Just as with anything new, there will always be things that you may wonder about. We know that this will be true with our church as well, and for this reason we have compiled this page with some of the most common questions that we have received and the answers to them.
In your bible you will see God written, Lord written and LORD written when talking about God. These are not mere oddities, they are not typos, they are not translations mistakes.
You will notice that every time that you see LORD printed in the Bible that when reading it I will say Yahweh, why am I doing that?
The reason is that when you see LORD in the Bible, that is the tetragramaton, the 4 letters— all consonants YHWH that are the name of God.
In the book of Exodus, we are told of Moses as God to show him His glory. God told Moses that no one can see Him and live, but that He would reveal His glory to him by hiding him in a cleft of a rock. Covering his face with His hand and then passing by him.
Exodus 34:6-7 “The LORD passed before him and proclaimed, “The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to
anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and
transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the
children's children, to the third and the fourth generation.”
God Himself differentiates between His name and His office. Yahweh, Yahweh a God… in verse 6.
The name of God is different from the office of God. As we see in the Exodus verse, the name of God is a descriptor of His character, of His nature.
His name, His character is given us so that we can know our God. He wants us to know His character, what He is like— not just that He is God.
You see this difference on full display in Jonah 2:1; Then Jonah prayed to Yahweh his God from the belly of the fish.
The character of God is what makes God— well so Godly. So holy. This is what sets Him apart from everything and everyone else in all of creation. Verse 6 of chapter 4 of Jonah is a much better example that God desires a distinction to be made between His name and His office.’Now Yahweh, God appointed a a plant.’ again, this is not a typo, not a bad translation. This is how the original text is given us. The nature of God, being the descriptor of the office of God.
This difference was important enough to God that He specifically used His name and His office at different times, when speaking of Himself. He did it and for this reason I do it.
Why Do You Celebrate Communion Weekly?
There are number of different names that this supper is referred by; the eucharist, communion and the Lords’ Supper. In this church you will hear it called one of the last two. The reason for this is that it truly is the LORDS Supper— it is not ours, which means that He gets to set the parameters to how it is celebrated and by whom. And it is a visible reminder of the reality that because of the shed blood of the Christ, we really do have communion with God once again.
There are three Gospels that either elude to or speak directly to the Lords Supper but it is 1 Corinthians that gives us the most full understanding of how, why and even the frequency that the Lord desires us to commune with Him in His supper.
1 Corinthians 11:17-26
But in the following instructions I do not commend you, because when you come together it is not for the better but for the worse. For, in the first place, when you come together as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you. And I believe it in part, for there must be factions among you in order that those who are genuine among you may be recognized. When you come together, it is not the Lord’s supper that you eat. For in eating, each one goes ahead with his own meal. One goes hungry, another gets drunk.
What! Do you not have houses to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God and humiliate those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I commend you in this? No, I will not.
For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body, which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.
- Where should communion be taken.
Verse 18 says “For, in the first place, when you come together as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you.” Now having divisions is not a good thing. But Paul understood that the Lords Supper should not be administered outside of the confines of a church. This means that it should not be done at weddings, should not be done at home and should not be done at youth gatherings. In none of these situations is the church gathered together. Are there members of a church there? Maybe. Are there people from the universal church there? Possibly. But none of them are the church and Christ died for His church.
2. Who should be taking communion?
Verse 19 Goes on and says: ‘And I believe it in part, for there must be factions among you in order that those who are genuine among you may be recognized.’ The key word in this verse is ‘among’ which refers back to the key word in the previous verse ‘church’.
The Lords supper is ONLY for baptized believers who are members of a local body. Not ‘seekers’(since there is no such thing). It is not for those that have not covenanted together with a local body of believers.
3. How often should you take communion?
Verses 25-26 answer this question: “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.” How often should we do this? As often as you eat this bread and drink this cup you proclaim the Lords death until He comes. How often do we want to do that? Every time that we gather.
This is why we celebrate the Lords supper weekly. Are we afraid that it will become a habit and loose its importance to His people? No. The reason, is that frequency has nothing to do with the Holy Spirit working in His people. The Lords Supper is not about us. It is about Him. He set the table, He provides the bread and wine, and He administers the benefits of our communion with Him.
