The Temple and the Church’s Mission by G.K. Beale, applied to my local church

In G.K. Beale’s last chapter of his book, The Temple and the Church’s Mission, he states the following (pp. 401-2):

Likewise, we as the church will not bear fruit and grow and extend across the earth in the way God intends unless we stay out of the shadows of the world and remain in the light of God’s presence – in his word and prayer and in fellowship with other believers in the church, the temple of God. The mark of the true church is an expanding witness to the presence of God: first to our families, then to others in the church, then to our neighbourhood, then to our city, then the country and ultimately the whole earth…

We as individual Christians, as members of a local church and as part of Christ’s church throughout the world must not merely share our lives and God’s word with one another, but we need to get out of our own little fishbowls and manifest the presence of Christ through our words and lives, so that the boundaries of the temple, the church, will grow until the whole earth is encompassed with and manifests the presence of God… The mark of the true church is always to be outward-looking and expanding God’s presence and not obsessively introspective.

The main point of this book is that our task as the covenant community, the church is to be God’s temple, so filled with his glorious presence that we expand and fill the earth with that presence until God finally accomplishes the goal completely at the end of time! (italics his)

I want to look at CFBC through the lens of Beale’s thoughts. The mark of the true church is an expanding witness to the presence of God. The mark of the true church is always to be outward-looking and expanding God’s presence and not obsessively introspective. Personally, my observation is that CFBC Walnut is too introspective and not adequately outward-looking. We are not “obsessively introspective” to the point where we don’t expand God’s witness to the presence of God at all. We do a little witnessing. There are a few visitors who come to our church every Sunday. But on the whole, the mentality and the practice of our church (myself included) is not outward-looking and always mindful to expand the presence of God in our families, others in our church, neighborhoods, our city, or our country. Beale rightly says, “We… must not merely share our lives and God’s word with one another, but we need to get out of our own little fishbowls and manifest the presence of Christ through our words and lives.”

May God be merciful to me and enable me to obey him and love others.  I want to tell others about Jesus more than I do.  May the Lord help me, and all who love his appearing!

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About pjtibayan

I love Jesus Christ and live to share life and share Jesus together with First Southern Baptist Church of Bellflower primarily to Southeast Los Angeles County.
This entry was posted in Biblical Theology, Books read, CFBC, church, emerging church, Evangelicalism, evangelism. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to The Temple and the Church’s Mission by G.K. Beale, applied to my local church

  1. Albert Tsao says:

    PJ,

    I’ve been thinking intensely about this exactly question and agree with Beale wholeheartedly. I’ve also realized how lacking I am in this area as well.

    However, I think “lacking” may be too soft a description. Why do you think we do not call a spade a spade? It is flat out disobedience and unrepentant sin. We clearly do not understand the gospel if we do not have the desire to share it with others.

    We like to call all sorts of things “sin,” but when it comes to evangelism (or outreach, missional living, whatever one wants to call it), it seems like much more of an option. It gets relagated to a program of the church or a side activity rather than being part of who we are. Is not the expansion of the Kingdom one of our chief callings?

    You also defined the nature of the “true” church in your post. If the mark of the “true” church to be outwardly expanding, would not the flip side also be true. If a church is not outwardly expanding, would it then not be a “true” church. If that is not a big enough an indictment, I’m not sure what is.

    What do you think? Am I being too harsh?

    Albert

  2. pjtibayan says:

    Albert,

    I appreciate the comment. I do think “lacking” is a soft description. I preached a message this past Sunday on Matthew 9:1-14 and the latter point was on evangelistic mission in our lives to sinners whom Jesus came to call. I did call our church to repentance and reminded them to look to the cross of Christ and his forgiveness as the grounds for our cleansing and renewal to refocus on our mission. Evangelism at our church is not a program at our church. It is a side activity in many of our lives. I want to be careful from sounding self-righteous in saying it doesn’t happen at all or my church is failing completely because they are only partially and rarely evangelizing. There is some evangelism and attempts and intentional steps being taken at my church. Because of that, I would not say we are complete failures, but I would say we are partially failing and there are some evidences of grace that our people are outward-looking and expanding the presence of God in our communities and circles of influences. I don’t think it is happening that much at the top of our leadership and so when it does happen, little of it is known to the church as a whole. I would be very hesitant to say that absolutely NO evangelism or outward looking is going on at your church.

    As far as the “true church” remark, I think Beale is being extreme and drawing absolute lines to make a point, not nuancing the degrees of obedience and faithfulness. If that were the case, I don’t think many churches would be true churches. Maybe his choice of the adjective true is not the most accurate. The marks of a true church according to the reformers was the preaching of the Word (gospel) and the proper administering of the sacraments.

    Evidence that I think I’m on the right track in understanding Beale is his comment on a church being “obsessively introspective.” Now I think my church is quite introspective, unhealthily so. But I would not say obsessively, to the point where no one outside our circle is hearing the gospel or being prayed for and targeted to be loved and called to salvation in Christ. If a church got to that point, I’d say it is unhealthy and is headed toward decline unless it starts to look outward more regularly and habitually as a pattern and normal practice of the church. May we be instruments to that end in our churches and our personal lives.

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