What are the foundations of Faith?
What are the foundations of Faith?

 

1 Cor 3:11 For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, 13 each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is.

1 Cor 3: 16 Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? 17 If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are.

In a time when the churches just like politics are moving to the dogmatic positions of being to the extreme left and to the extreme right with very little middle ground, what are the foundations of Christian faith that will stand the test of time?

With LGBT becoming more mainstream, many GLBT churches are facing a decline. In May 12, the famous MCC San Francisco which has been a Christian presence for over 40 years decided to let go the pastor because of a budget deficit. Earlier in Feb 12, MCC San Jose closed down because of poor attendance. The churches are facing a difficult time.

The theology of many GLBT churches are very open. Many do not believe in the message of redemption and do not consider the bible as the Word of God. Evangelical outreaches are rare.  Inclusivity can become our god and idol rather than Christ. When our Christianity offers only a support community and a spiritual human kind of theology, we may end up a cosy social spiritual group.

In Singapore,  it is ironic that the biggest Protestant Christian community services are FCBC Touch Community Services, Salvation Army, and City Harvest Community Services Association, but not more progressive protestant groups.  But they served the mainstream but not the truly marginalised lepers of modern society beyond the reach of the mega churches.

In my unversity days, there was much debate about liberal and evangelical theology, and also the rise of the charismatics. There were no mega churches then, and liberal theology was very predominant. In a surreal scene, I was having a conversation with the most liberal of Catholic priest who was obviously gay in a smoke filled room because he was smoker.  God was present there even though it was quite smoky. But the real question was not asked - being gay and being a pastor/priest!

Many of our beliefs are not centered on the Word of God and the revelation of Christ as Saviour, but it is our own human construction or a satanic deception. We are not called to judge to split between the tares and the good seed, the sheep and the goats for we may uproot a genuine work of God.

Mat 13: 24 Another parable He put forth to them, saying: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field; 25 but while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat and went his way.

Often good and evil, sin and righteousness are mixed. We are called not to be inclusive per say but to relect on the different theological stance and give space to people for judgement belongs to God and often we might be right about gays but completely wrong in the rest of our faith beliefs. Alternatively, the mega churches, might be wrong about gays, but right in the remainder 95% of our faith beliefs. We are to give grace to others. 

The Fire of life will test our foundations.

  • Gold represents a centrality on the righteousness of Christ, as God and Saviour .It is based on God's love, grace and mercy.

  • Silver represents the redemption of our sins through the finished work at the Cross of Calvary. We are secured in Christ, our sins forgiven.

  • Precious stones is how we treat others as precious and sacred in the sight of God. The world system is where the rulers lord over the people. In Christianity, it is the reverse, and leaders are to be humble and be like servants. There is no hierachal structure the infallible pope at the top but a flat structure because all have access to God. 

  • Wood represents humanity, where we create religion through our human intellect. Redemption, Christ atonement for our sins, are denied. Satan and and eternal hell,  the Gospel, the creation story, and the biblical events are rejected. Christianity is from a bottom up, human perspective.

  • Hay and Straw presents a self centerdness and human pride where we saved by our works.   We boast about our morality and being able to abide by the law. The foundation is on carnal man such as the apostle Peter or the Holy Father, or a mega church leader. We have a structure and rituals to maintain power, wealth and control.

 

With limited time, we should be wise to seek churches and ministries that are built on the foundation of Christ and His finished works at Calvary, so that we too are built up in our faith based on the Word of God.

The focus of progressive churches are on precious stones represented by an emphasis that people are precious and sacred in the eyes of God. Hence, we emphasis their social justice and welfare. We seldom focus on the foundations of Gold and Silver, but I believe that God's heart is for outreach to the GLBT community to declare salvation to the least in the community.

People are looking and searching, and often what was offered are tasteless without salt and not much of an alternative. When we bring people to see the light, they loose sight of their self and the faults of others. The world's condemnation of our sexual orientation makes us inward looking on humanity when our eyes should be on heaven above.

It is important to number our days, and in our limited time to seek after ministries that are built of foundations of Gold and Silver, and pulpit ministries which do not corrupt or defile the local body of Christ. Many are looking for churches beyond just being a community of welcoming spiritual people.   

Growth of the inclusive churches simply on account of GLBT acceptance is over. There is a fire raging. When the fire comes, are  our foundations stones made of Gold, silver, or precious stones that will last rather than wood, hay and straw?

The warnings of defiling the temple of God through preaching that have little biblical basis and not founded on Christ is quite severe. However, we often take the pulpit very candidly.

In 1 Cor 3:17, pastors are warned about defiling the body of Christ based on a theology of wood, hay and  straw. Such theology is often centered on humanism, legalism, and maintenance of power, control and authority within the church hierachal. Christ redemptive work at the Cross is watered down. The centrality of Christ is replaced by an infallible Pope, St Peter, and the Madona whilst many are complaining that gays are the biggest threat to Jesus Christ!

We come back to the foundation stone of Jesus Christ, the grace of God in the finished work of the Cross for the redemption of our sins by faith in the resurrected Christ as God and Saviour. Jesus asked God the Father whether there was any other way to heaven that He may not need to go to the Cross and drink the cup of suffering. But that was no other way, neither through the law, or worshipping other deities.

The church is to offer oil to the people and when we have eloquent but empty sermons, people will go elsewhere even though they may not be fully accepted. We may be gay, but we are still hungry and need to eat the Word of God correctly preached! After all the homosexuality is hardly mentioned in the bible.

If the church are to reach more than a few dozen GLBT Christians, our focus should be the Word of God bringing out the foundation of Christ' redemptive works. Otherwise, we will end up being a small discussion group on reflective theology rather than bringing the Gospel message to our rainbow community.

We are not changing the world because much of our theology is closeted and there is no multiplying growth. No one bothers about gay churches because a few dozen gay christians meeting up every Sunday obviously is not a threat and need not change the church to be a training center to avoid attention. No one looks at a tiny dot. But a Pink Dot of 10,000 would be disconcerting for the likes of Love Singapore for gays are "stealing" their love.

  The harvest field is out there for the rainbow fish. It is not a church building we need for ministry, but foundations of Gold, silver and precious stones. When we build on solid foundations, growth will come naturally and the church building will take care of itself.  When the temple of God is built up by right believing and right teaching, we then have a message to tell the world that God's grace extends to the least whom the world has rejected.

 

 

 

 

 

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