Why Do You Not Take A Collection?
There is no question that we are commanded to give, and even specifically commanded to give to the church.
But that is not the question here. Why we do not pass a plate during the worship service is the question. Aren’t our offerings to the Lord an act of worship? And if they are, don’t they belong in a worship service?
Yes, giving is an act of worship, an important act of worship. But it is also one that should be private and not done under compulsion.
2 Corinthians 9:6-8Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.
And we do not want to create an atmosphere where a saint could loose their reward by being puffed up in thinking that others are watching them give.
“Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.
“Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
Finally we hold to the regulative principle of worship here, which means that we believe that God gets to regulate what we do during our worship services, and how do it. He sure cared a lot about how He was worshipped in the Old Testament, ask Nadab and Abahu. Or Uzzah, who thought that his hand was cleaner than the dirt and reached out to steady the ark of God as it was being carried on a cart- even though that was not how God prescribed it to be carried.
How were offerings handled in the time of Jesus? Good thing that we have the Bible! They had regular worship services, even had services at the local Synagogue, but the offering to the Lord was taken in a very specific way.
Mark 12: 41-44
And he sat down opposite the treasury and watched the people putting money into the offering box. Many rich people put in large sums. And a poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which make a penny.
Our desire to be Biblical, our desire to be a blessing to our people and mostly our desire to worship our Lord in Spirit and Truth. These are the reasons that we have chosen not to incorporate passing a plate into our worship services.
Why Do You Not Give An Alter Call?
We all get used to what we know. If you have grown up in a small town in the midwest, going to Walmart is what you are used to. It has always been there, it has always been the place that you go to when you need stuff and it looks and even feels like how a store should be run.
What a shock it is to your system when you travel out of the midwest and encounter a store like Fred Meyer. A store that stocks its shelves at night. A store that does not clog the aisles with stuff. A store that carries what you might deem as high end goods.
It is all strange at first. And you may even drive across town to go to the Walmart where everything looks and feels like home.
If you have grown up in most evangelical churches in America, the alter call is part of what makes church feel like home.
I am concerned however that an alter call can be more harmful than helpful. There are at least 3 reason for this:
- People begin to see an alter call as evangelism- the primary means of evangelism for a church. Thinking that it is the soley the duty of the Pastor and that if no one is walking an aisle, then he is not doing his job well. Evangelism is all of our responsibility, it happens all week long. It is telling folks about Christ, inviting them to church and then letting God do what He is going to do with them.
- It is convenient and easy. What it can tell people is that if you walk this aisle, raise your hand or look at the preacher- then you are saved. Historically and Biblically there is no warrant for this. Could a person be truly saved and walk an aisle, raise their hand or look up? Yes. But having said that I would rather err on the side of Biblical caution in pronouncing salvation on a person just because they did any of these things. After C.H. Spurgeon went to glory, the pastor that took his pulpit gave an alert call the very first Sunday he was there. An unsaved reporter was on hand and asked him about it, since it had never been Spurgeon's practice. The preacher replied that he liked to strike when the iron was hot. To which the reporter replied, ‘I am convinced that Spurgeon would have said that if the iron is hot today, it will be hot tomorrow as well.’
- There is no Biblical warrant to give an alter call. There is never an alter call given in all of the Bible. Instead, the call is to repent, believe and be baptized.
I am fully convinced that the Gospel is the means that God has chosen to bring repentant sinners back into relationship with Him. That it is every one of our responsibility to preach the Gospel to all people and then allow God to do what God is going to do with them.
This is what you will hear from the pulpit every Lords day. You will hear the Gospel and the exhortation to either flee to Christ or repent of your wayward living and come back home. We are serious concerning evangelism and salvation and never want to give a false sense of security to anyone concerning their eternal state. Which is why we guard the table of God the way that we do and this is why we do not give the traditional alter call.
Why do you not have a kids wing?
At this point and time in the life of our church, this question may seem a bit silly. We have no children within our body, no toddlers, no preteens, and no teens. But we will.
