Bedside Baptist

May 20, 2015

Allen Michael Rea | Pastor
Dunn Memorial Baptist Church, Baxley, GA

I have not always pastored churches.  During the time that I was in seminary I simply taught Sunday school and assisted in the evangelism ministries of a local church. In the rough and toughness of those years I learned a new appreciation for the sheep that I would pastor. I worked odd hours at a grocery store to get by. I do not remember missing any church in those years, and I do not remember wanting to miss church during any of those years. I have never been tempted to move my membership to “Bedside Baptist.”

I do not mind the label “legalist.” I have been called it before and will probably be slandered with it again; therefore, allow me to boldly proclaim that church attendance is a significant measurement of your spiritual health and maturity. If you are missing church then you are missing out. The Bible warns us against missing church (Hebrews 10:25). I find many Christians who were once burning brightly for the Lord barely have a flickering candle to offer. They apologetically glance to the sunset and proclaim what faithful church growers they USED to be. They now frequently and habitually attend “Bedside Baptist.”

This “church” offers all the comforts of home at home. It may offer a TV sermon, or it may not.  It is a poor, pitiful, and unbiblical alternative to the fellowship of the saints. Please do not get me wrong. Just because someone is in church every time the doors are open is no fail proof test that they are saved. I find it so sad that people that never go to church claim to have fellowship with my Jesus. Luke 4:16 tells us it was Jesus’ custom to be in the synagogue. Our Lord did not skip out on church. So, why should we? Beloved, if your “faith” will not get you out of bed, what makes you think that it will get you out of hell? A “Christianity” that costs nothing will gain you nothing. “Cheap grace” and “easy believism” is not the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We had better stop being delayers and start being disciples. A so-called Christianity that does not demand that you carry a cross is not the true Gospel.

“Bedside Baptist” is full every Sunday. In it you can sacrifice to the gods of idleness, laziness, and irresponsibility. Let me give you an invitation. Come back to church. You are not allowed to love Jesus and hate church. The church is the Bride of Christ (Ephesians 5). You cannot claim a relationship with the Groom and despise the bride. Vacate Bedside Baptist and return to the church where the Bible is faithful proclaimed. Stop avoiding people. Stop avoiding conviction. Come back. You will be glad you did. Jesus misses you and you are missing out.

 

Leave a Comment:

All fields with “*” are required

 characters available

Reagan Marsh

Good words, brother!

    Reagan Marsh

    Your article reminds me of Spurgeon’s words:

    “Vain are all pretenses to religion, where the outward means of grace have no attraction.”

      Allen M Rea

      Your words are too kind brother. Spurgeon’s name and mine have probably never been used in comparison before, expect in matters of girth. ;) I have been greatly deified by his ministry. Blessings!

Doug Sayers

“…church attendance is a significant measurement of your spiritual health and maturity.” Indeed it is and that is not legalism of any kind. Church attendance does not redeem but it is one of the key ingredients in the biblical recipe for our assurance that the redemption of the cross has been applied.

We know that we have passed from death unto life… because we love the brethren. 1 John 3:14

Thanks Allen.

Allen M Rea

My pleasure brother. Thank you for reading,

James Nesmith

Really appreciate this post. In a time when Christian influence is falling drastically in America, these are the thoughts that remind us why. If the “faithful” don’t care enough to assemble to nurture that faith, those who do not know Jesus certainly will not be inclined to pursue him. Thank you again for this encouragement toward the joy and necessity of corporate worship!

    Allen M Rea

    My pleasure! Thank you for reading!

Robert

Hello Allen,

I appreciate your message here Brother, these are things I am reminding others about as well.

Regarding church attendance it really comes down to love. If you love Jesus you will love what he loves as well.

