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Bible Insights

Eternal Kingdom Prophecy

Daniel Foretells the Future

Daniel 7:13–14

“His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.” (Daniel 7:14)

The prophet Daniel lived some five centuries before Mary. You may know the story of Daniel in the lions’ den, where God protected him overnight after his detractors had him thrown into a den of hungry lions.

The next day, the unscathed Daniel is freed and the hungry lions feast on his enemies when they’re tossed in to take Daniel’s place.

But the book of Daniel has much more than the story of his escape from a den of ravenous lions.

The first six chapters share six stories, including the one about the lions.

The last six chapters include four future-focused prophecies that God reveals to him through visions. (The angel Gabriel, who visited Zechariah and Mary, shows up in Daniel’s second and third visions.)

We read the first of his four visions in Daniel 7. In this vision he sees four winds and four great beasts. The fourth beast has ten horns. An eleventh horn appears; it has eyes and a boastful mouth.

Then Daniel sees God (the Ancient of Days) sitting on his fiery throne with a river of fire flowing before him. Millions attend him and one hundred million stand in his presence. Court is in session and the books are opened.

This is all quite perplexing, but don’t stop reading. Next comes the important part, the one that anticipates Jesus.

Daniel witnesses one like a son of man, who arrives with heavenly clouds. The man approaches God and comes into his presence. He receives authority, glory, and sovereign power.

People from all nations and every language worship him. His dominion will last forever, continuing without end. His kingdom will stand strong eternally.

This dream perplexes Daniel, just as it does us. He seeks an interpretation and receives one that explains the four beasts and the ten horns.

When the person explaining the vision to Daniel gets to the last part, he simply says that this kingdom will last forever, and all rulers will worship and obey him (Daniel 7:27).

This final part of Daniel’s vision is what Gabriel alludes to when he comes to Mary and tells her about what Jesus will do (Luke 1:32–33).

Though the precise meaning of Daniel’s vision may not have been clear to him then, it is clear to Gabriel when he comes to tell Mary about Jesus.

If we follow Jesus as his disciple, we’re part of this everlasting kingdom that Daniel saw in his vision.

When we read things in the Bible that don’t make sense, do we seek someone (or the Holy Spirit) to explain it to us?

What is our response when we see Old Testament prophecy fulfilled in the New Testament?

Prayer: Lord God, speak to us and reveal your truth as we read the Bible. May your Word cause us to revere who you are, what you did, and your plan for us.

[This devotional is taken from the December 6 reading from The Advent of Jesus.]

Celebrate Christmas in a fresh way with The Advent of Jesus. It’s a forty-day devotional that prepares our hearts to celebrate the arrival of Jesus in an engaging read. Begin your Advent journey now and gain a greater sense of wonder for the season.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.

Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Christian Living

How to Invite Friends to Follow Jesus

Three Easy Ideas If the Word Evangelism Scares You

In the post Are You Reluctant to Invite Friends to Church? we looked at the New Testament church and saw that people first invited others to follow Jesus. Then they went to church.

Therefore, we shouldn’t invite people to go to church with us until after we invite them to follow Jesus. The early church was where they went afterward to grow in their newfound faith. But how can we invite friends to follow Jesus today?

Some people find it easy to invite friends to follow Jesus, but many find this a struggle. They don’t know what to say or the best way to say it. They don’t want to drive their friends away, so out of fear of doing it wrong, they do nothing.

Here are three straightforward ways to invite friends to follow Jesus:

Invite Them to a Bible Study

One way to invite friends to follow Jesus is to first invite them to a Bible study. You can do that.

But this shouldn’t be any Bible study. If you invite them to join an existing study with you and five of your Christian friends, they may think you’re ganging up on them. They may be uncomfortable with the Christian language that would normally permeate the discussion.

Instead, invite them to a Bible study with just the two of you. Or structure it as a Bible study with you and a group of unchurched friends. This could make for some robust discussions about Jesus, following him, and faith. Yet it would also be more challenging to do.

Therefore, a Bible study with just you and your friend may be the ideal solution.

But what if you think you’re not ready to lead a Bible study? What if you’re afraid they’ll ask a question you don’t know the answer to?

Yes, it may happen, but don’t worry about it. Pray for Holy Spirit insight before you meet. Trust God to give you the right words at the right time. (Consider what Jesus says in Luke 12:11-12.)

If you come up blank anyway, just say, “That’s a great question. Let me look into it, and we can discuss it next week.”

