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Definitions of Doctrine-Volume 3-Chapter 24-The Responsibilities of a Teacher

CHAPTER 24-THE RESPONSIBILITIES OF A TEACHER #Mt 28:19,20 Jas 3:1

Introduction:

The church has a teaching program as well as a program of evangelism. I would not say there is too much emphasis on evangelism, but I do say there is too little emphasis put on teaching. It is common to cry up evangelism and cry down doctrine or teaching. Evangelism has for its aim salvation of the soul; teaching has for its purpose the salvation of a life. Evangelism thinks of human need; teaching thinks of the glory of God. Evangelism seeks to get men saved; teaching seeks to get men to honor God. “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:” (#Mt 28:19). Paul worked at both tasks. He pioneered along both lines. He would go through a country evangelizing the people and making disciples, and then he would later visit those places again to confirm and indoctrinate.

The divine and human classification of the human race differs. Man discriminates between his fellows on the ground of birth, of natural ability, of wealth, of race, and of culture. A professor of Ethnology would classify men according to color; as Caucasian, Negroid, Mongolian, Polynesian, etc. A psychologist would class men as extroverts or introverts. French used to divide the race into men, women, and clergymen. Our Sunday School experts divide them into many groups according to age. But God’s classification of humanity is different. He looks on the heart and not on outward appearance. God divides men into two general classes: the natural and the spiritual; those who have had one birth and those who have had two births; the saved and the lost. The great command speaks of teaching the saved. First word for teach means disciple. This is evangelism. The church is to make disciples and then teach those disciples. “Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen” (#Mt 28:20).

The Bible speaks of two teachers: the divine and the human. The divine teaching must precede the human teaching if there are to be results. Men must first be taught of God before they can be saved or taught. “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned” (#1Co 2:14); “In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them” (#2Co 4:4); “It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me” (#Joh 6:45); “They are of the world: therefore speak they of the world, and the world heareth them. We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error” (#1Jo 4:5,6). Until God teaches in calling and regeneration we can only teach the historical things of the Bible.

For this teaching program, God endowed the church with pastor and teachers. “And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers” (#Eph 4:11).

James speaks of the responsibilities of teachers: “My brethren, be not many masters (teachers), knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation” (#Jas 3:1).

Paul: “But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway” (#1Co 9:27).

Everyone of us who speaks for God should shudder at our responsibility.

1. Who are to teach? In choosing teachers we should certainly select the most godly and spiritual among us and this is no easy task. What I know of the lives of our members would not make it easy for me to select a teacher. I dare say that nobody can be selected that there might not be some objection to. I do not live with you. I do not know your home life. I do not know much about your social life. I do not shadow any of you to see where you go or what you do. But certainly no teacher of God’s word ought to mix and mingle with people of this world in their sinful amusements. I do not believe that any Christian ought to go to a show. If I thought they should I would go. And how unspeakably bad that one should desecrate the Lord’s Day by such conduct. I do not see how many Sunday School teachers live with themselves, those who live as the world lives. Unspeakably sad is the very thought that a Sunday School teacher should be found in juke joints, night clubs, and the like. Teachers have a responsibility to practice what they preach. The teacher should be an example for his class to follow. How can a teacher warn against worldliness if he himself is worldly? How can a teacher teach liberal giving if he himself is covetous? How can any teacher warn against sin if he himself is living in either secret or open sin? How can a teacher emphasize honesty if he himself ignores his obligations and fails to provide things honest in the sight of all men?

2. What to teach? Teach the word of God. The church as such has no Bible program for teaching arts and sciences. The command says teach them to observe all things Christ commanded. Nothing about physics or science.

3. How to teach? I would not pretend to lay down any method of teaching as imperative. Our Savior taught by lecture method. His lectures were in the nature of parable and story and quiz. He did not ask many questions, but His disciples put many questions to Him. Our teaching ought to provoke questions and arouse interest in Bible subjects.

4. When to teach? The teacher teaches all the time. What we teach on Sunday should not be discounted by what we teach on Monday through Saturday.

