Reformed Baptist Confession Of Faith
The1689 London Baptist Confession Of Faith
Annotated by Rev. Charles H.
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CHAPTER 18-THE PURPOSE OF CHURCH MEMBERSHIP
Why join a church of Christ? What is the church of Christ for? What is its mission in the world? These are elementary questions, but they need to be asked. Let each one of us here today check and double check himself by asking this question. As I go over the list of our members, I often wonder why such and such a person ever joined the church. It is to be feared that many join the church from a motive that is entirely unscriptural, and even sinful.
1. Not in order to be saved. I expect this motive heads the list of wrong motives in joining the church. The lost man persists in feeling that he has a better chance of being saved if he is in the church. But the very opposite is true. Church membership is dangerous for a lost man because:
1a) It gives him a false hope.
1b) It adds to his condemnation.
2. Not for business reasons. I will not say much about this motive because I think it does not apply to many if any of our members. Our church is so unpopular with the world that I think some stay out for business reasons. What makes a church unpopular? The truth.
3. Not for social reasons. I do not think this motive is very prevalent among our members. Have you ever realized that Christianity is largely split up into social groups. True even of individual churches. Old men’s class, young men’s class, young married women’s class, young business women’s class, etc. Then there are family groups, groups according to wealth, etc.
4. Not to be petted. Some want to go where the folks are the nicest to them. The only heaven some people want or will ever have is a place where they are the center of attraction. I think I have known people who have left one church and joined another for no other reason than that their own church did not seem to give them the attention they felt they should have. Instead of assuming their obligation to help the church show its attention to visitors and strangers, they wanted to be treated like a visitor. As a member of this church, I must not expect attention to be shown me; I must help the other members show attention to visitors.
1. To help preach the truth. “But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth” (#1Ti 3:15). “We therefore ought to receive such, that we might be fellow helpers to the truth” 3 John 8. The church is a base of supplies for the truth. It is a great spiritual commissary where the bread of life is dispensed. That is my vision for this church that our ministry may be enlarged and that the truth may go from us by word of mouth, beginning right here at this pulpit and reaching every spot where we have a member, that it may go from us by our written ministry beginning here in our community and reaching to all parts of the earth.
2. To let our light shine. Every saved person has some light, spiritual light. Light and darkness: day and night, are Scriptural symbols of truth and error; good and evil. Lost people are called children of darkness; saved are called children of light and of the day. “For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of the light” (#Eph 5:8); “And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them” (#Eph 5:11).
Now a candlestick is the place for a light. “Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (#Mt 5:14-16). And the spiritual candlestick for spiritual light is the church. “The mystery of the seven stars which thou sawest in my right hand, and the seven golden candlesticks. The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches: and the seven candlesticks which thou sawest are the seven churches” (#Re 1:20).
3. To evangelize the world. To evangelize means to gospelize. To gospelize is to tell good news. It is to tell the world the good news of a Savior from sin, the good news that a specific for sin has been found. If you had a friend or even an enemy who was dying with tuberculosis and you had a certain cure for that disease, wouldn’t you get the news to him in a hurry? You wouldn’t have much trouble in telling him about it, would you? Or if you saw a man starving for material food, you wouldn’t have much trouble in finding words to present him with some food, would you?
Brethren, we have a specific, a certain cure for sin and we ought to present it to lost men everywhere. It is the only thing we have that is sure. We do not have a sure cure for tuberculosis or pneumonia or smallpox or cancer. Every remedy has at some time or other failed, but we have a remedy for sin that has never failed when taken.
WHY SHOULD CHURCH MEMBERS ATTEND CHURCH?
One of the saddest things I know is the difficulty we have in getting members to attend church. The forces of antichrist point to this fact as a proof that church members themselves do not believe in their religion, not even worth their effort to attend meetings.
Why go to church?
1. Because God commands it. “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching” (#Heb 10:25).
2. Because you cannot have a church without it. Church is an assembly. Shut the church doors, let the people stay in their homes and never get together, and you would have no church. The building does not make the church, and it is physically possible to have saved people and yet not have a church. Suppose there are 100 saved people in this community, they stay in their homes or go about their business, they have no contact with each other in a religious way, they have no fellowship in the word of God, they never meet to pray or sing or hear the word of God, would they constitute a church? No. I said it was physically possible to have saved people in a community without a church, but it is not morally possible. Love for God and for one another will bring them together. We come to church to have fellowship in word.
3. Because we need to learn. The church is a school. Believers are called disciples or learners. Christ had a school and His followers were called disciples. The pastor of the church is their teacher. “And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient” (#2Ti 2:24). A church meeting is a school of spiritual instruction. From this viewpoint the churches look bad.
3a) From standpoint of attendance. We get alarmed about our day school if the attendance is much below enrollment. We expect a boy to grow up to be a sort of numbskull if he misses about half of his classes. And when he does come and the lesson is taught he doesn’t know what it is all about. He doesn’t get the lesson taught because he failed to get something else that must be learned first.
3b) From the standpoint of actual knowledge. A spiritual numbskull is a saved person who has not grown in grace and the knowledge of the truth, as it is in Christ Jesus.
C. D. Cole-Definitions of Doctrine-Volume 3
Sunday’s suspicion of theology led to a heightened emphasis on the effectuality of decision. He adopted Finney’s insistence on immediate conversion under the living voice of the preacher. While he was more theological than Sam Jones, he still focused on human gumption as the vital turning point of decision. To those that would not immediately respond he badgered, “Now own up. The truth is that you have a yellow streak. Own up, business men, and business women, and all of you others. Isn’t it so?” “And you tell me you can’t make an instant decision to please God,” he exclaimed in pointing to the call of Matthew. “The decision of Matthew proves that you can. While he was sitting at his desk he was not a disciple. The instant he arose he was. That move changed his attitude toward God. . . . You can be converted just as quickly as Matthew was.” The key was to make a public move.