It’s also okay to say, “I’ve wondered about that, too, and I don’t know the answer.” They may respect you for your honesty.

Also, know that the question they ask may not be a concern to them but merely to divert the discussion away from something that makes them uncomfortable. This is what the Samaritan woman at the well did with Jesus (John 4:19-20).

You don’t need to have a ready answer to any question that may come up. No one could. That’s why we all need to grow in our faith. It’s a process.

For your Bible study you can pick a book in the Bible to read and discuss. The gospel of John is a great start for many people. If John doesn’t click with you, try Luke.

Alternately, you can use a Bible study guide to help you. I have several to pick from. You may want to consider That You May Know or Living Water.

Invite Them to a Book Discussion

If leading them in a Bible study is too big of a stretch for you or something they’re not interested in, you could invite them to a book discussion.

Again, this should be either just the two of you or you and a group of unchurched friends. This is an even easier way to invite friends to follow Jesus, albeit indirectly.

The book you choose could be either fiction or nonfiction. Just make sure it’s a faith-friendly read. For nonfiction you may want to consider Women of the Bible or The Friends and Foes of Jesus.

Whether you do a Bible study or a book discussion, this will last for several weeks. At the end of the study or discussion, ask what they’d like to cover next. Along the way, encouraged them to invite their friends.

The short-term goal of these should be to forge deeper relationships, with a long-term goal being to invite your friends to follow Jesus. This can either happen through your words or through your actions.

Invite Them to a Service Project

If a Bible study or book discussion makes you uncomfortable (or isn’t of interest to them), consider doing an activity together.

Tell your friend about a service project you’re involved in and ask if they’d like to go with you. This could be at your church, a parachurch organization, or a community nonprofit. Most people are open to help others.

The purpose of this shouldn’t be the overt evangelism of your friend but to serve others. Give your friend space to ask questions. Let them guide your discussions.

This will happen when they’re ready, so it might take time. As you wait, pray for them, be patient, and let God work in their lives. Some label this approach as one way to do friendship evangelism.

As you serve others with your friend, this may provide the opportunity for you to invite them to follow Jesus. Or it may be an opportunity for you to invite them to take the next step, such as a Bible study or a book discussion, as we discussed above.

Moving Forward

You may have the gift of evangelism and find it easy to invite friends to follow Jesus. Yet most of us do not and are gifted in other areas.

But inviting them to a Bible study, book discussion, or service project are all straightforward ways to engage with others and invite friends to follow Jesus.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.

Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

Bogged Down Reading the Bible?

10 Essential Bible Reading Tips, from Peter DeHaan

Get the Bible Reading Tip Sheet: “10 Tips to Turn Bible Reading from Drudgery to Delight.”

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Christian Living

Are You Reluctant to Invite Friends to Church?

The Service that Members Want Isn’t What Unchurched People Need

Over the years I’ve wanted to invite friends to church. Too often I don’t. This isn’t due to a lack of courage on my part but a fear that the church service would drive them from Jesus instead of drawing them closer.

And for those times I took the risk and invited friends to church, I can’t ever remember once when the outcome was positive. They came once and never returned. When I asked why, they often cited an aspect of the service that confused them, turned them off, or offended them.

I may have been more successful at pointing them to Jesus if I hadn’t invited them to go to church with me.

Dogmatic Preaching

At one fundamental church I attended, the teaching pastor delighted in decrying sinful behavior. He was legalistic to the extreme. He had a lengthy list of things we should not do as followers of Jesus. And the list of things we could do was short and dreary.

He had the zeal of a Pharisee. And he seldom mentioned God’s grace or mercy. Given this, why would anyone want to follow Jesus?

When we invite friends to church, they need to hear a compelling message, not a repelling one.

Miserable Music

The worship music at many churches struggles to speak to unchurched people. Sometimes it’s a dated style that’s irrelevant in today’s world. It’s out of touch and inaccessible, sending the wrong signal about Jesus and his church.

Other times it’s a quality issue. True, from a worship standpoint, it’s what’s in the musicians’ hearts that matters to God, not the sound of their voice or the skill of their playing. Yet to someone on the outside, unprofessional music is a huge turnoff.

When we invite friends to church, they deserve, and expect, to experience professional music that connects with them and draws them to God—not makes them cringe.

Unfriendly People

What happens before and after the service, of course, is critical too. Some churches are friendly toward visitors and welcome them well. But most people at most churches don’t talk with those they don’t know. This means they ignore visitors.

