Justin Perdue: Hi, this is Justin. If you’ve been listening to Theocast for any period of time, you might be tracking with us in some of the things that we talk about regularly. You’re thinking, “Guys, yeah, I agree with you that Jesus really is enough. He has accomplished my salvation and there’s nothing that I need to do to contribute to them. And I’m tracking with you guys too, even with respect to pietism—how in so many contexts, the Christian life seems to be the focus instead of Jesus. Alright, I’m there. But now can you guys help me because now that I understand that Christ has done everything, what is it that I need to concern myself with doing? Can you give me some handles with respect to the Christian life and how to approach it from this confessional Reformed perspective?”
If that’s where you are and you’re wrestling with those things, this podcast today is for you. Some of you, in listening to what we’re going to say, might think, “I don’t really know how to apply these things in my local church context.” We’re going to talk a little bit about the state of the local church and we do that especially in the members’ area; that’s kind of what we see in terms of the church context in our modern setting. We hope that these things are helpful, that they’re clarifying, and we hope that they’re encouraging and we hope that it helps you all the more to see your freedom that you have in Jesus and the rest that is yours. Stay tuned.
So we get a lot of interaction here at Theocast from our listeners, which we’re grateful for. There are a lot of people who write to us or leave us voicemails or communicate with us in various ways. They’ll let us know that they’re encouraged by things they’re hearing on the podcast, that they are tracking with us on the sufficiency of Jesus and the fact that he is enough to save them, and that his finished work stands outside of them and they can trust him and they can rest in him because he has accomplished their salvation. They’re with us completely on that. They even are beginning to understand categories of confessional theology versus pietism. They agree that a lot of what exists out there in the evangelical world is focused on the Christian, not primarily on Jesus, and they’re saying, “You guys are right about that. Something’s off. I’ve noticed this and you’re putting words to my thoughts and words to my observations. I’m with you. So guys, help me. Now that I’m tracking, and now that I’m there, and now that I have seen that Christ really is enough—he is mighty and sufficient to save me and I’m there—now what do I do now that I know that Christ has done everything? What do I do?”
One way to rephrase that question is people are asking us, “What are the things that I should pursue? What are the things that I should give attention to and prioritize in my life now that I have come to this kind of Reformed, theological, biblical understanding of the nature of Christ’s work and the nature of salvation?
We were talking on the phone yesterday, Jon. I was on my way home from a meeting and I called you, you called me back, and we were talking about a few other things, but then this came up. We had several listener questions around this area, and we thought we should record this tomorrow, this “now what” conversation.
We’re going to aim to take a less-is-more approach. We’re not going to give a long list of stuff that people need to be doing. We’re going to really hammer the main things from our perspective.
Jon Moffitt: I think there’s a shift in thinking from when you’re a pietist—you’re afraid you’re not doing enough. Then when you leave pietism, you’re afraid you’re doing too much. So there’s this pendulum swing of either doing anything feels like pietism. So the question is: what am I supposed to do? There’s a fear of doing something wrong—and I understand that perspective. I’ve been there. There are a lot of people; you’re not alone at all when you’re having these struggles.
Really this conversation, I would say—if I were to rephrase it—we’re changing what you pursue as a Christian. So before, you were pursuing status and assurance with God and you were pursuing identity. You’re also pursuing personal development. That became your pursuit: it’s all internal, it’s all about you. Now that you’re realizing that all of that is secure in Christ—your identity, your status, the benefits of Christ—all of that goes to you by faith.
Justin Perdue: All the spiritual blessings that we’ve been given, our final salvation is secure, we have peace with God now and forever. All of it.
Jon Moffitt: So what you use to pursue, you look at it and it’s finished: it’s done, it’s over, it’s built, it’s completed. You hear it and you hear this. Now you’re thinking, “What am I supposed to do now?” So, we’re going to change; we’re going to shift your priority. Really this is not a “now what” question. It’s not now what you do, it’s we’re going to change your priorities because your priority was you and your standing before God. Now that’s secure, we’re going to show you how Scripture gives you your priorities, gives you the “now what”.
