3:17, Jer 11:8. etc.)
Go to, let us go down,
and there confound their language,
that they may not understand one another’s speech.
(Hmmm? Sound familiar?)

God often gives us what we ask for, and,
“A Little Bit Extra.”

Meat in the wilderness. Kings to rule over us. etc.

“Traditions of men” nullify the word of God.
Mark 7:13

Hmmm? Just wondering...
What if God is the author of our
disagreements and separations?

Then what...???

Are we working for Unity?
And NOW working against God?

Steven Ganz said...

A. Amos Love, I think you didn't read what Jesus prayed. He prayed that all who believe in Him love one another. This is God's will. So we need to find how He wants us to fulfill this. That is why walking in the Spirit is so important - it keeps us from unifying around things that are not from God - like personalities. It is nice to know that if other Christians don't love me it is not my fault, they are just disobeying God!

A. Amos Love said...


In agreement with most of what you write.

I just believe, “the Body of Christ” is in “Unity.”
It’s “His Body.”

I don’t believe there is disunity in...

Jesus - He is the head of the Body,
(the ekklesia, the called out one’s,) The Church.
Col 1:18

There is “ONE” fold, “ONE” shepherd, “ONE” voice... }}}} Jesus {{{{
John 10:16

And when we’re in Christ “we” are “ONE.”
No division or separation.

There is neither Jew nor Greek,
there is neither bond nor free,
there is neither male nor female:
for ye are all “ONE” in Christ Jesus.
Gal 3:28

Neither Baptist nor Assemblies of God.
Neither Evangelical nor Pentecostal.
Neither Leaders nor Followers.
Neither Clergy nor Laity.
All “ONE” in Christ Jesus.

Now, “The Church of Man,”
“The Church of Baptist,”
“The Church of England.” Choose one...
That’s a different story. Oy Vey! ;-)
That's what you see with your eyes.
But, the kingdom of God comes
NOT with observation. It is within.
Luke 17:20-21.

“The Church of Man,”
That’s the thousands of denominations
started by man and seen by others.
“Christian Leaders” who had a better idea.

And I believe there is a possibility that “God” has...

“ **confounded their language,** that they may
**not understand one another’s speech…**
Gen 11:4-8

Because those in “The Religious System”
are trying to make a name for themselves. :-(...

Be blessed in your search for truth... Jesus.

John H. Armstorng said...

Some great thoughts here but if the body of Christ is already in unity it is an odd looking unity don't you think? The point of John 17:20-23 is that the world will see that unity so that they will know the Father sent the Son. We need to go back and read this prayer a little but more and do so without our biases and notions. Somehow what Jesus prayed for must include a oneness that we already have, for sure, but it must then be seen by nonbelievers so that they will believe. I think nothing could be clearer in the Fourth Gospel.

Thanks for a good review and thus for making readers aware of my passionate concern for this truth.

Steven Ganz said...

I was thinking of verses like:

Rom 12:4-6 Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.

1 Cor 1:13 Is Christ divided?

1 Cor 3:11-12 For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ.

1 Cor 6:17 But he who unites himself with the Lord is one with him in spirit.

1 Cor 10:17 Because there is one loaf, we, who are many, are one body, for we all partake of the one loaf.

1 Cor 12:13 For we were all baptized in one Spirit into one body — whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free — and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.

1 Cor 12:20 As it is, there are many parts, but one body.

Although there is an already/but not yet quality to this vision of unity.

Paul writes in Eph 4:13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.

so there is a growing, an until that still remains. This is how it will be accomplished

Col 3:13-14
Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
Romans 15:5 May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Ephesians 4:3 As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit— just as you were called to one hope when you were called— one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

We must recognize the unity that we have already in Christ.