When we invite friends to church, we shouldn’t be the only ones to talk to them. But too often we are.

A Seeker Sensitive Solution

This problem of inviting people to church is not a new issue, but one that’s been around for a while. It’s just that it’s become more pronounced in recent years. There is now a bigger comprehension and expectation gap between people who go to church and people who don’t.

If you decades ago, the pronounced solution was to have a seeker sensitive service. The goal was to recast what happened on Sunday morning to appeal to the unchurched who showed up.

The vision was that members would invite friends to church, and the church would give them a service that connected with them and drew them in.

Though this was an insightful vision, it neglected to address the spiritual growth of members, directing everything that happened on Sunday morning to those on the outside. A seeker sensitive service addressed one problem and created another one.

The Purpose of Church

As we grapple with this problem, we should consider the purpose of church. Let’s look at the early church as recorded in the New Testament of the Bible. The churches were a gathering of believers.

Their goal wasn’t to invite friends to church to encounter Jesus. Instead, they first invited their friends to follow Jesus. Then they would go to church to receive encouragement from other believers and grow in their faith.

The purpose of church wasn’t to bring about their salvation but to help them grow in it.

Therefore, our goal shouldn’t be to invite friends to church, but to invite them to follow Jesus first. Church comes later.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.

Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

Bogged Down Reading the Bible?

10 Essential Bible Reading Tips, from Peter DeHaan

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Christian Living

Secular Christians

Carefully Consider Your Faith Foundation and the Basis for What You Believe

Some Christians base their faith on what the Bible says. Others, however, reject this view as outdated and judgmental. Instead, they allow society to guide their practices, which veers further and further from a firm faith foundation. They have become secular Christians.

Here are some characteristics of secular Christians:

Being Politically Correct Is More Important Than Being Biblically Correct

Political correctness guides their perspectives, their thoughts, and their words. When this view contradicts what the Bible says, they dismiss Scripture and align with the current prevailing opinion of secular society.

Public opinion matters more to them than God’s Word, so they waffle in the wind of societal attitudes. And when that attitude shifts, they shift with it. As a result, they build their life on a foundation of sand. What they don’t realize is that it won’t last (Matthew 7:26).

Jesus Isn’t Central but Ancillary

Jesus is the star of the Bible, with the Old Testament anticipating him and the New Testament telling us about him and the work of his followers. He calls his disciples to put him first in their lives, to make him a priority (Matthew 10:38).

Yet secular Christians move away from this ideal. Yes, they may view Jesus as a wise teacher, a good man, or someone worthy of admiration, but he’s not someone to give their life to. As a result, Jesus becomes one pursuit among many. He doesn’t rise above all else. Instead, he’s more apt to be buried by it.

Society’s Views Supersede Scripture

Sometimes what the Bible says isn’t popular among progressive thinking people. When they read Scripture—if they read it at all—it’s as if they have a highlighter in one hand and a pair of scissors in the other. But this is Christian idolatry. They don’t read and believe the entire Bible (2 Timothy 3:16).

When the Bible agrees with what society says, secular Christians affirm Scripture. But when it runs contrary to popular opinion, they dismiss or decry those passages.

At best, secular Christians view the Bible through the lens of culture. In the process, they distort the Word of God and delude themselves into assuming it says something it doesn’t say.

Christian Is a Label More Than a Lifestyle

Given this, it’s easy for these folks to treat the word Christian as a name that carries little weight. It may encompass a political perspective, a vague reference that means whatever they want it to mean, or a convenient description that allows for acceptance among some groups.

Instead, Jesus calls us to go all in for him (Matthew 19:29). To fully follow him is a full-time commitment. We make a U-turn with our lives to be his disciple. Saying we’re a Christian means nothing unless our lifestyle matches what Jesus calls us to do.

Don’t Be a Secular Christian

Just because someone says they’re a Christian doesn’t mean they really are. Too many people in our world today are secular Christians and nothing more. But Jesus has a higher calling for us (Hebrews 3:1).

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.

Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

Bogged Down Reading the Bible?

10 Essential Bible Reading Tips, from Peter DeHaan

Get the Bible Reading Tip Sheet: “10 Tips to Turn Bible Reading from Drudgery to Delight.”

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Christian Living

Make Disciples Not Converts

We Should Do What Jesus Commands and Push Secondary Pursuits Aside

Jesus wants us to be his disciples. Each of the biographies of Jesus mention this. To be his disciple means to set all else aside and follow him (Matthew 16:24, Mark 8:34, Luke 9:23, and Luke 14:26–33).