C. D. Cole-Definitions of Doctrine-Volume 3

Definitions of Doctrine-Volume 3-Chapter 23-Rewards Possible For Every Saint

CHAPTER 23-REWARDS POSSIBLE FOR EVERY SAINT

We need not be afraid that the doctrine of rewards will give some people advantage over others, the rich over the poor or the strong over the weak. God’s rewards are such that the poorest and weakest of His children may secure rewards. God’s rewards are based upon faithfulness and not upon wealth and strength. There is reward for secret prayer. “But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly” (#Mt 6:6). And for giving a cup of cold water. “And whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water only in the name of a disciple, verily I say unto you, he shall in no wise lose his reward” (#Mt 10:42).

MUST BE DONE IN THE NAME OF CHRIST

There are many institutions in the world that are doing good. They help the poor and relieve the afflicted. I have no fight to make against them for so doing. I would rather commend them, various fraternal organizations like the Masons, IOOF, and others. Our American Legion boys sent baskets of fruit and other food to the sick and afflicted, and all this was good in itself considering that it brought happiness to the recipients. But there will be no reward in heaven for all the good done by these various institutions. And of course the lost people in these organizations would not argue the question. The man who will not take Christ to be his Savior and Lord will not want any reward or expect any reward from Christ. Every man will first have to be accepted in Christ before he can be rewarded in Christ. It is only those saved by Christ who will be rewarded by Christ. If the saved in these various organizations think they ought to be rewarded in heaven by Christ for what they do through these organizations, they need to be told in words of scripture that Christ is to get the glory in His church. That His church is the institution He founded through which His people are to honor Him and work for rewards. “He that receiveth you receiveth me, and he that receiveth me receiveth him that sent me. He that receiveth a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward; and he that receiveth a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man’s reward. And whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water only in the name of a disciple, verily I say unto you, he shall in no wise lose his reward” (#Mt 10:40-42).

How can we do good in the name of a disciple? First, you must be a disciple of Christ. None but disciples can do the work of a disciple.

Then, he must do it through the church. If I give something in my own name, I will get the praise for it. If I do something through a lodge, the lodge will get the praise for it. If I do good through the church, then the church will get the praise for it. And if the church gets the praise for it, Christ is being honored, for He is head of the church.

Here are two questions of great importance: What place has Christ in your hope of salvation? He must have the preeminence here. He must be the one and only hope of salvation. Then what place has Christ in your hope of rewards? Whatever good you do must be done in His name as His disciple if you are to get any rewards for it.

THE NATURE, TIME, AND PLACE OF REWARDS

As to the nature of rewards, there is not much that can be definitely stated. Whatever they are we will be pleased with them. Whatever they are, they will be worth working for. It may be only a “well done, thou good and faithful servant:…enter thou into the joy of thy lord” (#Mt 25:21). But whatever it is I want it. It will not be something to be snickered at, and to lose it will be a great loss.

The time of rewards will be when Christ comes. “And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be” (#Re 22:12). If we have to have our rewards today for the good we do, we can do them to get human praise and that will be our only reward. That will end it and there will be no further reward when Christ comes. It is a blessed thing to work for pay if we are willing to wait for our pay until He comes. The place of rewards will be in heaven. “Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you” (#Mt 5:12). The only place we can put our treasure where it will be safe is in heaven.

Conclusion:

Brethren, let us not live and act as if we are wasting our time in the service of God. Let us not live and act as if Christ’s rewards for faithfulness were of small value. Let us not live and act as if His promises were mere sound.

C. D. Cole-Definitions of Doctrine-Volume 3

Definitions of Doctrine-Volume 3-Chapter 22-Salvation and Rewards

CHAPTER 22-SALVATION AND REWARDS #Eph 2:8-10 Re 22:12

Introduction:

There is a necessary distinction between salvation and rewards. To ignore this distinction will lead to confusion and perversion of the gospel. Salvation is for the lost; rewards are for the saved. Salvation is for believers; rewards are for workers. Salvation is by grace through faith; rewards are for faithful service. Salvation is common to all the saints; one will be no more saved than another, rewards are proportioned to the work done. “And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be (#Re 22:12). Salvation is a present possession; rewards are a future blessing. Salvation is received on earth; rewards are to be received in heaven. “Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you” (#Mt 5:12). Salvation is based on the sufferings of the Savior; rewards are based upon the suffering of the saint. Salvation is the result of Christ’s suffering for us; rewards are based upon our suffering for Him.

I have been both surprised and disappointed at the little literature on the subject of rewards. I searched here and there for some book in my library dealing with the subject and found practically nothing. I think first of all that we need the RIGHT ATTITUDE TOWARDS THE SUBJECT of rewards.