That’s how I would set us up. Justin, what would you say would really be the priority shift or the priority change when you leave pietism and you walk into resting in Christ? What becomes our priority?
Justin Perdue: It’s a paradigm shift. Like you’ve said, it’s a recalibration of thinking because everything that we’ve been told does center on us and our individual pursuit of the Christian life. We’re chasing after any number of things, like you’ve already alluded to, unashamedly, and we’re going to unpack this for the rest of the episode, basically.
I’m going to say this in a very simple way that’s going to sound very broad. We’re going to talk about it and nuance it and talk about some things underneath this. Once you know that Christ is enough and that we have rest in him, we’re safe and everything’s been accomplished, your priority shifts from yourself to the body of Christ. It shifts to the church, the local church, and there are a number of things underneath that that we want to talk about. What we are going to be encouraging people to do today in an ongoing way, and for the rest of their lives, is to build your life around a local church where Christ is heralded, where the saints are building one another up in love and are stirring one another up to love and good works. It’s where the mission of Christ is being accomplished in seeing the saints built up into maturity, and we’re seeing the mission of Christ being accomplished as the gospel is advanced. Unashamedly, at the risk of sounding silly, build your life around a local church where Christ is heralded and where the saints are building one another up in love.
Right now, Jon, let’s unpack some of those things. It sounds reductionistic and absurdly simple to people that are thinking, “There has to be more to it than this.” What I think has happened in the minds of many people is that we have not really understood very well what the church is. We have not really understood very well what the local church is about and for, why we gather on Sunday, how we are living our lives with one another, how the Lord uses the brethren, the saints in our lives—all of that. Let’s tear up. This is going to be, I trust, an encouraging, edifying, and liberating conversation for people.
Jon Moffitt: Pietism is hyper-individualism. You yourself pursuing these goals. The rest of Christ comes in and what happens is that after the gospel transforms your heart and your mind, and you’re resting in Christ, you are then transitioned into something that’s very contrary to our nature, which is communalism—we become part of a communion. Even the word communion means common union. It Is where we get the idea when we gather around the table as those who are unified in Christ.
A couple of passages—I want you to hear this. Paul says before Christ that he was a good Jew, and he described all the things he was doing right. Then in Galatians 3, he transfers it and says we began by the Spirit, we’re trying to perfect ourselves by the flesh—that is contrary to Scripture. Then he gives us two other examples: Ephesians 4 and Colossians 1. He literally does the “now what” moment. You’re safe in Christ, now what? So this is right after the first three chapters of Ephesians. If you’re familiar with it—glorious election, sovereignty of God—it’s beautiful. So this is what he says in Ephesians 4:1: “I therefore, a prisoner of the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to what you have been called.” What is he referencing? The first three chapters. He continues, “with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” So his initial reaction is to walk worthy to what you have received. He immediately does what? Community. He requires you to be patient, kind, loving, and bearing with one another for the bond of peace.
He does it again. Let me read this to you in Colossians 3. At the end of chapter two, he names all of the ascetic work that people are trying to do to control the works of the flesh. By the way, he completely stomps on individualism at the end of chapter two. He moves into chapter three, looking under Jesus, seated at the right hand of the Father. This is what he says in response to the gospel after we’ve understood, we walk by faith in Christ. He says this in chapter three, verse 12: “Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you will also must forgive.” And then he says this: “And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.”
Two times he tells the church the response to your salvation and your security in Christ: it is to then forgive, show love and kindness, for the sake of peace and harmony and unity. Where? In the body of Christ.
Justin Perdue: I’m going to read some more Bible and because I just think this is good to do. Then what we can do is continue the conversation underneath all these wonderful things that the apostles wrote. I’m going to pick up in Ephesians 4 a little bit later after what you read because it’s beautiful. Paul speaks to how there are gifts that are given to the church—apostles, prophets, teachers, shepherds—and they are given as gifts from Jesus Christ for the benefit of the body of Christ and for the upbuilding of the body. He talks about how those individuals—the apostles, prophets, evangelists, shepherds, and teachers are given by Jesus “to equip the saints for the work of the ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and for by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness and deceitful schemes.”