As his disciples he expects us to produce fruit, that is to help other people become disciples too (John 15:8). It’s clear. We need to make disciples.

Matthew’s biography of Jesus records his final instructions to his followers before he returns to heaven. Jesus tells his followers to go everywhere and make disciples (Matthew 28:18–20, which some call the Great Commission).

He doesn’t say he wants them to go and make converts. He wants disciples. Though believing in God is the first step, it’s not enough. Jesus wants more. He wants followers who go all in for him.

Much of today’s church has missed this call for discipleship. Instead they focus on conversions, such as praying a prayer, being baptized, or making a public declaration of belief in Jesus. But this is just the first step on a lifelong journey of faith, a journey into discipleship.

Jesus commands us to make disciples, yet few churches do this on a corporate level. And few people do this on a personal level.

When a person says “yes” to Jesus, that’s wonderful news and the angels celebrate (Luke 15:10). Yet too many churches then abandon those new believers and leave them to flounder (Luke 8:11–15).

Instead they should invest in that person and help them become a disciple of Jesus, just as he commanded. Then that person can go out and make another disciple.

If we all made disciples—just as Jesus instructed—there would be many more people following him and the world would be a much better place.

Jesus told us to go out and make disciples. We need to take this command seriously and obey it. We can start today.

Read the first post in this series about things we must change in our discussion about our church buildings and facilities.

Read more about this in Peter’s thought-provoking book, Jesus’s Broken Church, available in e-book, audiobook, paperback, and hardcover.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.

Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Christian Living

What’s It Mean to Take Up Your Cross Daily and Follow Jesus?

Discover the Truth and Spiritual Significance of Luke 9:23

What did Jesus mean when he said, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9:23)? This reference to the cross—the torturous instrument of Jesus’s death—is enough to make us squirm.

Though not to dismiss this idea of taking up our cross to be a follower of Jesus, it’s not where we should place our focus—at least not right away. This verse contains three key elements. It’s a progression, a spiritual journey.

Here they are in order.

Follow Jesus

The foremost thing—the most important part of this verse—is to follow Jesus. When we follow Jesus, it implies we stop following the things of this world. We make a U-turn with our life and go after Jesus. We say yes to him and no to other distractions.

This is the first step to becoming his disciple.

Yet this isn’t the destination, it’s the beginning.

Yes, making this decision may be enough to get our go-to-heaven-card when we die. But if that’s the only reason for us to say yes to Jesus, we’ll miss out on so much here on earth. And though we may enter heaven by the smallest of margins, we’ll miss out on a fuller reward.

Do It Daily

The next word to focus on in this verse from Luke 9:23 is daily. Following Jesus shouldn’t be a once-and-done decision. We should make it a daily commitment. When we open our eyes each morning, we should make a conscious decision to say yes to Jesus again.

Who would get married and think that saying I do at the wedding ceremony would be enough to establish and sustain a strong, long-term marriage? No one. For a marriage to work well, we need to work at it daily. We need to say I do every day.

The same is true when we follow Jesus. To grow in our relationship with him and realize the riches of being his disciple, we must do it daily.

Make Sacrifices

Having committed ourselves to following Jesus each day, we can now address this troublesome phrase of taking up our cross. For Jesus, the cross meant sacrifice. For him it was the ultimate sacrifice of giving his life for us. Though as Jesus’s disciple, we should be willing to die for him, few of us will be called to do that. Yet we must be prepared that it could happen.

A more applicable understanding is that the cross implies making less lethal sacrifices as we live a life a following Jesus in service to him. Yet if we love Jesus, these sacrifices need not be burdensome. Instead, these are things we willingly give up to serve him and to be a part of team Jesus.

What’s critical here is to comprehend that we don’t need to make sacrifices to get Jesus’s attention, earn our salvation, or merit his favor. Jesus loves us regardless of the things we do or don’t do.

When we make sacrifices for him, we do it in response to the ultimate sacrifice he made for us. It’s how we show our love to him since he already showed his love for us.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.

Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

Bogged Down Reading the Bible?

10 Essential Bible Reading Tips, from Peter DeHaan

Get the Bible Reading Tip Sheet: “10 Tips to Turn Bible Reading from Drudgery to Delight.”

