has written one of my favorite books on the local church (Why We Love the Church: In Praise of Institutions and Organized Religion
) and recently he delivered what is now one of my favorite sermons on loving the local church (“The Church
The content of the sermon was excellent. And not only could I not take notes fast enough, I wanted all those in Sovereign Grace who were not in attendance at the Next conference
to benefit from it. Therefore we decided to take some excerpts from the message in hope that they will create an appetite to listen to the message.
Who should listen to the message?
- Church members
- Those who love their church
- Those whose love for the church has been diminishing
- Those who think of involvement with the local church as optional
- Those who have left the local church
There is stuff in this message for us all.
In this first excerpt Kevin addressed the inevitable reality of disappointment in the local church. At some point we will all be disappointed with the church. Rather than being surprised by this we should be prepared and we should be ready to respond in a God-glorifying way.
At one point in his message Kevin introduced the various problems we read about in the church in Corinth:
Here you have a church with evidences of grace, but you have the church with all manner of problems. They have divisions and controversies and sexual immorality and power struggles and money issues and authority issues and marriage issues and anything else you can think of. That is the church.
So we ought to be realistic and I know many of you have disappointments that run very deep—deeper than I have experienced—and many of them are legitimate and people have hurt you, maybe pastors have hurt you. I am sorry. …
This is no way to excuse our own sinfulness, but it is to give us a realistic appraisal that saints and sinners we will always be. We will be disappointed at times.
He goes on to explain the reason behind these disappointments:
I think one of the most important doctrines that is missing in younger generations today—and it is the reason that people can get so tired of the church so quickly—is the doctrine of original sin. The doctrine of original sin teaches that every single human being whoever was, is, or shall be—save for Jesus—inherited from Adam a sinful nature that makes us predisposed to wickedness and rebellion.
“No one is righteous” (Romans 3:10).
“All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).
“The human heart is deceitful above all else and desperately sick” (Jeremiah 17:9).
The natural man is “dead in the trespasses and sin” (Ephesians 2:1).
By nature we pass our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another (Titus 3:3).
“All we like sheep have gone astray” (Isaiah 53:6).
It is there over and over again in the pages of Scripture. And it is this doctrine with the related teachings of indwelling sin and the divided self that need to be recovered if we are to have a biblical, realistic appraisal of the local church.
So is your attitude and perspective of the local church informed by the doctrine of original sin? Is your appraisal of the local church realistic or idealistic? Please don’t misunderstand. There can be a time and place to transition from a particular local church. But prior to that decision we need to be informed by the content of Kevin’s message.
To download and listen to “The Church
”—or any of the conference messages—visit thisisnext.org