When I was a college pastor I used to remind the students, your relationship with Jesus is similar to your relationships with those of the opposite sex that you are really interested in. When you love someone you want to spend time with them, do things with them, anything to be with them and in their presence, you also try very hard to be interested in what they are interested in.! :-)

I never was into shopping at one time, then I met and married my wife and things changed. I began to delight in what she delights in (or at least try to! :-) ). So now I enjoy shopping with her and delight in seeing when she gets excited about finding something or finding some great sale!

That is the nature of love, if you love him you also want to be around his people. You will love and delight in what he loves and delights in, people coming to saving faith, people praising and thanking him, people faithfully proclaiming him in their sermons, people faithfully teaching about him, people growing in their love and trust of him, and even people departing to be with Him! If you don’t want to be around him and the ones he loves: then I seriously question your love for him.

Allen M Rea

You have offered profound truth in well worded illustrations. I appreciate you taking the time to read and to add your wisdom. Blessings!

Scott Shaver

Appreciate the spirit of this article but hope it does not serve to dishearten Christians who by reason of physical infirmity etc cannot attend church or even leave their homes or bedsides.

Thank God we live in a country where the media broadcast of Christian worship and preaching is still allowed and possible.

Would imagine John’s “bedside church” on the island of Patmos was equipped only with an oil lamp and a few scrolls.

    Robert

    Scott,
    I don’t get where you are coming from. In my commnets to Allen about the nature of love I said that if you love Jesus then you will want to be aroud the people that he loves (i.e. which is the true church, the body of Christ, which is tecnically NOT a building). The examples I gave were intentionally things that people can do OUTSIDE a “church BUILDING” (a sermon can be given in a prison something I do myself, a bible study can occur in someone’s home, and people wh depart from this life to meet Jesus usually do not do so from a church building, usually in my experience this happens from a hospital or from their home). You then brought up shut ins, as if Allen’s comments do not apply to them (and you assume that these shut ins would like to come to the CHURCH BUILDING they simply are unable to do so physically. We all understand that. But even shut ins can have the wrong attitude not wanting to be around God’s people! I personally am uncomfortable with the language of “going to church” as this implies that the real church is a building. It would be more accurate to say “I am going to the church BUILDING.” OR “I am going to the buidling where the church meets.

Allen M Rea

My biblical intentions, and Rogerist undertones, are directed at wayward sheep that simply have their priorities out of order. I have many sheep that are “shut in”. We minister to them through CDs or our radio program. I assure you John had church at Patmos. I also assure you he did some personal soul winning. I assure you also that God knows the thoughts, intentions, and every heart. I am also thankful for the media broadcast of faithful Bible preachers, not unlike our common favorite, Dr. Rogers. “Though dead, he still speaks.”

Scott Shaver

We’ve already discussed Rogers. Not going there again…,thank you

    Robert

    Scott,
    You said that you were “not going to go there” regarding Adrian Rogers. And this thread should be about the honorable and relevant and practical topic of love and love for other believers. Instead you **did** go there making a very negative post about Rogers, about his voice still speaks. What’s your agenda Scott? I have noticed that repeatedly here there is a perfectly nice discussion going on about something and then you feel compelled to inject something negative about the past **political events** in the SBC. In my opinion Adrain Rogers was a godly man while here on this earth. He may have made some mistakes (which I am sure you could document for us very well): but what does that really accomplish? If it were me and I read Allen’s comment and knew that he loves and respects Rogers, rather than responding I would just have chosen to leave it alone. But you didn’t do that, you felt compelled to make a comment that at least appears to me to be a bit snarky. So again what is your agenda Scott? Are you here to tarnish and attack the reputation of a godly man, Rodgers, keep people in line or what? Just wondering because I thought this was a nice discussion of the importance of love not another rehash of past real or imagined sleights in the SBC.

Lydia

“You are not allowed to love Jesus and hate church.”

We really need to define “church”. Many institutions that call themselves churches are not the Body of Christ. It can actually grieve Jesus Christ for us to attend some churches where we are enabling evil, corruption, greed, etc by its leaders. I do not buy into the idea that because an institution cannot be “perfect” it is ok for it to also be corrupt. And sadly, we are reading about more and more corruption every day but authoritarian church leaders. Many “dones” are simply “done” funding corruption. The latest one is at Village Church where the “covenant” signing member was expected by elders to remain married to a pedophile missionary.