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Bible Insights

5 Things God Asks of Us

The Book of Deuteronomy Offers Surprising Insights into Our Relationship With God

The book of Deuteronomy is never high on my reading list. The seemingly endless instructions about the form and format of God’s expectations for his people vex me, especially given that Jesus fulfills the Old Testament, and today we live under a New Testament arrangement.

Yet there are surprising truths buried in this stodgy book. We can easily miss these amazing insights if we read too hurriedly—or skip the book altogether.

One such passage presents a succinct summary of what God asks of us:

1. Fear God

Does this mean God wants his people to be afraid of him? No! He wants his people to stand in awe of him, with reverence and respect.

2. Walk with God

God asks us to move in relationship with him, to go where he goes. The word repent (which is found throughout the Bible) implies this. It basically means to change course and follow God (and Jesus).

3. Love God

God wants us to love him. That’s a great start. In the New Testament we see God’s love for us. Though it’s evident in the Old Testament, we can’t miss it in the New Testament.

4. Serve God

If we fear, walk with, and love God, we will spontaneously desire to serve him. Yet to make sure we don’t miss this part of our relationship with God, he spells it out for us.

5. Obey God

The fifth item also flows from those before it: obedience. Though obeying an authority is often dismissed in today’s culture, God is one authority who never disappoints, never falters, and never makes a mistake.

The book of Deuteronomy tells us that God is worthy of us doing the things he asks, starting with this passage: fear, walk, love, serve, and obey.

[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is Deuteronomy 10-12, and today’s post is on Deuteronomy 10:12-13.]

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.

Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Christian Living

3 Religious Terms I Struggle With

Exploring Doctrine, Theology, and Systematic Theology

There are three religious terms I don’t care for. Hearing or reading about them has a negative impact on me. These words are doctrine, theology, and systematic theology. I don’t like them because they take the awesome mystery of God and try to provide structure to something that transcends human organization.

Let’s consider these three terms and what place they might have in our faith journey.

Doctrine

The first religious term I don’t care for is doctrine. Doctrine is a principle or group of principles presented as a body of belief in a religious context. Other words to describe doctrine include creed, canon, and tenet. A fourth word is dogma, which is the root word for dogmatic.

Dogmatic means insisting unexamined ideas coming often from a position of arrogance.

When I read about Christian doctrine, it’s too often presented with dogmatic fervor. This may be a huge reason why the discussion of doctrine so turns me off.

Yet we all form and adhere to various religious doctrines. Some of these have a sound biblical foundation. But many do not.

We learn much of our doctrinal positions through the teaching of ministers. Often these pronouncements support tradition and align with current societal norms more so than being based on Scripture.

I fear, however, that we simply make up too many of our doctrine ideas because they feel right to us. Or because we want them to be true. Or since they allow us to avoid uncomfortable confrontations with biblical truth.

May we base all our doctrinal perspectives on what the Bible says.

Theology

The second religious term I prefer to avoid is theology. For Christians, at a base level, theology is a study of God. In this respect, I love theology. Yet my study of God has the sole purpose of helping me draw closer to him.

It’s a futile attempt to study God for the sake of amassing knowledge about him or to comprehend him from an intellectual standpoint. It’s arrogant to pursue theology if that’s our goal.

Bearing fruit is more important than having a right theology.

God far surpasses are human comprehension. We’ll never understand him in an academic way, at least not with any significant result—or producing any positive eternal outcome.

We cannot organize God, but that doesn’t keep people from trying. This brings us to our third religious term.

Systematic Theology

Systematic theology is a subset of theology. In the Christian sense, systematic theology seeks to condense our understanding of God and our faith in him into a series of interconnected thoughts that constitute a comprehensive and organized treatise. In a way, we can view a systematic theology is an interconnected set of doctrines.

The God who is revealed in the Bible transcends our ability to organize him and force him into a system of our own making. To attempt to do so diminishes him and elevates us to unwarranted levels.

Yes, most people have a systematic theology. Many were taught it and accept what they were taught. Others arrived at their systematic theology with intentionality.

I resist the urge to force the all-mighty, all-knowing, and all-present God who is revealed in the Bible into a system of my own making. It’s simply not possible.

Instead, my desire is to follow Jesus the best I can as I let the Holy Spirit bring me into a closer relationship with Father God. Toward that end, doctrine, theology, and systematic theology don’t matter so much and only get in the way.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.

Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

Bogged Down Reading the Bible?