Then this: “Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ,” so we’re to be conformed to the image of Jesus in the church, “from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.”
So the Christian life is clearly a corporate exercise. Sanctification is a corporate exercise. Maturity and being built up is a corporate exercise. You can’t do this by yourself. I’m thinking, too, about Paul and the letter to the Corinthians: 1 Corinthians 12. He’ll talk about how every member of the body has its function. We all do different things and every part is honorable. Then in 1 Corinthians 13, that wonderful chapter on love, he talks about how the most important thing that could ever happen in the body of Christ is that we would love one another. Then we have even in the letter to the Hebrews in Hebrews 10. Let me flip over there.
Jon Moffitt: While you do that, let me read 2 Peter real quick. 2 Peter 1, he gives the glorious promise that the power of Christ is the one who comes in that saves us and then transforms us when we trust in the power of Christ. Then Peter says this in verse five: “For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” So think about Peter saying the same thing. He’s saying this is your response to your rest in Christ. What is he concerned about in being ineffective? Ineffective within the unity and the peace and the bond that happens within the body of Christ. Because going back to what Paul says in Ephesians 4, when the body functions properly, it builds itself up in love. And if you aren’t playing your part, you’re not being effective in encouraging and building each other up.
Justin Perdue: That’s right, and that is the mission of the church. Like we’ve already alluded to, the mission of Christ is that we would be built up into maturity and that the gospel would advance through the church. If we’re not participating in that, then in that sense we’re not participating in the mission of Christ on earth.
Let’s continue here. Hebrews chapter 10, beginning of verse 23, “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.” That’s a wonderful objective truth. We’re confessing these doctrines. We’re trusting in Jesus. “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” Assemble, stir one another up, hold fast together the confession of our hope, namely the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. We do it together.
Galatians 5. This may be the last one—we could do this all day, but we’re just going to try to prime the pump here with some Scripture just to demonstrate that this is not our own idea. We’re getting this from the Bible and Christians have talked this way for 2000 years.
In the famous passage from Paul in Galatians 5 on the works of the flesh and the fruit of the Spirit, after he writes about those two respective things, he says if we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. And people go, “Oh, that’s a big deal.” What does it mean to walk by the Spirit? What does that even entail? Paul continues immediately after that, “If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another. Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” So immediately when he’s thinking in these categories of walking in the Spirit, he talks to corporate realities of how we live with one another: not being arrogant, not envying, not provoking, but restoring people and bearing one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. You want to know what God wants you to do? You do that in the context of the local church, in the context of your brothers and sisters, and you’re doing this for one another.
We were talking before we hit the record button, Jon, and I’m sure we’re going to unpack this more, but you begin to live in community. You said it this way: in community for the sake of the community—and I agree. You live in the church for the sake of the body of Christ. You no longer become so me-focused, you’re not just looking at yourself all the time. You’re actually trusting Christ absolutely, but looking outside of yourself to Christ. But you’re also looking away from yourself and to your brothers and sisters, to your neighbor, and your concern now for the “us” or the “we” reality of the body, not so much just “me”. It’s a complete shift in focus and emphasis.
Jon Moffitt: I would even go to Ephesians 5. This is often used as a scare tactic from angry preachers who basically says, “grieve not the Holy Spirit”. They use that as a “you better not keep sinning because if you do then the power of the Spirit will leave you.” No, he is talking to the church. He’s saying the power of the Spirit among the body. “If you guys don’t listen to what I’m telling you to be loving and kind and merciful and gracious, then this is what’s going to happen.” The Spirit of this “building you up” will be quenched. It’s not a fear of losing your salvation, it’s a fear of the work of Christ not being accomplished—and I think there’s a lot of churches out there where the work of Christ isn’t being accomplished because there’s so much division. I know of two churches that unfortunately have had to close down because of disunity, because of division within it. So the Spirit of Christ is no longer working there and that’s really sad.