Some deny the doctrine, claiming all Christians will be equal in heaven. One will have no more than another. But this is to flatly deny the scriptures. If rewards are based on works, and they are, then the works of all would be the same if there is no difference in rewards. If rewards are based on works and suffering, what believer is there today who can expect the reward of the apostle Paul?

Some ignore the doctrine, do not deal with it, simply neglect to say anything about it. This is evident from the small amount of literature on the subject. Some despise the doctrine, having no interest in rewards. Salvation is all they want. Keeping out of hell is as far as their interest goes. They will be satisfied to be saved by the skin of their teeth.

Others say the doctrine of rewards is inconsistent with the motive of love in our works. They say we should work from love and not for pay. But if our Lord promises pay or reward we would not love Him much if we did not appreciate and strive for the reward he offers. Is it inconsistent with love for its father, for the child to appreciate and strive for reward offered by its father? I think not. Is the father afraid the child will not love him if he offers reward for faithful service? I think not.

C. D. Cole-Definitions of Doctrine-Volume 3

Definitions of Doctrine-Volume 3-Chapter 21-Church Discipline

CHAPTER 21-CHURCH DISCIPLINE

I was asked awhile back if I believed in church discipline. I promptly replied that I do and that I have tried to practice it in my ministry over the years. I know of no doctrine that has been so ignored and neglected on the one hand, or has been so distorted and abused on the other hand. Usually when discipline is mentioned the sole thought is that of turning someone out of the church. This is only a small part of discipline the serious and final part.

There are several aspects of discipline and these must be distinguished. Our text book must be the Bible.

1. Self discipline. This involves the whole of Christian living to the end of life. “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service” (#Ro 12:1); “What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?” (#1Co 6:19); “And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. (#2Pe 1:5-8).

In #1Co 9:24-27, Paul uses the figure of an athlete to tell how he disciplined himself. “Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.” He says the athlete strives for a fading crown, but Paul was striving for an unfading crown. The athlete, whatever the contest, disciplines himself; he watches his diet, he abstains from certain kinds of drink and food, he gives up a lot of delicacies and fleshly delights to fit himself for the contest. And Paul says, I watch my body with its fleshly desires; I keep it in subjection, I keep it fit for the service of God, lest when I have preached to others I myself might be a castaway or disapproved or fail to get the prize. And so every child of God must by all means discipline himself, put away fleshly lusts that war against the soul.

2. Discipline by the word. This involves the work of the pastor. “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:” (#2Ti 3:16). He is to use the word of God for teaching, for reproof, for correction and instruction in righteousness or right living. The test of my preaching is not whether you enjoy it, but whether or not it makes you better Christians. And so the purpose of discipline is to make people better, not richer or happier. Webster: “To train in self- control or obedience to a given standard.” The noun: “Training which corrects, molds, strengthens, or perfects.”

3. Discipline by our Heavenly Father. “And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him:” (#Heb 12:5). Webster: “To chastise; to punish.” Discipline by our Heavenly Father is called chastisement and is for our good, to make us better.

4. Restorative Discipline. “Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted” (#Ga 6:1). This is to be done by Christians who are spiritual, close to the Lord and living above reproach. The Greek word for RESTORE is used of a dislocated limb put back in place. And so the sinning brother is like a limb out of place and must be dealt with tenderly and in meekness, remembering that we, though spiritual, might also be tempted and do wrong.

We see another example of restorative discipline in “Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us… And if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed. Yet count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother” (#2Th 3:6,14,15).

And still another example of this kind of discipline in settling personal differences. “Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican” (#Mt 18:15-17). This is very plain. And in such a case there is evidently exclusion from the church.

The next and last case of discipline is found in #1Co 5:13 “But them that are without God judgeth. Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person.” Here is the case of a man living in unholy wedlock, a sin that would hardly be found among the heathen, the case of a man living with his father’s wife, who must have been his stepmother. And so Paul does not mince words, but tells the church to exclude him, put that wicked man away from among yourselves. RSV: “Drive out the wicked person from among you.”

Even in this extreme case the good of the sinner was in the mind of Paul. “For I verily, as absent in body, but present in spirit, have judged already, as though I were present, concerning him that hath so done this deed, In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus” (#1Co 5:3-5).