    Mary

    This is side note Lydia, but I think one thing this incident at the Village Church that should be a big big red flag to the SBC at large is that we have large groups of people like Matt Chandler who do not believe in Priesthood of the Believer. The Treatment of this woman shows that they really believe that she could not seek God’s will on her own in this matter – she had to go the “priests” so they would tell her what they would allow her to do, think, and feel. When she refused she NOT the pedophile was placed under discipline. The response to the whole Duggar thing is sickening as well. For people who claim to hold a high view of woman they should don’t walk the walk.

    Max

    “We really need to define “church”.”

    Lydia, it’s sad but most church folks would define it as a building where they meet. They put their trust in what they see – the visible church which contains both believers and non-believers. There are people in the visible church who are not really saved but who gather together for “worship” – they have even been baptized and participate in the Lord’s Supper. Many are deacons; others teach Sunday School … but lost. On the other hand, there is the invisible church which is the actual body of believers … the true Bride of Christ indwelt by Jesus and filled with the Holy Spirit, the Body of Christ. It is meeting all across the planet in church buildings, homes, tents in the desert … wherever it is led by the Spirit. It is a humble gathering where you can find genuine faith, repentance, prayer, seeking God’s face, and on mission to reach into darkness to rescue the perishing. It agonizes over the condition of the visible church where religious traditions and teachings of men are at war … where the Holy Spirit is grieved and quenched.

Scott Shaver

“Though dead, he still speaks”
The ongoing divisions, fragmentation and dissolution of Southern Baptist identity will attest to the truth of the statement.

    Scott Shaver

    Chalk it up to a simple difference in historical interpretation with “Rogerists”, Robert. Nothing more, nothing less and nothing personal unless you prefer to interpret that way.

      Scott Shaver

      Was not me who chummed the water pal

Max

“You cannot claim a relationship with the Groom and despise the bride.”

Look for where the true Bride gathers and join God there! Jesus said “true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.” You may find genuine worshipers in a local church … you may not. “Forsake not the assembling of yourselves together” refers to genuine worshipers, not your average church members. Your average church member does not worship the Father in Spirit and in truth … if they did, we would be experiencing a great revival and spiritual awakening in America!

An increasing number of true believers are finding that the 21st century church is not necessarily an assemblage of “My people.” Christianity Lite is the theme of the day and many are just done with it … in fact, religious polls now call them that – the “dones.” It doesn’t mean they are done with the bride – they are just done with the counterfeit. The true bride knows the groom, while the foolish virgins do church without God. Sure, the bride of Christ can be found in some churches … but it can also be found in home churches or wherever God’s presence is as the true bride gathers. Over a long professional career, I found the Bride in workplace fellowships, in an airplane seat next to me, in a hotel lobby, in conference rooms … and yes gathered around a TV sermon in a hotel room! A common relationship with the Groom put us together and we knew it! Wherever the Bride gathers, Church breaks out!

Hudson Taylor, early missionary to China, looked at the organized church in his day and said “there has always been and always will be the Church within the church.” Today’s Church (the real one) is growing increasingly uncomfortable with the apathetic – approaching apostate – condition of organized religion. As judgment spreads across the land … as persecution of Christians in America intensifies … you will find true worshipers gathering – perhaps in the local church; perhaps not.

Brother Rea, I have been encouraged by your passion to preach. As you pastor the church God has given you, look for the true remnant in your membership and pour your ministry into them. They may be a small band, but they are the genuine Bride. You may even have to gather this Church outside the church to equip them to do the work of the ministry. You will find that believers who have a genuine relationship with the Groom would never despise the true Bride, however and wherever it manifests itself on earth.

