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Truth in Palmyra

By Wally Fry

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Church membership

Nine Important Functions of the Local Church

A great post here on the importance of the local church from the Isaiah 53:5 Project

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By Aaron Dunlop from think GOSPEL.com

1. The Christian’s worship center. The local church is the center of the Christian’s worship. This is where our sacrifice for sin—our altar—is presented and understood (Hebrews 13:10; cf. 1 Corinthians 1:23). This is where our worship begins and flows out into the life. We damage the growth of Christian graces in the life if we neglect the assembling of the church (Ephesians 4:11–16; Hebrews 10:24–25).

2. The Christian’s schoolroom. Next to worship, teaching is the most prominent function of the church—they rise or fall together. The pastor and elders teach (2 Timothy 2:2), the people teach one another (Titus 2:4; 1 Timothy 5:1–2), and as a body we all teach the angels (Ephesians 3:10, 1 Corinthians 11:10) and the world (Colossians 4:5).

The learning experience of the church is not independent learning—sermons and lectures downloaded from the Internet do not serve this function of the church. The church as a schoolroom depends on the submissive integration and gracious interaction (Hebrews 13:17; Philippians 2:2–4) of Christians. They learn and teach at the same time as they interact with others in the church.

3. The Christian’s counselling room. The Spirit of God uses the preaching of the Word in a remarkable way to penetrate into the hearts and minds of the hearers (Acts 2:37). There is a mysterious element in the preaching of a single sermon. It can rebuke one and comfort another. One can be left in darkness and another illumined (Mark 4:11). “The secret of the LORD is with them that fear him” (Psalm 25:14). He knows your heart—the trials, fears, and anxieties you struggle with. The Word of God“is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12). He is then the greatest psychiatrist, the Great Physician……read the rest of the post here: Nine Important Functions of the Local Church

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Why Church Matters


This is a great article by Dave on the Rethink blog about the importance of the local assembly of believers, and why it is so important that we be part of it. His perspective is that one one who had given up on the local church, but is now back. Blessings and enjoy!

Last summer I wrote a blog titled, “Faith in Recovery: Are Traditional Faith Communities Necessary?”.  At the time I had left the Church and the Christian faith for a variety of reasons, but most of the reasons involved seeing hypocrisy in the Church and being hurt again and again by Christians.  A year later, I have found myself exploring a faith community once again in a local church in St. Louis, Missouri, and I am identifying again with the Christian faith.  I am a Christ follower, or at least I try to be.  Last summer I made the argument that traditional faith communities or churches are no longer necessary and neither is meeting corporately for worship.  Over my years in church, as a member and a leader, I have seen churches become buildings over people, businesses to be run, and I saw them become disengaged from both the culture and their congregants.  The Church I saw was not what I think Jesus envisioned during the Great Commission (Matthew 28:16-20), nor was it relevant to my life or my friends who are non-believers.  I am not here today to criticize the Church or argue against traditional faith communities once again, but instead, I am here to invite you to rethink church and how we as Christians are the Church.

Rethinking church begins by reexamining ourselves.  After all, we (all who claim to be Christ followers), are the Church.  What does it to mean to reexamine ourselves?  2 Corinthians 13:5 gives us an idea about that.  I often ask myself, am I the kind of person that I would want in a church?  Or, do I represent Jesus well?  Would my friends see Jesus in me?  With that comes accountability.  It is one thing for me to think I am representing Jesus well, but it is another thing for others to think that and hold me accountable to scripture with others in community.  One reason I think traditional faith communities matter is because we are called to be accountable to one another and carry each other’s burdens (Galatians 6:2).  We are also called to share meals together, in particular the Lord’s Supper, praise God together and help others in the community who are in need (Acts 2:42-47).  It is very difficult to do this outside of a traditional faith community.  I think it is okay and even sometimes necessary to reimagine what a traditional faith community looks like and where and when it meets.  I have no problem with a church meeting in a school, home, or even a bar, but it does matter that we meet together for worship, teaching and the Lord’s Supper…..Read the Rest of the post here: Why Church Matters

What I DO Like About Church

As my readers know, Sunday morning is when I usually post something that might encourage another to visit God’s House this morning. Since everybody in the universe knows how I feel about the subject, I also usually share the thoughts of another writer on the subject. This morning they are the thoughts of my blogging friend Becky. Blessings and enjoy!


