Thursday, May 22, 2008

Function, Order, & Ordinances of the Church

Why in the world would we want to combine these three topics, each of which could easily constitute a semester of study by themeselves, into one Sunday morning lesson? The order and ordinances (also called the Sacraments) of the Church are the topic of more controversy and debate between believers than any other doctrinal topics. So, not only do they seem disconnected one from another, but wouldn't it be madness to try and cover them both in one hour?

The focal point of all these issues, however, is the function of the Church. The topic of which ordinances to observe, how to observe them, and when to observe them hinges on what the Church is seeking to accomplish in the first place. Likewise, the topic of how to order the church, who should lead, who should teach, who should serve and how the group should be structured also revolve around the simple matter of the Church's function in this world.

Our ultimate purpose as the Church is to glorify Christ. Whether it be through evangelism, benevolence, mutual edification, or simply corporate worship—all of which we will discuss next week—the ultimate FUNCTION of the church is to glorify and exalt Christ on earth until His return and thereafter.

So, we will look at ordinances and order of the Church through a dramatically simplified lense: how does this doctrine glorify Christ? In so doing, other questions such as tradition, cultural contextualization, and spiritual experiences all disappear. Is that too much of a narrow view? Can we really ignore matters that appear so relevant to our culture today? A disciplined focus on Christ alone does indeed earn the label "narrow-minded" in today's culture. "But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it" (Matthew 7:14).

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