But I will say this: what’s happening is that you are having an identity change. Justin and I both have had two identity changes physically in our life. When we first got married, we went from being single and doing everything for ourselves to then being connected to an individual to where we became one. So when we introduce ourselves, we wear a ring to identify with this new person and we announce ourselves to be one with this person. I am married and I have a wife. So when I meet someone new and my wife’s standing next to me, I introduce myself and then I introduce my wife. Why? Because she’s part of my identity. And then when we had children, we went from being married to parents. So now my identity, everything I think and do and say, it’s all in relationship to my family. I do them as a dad, but I never think about life outside of my marriage and my children. It changes the way I think so the identity has changed.
Justin Perdue: I said I was done with the Bible, but I lied about that. Last unpacking, very briefly, of a couple of things that I’ve written. You mentioned Ephesians 5 so I was just glancing at it. At the beginning of that chapter, Paul says, “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children.” So you’re now children of God. Seek to imitate your Father because this is who you are now. But then he says, “And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” So walk in love, consider Jesus and how he gave himself up for us. Then he goes right into, “But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. Let there be no filthiness, etc.” What is he contrasting? He is exhorting us to walk in love and to live lives that are characterized by, dare I say, dying to ourselves and loving others. That’s what he’s saying. Walk in love and don’t be selfish. Don’t be all about you. Love your brothers and sisters. And what is sexual immorality, impurity and covetousness? What are those things about? They’re about me. They’re about me doing what I feel like doing. They’re about me doing what I just want to do or me doing what I crave, and not considering my brothers and sisters. I just don’t regard them. I do what I want to do and everybody else just needs to get out of my way and be okay with that. It doesn’t matter who I hurt.
That’s what Paul is exhorting us to: love one another, consider others as more important than yourselves, live a life that is characterized by denying yourself for the good of your brothers and sisters. This is not monkery. This is not asceticism. You are living a life that the focus now has shifted from yourself to the good of the saints, and the good of the church, the good of your brothers and sisters. I think that’s a more realistic and faithful way to understand what the apostle was exhorting us to, rather than going off on a rant about sexual purity for the sake of sexual purity.
Yeah, you need to be sexually pure and you need to avoid immorality and you need to avoid covetousness because it harms not only you, it harms everybody around you, and it dishonors God.
Jon Moffitt: Two things I want to add to that. One is, I love asking this question and I ask it all the time, can you think of a sin that only affects you and no one else?
Justin Perdue: No.
Jon Moffitt: Right. The answer to that is no because anything that you do, even if some people think it’s just lust or just laziness, I can promise you I can show you how it affects others.
Your lust or your laziness or whatever that you think is just so private, however you think on that or act on that that you think is private, it will inevitably affect everybody who is close to you. It will affect everybody who loves you. I say this kindly and humbly, but you are naive and foolish to think that there’s any sin that you would be engaged in that is purely private and is only harming you. It’s not true.
I don’t know if this is where you were going to go. If not, we can go there after I say this. I’ve seen this happen where we start well, and we start pure, and we want to do this biblically. And then it turns into legalism where people are judging you for not showing up to church and you’re not doing enough and you’re not involved and we’re not thinking about people’s circumstances. What prevents us, Justin, from turning this into legalism? What is it that’s been handed to the church that really governs this love and governs this responsibility that’s been handed to the local church?
Justin Perdue: A few things, if I’m going where you’re going and we’ll unpack these, that have been given to us that are primary in the life of the church. We have the Sunday gathering in which the ordinary means of grace are a thing. Then also we have this clear emphasis of the New Testament toward love and unity and restoration and forgiveness and all those things. But let’s start first with the means of grace, because there are probably people listening to this podcast who are anticipating us saying something about this—and that’s great. When people ask the question, “So what do I do now? Surely it can’t be as simple as you guys are saying in terms of just needing to build my life around a local church, being present on the Lord’s Day and partaking in the means of grace and living life in the community of the saints.” I agree with you—I think that’s all good, but surely there has to be more to it than that.