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I’ve said more than once that I’ve been spoiled. I’ve spent the bulk of my adult life in one Bible-believing church. Without a doubt, the teaching I received there and what I’ve learned from regular time in God’s word are the causes for any spiritual growth in my life. From what my church has done right and also from what it has neglected, I have developed a few items on my “this is what I like” list.

First, Biblical, expository preaching. Many preachers use the Bible as their text. I’ve heard preachers who primarily retell the Biblical passage they’ve chosen, putting it in their own words and perhaps giving it a contemporary slant. I’ve heard other preachers who take the main topic of a text and discuss it, using all kinds of research and examples from literature or history or psychology or whatever. I’ve also heard preachers who take a topic and then find verses in the Bible to support what they want to say about that subject…….Read the rest of the post here: What I DO Like About Church

8+ Reasons Why Smaller Churches Are Better

As normal on Sunday morning I like to post something related to what we really ought to be doing this fine Sunday morning. Here is one from my friend Pastor Anthony Baker at The Recovering Legalist.

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The Survey

In a recent study conducted by the survey pro’s at TheRecoveringLegalist.com, pastors from both large and small congregations shared why they thought a small church could be better than a big one.

The survey sample was made up of pastors from various denominations, from different parts of the country, and consisted of men from my personal contact list – and my wife. It was VERY scientific – sorta.

The Question

I had my own thoughts, but I wanted to know what others thought, so I asked a question. The question I posed to other pastors went something like this:

“I’m doing a quick, non-scientific survey for a blog post (no names will be mentioned). Can you give me 1 or 2 reasons why a small church could be better than a big church?”

Within moments I received multiple replies through text, email, and Messenger. It took them very little time to respond, like it was something they didn’t even have to think about, and the answers they gave were practically the same.….read the rest of the post here: 8+ Reasons Why Smaller Churches Are Better | The Recovering Legalist

I’m a Member, Now What?

By: John MacArthur

From: Grace to You

Faithful participation in a local body of believers is a vital part of the Christian life. It brings us into fellowship with other believers, submits us to the authority of the Lord through His church, makes us useful to God and His people, and shapes our identity in Christ and our testimony to the outside world.

Of course, church membership is not just a personal matter. Clearly, the issues are corporate as well. The ordinances given to the local church—baptism, communion—lose their significance outside the group setting. As believers pull away from participating in local, corporate worship, they miss out on profound blessings that can be experienced only in that setting.

There are many people today who would call themselves Christians who have never been baptized; many others have little to no interest in celebrating the Lord’s Table. And for the countless professing believers who have adopted the consumer mindset regarding church, it’s likely that neither baptism nor communion will ever be a priority for them.

It’s become such a problem that many churches have deprioritized the biblical ordinances, relegating them to unpopular midweek services or ignoring them altogether. They would rather reject the clear commands of Scripture than risk offending an unbeliever or making anyone uncomfortable with unfamiliar church practices.

That’s tragic. Baptism is perhaps the clearest expression and testimony we have to the life-changing power of Christ. And communion unites the church in celebration of the sacrifice He made on our behalf. They’re not optional rituals—they’re vivid examples to the power and work of the Lord, ordained and instituted by God for the growth, unity, and testimony of His church.

And even in churches where baptism and communion are administered, they’re often directed as expressions of personal faith rather than corporate identity. They don’t celebrate the commonality of the church, as we’re baptized into one body and gathered at the foot of the cross to share in Christ’s sacrifice. They’re erroneously observed as individual acts, with individual significance and individual results.

Just as believers need to fight against the temptation to withdraw from the church, we also need to fight the tendency to isolate ourselves within the congregation. We can’t reject our corporate identity in Christ—we’re united in love, faith, and purpose. Baptism and communion are public expressions of that unity.

Over the next few days, we’re going to examine the ordinances of the church, both what they mean and why they matter.

Read the original post here on Grace to You

Membership Is Submission

By: John MacArthur

From: Grace To You Blog

As a pastor, I know I will have to give an account for the people under my leadership (Hebrews 13:17). Every pastor faces the same burden for the men and women under his care. But what good is a shepherd if the sheep won’t submit to his authority? In an age of unprecedented ecclesiastical consumerism, how can a pastor lead, serve, or even know an inconsistent, fluctuating flock?

