Friday, September 11, 2009

Two Scriptures

No, the topics here aren't related. I'm simply discussing two different passages that strongly caught my attention while reading tonight.
But may all who seek you
rejoice and be glad in you;
may those who love your salvation
say continually, "Great is the LORD!"
Psalm 40:16

That's a striking exhortation. David calls all those who seek God to rejoice in Him. He encourages everyone who is pursuing God to be glad in Him. He insists that we proclaim God's greatness. In short, he commends a life lived with joyful adoration of our King. Equally compelling is David's proclamation, earlier in the same psalm, that he delights to do God's will. Delight is a strong word - our hearts should leap to obey our Savior-King. That they do not simply reminds us that still the old man wars for dominion. Pick up your sword and fight, oh spiritual man. You will have the victory - and you will have true joy.
Then His mother and His brothers came to him, but they could not reach him because of the crowd. And He was told, "Your mother and your brothers are standing outside, desiring to see you." But he answered them, "My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and do it."
Luke 8:19-21

This passage is noteworthy in an entirely different way. It calls our attention to how radically different Jesus' loyalties are than our own. Over and over again throughout the gospels, Jesus made it clear that His first loyalty was not to His earthly family or any other human institution. Instead, He firmly fixed Himself on the will of His Father.

The words also hold out a promise for us: if we hear and obey the word of God, we have more right to be the "immediate family" of Christ than would His own mother if she did not. The Father has made us His children, joint heirs of the promise with Christ. How stunning!


Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Acts29 Church Planting Network

I just stumbled across the Acts 29 church planting network. I'm curious - I've heard them highly recommended by a couple of groups I trust. I can't wholeheartedly recommend them, as I've not done enough research. Their list of qualifications for church-planters is worth taking a good look at, regardless. It's thoroughly grounded in Scripture and quite practical.

One of the best chunks of the article:
In summary, only men of finest character are fit for leadership in God's church. What is not required according to the Bible is formal theological training, though such training can indeed be very beneficial. What is also not required is a salary, though an elder/pastor is worth an honorable wage (I Timothy 5:17-18). The issue of which men lead the church is of the utmost seriousness because the reputation of the gospel in the community and health of the church are contingent upon godly, qualified men who keep in step with Jesus and can lead the church to do likewise. In this way, the elders function as an accountable team much like Jesus first disciples and are therefore quite unlike secular notions of a business or non-profit organizational board. In addition to the qualifications of an elder, the Bible also provides the duties of elders/pastors.
  • Prayer & Scripture study (Acts 6:4)

  • Ruling/leading the church (I Timothy 5:17)

  • Managing the church (I Timothy 3:4-5)

  • Caring for people in the church (I Peter 5:2-5)

  • Giving account to God for the church (Hebrews 13:17)

  • Living exemplary lives (Hebrews 13:7)

  • Rightly using the authority God has given them (Acts 20:28)

  • Teaching the Bible correctly (Ephesians 4:11, I Timothy 3:2)

  • Preaching (I Timothy 5:17)

  • Praying for the sick (James 5:13-15)

  • Teaching sound doctrine & refuting false teachings (Titus 1:9)

  • Working hard (I Thessalonians 5:12)

  • Rightly using money & power (I Peter 5:1-3)

  • Protecting the church from false teachers (Acts 20:17-31)

  • Disciplining unrepentant Christians (Matthew 18:15-17).


I'd recommend you read the whole article. You might take a look around at the site, too, and let me know what you think.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

The purpose of the Church

A brief quote from J. Gresham Machen, back in 1933, on why the church exists:
The responsibility of the church in the new age is the same as its responsibility in every age. It is to testify that this world is lost in sin; that the span of human life--no, all the length of human history--is an infinitesimal island in the awful depths of eternity; that there is a mysterious, holy, living God, Creator of all, Upholder of all, infinitely beyond all; that he has revealed himself to us in his Word and offered us communion with himself through Jesus Christ the Lord; that there is no other salvation, for individuals or for nations, save this, but that this salvation is full and free, and that whoever possesses it has for himself and for all others to whom he may be the instrument of bringing it a treasure compared with which all the kingdoms of the earth--no, all the wonders of the starry heavens--area as the dust of the street.

"An unpopular message it is--an impractical message, we are told. But it is the message of the Christian church. Neglect it, and you will have destruction; heed it, and you will have life." (From Selected Shorter Writings, edited by D.G. Hart, 376)


Reminds me of several things. First, that the purpose of the church is not to save children from AIDS or to end all poverty, or any other earth-oriented cause, however noble. It will do those things, but as a reflection of its real purpose, not as its actual purpose. That's where the social gospel goes wrong: it sees the church's task as the accomplishment of all good ends here and now. In reality, the church's goal must always be to make Christ known and to show how very deep our need for Him is. All those other things will come as part of that, but they are not it, and can never replace it. When they do, the church falters.

I'm also reminded of just how much I want to read some of J. Gresham Machen's writing; every time I run into it, I appreciate the things he has to say. Add one more to the already very long reading list. It keeps growing...

HT: Kevin DeYoung @ DeYoung, Restless, and Reformed: What Is the Responsibility of the Church?