I guess my short answer to that is as we come to a more robust biblical understanding of the means of grace and the life of the church together, we understand how that drives literally everything else in the Christian life. The means of grace and life in the church, life amongst the saints, drives everything in the Christian life to the extent that if you prioritize this appropriately, everything else tends to take care of itself. Not to be reductionist or to overly simplify this, but it’s true. If we have a biblical understanding of the means of grace, how God has promised uniquely to show up and minister to His people when the church gathers, and these means of reading, giving attention to the public reading of Scripture, giving attention to the preaching of the word, and how God has promised throughout the entire Bible to use His word to accomplish its work, and how even our faith comes by hearing the message of Christ. Also, singing Psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to one another, praying about everything as a gathered church, coming to the table to participate in the body and blood of Christ, to witness baptism through which we have been baptized in the Lord Jesus and united to him.
As we do these things together, the Spirit of God uses those things that are ordinary to accomplish all of his extraordinary ends in our lives. Our faith is sustained, our faith is confirmed, our faith is strengthened, faith is imparted to those who have not yet trusted the Lord Jesus through these means by the Spirit, and we are grown in the faith over the course of weeks, months, years, and decades. We are grown by regularly being a part of the body, coming in faith as one of the saints to receive from God as He uses these means in our lives. We can’t overstate the significance of the ordinary means in those ways.
Jon Moffitt: I’m just going to go back to Ephesians 4 when he says when the body’s functioning properly, what does it build itself up in? It says love.
Justin Perdue: Unto maturity.
Jon Moffitt: That’s right. He says he gives teachers and preachers and prophets for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry. Who’s doing the work of the ministry? The people are. And when they do the work of the ministry, what ends up happening is they build themselves up in love. What we learn, and this is why we emphasize this because the church rightfully so has been emphasizing this for years, we use the word “means” in “the means of grace” in which it’s a way in which it comes to you, and what is coming to you? Grace.
If a church is centering around grace, and that’s what the ministry becomes as we are considering how to build one another up by receiving grace as our motivation, and then giving love in response, also we’re giving grace. Patience and kindness and mercy and meekness are reflections of grace.
Justin Perdue: We’re receiving grace and in a more pointed way, we’re receiving Christ because Christ is God’s grace to us. As we receive Christ in the means, what are we then giving one another? We’re pointing and giving, in one sense, Christ, and grace and love and mercy and all these things to each other.
Jon Moffitt: If we’re appropriately using the means—which is the preaching of Christ weekly, the administration of Christ through physical means, which is the sacraments and baptism, and we’re gathering together to depend upon God and prayer—everyone equally understands that we have not, unless it comes from God. That is what’s going to prevent a church from becoming divisive and turning church into legalism.
I have been part of these churches. Many people have. Every time they walked away from church, it’s nothing of grace. It’s not a means by which Christ has administered to them. They walk away with a to-do list, filling down, and completely drowning in pietism and legalism. So if that is the church context you’re in, I can understand when you hear us say “now what”, and we point you to church, you’re thinking, “no way.”
Justin Perdue: I know I can speak for Covenant Baptist Church and I know I can speak for Grace Reformed Church as we sit behind these microphones today. The understanding that we have of the Bible and the Christian life, in a pointed way, even the saint-sinner reality, and how we are always in need of grace. We, even as regenerate, born again people, we still live in a fallen flesh and so we are not able to do as we are all the time. We are regularly sinning, we’re grieved by that sin, we battle all kinds of things, things wage war against our faith, and we struggle to trust Christ; we struggle to believe God.
So what do we need when we come together on Sunday? We need to be reminded of our need, we need to be reminded of our sin, we need to confess that together, we need to ask the Lord to forgive us, and then rejoice in the fact that we are absolved and forgiven; we’re absolved of all guilt, we’re forgiven, and we’re counted righteous in Christ. Praise God for that good news.
Then we need what? When we open the word, the center of our services are the word and sacrament. When we open the word and we come to the table, what’s all that about? Ultimately we need to be given Jesus every Sunday. That’s what a legitimate ordinary means understanding is centered upon—it is the fact that the entire Christian life is built upon Christ and his righteousness, and we need to be fed that on a weekly basis. We’re fed that through the word and the Table primarily. When we say build your life on a local church, we’re just going to be very clear: we’re saying build your life on a local church where this is happening, and where you come on Sunday not to be told necessarily what to do—though of course, you’re going to be exhorted and encouraged and challenged in ways—but you come primarily knowing that you’re a sinner in need of Christ, and you know that you’re going to be given him. You’re going to be reminded of what’s true. You’ve forgotten the gospel this week and you’ve blown it through your sin this week. You need Jesus on Sunday, and that’s why you’re there. You’re gathering with a group of people who are there for the exact same reason—and that is how the body is speaking the truth to one another, exhorting one another, and building one another up in love as we all look to Christ.