In his second letter, Paul seems to refer to this man. Read #2Co 2:1-10.

All this adds up to the solemn truth that we ought to take our Christian profession seriously. Salvation is free but service to God is costly. And as members of the same body of Christ we are tied together and belong to each other and are responsible for one another. What I do, not only as your pastor, but as a member, is of importance to every one of you. And we should not see one another sin and do nothing about it.

C. D. Cole-Definitions of Doctrine-Volume 3

Definitions of Doctrine-Volume 3-Chapter 20-Church Loyalty

CHAPTER 20-CHURCH LOYALTY #Eph 5:22

Introduction:

Among our many needs we need to be more church conscious. But in being church conscious we must be careful that it is the fruit of being Christ conscious. It is quite possible for one to be church conscious and yet have little or no thought of Christ. One may be a worker in the church and yet not love Christ. But one cannot love Christ and despise Christ’s church.

Dr. Lee: “Church members need to confer with themselves often concerning the warmth and strength of their church loyalty. The Christian who is loyal to his church above all other institutions is like the man who is loyal to his wife above all other women, and like the patriot who is loyal to his flag above all other nations; and like the child who is loyal to his father and mother above all other men and women.” And he further says that the person who regards the obligations of any relationship lightly is a light weight.

One may love the church for its material benefits and have no love and appreciation for its spiritual ministry. We ought to love the church for Christ’s sake and if we love it for His sake we will love it for its ministry of Christ and His word. We will be loyal to its teaching and preaching ministry. Our minds may trick us here. We may be loyal to the church in a program of eats and entertainment and have little sympathy for its spiritual ministry. The man who is more eager to attend a banquet than the prayer and preaching service of his church is not Christ conscious. The woman who had rather serve in the kitchen than to sit in the upper room to learn of Jesus Christ is not church conscious in the proper sense.

The word church seems to be used in Ephesians in the mystical sense. It consists only of saved people, and is considered in the making, to be completed when the day of salvation is ended. There is a sense in which only the born again are church members. The lost are in the church only in our eyes and not as Christ sees them. They are in the church only as being outwardly tied on and not as being vitally connected and drawing sap and life from Christ, the head.

Why is the church to be so important to us? Why are we to be loyal to the church above every other institution? Because of its relation to Christ:

l. It is His body. He is the head of the church to control it. The church is subject to Him, and as members we must be subject to Him. “And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church” (#Eph 1:22). The church has no earthly head.

2. It is His bride. The church is the object of His undying love. He took the sweetest and most sacred of all human relationships to illustrate the relationship between Himself and His church. No bride has ever been loved as Christ loved the church. No husband has ever given himself to his wife as Christ gave Himself for the church.

3. Of what Christ has already done for the church. He gave Himself in death for it. He could not have the church He wanted without dying for it. He couldn’t choose a bride for its beauty. He chose it and died for it while it was still in an ugly and sinful state. Men choose their brides because of their beauty and worth, but Christ chose a bride that had no beauty and worth. He chose her to make her worthy and beautiful. The beauty and glory of the church cost Christ His life on the cross. He had to go down into the depths of shame to get the pearls with which to adorn the bride. He had to suffer to make her sinless. He had to die to give her life. The church was important to Christ and therefore it ought to be important to us. Christ cares little for empires, and kingdoms, and democracies. They will all fail and come to naught. The church is the only living and eternal institution.

4. The church is important because of what Christ is yet going to do for it. “That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish” (#Eph 5:27). There will not be a pimple of imperfection when Christ is through with His church. In #Re 19:7 John gives an account of the coming wedding day “Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready.” “Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen” (#Eph 3:21).

How are we to show our love to the church?

1. By faithful attendance upon its service. The word church means an assembly and the members must assemble. They can’t do much for Christ and remain apart. They must “not forsake the assembling of ourselves together”. We need a sensitive conscience on church going. It is hard to convince some folks that it is a sin to neglect church attendance. One of the best ways to cripple the influence of the church is to stay away from its meetings. And this is about the best way to show contempt for the church.

2. By loyalty in supporting its ministry. The church has a ministry to itself and to the lost. It is to build up itself in love and reach out with its life giving message.

A columnist recently said in speaking on loyalty: “Funny, even people who laugh at loyalty in a man somehow admires it in a dog.” And a preacher recently said, “Loyalty is appreciated, admired and praised when found in lower animals. The dog that is loyal to his master is respected. Many dogs show themselves of finer quality in this regard than some people.”

