Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Gospel Growth Conference: Day II, Session II

Session II: Phillip Jensen "A Fresh Understanding of Church"
[10/31/07 10:30am]

Unfortunately my battery was dying and somehow my notes didn't get saved. I'll ask tomorrow for some notes that I can make sure I accurately fill in some of the outline...

The point of this talk was basically to discuss what the church is before we can discuss and come to a better understanding of "Gospel Growth". Namely, an assembly (church) is a congregation of Christians that comes together to hear the propositional Word of God that is laid out in the 66 books of the Bible (I would say that it is a regular meeting of a particular congregation in a particular place that preaches the Word of God and practices the sacraments of the Lord's Supper [hence discipline] and Baptism). Below is the ten point outline of Jensen's talk...

Hebrews 12:18-19
I. The Church is too Important not to Understand

II. The Problem with Understanding the Church

III. The Starting Point

IV. Gathering and dispersing in the Old Testament

V. The Gathering

VI. When is A Church The church?

VII. The Biblical Church

VIII. The Two Churches

IX. The Christian Church

X. The Purpose of the Meeting

UPDATE: I didn't track anyone down for notes on this. Sorry 'bout that. I got a bit too busy.

1 comment:

Brian Ellis said...

Here's the notes from the talk that I took. - Brian Ellis (


Here’s my notes:

Creating tools for pastoral ministry. Occasionally books as well.
Mark Denver's book on Old Testament - Mother's Day - in England, second biggest church day. What do you know about Ruth. Mark Denver on Ruth is terrific.
D. Broughton Knox Selected Works - nobody's heard much of him. He's the thinker behind Matthias Media. He trained most of the Anglican ministers in Sydney. Radical conservative, conservative radical. Understanding of God and his word with radical mind. Came to same answers as reformers from a totally different perspective. He spent life in Australia, so no one else would publish him.
Small groups - how do you train small group leaders - growth groups - training leaders in how to run them.
Fatherhood - Tony Payne - father of 5 kids, but it's a study of the scriptures. Australian pastors lost the plot of how to be men
Love, Sex, and Marriage - Phillip Jensen
Pure Sex - about sexual revolution - history of sex, sexual revolution - how departing from God led to sexual revolution, family life destroyed, etc. Apologetic. Get non-Christian thinking

A word on socialism - I've spent all my life living under a socialist government. It's not that bad. It changes your mindset. We have a different attitude toward money. We don't get any royalties from books. All profits go back to business. There's nothing wrong with people getting royalties. But we're not like that. We have a different philosophy of life. We produce them purely because we're trying to help pastors in the ministry.

A fresh look at Church

Hebrews 12

Church growth movement has no understanding of Church.
What it is: Church is very important. We think of it in talking about my church, your church, hopefully it's all Jesus' church. It's not wrong. But it does influence
The church is not the church, it's the church of God. It's the bride of Christ. Acts 20:28 - it's bought by his blood. 1 cor 11:16, 1 thes 2:14 - the churches of God. Local earthly church is one of the churches of God. Each church is to be greeted as the church of God. One of them, not part. It is. Each church is the church of God, though there are many. Dreadful to offend the church of God 1 cor 10:32, 1 cor 11 - despising church of God is bad. He persecuted the church of God. Very important. Far too important not to understand.

The Problem
We know all about it before we discuss it
Building, religious service, whole body of christian believers, denomination, congregation, organized religion (church and state), ministry (he's going to enter the church)
Seven diverse meanings before we open the bible
Reformers - visible and invisible church (not in bible), 4 marks of the church (not from the scriptures either)
We have a sense of what we're defending without it being the church
It's hard to think freely, openly.
It will mean changing ourselves and our practices.
Some theological ideas we can just have in our mind. But church is difficult
It's easier for me to baptize my own ideas, rather than look at bible
Phil 1:1 - dead simple to translate, except if your thinking about church life. Deacon - what is a deacon? The word just means servant.
Church polity was of little concern to Paul.

Where is the starting point
The word itself: Gathering - acts 19:32 "assembly" church is describing a secular riot in Ephesus. It is referring to town council. Church just meant gathering, assembly - not a religious word. Synagogue - coming together. Church is parallel to synagogue, not temple
"Prevent us O Lord, in all our doings" really means "go before us" but sort of like mother saying, "Whatever you're doing, stop it."
Acts 8:1 - the gathering dispersed.
When you hear church is just a meeting, you think it's not that important. Don't we have too many meetings.