10 Essential Bible Reading Tips, from Peter DeHaan

Get the Bible Reading Tip Sheet: “10 Tips to Turn Bible Reading from Drudgery to Delight.”

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Christian Living

One Body with Many Members: Correct the Church Membership Fallacy

Instead of Joining a Church, Align Yourself with Jesus

Most churches talk about church membership—a lot. Some treat it as the next step after salvation, even as if it’s salvation part two. It’s not. And if your church is part of a denomination, membership in the local church is automatic membership in the denomination.

Church Membership

With membership, many carry a smug pride of religious superiority. Others expect their membership to provide them with benefits.

Some church membership benefits are explicit, carrying specified privileges. These include being able to vote at meetings, eligibility for certain church positions, and enjoying a higher status than nonmembers, who are mere attendees.

Other church membership benefits are assumed. Basically, this means our ministers must be available whenever we need them. This includes celebrating our special events, dealing with any crisis we may encounter, and listening to our “concerns” about some church issue or theology. When we say “jump,” they’re supposed to act.

Denomination Membership

Church denominations used to be much more important than they are now. Church members were loyal to their denomination.

When they moved, they sought out a church in their same denomination. And as a member of the denomination, they’d be accepted without question at the new church—even though no one knew them. It was a simple matter to transfer their membership to the new congregation.

Most denominations struggle today. They’re losing members (and affiliated churches) at an alarming rate. Some had scandals. Others faced a theological rift between polarized perspectives, where it was impossible to please everyone. And the dissenters voiced their frustration by leaving.

Most denominations have become nothing more than institutions fighting for survival. Membership numbers are the way they gage their battle.

What Does the Bible Say?

Scripture never mentions church membership. There are no commands to join a local church. The apostle Paul, however, does talk about members. He repeatedly says that we are members of one body. That’s right. Not a church or a denomination, but a body—one body.

He writes that there is one body. He tells this to the church in Rome (Romans 12:5), Ephesus (Ephesians 3:6 and Ephesians 4:25), and Colossae (Colossians 3:15). He even gets more specific, saying we are members of his body, that is Jesus’s body, the body of Christ (Ephesians 2:19-20, Ephesians 5:29-30 and 1 Corinthians 6:15a).

There is one body with many members, each with their own function (Romans 12:3-4).

What Does Jesus Want?

In his final prayer before his execution, Jesus prayed that we—his future followers—would be one, just as he and Papa are one. Why is this? By being one, we become the optimum witness to the world so that they may believe (John 17:20-21).

Jesus knew that if we divided ourselves by forming denominations, we would divide ourselves and our witness, fracturing the ideas of one body in the process.

He knew that by establishing church memberships, we would divide ourselves—and his one body—into two levels of followers, with some in and others second-class.

Jesus wants us to be members of one body, the universal body of Christ. We automatically become a member when we follow Jesus. Local church membership doesn’t matter.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.

Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

Bogged Down Reading the Bible?

10 Essential Bible Reading Tips, from Peter DeHaan

Get the Bible Reading Tip Sheet: “10 Tips to Turn Bible Reading from Drudgery to Delight.”

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Bible Insights

Count the Cost: Is Christianity Easy or Hard?

Regardless of Circumstances, God Walks With Us

In Paul’s second letter to the believers in Corinth, he warns them not to deceive others or distort God’s word (2 Corinthians 4:2). That is, don’t misrepresent God’s character or intent to the world.

Yet, this happens. Some people, in their zeal for Jesus, promise those on the outside that if they just say “yes” to Jesus, then all their problems will go away and life will become easy.

It doesn’t work that way.

Jesus says to “count the cost” (Luke 14:28), that his followers may pay a price for their commitment to him.

Paul details this heavy cost. But along with each threat he gives assurance of God’s provision (2 Corinthians 4:8-9):

  • Hard pressed from every direction, but not crushed
  • Perplexed, but not in despair.
  • Persecuted, but not abandoned.
  • Struck down, but not destroyed.

So when we follow Jesus we can expect to be harassed, mystified, attacked, and hurt. Yet in this, God promises we will not be defeated, anguished, forgotten, or ruined.

We must count the cost before we follow Jesus, because committing ourselves to him may bring about hardship, but take courage knowing that God will prevail and help us through these trying situations.

[Read through the Bible this year. Today’s reading is 2 Corinthians 4-6, and today’s post is on 2 Corinthians 4:2, 8-9.]

Read more in Peter’s book, Love is Patient (book 7 in the Dear Theophilus series).

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.

Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.