To Life! - Rediscovering Biblical Church
by Steve Maltz
Are you satisfied with your Christian life or do you get the feeling that something is missing, but you’re not sure what it is? Have you ever asked the question, where does the World end and the Church begin? Is the 21st Century Church truly the best it could possibly be? Are there forgotten places that we should be revisiting? Dare we believe that we could return to the Biblical Church of the first apostles? Some say we can’t, others have tried and failed. This author believes it’s worth trying again because it’s all a question of mindsets.
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The path widened alarmingly and I discovered that behind the facade of smiling, earnest faces, there was a World of disunity, confusion, strife and factionalism. Becoming a believer in the risen Christ pulls you into a multi-faceted community, but it’s not a comfortable one. You are told that you have joined a worldwide family of believers in the Way, the Truth and the Life, but you are not told of the many different ways and truths and lives!
Most take the safe route of familiarity, living out their New Life without straying too far from the pool that birthed them. This was never to be my lot. If I am defined by the building where I worship, I have been an Independent Evangelical, a Messianic Jewish believer and a Baptist, though trying not to allow such labels to define me. I have dipped my toe in many waters, some so calm they may as well be dead, some lukewarm, neither here nor there, others positively steaming, spurting hot air all over the place.
Clinging at all times to my identity, my heart welded to Messiah Jesus, I found my mind swayed by tongues, both smooth and forked, convincing me of their particular brand of Christianity. Then there were the questions, so many unanswered questions, even now, twenty four years later.
Why so many “ways”? Why so many varieties of Christianity, the denominations, some soft and forgiving, others hard and exclusive? Why such conflicting “truths”, with conflicts over healing, salvation, gifts and worship just for starters? Some are just minor disagreements between friends, others fully-blown battles. How can a people who declare they have the Truth, be so unclear on how this truth is expressed in their thinking and actions? Then there is the “life” of the Christian ...
My goodness, for a people who have been guaranteed a life of purpose in both this World and the World to come, why are we generally seen as miserable, ineffectual, selfish and judgemental? Yes, much of this is negative propaganda from the media, becoming more secular and anti-Christian by the minute, but many of these perceptions are self-inflicted. Where is the true Christian voice in our nation, speaking up to defend our values and beliefs? Ask any non-believer to name a prominent and respected Christian and he would struggle. Then ask him to watch the “God” channels on TV and be surprised if you are not met with bewilderment or even derision. Are Christians meant to be as rich and powerful as these televangelists? If all Christians are granted perfect health and unlimited wealth, as these people seem to be preaching, then why doesn’t the World believe, because surely that’s what we all want in life?
Then there are the other questions I began to ask. Why does God seem to be silent and aloof to some Christians, yet to some others He is a positive chatterbox, sprinkling them with new revelations and mighty words and actions, to say nothing of gold dust and teeth! Why do some folk believe that God has stopped bestowing His gifts on us, no more healings, or prophecy or miracles? Are all these people reading the same Bible? And what about unity? Isn’t it our love for our Christian brothers and sisters that marks us out as a special people of God? That’s fine when we’re dealing with those with whom we agree on those issues that tend to divide. But what of the rest, those with whom we disagree? What does the World really see when they watch how we interact with each other? Do they really see anything that drives them to jealousy and envy, and makes them declare, I want some of what they have? Then there are other questions concerning such topics as the rapture, the kingdom, prophets and apostles – all areas where there is so much debate and departure.
Who has got it right? Anyone? Why is it sometimes easier being a Christian in the World than a Christian in the Church? To borrow from the world of theoretical physics, is there a yet-undiscovered “theory of everything” that pulls it all together and brings order out of the ecclesiastical chaos?
I believe there could well be, and this book is my search for it."
"If you thought you knew what the Bible teaches about church life and practice, then it's time to think again. I warmly, and unhesitatingly commend this book."
"As always, Maltz writes in an illuminating and witty manner, challenging us to rethink our traditions and natural tendencies in order to gradually shed our Greek way of thinking and become more Hebraically, and hence more biblically, minded ... "
"If you thought you knew what the Bible teaches about church life and practise then it's time to think again. I warmly, and unhesitatingly, commend this book."
"In this fine book, Steve Maltz addresses the issue of religious tradition and its power to force out biblical truth, thus creating disarmed and impotent churches. It is a warning we must heed.” Chris Hill (Bible teacher, broadcaster, writer)
"From the moment I read the first paragraph of the Introduction - I was hooked and I couldn't put the book down. This is conviction set down in text, and Steve must be congratulated on the immense amount of study and application he has put into this work...!"
"... To Life is brilliant! ... So thanks for speaking the truth, and for writing books which are so clear, interesting and Biblically-based. Anyway, may God continue to bless you, and I hope loads of people not only read To Life! but act on it too."
"Just been reading the new book and thanks a lot, just when you think you’re nice and comfy in your life this book comes along and throws you all over the place once again. Congratulations though Steve, this is just what we need."
"Just enjoyed a special feast - reading your book 'To Life'. I couldn't help repeating 'Amen' to so many of the chapters, and writing exclamation marks in pencil in some of the margins. I greatly appreciated your humour too, and chuckled to myself frequently! ..."
"Much is this book is true, some good points are made, and the style is easy to follow ..."