Gathering and dispersing in OT
Gathering - salvation
Dispersing - judgment
We're created for fellowship - it's not good for man to be alone
Our God created us in his image - in relationship, in sovreignty over creation to subdue it and fulfill it. Relationship lies at the heart of created humanity. Together we have strength, love. Scattered, we can't enjoy fellowship, love, or inheritance.
Gen 11 - tower of Babel - lest we be dispersed - we didn't want it. Gathered together. Rebellion was to storm heaven, not the unity. UN, Olympic Games - uniting world together. That's the way of safety, security, peace.
Nothing will be impossible for a united humanity - the rhetoric around the olympic games - it's the religion of humanity
So, God confused our languages, dispersed them from there.
Mercy of God that Humanity couldn't challenge him
Deut 4 - Israel was united. Moses reminded them
Deut 9:10 - on the day of the assembly - the church, Deut 10:4
Day of church was in wilderness. Where they
4:10 - gather the people (assemble) - that they may learn to fear me - if they keep commandments, they'll be together
4:27 - if they fail, they'll be scattered.
Gathering of Israel was the salvation of God
Is 11:12 - he will raise a signal of the nations, he will gather the dispersed from the four corners of the earth
The dispersion will be over, the gathering will happen again
John 11 - Jesus would die to gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad
Jesus brings salvation, so dispersion must end, gathering must happen again
This is Jesus role as a good shepherd - he has sheep of another flock
Left the flock of 99 to find the 1 lost, to bring it back in
Sheep without a shepherd - scattered on a hillside
Night he was betrayed - You will all fall away - the sheep will be scattered
The Gathering
The day of the assembly
Salvation of the Lord's people
The day of the church - Deut 9:10, 10:4, 18:6
Acts 7:38 - congregation, assembly - it's the word Ecclesia
The assembly of the firstborn
Hebrews 12
We have a different assembly, not at horeb/saini - we're gathered around the heavenly assembly
Vs 22: the church (assembly)
Firstborn are the heirs
This is our meeting. It's the church where Christ is seated at right hand of God
When is a church the church?
Every meeting is a church
Is the monthly chaper meeting
Casual meeting over coffee
Football game
All are meetings/gatherings
Are they churches? Well, yes. Meeting, gathering, could be called a church
Which meeting is the church?
The church that Christ calls My Church - that God obtained with his blood
The answer lies in reason and purpose of meeting
Reason - a group of christians meeting to play football is a football church. There's nothing wrong with a football church. That's the purpose.
Every book is a bible - bible just means book - Acts 19:19 people who got together to burn their witchcraft bibles. Book is bible. Magic books were bibles. But there is one book. One bible that is different to every other book. The Holy Bible.
Don't get rid of "The Holy" from it. It's separate and special.
Every meeting is the churhc. Which is the gathering of God?
There is a Christian church. Christianity differentiates it from other meetings.
The Church meets in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ for specifcic, explicit christian purposes.
Biblical church meets in two form
In the wilderness
On Sinai
Gathered by God under Moses, under great salvaiton event of the exodus. God met with people. Made covenant with people. It was terrifying. The earth shook by the voice of God. There was fire, thunder. Such noise. They were truly terrified. This was God's people meeting with God, the creator of the universe, the savior of Israel. Who had just destroyed Egyptian army. It was terrifying. God's demands for total loyalty, destruction for disobedience. People asked Moses to ask God not to speak because it was so terrifying.
All the people of God are gathered together in salvation to hear the covenant word of God
In heaven on earth
Mentioned in Hebrews 12:22-24. here is the assembly. Here is the meeting together, the gathering. Not at Sinai. We missed it by a few millenia. That was only for Israel. Our assembly is the new covenant assembly. It is in permanent session. It meets all the time in heaven. It is the gathering together of all the firstborn. All the heirs of heaven. All christian people. When we gather there, we gather with God the judge of all nations and all people. We gather with all the righteous who have been made perfect. We gather with Jesus, the mediator of the new covenant. Jer 31. No more memory of our sin. This is the heavenly church. It's one that we've come to already. In this lifetime. Vs. 22 - but you have come to this one. It exists in permanent session. Heaven isn't about location as about relationship. About a timing. Once Jesus had come and died and risen and taken seat in glory, those who he ransomed are being gathered around him. Gathered by regenerating power of the Holy Sprir. Gathering in heaven while we're still here on earth
Eph 2 - you have been raised with Christ.
We were born out of this world and into the next. We may be sitting in Washington, but we're sitting spiritually in heaven. It can't be seen what we're like (it's hidden in Christ) but Col 3, 1Jn 3, we have now come to heavenly assembly
Heaven is not just place we go when we die. Heaven is place we live in while still here in this world. Less a place, more a relationship with God.
