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The Caller and the Called

“I exhort you, therefore, as a prisoner in the Lord, walk worthily of the calling to which you are called,”

(Ephesians 4:1)

All too often, we only look to the Bible to apply things to ourselves. Remember that while this passage does contain personal application, this is directed publicly to the church (a church that is made up of individual believers). Thus, just as the individual Christian is called to walk in a manner that is worthy with his or her calling, so too is the church as a body and as an institution. In other words, not only has God called you and me to live in a certain way, he has called his church to function in a specific manner.

This applies to the way we function, the way we worship, and the way in which we set priorities as a church body. The problem we face in America is that we have embraced the mindset that churches can pretty much do whatever they want to do. Yet, is this a manner that is worthing of the calling to which the church was called? 

How do we know what that “worthy manner of walking” happens to be? Well, if there is a calling, that means there is one who is doing the calling. The caller, of course, is God. As the caller, he also has the authority to establish what that calling is to look like and how it is to play out. And so, we must look to the explicit teachings of Scripture to determine what is acceptable and what is not acceptable for worship, for church government, and for church practice. If the church looks to its preferences, it simply will cease to be a church of Jesus Christ. It will become like every other institution in the world around us — and many have. 

To drive this point home, many churches have polled their members to see what their members want in worship and in the life of the church. Should they not be asking God? Should they not be asking Christ, who is King of the Church? As parents, do we poll our children to see what kind of discipline and upbringing that they want? That is insanity. It is equally insane to ask church members what the church should be doing when God very plainly teaches the answer to that question and Paul drives that point home in this section of his letter to the Church in Ephesus. We would do well to pay close attention to what the Apostle has to say while comparing it with what the church you attend happens to practice. If they do not match, will you be salt and light to point them to submission to the Word?

Regulative Principles and Worship

“So Gideon went and prepared a kid goat and an ephah of unleavened flour. The flesh he put in a basket and the broth he put in a pot. And he went to him under the Terebinth and presented it to him. And the Angel of God said to him, ‘Take the flesh and the unleavened cakes and rest them on the rock — this one. Then pour on the broth.’ And he made it so.”

(Judges 6:19-20)

Gideon, thus, gathers a form of grain and meat offering before God. This is essentially the same offering as well later be provided by Manoah when he encounters the Angel of Yahweh (Judges 13:19). While the formulae of the offering does not fit any of the prescribed sacrifices for sin or peace, the context, though demands that this is a form of offering, not just as food for the road, as some commentators would suggest. Note the language above about a sacrifice and about Gideon seeking a sign.

Further, we see the sacrifice placed on a rock (rocks were often used as make-shift altars — 1 Samuel 14:33), designated by the Angel of Yahweh. Further, the meat and items were arranged on the rock as directed by the Angel of Yahweh. So, even though the elements themselves were chosen by Gideon, the presentation of the sacrifice itself is defined by God. Such is a reminder that our worship before God is something that ought always be marked and directed by God himself in the Word. The specifics might vary somewhat from congregation to congregation (some sing psalms, others sing hymns, still others praise songs, and others yet, sing a combination of all three; some preach through books of the Bible but others preach passages of scripture around given themes; some worship for an hour others for significantly, more, etc…), but the elements remain the same as commanded by God (Reading Scripture, Preaching, Corporate Prayer, Singing, Offerings, Sacraments, etc…).