    Max

    P.S. Lest you think I don’t go to “church”, I’ve been an SBC church member for nearly 60 years. It’s been an agonizing journey most of those years as I’ve watched the church live far below the privileges available to the Church.

Andy

While we will all acknowledge that every church has committed followers of Jesus, luke-warm followers of Jesus, and fakers…I do not see this as any reason to abandon gathering with these churches. Anyone who spends their whole life looking for a “pure” church will do just that: search their whole life and never find it. Each week I gather together with some “true worshipers” and some “average church members” often I don’t know the difference…sometimes I do. Paul, In 1 Cor. 14, seemed to expect unbelievers to be in a gathering, and hoped that the true worship of God would impact the unbeliever in such a way that would recognize God’s presence.

Every church has problems, which should be addressed…Every church has unrepentant sinners, who should be challenged…every church has repentant sinners, who should be forgiven.

I have never known anyone who’s relationship with God and love for God’s people grew as a result of him abandoning his local church for no regular gathering. I have known many of the opposite…

I am not blind to the problems of our churches, but neither am I pessimistic…quite the opposite! In every church I have been in (GARBC baptist, Non-denominational willow-creek type, reformed church plant, non-reformed traditional SBC), I have seen followers of Jesus gathering, imperfectly, with those at varying degrees of maturity and devotion…I am glad that the smaller groups of the most passionate and committed did not leave the rest and simply meet alone. They helped the rest, bearing with their flaws and sins and misunderstandings of scripture, and moved them closer to Holiness. Thank God for them!

-Andy

    Scott Shaver

    I agree with you emphatically at every point Andy.

    Would add only that the pendulum of finite understanding swings past discernment on its way to pessimism, back by it again on the return to optimism.

    If I understand Mary and Lydia correctly, don’t think “DONES” necessarily implies pessimism. Call it “church” all you wish, but if it’s something other than Christianity being served-up/promoted……done is done.

    Lydia

    If what you say is true Andy then why the need for enforceable membership covenants like what has happened at TVC? Have you read the 8 page letter they sent to the entire church AFTER she officially resigned her membership? Have you read all the dicuments? Chandler of TVC and Acts 29, is doing the opposite of what you describe. this is the new SBC. Thank you Mohler.

    What they are doing there is the direction of the SBC from 9 Marks to SGM to Driscoll, Acts 29, etc. these enforceable membership covenants are becoming the normal. that is a whole lot of power to put in the hands of 30 year old determinists.

    She was supposed to get elder approval l before she separated her finances from his. she was supposed to get elder guidance before she sought to annul her short childless (thank God!!!!,) marriage to a pedophile. Who do these guys think they are? The Holy Spirit?

    that church held a church wide meeting about her AFTER she resigned. they sent out an 8 page letter about her to every member after she resigned. how is that not gossip? Why couldn’t they leave her alone?

      Scott Shaver

      Ooops. Was not aware of this Lydia.
      Timely case in point.

        Scott Shaver

        Absolutely unbelievable!

        A cult-like and perpetually binding membership covenant employed within an affiliated “Southern Baptist” church.

        Almost as unbelievable as “Southern Baptists” who find such practices acceptable under a system of “theological triage”?

          Scott Shaver

          I’d be a “DONE” myself in that situation as soon as I read the membership covenant.

            Max

            Scott, would you be “done” if you were required to sign agreement to the Westminster Confession before being allowed to lead a small group? Such is the requirement at an SBC/Acts 29 church plant down the road from me.

              Andy

              EXCEPT THIS SECTION, HOPEFULLY….

              III. Dipping of the person into the water is not necessary; but baptism is rightly administered by pouring or sprinkling water upon the person.

              IV. Not only those that do actually profess faith in and obedience unto Christ, but also the infants of one or both believing parents are to be baptized.

              Scott Shaver

              Yes Max. The small group can lead itself or easily find another in that scenario.

              My baptist inclinations operate from a basic aversions to creeds. BFM 1963 was last substantial “baptist” document for which I felt an affinity.

