How to Destroy a Church

I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment.

1 Corinthians 1:10

The historic church is the people of God who are redeemed by the blood of Christ, justified by faith in him, and are equipped by the Holy Spirit to do the words and works of Christ and it is a visible community made known by the bishops in apostolic order who by the grace of God minister the sacraments of Christ to the people of God.

The problem is that frequently, we do not act like God’s own blood-bought people. We allow hurt feelings, personal agendas, misunderstandings, false expectations, etc., to deter us from our unity found in Christ. We forget that we are all sinners redeemed by the precious blood of the Lamb and that none of us are better than any one of us.

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 over 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 assembling of religious people, but it will destroy the church of the living God.

Gossip, prayerlessness, bitterness, sustained biblical illiteracy, self-promotion, materialism-all of 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 (1 Cor. 3:17).” It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God (Heb. 10:31).

D.A. Carson, The Cross and Christian Ministry: Leadership Lessons from 1 Corinthians (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1993), 83-84.

HT: Justin Taylor

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