Welcome to the new and updated Mt Barker Presbyterian Church website. Writing here is a way of communicating to many. I hope it is at least once per week. It does gives opportunity to consider some matters that the church and the pastor of a growing church face today. Christian or unbeliever, member or outsider as you seek the truth I pray these words will be helpful to you.
Defining the Church requires an understanding of three misconceptions and therefore applying three corrections.
The first misconception regards a place. Today many just see a building called 'Church' and thinking that is the Church then smile and never go beyond thinking of the building. The second prevalent misconception comes with denominational distinctions. This view gets in the way of many truly understanding the Church. Many would be a 'Presbyterian' or 'Baptist' or 'Anglican' since someone of their family had a past association. Even though today denomination distinctions are blurred in some ways that understanding seems prevalent. I was talking to a man recently who knew various people that called themselves 'Presbyterian' yet had not been members in the last few years and were not going to worship with God's people anywhere. He though they were part of the church. The third misconception is that some believe that some churches are not truly the Church despite all the outward signs and the adherence to essential doctrines. It seems these are the exclusive set of believers or even non-believers who would not join another church claiming they are not right or pure enough for them.
The first correction is to say the Church is not a building or place but the people. In the Greek the word 'ecclesia' means 'people gathered'. The church building whether the property belongs to a group of believers, a home or a public building is helpful to keep the rain off and provide some comfort for a meeting of a gathering of believers. The second correction is found in understanding biblical pictures or analogies. Jesus talked about the weeds and the wheat, and that fact that both grow together. There are many other analogies I could add but the truth is we only see with a limited 'human' view. The various denominational groups are made up of all kinds of people with some saved and some lost. The church from a human view is far from perfect and is often divided. Many will fall away from it (Matthew 13:28-30, 38, 41). The correction is to say that we see the visible church as not perfect and that any denominational group holding to the essential truths will be the same in this respect - some saved and some not saved people. While there should be a unity with believers across denominations who hold to those essential doctrines it is sad to state some 'Christians' act as if they are superior to others. It is sad to that many don't strive for unity that comes from being 'in Christ' and adherence to the inspired word of God. God's view of the Church of course is different. He sees the church we cannot see. He sees all the perfect and righteous group of people who are 'in Christ'. They strive to be obedient to His call and to follow Him. As God sees the Church He see those who are His and with an unseen unity that will only be clear to them when Jesus returns. The third correction is necessary to apply to all those exclusive sort of denominations and people who stay away from all churches. They keep separating from others claiming the church is too corrupt and impure. Sad that it is one of the essentials for every believer - being part of a church and gathering regularly with other believers. A big correction is needed. Perhaps many are hurt through words or actions and yet there seems no reconcilation or peace. We all should learn to forgive and vice-versa. There is an interesting situation in Luke 9 is when someone outside the circle of the disciples and was doing what the disciples liked to do - casting out demons in the name of Jesus. They though 'he is not with us as 'the disciples' therefore he should be forbidden from acting. Jesus had to correct them on that too: "Do not forbid Him, he is on our side". I hope the Lord will be a present help to all who stay dis-connected and lead them back to the fold. Pastor Robert.