Tuesday, January 3, 2012

The Purity of the Church

"Purity" is a word not often used in today's society.  Some might think of the Puritans who lived in a previous age and tried to live holy lives in the midst of a world that was anything but pure.  To the Puritans truth, "doctrine" as the Bible also calls it, was found in the unchanging Word of God and was to be applied to every area of life.  It is clear that the response towards "purity" in today's world, as in the days of the Puritans, is considered naive at best, and foolish and ridiculous at worst.  Even many within the church are quick to say, "But we are all sinners."  And of course, that is true, yet purity is the desire of God for His people and, for those in whom the Spirit of God is at work, purity is the desire of a heart and will that has been born again by the Spirit of God.

David wrote in Psalm 18, verses 25-26, "To the faithful you show yourself faithful, to the blameless you show yourself blameless, to the pure you show yourself pure, but to the crooked you show yourself shrewd."  God calls His people to purity!  Paul writes to the Philippians, "This is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ - to the glory of God" (1:9-11).  To his young friend, Timothy, he writes, "Set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity."

Purity is important to Christ and it should be important to us.  So what is purity and what is its origin?  Perhaps the writer of Psalm 119 gives us one of the clearest answers to that question when he asks in Psalm 119, verse 9:  "How can a young man keep his way pure?"  And then he answers, "By living according to your word!"  And then he prays, "I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands.  I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you" (119:10-11). Purity is that quality of life which arises from a heart in tune with God; a heart and mind that desires obedience to God not out of a sense of compulsion but out of love for God.  Purity is thus the result of the work of the Holy Spirit within believers, and it is produced through the faithful proclamation of the Word of God.  Sound doctrine produces purity, which glorifies God.

This is why sound doctrine is so vital in the Church of the living God! Lighthouse Community Church is now a non-denominational congregation, seeking to be faithful to Christ and to His Word in all things.  The trend of our culture has rapidly moved the visible church, including parts of the denomination of which we were previously a part, away from the purity of doctrine and practice revealed and taught in God's Word.  One has only to look at the evidence to determine that the church has been influenced by the culture and that sin is being tolerated in the church.  A six-year dialogue has not produced a call to repentance or discipline of those who deny the authority of Scripture and who teach things contrary to Scripture.  The existence of "roomforall" (see roomforall.com) and the approval of those promoting homosexuality and same-sex unions/marriage by a growing number, even in Grand Rapids and Holland, as well as Hope College and other places in Western Michigan, reveals a church that has abandoned God's call to purity.

In the midst of this trend stand some who continue to hear God's call and who are determined, by His grace and strength, to stand firm and to guard and guide Christ's flock according to the truth of His Word.  To the Elders in Ephesus Paul said, "Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers.  Be shepherds of the church of God, which He bought with His own blood.  I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock.  Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them.  So be on your guard!"

I am thankful to stand alongside the leadership of Lighthouse as we seek to guard the flock from false teaching and to present to our LORD Jesus Christ, the Head of the Church, a pure Bride.  Pray with us and join with us in our desire to pursue purity, to hold fast to sound doctrine and to proclaim that Jesus is LORD!  "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God!" (Matthew 5:8).

In Christ's love,  Pastor Steve