Here’s yet another reason to attend the Developing a Biblical Ecclesiology (.pdf) seminar in March: the only book you’ll need is the Bible. As I told my students last week, whatever position you hold on divorce/remarriage, or tongues, or female elders/deacons, or church organization, you had better base your convictions on the exegesis of specific texts of Scripture and not on anything Dr. So-and-So says. I am honestly worried about this generation of students because I see in them (as I saw in my generation) a tendency to follow this or that teacher rather than the Scriptures. This is nothing but a form of modern-day Gnosticism. The Gnostics loved to claim that their special teaching came directly from God. They believed that all kinds of special knowledge were needed for salvation and sanctification. They taught that the Word of God was not sufficient. Men and women needed a special knowledge beyond that which Jesus could give. So if you had gnosis (special knowledge) and knew the right formulas and used the correct passwords you could escape the ignorance of the world. But Paul taught it was only in Christ that the full divine nature dwelt, and that is was only through Him that the believer could find truth and wisdom.
What does modern-day Gnosticism look like? One sure sign is whether the Bible is preeminent or not. This truth alone should make us rethink the value of any seminar or conference that packages biblical truth in a way that elevates the package above Christ. As the Gnostics saw it, the simple truth of the Gospel, written down in the Bible, was not enough. It had to be supplemented by an elaborate system of philosophical thought. The resulting system was too difficult for simple Christians to understand. Only insiders — intellectuals — could understand. It is amazing to me how quickly we Christians run after this system or that system today. There is too much of the Christianity that says “I’ve got the answer” and too little of the Christianity that says “In Him are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” Supremely it is so today with all of our “networks” and “ministries” that promise freedom in Christ (if you’ll only attend my seminar) or how to discern the true marks of the church (if you’ll buy my book) or how to become a “New Testament” congregation (by following our ministry model). I am not saying that any of these ideas are necessarily unbiblical or wrong. It is the packaging that threatens the life of the church for, I believe, the packaging raises questions about the total adequacy of the Scriptures and the unique supremacy of Christ.
So please do not attend our seminar if you think you need something more than the Word of God to understand the mind of God. Please do not attend our seminar if you believe that Christ is not adequate to deal with your questions. Please do not attend our seminar if you are seeking a Gospel that needs to be supplemented by human ideas. Please do not attend our seminar if you want to join an intellectual aristocracy. Please DO attend our seminar if you are drawn to the unsearchable riches of Christ, if you believe that the foolishness of God is wiser than the wisdom of man, if you believe that “truth is in Jesus,” and if you are ready to listen to a man who is as eager to learn from others as he is to instruct them.
(Note: My opinion will change very quickly if our speaker ever decides to incorporate and form “Assembling of the Church Ministries” and take his system on the road for a fee.)
So, no, I’m not incorporating or forming “Assembling of the Church Ministries”. Didn’t Jesus already form that ministry? And, no, I’m not hitting the road – no speaking circuit – no fee.
However, I am very excited about getting know and interact with brothers and sisters in Christ from Roxboro, NC and the surrounding area. I’m excited about sharing some of the things that God has taught me, and I’m excited to hear what God has taught them.
This will be a different kind of seminar for me, for many reasons. I plan to write about that soon.