Dr. Lee: “The word loyalty seems to have gone on a voyage and been lost in shipwreck on a trip and can not find its way back. The church member who is not loyal to his church is as worthless and undependable as houses without foundations, as ships without rudders, as unarmed soldiers in battle, as dishes without food when the hungry are to be fed.”

C. D. Cole-Definitions of Doctrine-Volume 3

Definitions of Doctrine-Volume 3-Chapter 19-The Importance of Church Attendance

CHAPTER 19-THE IMPORTANCE OF CHURCH ATTENDANCE

“Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;) And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: 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 10:23-25).

Introduction:

This text is a large order for the greatest of preachers and yet simple enough for babes in Christ to understand. It is a twofold exhortation.

First, we are to hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering. This means we are to keep on believing in Jesus of Nazareth as Savior and Lord and never give up the good hope that is in Him. It is the same exhortation Peter gives when he says, “Hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (#1Pe 1:13). Hope is a child of hard times. Hope has to live in a wicked world. The very word hope implies present trouble. It means something better in the future. If the present benefits of salvation are all that we will ever have there would be no place for hope and salvation would not be a blessing but a curse.

Salvation is free because it is priceless and we have nothing to pay, it is free because Jesus paid it all but the working of it out in daily living is a costly thing. It means a life dedicated to God and separated from the world and these two things go together. There can be no dedication of life to God apart from separation from the world. God and the world are incompatible. John says, “If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him” (#1Jo 2:15). Someone has said that you might as well talk about a heavenly devil as a worldly Christian. And this is the truth so far as living the Christian life in our daily walk.

Now the basis for this exhortation is that God is faithful who promised. God has made promises in His Son and every believer in the Lord Jesus Christ can pin his faith and hope to Jesus Christ with the assurance that God will keep His promises.

Second, is the exhortation to consider how to stir up one another to love and good works. Here is a vital question for us to consider: How may I stir up my fellow believers, my brethren in Christ, to love and good works? Does it matter to you how your brother lives? Do you take the position that it is none of your business what your brother or sister does? This is the spirit of Cain who asked, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” (#Ge 4:9). We certainly are, everyone of us, our brother’s keeper and to say it does not matter to us what becomes of our brother or sister is to be guilty of great sin.

CHURCH ATTENDANCE

Now the text we wish to emphasize is a clause taken from this second exhortation: “not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together as the manner of some is, but exhorting one another.” Here is a bad habit; a prevalent sin, but how few are awake to the seriousness of it. Even the most faithful do not think of it as a sin. It would create a sensation if the pastor should tell of the sins told him about various members of our church. Bad language, untruthfulness, and drinking. A lost man was quoted as saying, that if he ever made a change he would not be found in some places he finds some of our prominent church members in. I question the accuracy of his statement that they are prominent members. How does he know? He is never here to see who is prominent. But to give occasion for the enemies of the cross to blaspheme is a terribly wicked thing and woe to the member who does.

But the point I wish to put to the front right now is that I never hear of failure to attend church spoken of as if it were a sin at all.

THE IMPORTANCE OF CHURCH ATTENDANCE

1. It is a command of God. It is not a mere piece of advice. It is not something that is optional; it is as obligatory as the command of God can make it.

It is not merely the wish of the pastor, it is the command of God who cannot be trifled with. To hem and hew and offer excuses is to make reply against God. “O man, who art thou that repliest against God?” (#Ro 9:20). These words ought to awaken anyone who is not utterly beyond hope. Notice the first two words and the last word. “O man, who art thou that repliest against God?” Here God and man are put in sharpest contrast; God in His infinite greatness and holiness and power and wisdom; and man in his infinitesimal smallness and ignorance. In the Greek there is strong emphasis on the ‘thou’ “O man, who art thou that repliest against God?” It will be a happy day for some of us if God will brand that text upon our hearts so that we will never be able to forget it. If God leaves us alone to criticize Him and object to His commands, it will be absolutely fatal to us. And He may do that. “Who in times past suffered all nations to walk in their own ways” (#Ac 14:16); “Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth” (#Ro 9:18). O man, who art thou anyway? And who is God?