Jon Moffitt: I want to also put something into perspective as well. This context that we’re speaking of is not only where we give love, it’s not only where we are built up and encouraged, but it’s also where we are established in the faith, where it’s not only the knowledge of Christ but our foundation. Let me go back to Ephesians to show this to you. 4:12 says, “to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the statute of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.” Then he says, “Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ.” Not only your faith, not only your ministry, but your ongoing knowledge and foundation is structured and maintained within the local body. What I struggle with a lot is that people assume it’s their responsibility to increase their knowledge and their foundation. Actually, Paul says to prevent you from being carried about by every wind of doctrine, the church is designed to educate you and strengthen your faith. This is why you need to be at a good Bible teaching church that has strong doctrine and a good doctrinal foundation.
This is my second thought; I’ll let you decide whatever you want to do with this: I think it’s harder to love your neighbor in the context of a local church than it is to do your personal Bible reading and prayer time. We emphasize personal Bible reading and prayer time as if that’s the crux of the Christian life. I’m arguing the crux of the Christian life is to love and to care for your brothers and sisters in the body of Christ. I guarantee you that’s harder to do, and you’re going to need Christ more to accomplish that.
Justin Perdue: I agree with you. I don’t know that I’ve got a lot to pile on and add. I agree with your comments about the need of being in a local church that has a solid doctrinal foundation. To read your Bible on your own is a very fine and good thing to do given, here’s the caveat, if you are in a context where you are being taught faithfully from the pulpit every Sunday, and you have pastors in your life that are teaching you doctrine and theology, that are giving you a framework with which you can understand your Bible. The exhortations in the New Testament about the ministry of the word are all corporate. Even what you’re referencing right now in Ephesians, it’s very clear that Jesus has set the church up in a particular way, and he has set certain people apart to do particular things in the church so that we would be built up in our understanding and unto maturity.
So to think that we on our own are going to build ourselves up into maturity is to swim against the current of the New Testament, and is to push back against the apostles, and even to push back against Christ himself, who has given these gifts to the church. We need the church. Anything that we’re doing on our own is a supplement to the main thing or the crux of it, as you put it, Jon. The crux of the Christian life is the gathered church and life in the body where we are loving one another, bearing with one another, helping one another, and encouraging one another. Then alongside that, we’re going to be driven by those corporate realities in our private lives. We tend to reverse that relationship in how we think.
Jon Moffitt: Here’s another thought: to have knowledge and not apply it is a waste of the knowledge. The Bible describes it as knowledge puffing up; knowledge not applied is useless. It actually just creates pride.
What bothers me is that I know people who are students of the word, and they know their Bibles in and out, but they are the most mean and divisive. They get on the internet and they just want to pick fights with people. I look at that and wonder how it is you could know so much about God’s word? I guess my response to that is some people don’t know any better. No one’s ever told them. No one’s ever taught them that this is not the design of God, which is going in theological debates on the internet and not loving your brother and really getting involved in a local church. I will tell you this right now, Theocast is not your church. I will be the first to rebuke you and tell you that if you are only listening to us and you’re not in a local body, your soul is not truly being cared for. I’m not your pastor. Justin, Jimmy, and I are not your pastors. We can’t shepherd you. I don’t even know your name, most of you. We can’t love you. We can’t get down in the mud and be there for you. You need to find a church. If that means you move your state, then move your state. Go find a place where you can get into a church.
Justin Perdue: I know we’ve just got a few minutes left in the regular portion here, and I’m just going to say this in my typical ways, not trying to be punchy or sarcastic—and Jon, you can do with this what you will. In our context here in Asheville, North Carolina, as people come to CBC and they’re wrestling with all these things that we’re talking about today, they’re starting to understand they’re being affected by maybe the preaching or some of the things that the members of our church were saying to them. Sincerely, because they’re born again, they want to grow in the faith. They want to mature. They want to obey the Lord. So they ask, and they’ll be talking about discipleship, and they’ll be talking about growth, and they’ll be talking about what we need to be doing. “What do we need to be doing?”