When that happens, what are our plans for ministering to them? How and where will a nursery be set up? Where will the kids wing be?
When that happens we plan on ministering to them here, with us. As a body. As biblically as we can. We will not have a kids wing.
The Epistle to the church at Ephesus contains great instructions for not only the life of the Christian body, but also how families, who are in Christ should live. Instructions for husbands to love their wives, for wives to submit to their husbands, for children to obey their parents, for bond slaves to serve their masters and for masters to treat their slaves as brothers and sisters in Christ. This letter was written to the church. It was meant to be read to the church at Ephesus and then passed on to the churches in other towns.
For the children to hear this word, they would have had to have been with their parents, when the letter was read, when the word was preached.
Our desire is for our children to learn to obey their parents, to learn to worship the Lord in spirit and truth and most importantly to give parents the opportunity to fulfill their God given responsibility in training up their children in the fear and admonition of the Lord.
For a more full explanation of why we desire to have our kids in our worship service, please click here.
Why Is Your Service So Basic?
It is not hard to notice that the setting in which we hold worship is, well pretty basic. No flags, no pictures of people, no stained glass, no extensive lighting or smoke machines. It would be easy to determine that the reason for this is, that this building does not belong to us. We are graciously permitted to use it for worship services, and this is a true statement. However, that is not the crux of the question. While the setting that the worship service that we hold cannot really be altered by us, the service itself is completely determined by us.
There are 2 schools of thought concerning how a church is to worship, the regulative principle and the normative principle. The regulative principle holds that God ordains through His word what can and cannot be permitted in the worship service- what is given may be used, that which is not given may not be used. The normative principle holds that anything that is not expressly forbidden can be used to worship God.
We hold to the regulative principle here. We believe that the worship of God is important to Him, and that He has given us the guides as to how we are to worship Him.
We desire to worship HIM and not us- that is why there are no ‘specials’, which can over emphasize the person instead of God. That is why we ensure that those that help in leading worship, do just that. Help in leading us in songs of worship of God, not overpower the congregation. We desire to hear each other sing— together, songs that glorify God and edify us in the reality of His goodness. This is why we will never have smoked filled rooms, making it seem ‘spiritual’. This is why we will not have special lighting, in the attempt to create a mood or feel while we sing.
That is why we pray as often as we do, we desire to acknowledge the worth, the value of God and our ongoing need for Him.
That is why we read so much Scripture. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God. The Word became flesh and tabernacled with us. God has condescend to allow us to know Him, through His word.
That is why we place emphasis on the right preaching of His word. Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instrction. 2 Timothy 4:2
That is why we place so much emphasis on the two ordinances given to the church, baptism and the Lord’s supper.
Our desire is to glory in our God, to bring glory to our God, to worship Him in spirit and truth. To magnify Him to the world through worship.
Why Are You Elder Led?
What we are talking about is called church polity. How the structure or government of a church is formed and operated. Should a church have a government? And if so, then does it really matter?
God is a God of order and logic. There is even a government system within the Trinity. The Father sends the Son, the Son sends the Holy Spirit, all while the Son remains God, and the Holy Spirit remains God and the Father remains God. All equal and separate.
God ordains a government for the family. The man being the head of the woman, the the woman being head of the children. We have witness all around us as to what happens within a family, and what happens within society when this government system is not followed.
Sola Scriptura is our guide for church polity and why we are elder led. The full explanation of our church polity is this: Elder led, deacon served, and congregational ruled.
To be clear, we are not a single elder led, even in this state of infancy, where I am the sole elder here— the elders at Meridian Church are my covering, they are my accountability, they are my sounding board and guides until such a time that we are able, as a congregation to appoint additional elders within our body.
Paul, in providing instruction to Titus, said to “appoint elders in every city” (Titus 1:5), James referenced the elders of the church (James 5:14). Paul and Barnabus appointed elders in every church (Acts 14:23). Most notably, Paul gave great instruction to Timothy concerning the church at Ephesus, and referred to the elders of the church (1 Tim 5:17; Acts 20:17). The case for a plurality of elders is strengthened by the fact that all instances of presbuteros in the Greek New Testament are in a plural form, with three exceptions. The Apostle John used it of himself (singularly) in both 2nd John and 3rd John. Peter also used it of himself (singularly) in 1 Peter 5:1. With the exception of these three personal references, every other usage was in a plural form.