As an individual man is only one of the more than 2 billion 500 million human beings now inhabiting this globe. And what is this globe we call the earth? It is but a speck in that part of the universe we know about. This earth is so small that if the sun were hollow, you could pour into it 1,200,000 earths like ours and still there would be room enough left for them to rattle around in it. And the sum is very, very small as compared to Arcturus and some of the other stars whose diameters have been recently measured. And there are now known to be more than 225 million of these great worlds we call stars and God made them all. Will you defy Him and say His commandments are grievous?

It is this God who made this vast and stupendous universe and who made you and me, and who holds our very breath in His hand, who is the author of my text, and He says, “not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together” (#Heb 10:25).

2. It is one way we encourage one another. Not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another. Of all the people who need help and encouragement it is those who love the church and want to see it prosper in its work for Christ. The church is a workshop for Christ and all the members need to be at their post of duty. The church is a school of religious instruction and all members ought to be faithful scholars.

The church is a lighthouse for Christ and every member needs to “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (#Mt 5:16). It is a sin to put our light under the bushel or under the bed, and that is what people do who try to hide the good they do. Of course we are not to parade our good works to receive praise of men, but we are to do them before men that God may be praised. If the motive is wrong in displaying it for your own glory it is just as wrong to hide it through pretended humility.

If I give for the support of the church, or if I do anything else for its good, and nobody knows about it, how can it be any encouragement to anyone?

3. To neglect church attendance and I mean regular attendance. I mean attendance on all services is the most ridiculously senseless thing anybody can possibly do.

It is like employing a foreman and not furnish him with any workers. Or like appointing a general and not give him any soldiers. Or like hiring a shepherd and not give him any sheep to feed. Or like having a leader without any followers. Or like employing a teacher and no pupils to be taught. Or like a doctor with no sick people to be ministered unto.

Now the pastor has these several relationships in his spiritual ministry. He is a shepherd, teacher, minister, captain, and leader of spiritual forces, but what can he do without the forces? What can a pastor do without deacons? What can a Sunday School Superintendent do without teachers? What can the preacher do without hearers?

Every church member ought to feel it as binding on him to be in his pew as the pastor does to be in his pulpit. There is nothing that so takes the spirit out of a preacher as to face empty pews. It is not the opposition of the outside world that breaks the preacher’s heart; it is the absence of those who once made a pledge to God.

I suppose no name stands out as representative of devotion to Christ and consecrated courage than that of Paul. He was, approximately at least, all that any faithful minister might hope to become. He often stood alone in the midst of foes, and yet no man was ever more dependent upon the sympathetic help of his associates. You know how he lamented the departure of Demas. His words seem to drip with tears as he says, “Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world” (#2Ti 4:10). And about the last word he ever wrote he said to Timothy, “Do thy diligence to come before winter” (#2Ti 4:21).

Writing to the Corinthians the great apostle Paul says this: “When I came to Troas to preach Christ’s gospel, and a door was opened unto me of the Lord, I had no rest in my spirit, because I found not Titus my brother: but taking my leave of them, I went from thence into Macedonia” (#2Co 2:12-13). Paul had a wide open door at Troas but he was so depressed at the absence of Titus that he could not preach. Where is the God called preacher who does not understand the meaning of the absent Titus? Titus may be a deacon upon whom the pastor depended. Titus may have been one with no official position but some godly woman whose regular attendance has come to be expected and if she is absent it throws the pastor into a state of depression. The absence of the faithful makes the preacher feel as though the church were empty.

4. There can be no church without it. The word church means assembly and an assembly is a congregation of people. And if the members do not meet together there can be no church.

You can have a church without money for the members can meet in the homes or under the branches of trees or even in the open, but you can’t have a church without the members coming together. I say all this, not to minimize money, but to magnify church attendance.

We need money here and we have spent a lot of money on this building and for other purposes within the past few years, and we are having to spend a lot more in taking care of these windows but we need faithful members who will meet with us at least twice on Sundays and once on Wednesday night.

We have some whose large offerings we hardly see how we could do without, but I count their attendance of more importance than their money as important as that is. I think I speak sincerely when I say that if you can’t both give money and come to church too, if you must leave one of them off, then leave the money off and come to church.

C. D. Cole-Definitions of Doctrine-Volume 3

Definitions of Doctrine-Volume 3-Chapter 18-The Purpose of Church Membership

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.

Negatively:

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.

Positively:

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