Because CBC is, by God’s grace, the kind of church that is imperfect, but it is the kind of thing that we’re describing today—like your church and like Jimmy’s—where the means of grace are administered in Christ as the focus and we’re loving each other. I tell people, just to try to liberate them and make it very simple, that the first thing that I would encourage them to do sincerely is keep coming to church on the Lord’s Day. Get here, talk to people, and if you’re invited to go hang out after church, go. You’re going to be connected relationally that way. Keep coming here on Sundays, keep asking questions particularly to the pastors or anybody that you’ve gotten to know that you trust. Ask your questions and let us talk with you. Let us help you understand these things. Over the course of time, as you keep showing up, and as you keep loving these people and they keep loving you, you will be built up in the faith and you will grow into maturity. It really is that simple. This is how God has set it up. People look at you sideways because it’s just so different than anything that they’ve ever heard. It sounds to them like there’s got to be more to it than that. But this is how God works.
Think about how many times we hear objections to faith and how it can’t be as simple as just believing in Jesus. It can’t be as easy as believing in Jesus and being saved. To that we would say that faith is actually not easy. There’s a lot more entailed in that than you think. But yes, trusting Christ saves you, just like living life in the church will mature you, if you’re in a healthy one. There are going to be a million things that go on in the life of the body that you’re not aware of, that you’re not planning for, that will grow and mature you in Christ Jesus, that will protect you and result in your sanctification, and will result finally in your being kept so that you’ll be saved. It’s really beautiful, and it is very simple.
So yeah, you may have to move. We make all kinds of decisions in life where we have to prioritize things and ask what’s the most valuable or the most significant thing in my life is. Then I need to make decisions based upon that. We have a value system. What we’re saying is the most important thing for your life on earth is being in a church where Christ is heralded and where the saints are building one another up in love. There is nothing that could be more important for your life and the life of your family. Make decisions accordingly. You do what you will and there’s liberty to join any gospel-preaching church you want.
Jon Moffitt: We can talk about this in the members’ podcast. But think about, in the sovereignty and the wisdom of God, He designed the church to advance this way. In the first 1500 years of the church community, most people couldn’t own their own Bibles so they gathered together. Hmm. Brilliant. Maybe we should talk about that some more.
Justin Perdue: We’re going to talk about the gathered church some more, it sounds like to me, based upon what Jon has just said.
Jon Moffitt: I got some thoughts about some modern perspectives as well, but I’ll save those
Justin Perdue: There you have it. There’s a lot more that we’re going to say. Thank you for listening to this episode of the podcast. I sincerely hope that this is encouraging and liberating for you. If we have simplified something for you in a way that’s encouraging, praise God.
Sincerely, find a local church where Christ is preached and where the saints are building one another up in love, and then give your life and arrange your life around that. It will be the best decision that you’ve ever made and you’ll be thankful for it. I know I am, Jon is, and we have testimonies of many people around us who feel the exact same way. We are locking arms together in this pilgrimage called the Christian life as we trust Christ and he brings us home.
Now we’re going to head over to the members’ podcast area and have a lively dialogue about gathered church realities, and as Jon put it, some weird takes from some contemporary people on the gathered church and everything related to that.
If you don’t even know what I’m talking about in terms of the members’ podcasts, or you’re unsure of how you would even go about listening to such a thing, you can go over to our website theocast.org and you’ll find information there about our membership. That will give you access to content. Should you become a member and partner with us in supporting this ministry, you’ll get access not only to this, but other podcasts every week, and you’ll get access to other content as well. We encourage you to partake of that and partner with us in that way.
Jon and I will meet many of you over there and we will speak with you again next week on the regular version of the podcast. We look forward to that as well.
Jon Moffitt: To add to that, if you’re not listening to us on our private podcast feed, go get it via theocast.org/members. That’s where you can find it.
Go get it.