Fellowship, relationship, gathering, unity lies in both of them. Both are being discussed in Hebrews 12
The Biblical Church
Both center meaning on God/Christ. Both include everyone in covenental people. Both gather to listen to God's word
Heavenly one can't be touched. Not a threatening experience - gathers in heavenly Jerusalem (not palestinian one) with angels and heirs of eternal life, and with Jesus and his sacrificial blood that speaks a better word than abel's blood
We hear of the Mercy of God
There was mercy in the OT. They had just been mercifully
We gather around God the judge of all
Son greater than servant - Jeuss blood speaks of mercy and forgiveness
We gather together to hear the gospel of God's love and forgiveness and mercy and pardon that can only be found in the blood of Jesus death.
Vs. 25- see that you do not refuse him who is speaking…
We have agreater salvation, priest, covenant, church than they
They went to church one day but didn't listen to word that was spoken. They refused to hear what God through Moses was saying to them. They refused him, by refusing his word. His word did not meet with faith, but with unbelief. So they all perished
Don't harden your hearts as they did in the wilderness
We now are in church - a better church. A gathering of all God's people in heaven.
We are tempted to reject this speaker. We're tempted to look beyond this blood
If they didn't escape when they refused, we won't if we reject the speaker of a better salvation and a better mercy.
The Christian Church
Gathering of all christ's saved people around his throne in heaven, listening to his covenental word speaking of the mercy that is in his death.
It happens on earth, for heaven is a present reality
Whenever we gather here on earth to listen to that gospel message, to pay attention to his mighty salvation. We are participating in that heavenly gathering. For then we are the church which Jesus has purchased in his blood.
Vertical dimension- what God has done for us in the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ in the coming of salvation.
Horizontal view: what flows out of hearing - love one another. It's from what God has done for us in Christ Jesus. Our fellowship comes from God to each other. Opposite to verticals and horizontals
This meeting is a heavenly gathering. This is the church of God. My membership is in 4th presbyterian whatever. The bible doesn't mention membership. There is only one church. You're either a member or not. It gathers many times, many places. Whenever 2 or 3 are gathered, there I am. This is not just an earthly gathering. We haven't gathered for morning tea. We've gathered in the name of Jesus Christ. Gathered to listen and obey his Word. Encourage one another. All the more as we see the day of the Lord coming
See how different this is… see how flexible it is…
We're not gathering to worship God. We're not gathered to get a sense of the presence of God. We're not coming individually into temple of God to pray and commune. We're gathered as a fellowship to hear the Word of God. And to encourage each other. That is what our gathering is about.
Reformers did and didn't understand the church.
Dominant image of the church that was already in existance. It was very difficult to look at church again. Reformers disagreed a lot about it. What kind of institutional structure? It was hard to think of it without that. That's what the church was
They did come under scriptures, move a long way toward what bible says
The visible and invisible church - does and doesn't capture what scripture says
Sacraments - declaration of forgiveness of sins - visible words
All kinds of things that are the traditions of men do not make it the church of Christ, and yet, change those traditions at your peril
Here's what you can change - make the bible readings shorter, or leave them out alltogether and nobody will complain, except the elect. But you change the furniture, reduce the number of songs sung, take off suit coat, the complaints are everywhere because we don't know what church is anyomere.
Physical is what people think is church.
They're ignorant of spiritual realities.
More music, less bible.
I love music. And I love singing. I love singing the praises of God. It's marvelous. I'm almost totally eclectic in my music taste. I like drumming, organs, hymns, bagpipes. But it's sadly lacking in NT teaching. You can have church without music. It would be sad, but you can. But you can't have church without the word of God. There are many churches in owlrd with 50 minutes of singing, and not reading the word of God and when preachers preach they thump bible, but didn't read it.
That is the problem we have. The size is not important. We're in the heavenly church. The size of this gathering is neither here nor there because we're part of that gathering.
Katoomba convention - over years, it grew from 300- 6,000 in late 80's - biggest tent in Australia. At that point - I cancelled it. Build a building that was smaller. There was so much distraction. You couldn't hear the word of God. 2000 in a building that can hear the word of God. People thought I was mad. You want people to hear the word of God. The size can be a handicap to hearing the word of God. Size, worship, evangelism, not the point. Church isn't the instrument for something else. Church is not a program. Chruch is the end point. - God gathering people under lordship of Jeusus. It's not an insturment, it's an end.