Read the entire article here.
WESTWOOD, OCT. 6, 1883.
Poor mother has broken her rib, and I fear more than one. Ah me! She is in great pain, and is done up tight, which is another pain.
Can you preach for me in the evening of Nov. 11, and would you also preach all day on Jan. 13?
On the first occasion I shall go and have a Luther service for young men at Exeter Hall if you can serve me; and on the second I hope to be at Mentone. I put you on my last Sunday away, so as to leave a good interval that your good people might not be vexed.
Help me if you can, dear son. Love to you and Sissy and the bairn,
Your loving father,
C. H. SPURGEON.
by Michael J. Kruger
I just received in the mail the latest issue of the Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society. And I noticed that it contained my review of Monte Shanks’ recent volume, Papias and the New Testament (Pickwick, 2013). (I can’t keep track of when my book reviews appear!).
Seeing this review reminded me of one of the key debates in discussions of the emerging New Testament canon, namely whether Papias, the bishop of Hierapolis in the early second century, knew the apostle John. This is a key question simply because Papias provides one of the earliest explicit references to the gospels of Mark and Matthew.
So, where did Papias get this information from? And can this information be trusted?
Read the entire article here.
by Bill Hier
What Is Submission?
(This is a sermon I preached a couple of months ago to our congregation at On The Way Reformed Baptist Church, Oak Hills, CA – I asked input from my brethren on whether I should post it as a blog article, and the consensus was overwhelmingly “yes,” much to my surprise. Here it is, therefore – I pray it is of use to the body catholic, as it was to my brethren as the local covenant community).
Ephesians 5:21: submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.
This verse, when exposited, gives us practical implications to better help us in learning how we are to submit to God and one another, and shows that submission takes place in a hierarchy, or a hierarchal order. That order is prevalent throughout Special Revelation (Scripture), and always begins with the creature submitting to the Creator. While the Creator/creature distinction exists, the need to recognize that distinction exists, and it works out, practically, down through the created order.
Read the entire sermon here.
Humanly speaking, one of the reasons people don’t come to Christ is simply because they don’t feel they need to. After all, they reason, it’s only sick folk who go to the Doctor. These traditional thinkers believe they are decent and good and, therefore, are qualified, by their goodness, to approach God. As Spurgeon says; “There are people who quite misunderstand the gospel; they think that righteousness qualifies them to come to Christ; whereas sin is the only qualification for man to come to Jesus.”
When we are keenly aware of our sins, it is then that we see our need for the Saviour. The more we understand of the Holiness of God, the more we see the necessity to be clothed in the righteousness of Christ. Nothing but a perfect righteousness is suitable for our approach to God. Either we are covered in our own sins or by His righteousness alone.
So, let’s look again at Jesus. See Him once more at Golgotha. Look at them, stripping Him of His clothes, the very clothes the sick had touched for healing. There He is, naked and ashamed! But why? It was so that we, who have no righteousness of our own, might be clothed in His perfect righteousness and be unashamed. Without His righteousness we would all, as it were, stand naked and exposed before the Justice of God on the Day of Judgment. Is His righteousness enough for you?
Look at Calvary. With angry nails, they fastened Him to the cross. They pierced the feet which had carried Him to proclaim the Good News. With hatred, they hammered their spikes into His hands. What harm had those hands ever done? They were the hands of help and healing yet in their rage they fasten those hands to the cross. Hear the blows of the hammer, listen to His screams, see the blood. Take note, see and above all, rejoice for here is the love of God!
“Here is love, vast as the ocean,
Lovingkindness as the flood,
When the Prince of Life, our Ransom,
Shed for us His precious blood.
Who His love will not remember?
Who can cease to sing His praise?
He can never be forgotten,
Throughout Heav’n’s eternal days.”
Who nailed Him there? Was it the Jews for jealousy? Was it Pilate to show his power? Was it the soldiers for spite? No, it was our sins that nailed Him there—yours and mine. As J.C. Ryle says, “Our sins struck the hammer.” It was our sins that bruised and wounded Him. It was we who crucified Jesus.
But, have you embraced this sacrifice as your own? Since you are reading this, the chances are that you’ve heard much about the cross. But is Jesus your righteousness? George Whitefield said it like this, “Here’s something we must learn, going to Church and being good will not give you access to God. The only access we can have is if we have the righteousness of Christ? Nothing but Christ! Nothing but Christ! We need Christ alone and Christ only to be our righteousness.
He went on to say; “If you love Him and He is your righteousness, let the righteousness of your Lord be continually in your mouth. Talk about His righteousness. Recommend it to others! Think of the greatness of the gift, as well as of the giver! Tell everyone you know that Christ is your righteousness and you are saved, not because you are good but because Christ Jesus is your righteousness. Let everyone know that the Lord is your righteousness and that you are waiting for the Lord Jesus to come back from heaven to fetch you!”
Jesus is excellent! Even though our sins had caused a sinkhole of destruction, in Christ, we are brought out of its depths to the Throne.
Now we face our destiny. We have an appointed day, a Day of Judgment: But in that Day, He, the Lord Jesus will present us faultless and flawless before the Throne with exceeding joy (Jude 1:24). Then shall the Judge declare us, “NOT GUILTY!”.
Is this enough for you? Is there anything you would like to add to the Righteousness of Christ?
God forbid! Jesus is enough.
And that’s the Gospel Truth!