The charge given to the group of elders is that they should provide guidance and oversight, so that the church can fulfill its mandates of righteousness, evangelism and worship. Elders are supposed to lovingly shepherd God’s people (Acts 20:28; 1 Pet 5:2) and have charge over them (1 Thes 5:12; 1 Tim 5:17), because they must give an account for their souls (Heb 13:17; 1 Pet 5:3).
Congregational ruled, means that the congregation makes the final decision on all major matters within the body, including church discipline. The elders lead, make recommendations but the body decides.
There are no hired pastors, whose responsibility is to do as the board of deacons tells him to do. There is no board of deacons. Deacons serve the body- they do not lead the body. There are no committees (including search committees), that micro manage and lead the body.
There are no outside rulers, who we as a body are accountable to. We are self autonomous (even now). We are associated with the Great Plains Baptist Association, we are associated with Meridian Church, we are associated with the Southern Baptist Convention, but none of them have authority over us.
For a more full explanation of elder led church polity see the article linked here, or pick up Biblical Eldership, by Alexander Strauch.
Why Are You Continuing to Have Service?
In light of the covid19 pandemic and the recommendations to self isolate, why do you choose to continue to hold worship services?
The reason that I have decided to continue to hold weekly worship services is that I see the church as essential. Christ died for His church. The Government does not see the church is essential, and for this I am not surprised, since they think that Marijuana Dispensaries are essential and until recently held that abortions were as well (and to this day they are not enforcing that abortion mills close). I am convinced that this is the right, essential and mandated thing to do.
There are 2 main Biblical reasons given for not gathering together; love for neighbors and obedience to the governing powers. I will answer both of these, starting with the second first.
Romans 13:1 is clear that we are to obey the leaders above us. In the United States of America, that is the Constitution of the United States. And it is this Constitution that guarantees our right to freedom of assembly, through the first amendment.
When our local government restricts our right to assemble, they are not only breaking the constitution but are more importantly breaking the law of God which mandates that Christians gather; ‘not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.’ Hebrews 10:25.
For the past 500 years there have been means to get sermons to the masses, but they never replaced the physical gathering of the brothers. Unless the body of Christ is not gathered together physically, the church is not present. There are electronic means to promote a teaching, to sing together, but none of these are gathering together.
Concerning loving our neighbors as ourselves, which is taken from the Gospel of Mark among other places; Mark 12:30-31
And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”
The church is supposed to be salt and light. That we alone have the truth of the Gospel message, that this world is not our home. Those that are His have nothing to fear in death, and those that are not His should fear death.
What are we saying to those that outside of the church when we shutter our doors, and act as they do in times such as these? Was Paul spouting hyperbole when he said; ‘To live is Christ and to die is gain”?
Are we not reversing the command of God and placing people before God by our actions? Is accepting that the church is not essential loving our neighbors? Is telling them, through our actions that we are more concerned about their physical well-being than we are about their spiritual well-being loving our neighbors? Should we not be bold in our actions and warn them of the coming judgment?
I acknowledge that there is a greater chance that people may die if we gather.
But none outside the express will and divine appointment of God. He is God over death. Not one person woke up today, not one heart continued beating today- outside of His express will. I hold that my actions cannot overrule the will of God.
You cannot give me anything that the Lord has not said that I am supposed to have. Period.
Jesus is the on the Throne. He is the epicenter to all that is happening within the world, including Covid -19. We, who have been bought by His blood have the truth of the Word, the only hope for this dying world. More importantly, by the demonstration of our faith, we bring glory to God, in proclaiming the life of Christ through living lives that reflect that He God, that He is worthy of praise and worship. And that we have nothing to fear in this life.
Matthew 10:26-30 “So have no fear of them, for nothing is covered that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. What I tell you in the dark, say in the light, and what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops. And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny?i And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.”