After Pentecost (Acts 3 and later), Christ-followers were first involved in something called “the Way” (Acts 24:22). After the gospel progressed to the non-Jewish world with the planting of the church in Antioch, the world called Christ-followers “Christians” because they were made up of both Jews and Gentiles who exhibited a radical devotion to be like Christ (Acts 11:26).
Since Christianity was legalized by Emperor Constantine in the Edict of Milan (313 AD), Christianity went from being “the Way” to an institution that included nominal members who knew nothing regarding the radical faith of their early forbears. Since that time Christianity has become a popular, commercialized entity with only a remnant of followers with a biblically-based, radical commitment. (By “radical” I do not mean extreme or fanatical with odd anti-social and/or violent behavior; I mean the dictionary definition: “radical: affecting the fundamental nature of something; far-reaching or thorough”.)
Unfortunately, what many today deem as radical was considered normal Christianity in the early church, and what is considered normal in the present church would be considered compromising to the early church.
The following are contrasts between commercial Christianity and biblical Christianity:
- Commercial Christian pastors preach culturally accommodating messages. Biblical Christian pastors preach culturally convicting messages (Acts 2:37-38; Acts 24:24-25).
- Commercial Christianity encourages adherence to the status quo. Biblical Christianity encourages reformation of the status quo (Acts 17:6).
- Commercial Christianity invites. Biblical Christianity proclaims (Acts 17:23).
- Commercial Christianity converts people to their churches. Biblical Christianity converts people to Jesus (John 1:12-13; Acts 8:35).
- Commercial Christianity encourages congregational membership. Biblical Christianity develops world-changing disciples (Acts 6:7; Matthew 28:19; 2 Timothy 2:2).
- Commercial Christianity separates faith from public policy. Biblical Christianity applies the gospel to policy (Matthew 5:13-16).
- Commercial Christianity is defined by the state. Biblical Christianity redefines the state of affairs (Daniel 4:19-37; Acts 8:4-8).
- Commercial Christianity is complicit with the powers that be. Biblical Christianity casts down the ungodly powers that be (2 Corinthians 10:3-5).
- Commercial Christianity is a sweet-smelling savor to those who are perishing. Biblical Christianity is a sweet-smelling savor to those who are being saved (Philippians 2:15-16).
- Commercial Christianity is not distinguishable from the world. Biblical Christianity lives in the world but is not of the world (John17:14-15).
- Commercial Christianity often uses biblical language for secular reasons. Biblical Christians often uses secular language for biblical reasons (1 Corinthians 9:20-23).
- Commercial Christianity is man-centered in its goals. Biblical Christianity is God-centered in its goals (Colossians 1:15-18).
- Commercial Christianity elicits praise only from people. Biblical Christianity brings favor from both God and people (Acts 2:47).
- Commercial Christianity leaves a temporal imprint. Biblical Christianity leaves an eternal imprint (Hebrews 11:4).
- Commercial Christianity leaves a legacy of compromise. Biblical Christianity leaves a legacy of sacrificial commitment (2 Timothy 4:6-8).
- Commercial Christianity attracts followers by compromising the truth. Biblical Christianity attracts followers through the promotion of the truth (Acts 2:40-41).
- Commercial Christianity is one step away from being irrelevant. Biblical Christianity is always in or near revival (Acts 9:31).
- Commercial Christianity accommodates a backslidden lifestyle. Biblical Christianity accommodates a lifestyle of faith, fidelity and freedom (John 8:31-36).
- Commercial Christianity emphasizes hyper-grace without moral obligations. Biblical Christianity preaches a radical grace that produces radical sanctification (Titus 2:11-12; Romans 8:3-4).
- Commercial Christianity brings about a commitment to Sunday services. Biblical Christianity brings about commitment to a life of service (John 13:13-27).
- Commercial Christianity invites people to make Jesus our personal Savior. Biblical Christianity admonishes people to surrender to Jesus as our Lord so He can save us (Romans 10:9-10).
12 Earmarks of a True Apostolic Movement.
By JOSEPH MATTERA
How to recognize the difference between denomination-led movements and the work of the Spirit.
There is a global apostolic movement that is shaking Christianity and expanding the church as never before! This is an important shift away from the typical denominationally led church movements of the past. It is important for us to understand the difference between an apostolic movement from a denominational movement.
The following are generalizations that may or may not be true for particular denominations and apostolic movements:
- Apostolic is usually led by one strong visionary. Denominations are led by a board.
- Apostolic is usually mission driven. Denomination are policy driven.
- Apostolic is usually missiological in its biblical hermeneutics. Denomination is usually theological, sociological or culturally driven.
- Apostolic emphasizes covenantal relationships based on voluntary associations. Denominations emphasize hierarchical structures and business in their gatherings.
- Apostolic emphasizes the present move of God in the earth. Denominations emphasize the glory days of the past.
- Apostolic emphasizes the movement. Denominations emphasize the institution.
- Apostolic leaders are led by the Spirit in regards to ministry placement. Denominational clergy are led by their bishop or hierarchy.
- Apostolic believes in biblical inerrancy. Most denominations believe in a higher critical form of inspiration. (Their line of reasoning goes like this: Because the church gave the Scriptures, the church has the right to change them, update them, etc. through church councils and official writings. Another thing said is that only the actual words of Jesus Christ in the Gospels are inspired of God.)
- Apostolic emphasizes the power of Christ in terms of releasing faith to fulfill ministry. Denominations emphasize the power of committees to implement strategic plans.
- Apostolic emphasizes the local church as the primary training ground for ministry. Denominations emphasizes the seminary.
- Apostolic empowers the laity to minister (Eph. 4:11, 12). In denominations the clergy are expected to do the work of the ministry.
- Apostolic movements believe apostolic succession is functionally based upon a divine calling, ministerial fruit and anointing. Denominations believe it is merely transferred through the laying on of hands during an ecclesial ceremony.
Joseph Mattera is overseeing bishop of Resurrection Church and Christ Covenant Coalition, in Brooklyn, New York, and author of numerous books, including Ruling in the Gates: Preparing the Church to Transform Cities. Follow him on Facebook or visit him online at josephmattera.org.
NOTE: WOLVES IN SHEEP’S CLOTHING DON’T OPERATE IN ALL THE GIFTS OF THE SPIRIT AND ARE NOTHING BUT HIRELINGS
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