      Andy

      I’m sorry, Lydia, but I’m missing how what happened at TVC is related to my comment…If you can clarify, it would be appreciated.

        Lydia

        Andy, then I do not understand what your comment before had anything to do with comments? evidently you must think your church is the sbc norm. but it is not how the big name gurus with the influence in the SBC, operate.

        Expect more of the same to eventually come out as brave souls go against these enforceable covenants. They are all the rage with the YRR we gave so much power and money.

          Andy

          Lydia,

          There were several comments that SEEMED to be responding to the OP by pointing to the sad state of today’s churches as a reason/excuse for abandoning them. (If I have mis-interpreted someone’s post, I apologize, but that is the sentiment I got form several)…I simply wanted to push back against that. Each person must look at the church they are in and decide if leaving is the best course of action or not…but it should not be done lightly.

          I know a woman who left a liberal-drifting mainline church to come to our church, and with good reason. But she told me of friends of hers, who, while disappointed with the direction of their church, did not leave…due perhaps to loyalty, or a close group of friends perhaps, perhaps hoping to change things back for the better. The point is, she had good reasons to leave, they had good reasons to stay…I cannot judge them for that. God knows we have older members in our church who have stuck it out through some very unfortunate pastoral leadership…but they outlasted the craziness, and they’ve been here far longer than pastors who punch people or leave their wives.

            Lydia

            “Each person must look at the church they are in and decide if leaving is the best course of action or not…but it should not be done lightly.,”

            If they signed a membership covenant like the one at Chandlers church they cannot make the decision themselves. That is my point. Karen officislly resigned and they were still harrassing her about not getting elder approval for her actions.

            That was my original point about what constitutes church. Is that a church or the Hotel California?

              Andy

              Sorry, I am not familiar with their covenants at TVC. My first comment was not made with TVC in mind.

              However, I will not be quick to say that a specific church is not a “church”, when it is very likely there is much gospel proclaimation and fellowship, despite unwise wording of a covenant, or unwise use of a covenant, or unwise, even sinful actions of its leaders.

          Scott Shaver

          Lydia:

          I’m not so sure that the objective of the younger element of the new “SBC” establishment is as concerned with “sbc norms” as it is with achieving an “evangelistic” (another term that needs defining) and eclectic mix of “protestants” to continue marching under the old “SBC” banner. Suspect new banner (rally pole) may be the IMB.

          You can’t care much about something if you don’t really “know” about it.

          I certainly don’t sense from that quarter any respect or desire to articulate/compare views on E.Y. Mullins or Herschell Hobbs or even mention preachers like Perry Sanders, Richard Jackson, Frank Pollard, J.D. Grey or the thousands of others who contributed so richly to Southern Baptist Life/tradition…..except when they need the weight of such names to…..further an internal SBC control agenda?

          “Historical” Southern Baptists are a rapidly vanishing breed within the current tiers of SBC leadership and education….not so much still in most autonomous sbc-affiliated churches.

          Or at least those with memberships on the ball enough not to sign a deranged and unbiblical “covenant”.

      Max

      “that church held a church wide meeting about her AFTER she resigned … Why couldn’t they leave her alone?”

      Oh but dear Lydia, they weren’t done with her until they exercised some control over her departure. I suspect that she is now being shunned by the church as a result of that church-wide meeting … an old church practice that is raising its ugly head again (happens at an SBC/Acts 29 church plant near me). In her mind, the elders were exercising too darn much control over her married life and decision to leave a pervert. In their mind, she went out from them because she wasn’t a part of them … and they would be right!

Jim p

When the Lord asked the man who had been sitting at the pool of Bethesda for 38 years, “do you want to be made well?” there was nothing facetious in His question. The Lord was aiming at the heart of the man and is a question everyone of us individually have to answer. The Lord healed the outward man’s problem. The inward man’s problem takes a cooperative work of the man, of God, Himself, and His people, i.e., the Church.

Leave a Comment:

All fields with “*” are required

 characters available