Active involvement in and submission to a local church body is crucial if we’re going to live up to God’s plan and pattern for the church. As we’ve already seen, the idea of Christians floating free between multiple congregations and never committing to one church body is completely foreign to the New Testament. That kind of untethered independence cuts you off from the authority the Lord established through His church.

Just what that authority looks like is the cause of much controversy in the church today. Some pastors exercise illegitimate authority over their churches, with a level of involvement in their members’ lives that borders on abusive or dictatorial. It’s not the pastor’s role to tell his people where they should live, where they should work, whom they should marry, or exert that kind of control in other areas of their lives.

The only biblical authority a pastor has comes from the Word of God and the Holy Spirit working through his teaching in the lives of his flock. In effect, he’s not a source of authority himself, but a vessel of it from the Lord to His people. That’s the authority God’s people need to submit to—the work of the Spirit through the faithful, consistent teaching of God’s Word.

And how should believers respond to that kind of authority? That’s the question the writer of Hebrews was addressing in 13:17. “Obey your leaders and submit to them; for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you.”

It’s a tremendous grief to try to shepherd a rebellious flock. Watching over the people of God is no easy task to begin with. We’re called to train, disciple, support, and serve you. We’re called to guard your purity, and to lend insight and exercise oversight with you. We’re also called to exhort, warn, admonish, reprove, rebuke, and discipline in the application of God’s Word in your lives—all for the sake of your spiritual growth.

That’s hard enough with believers who are eager and engaged in the process. It’s virtually impossible with people who won’t be faithful to the flock and who want nothing to do with your leadership.

If you have a faithful pastor or church leader who exemplifies the qualities of a shepherd, let him know how much you appreciate his labor on your behalf (cf. 1 Thessalonians 5:12). It will be a great encouragement to him to know he’s making a spiritual difference in your life.

And if you’re a believer who rejects the biblical authority of the local church and won’t submit to your pastor or church leaders, you need to do a careful, thorough examination of your heart. What’s behind your rebellious spirit? What sin are you harboring that’s keeping you from submitting to godly authority? Are you sure you’re truly saved at all?

The authority of the church isn’t harsh, personal, or oppressive. It’s parental, building you up and working for your benefit (1 Thessalonians 2:7-12). Don’t be foolish enough to reject that kind of biblical influence and authority in your life. Seek it out and submit to it in church membership.

Read the original post here at Grace To You

Membership is Fellowship

By: John MacArthur

From: Grace To You Blog

The genuine spiritual unity of saved souls is evident throughout the New Testament. And back then, just as today, that unity was manifest in the local gathering of believers.

Christians inherently bond together in common, shared spiritual life with those of like precious faith. Through the new birth of salvation, we have entered into a fellowship with other believers—a fellowship that’s so wonderful, unique, and precious that Paul sternly warned the Corinthians to make sure there were no divisions among them that could threaten it (1 Corinthians 1:9-10).

The word we translate as fellowship—koinonia—essentially means partnership. Paul describes that partnership in Galatians 2:9: “And recognizing the grace that had been given to me, James and Cephas and John, who were reputed to be pillars, gave to me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship.” He and Barnabas were affirmed and welcomed into common participation in eternal life, as it is manifest through the visible life of the church.

That’s exactly what happens in church membership—the individual believer is publically identified with the local body of believers and enters into an ongoing spiritual partnership with that congregation. It’s a public affirmation of our unity in Christ, our care for each other, and our shared desire to grow together in the love and knowledge of God’s Word.

That’s why the modern trend of believers floating freely between congregations and never firmly planting in one place is a foreign concept to Scripture. What we have today is a model built on a consumer mentality—people go to church wherever their felt needs are addressed, and unplug and move on when those needs change or are better met somewhere else. That pattern is completely contrary to the one we find in God’s Word.

In fact, it’s expressly forbidden by Scripture. Hebrews 10:23-25 is unequivocal when it comes to the necessity of fellowship.

Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.

How can the people of God “stimulate one another to love and good deeds” if they aren’t regularly meeting together? It can’t happen. Forsaking the fellowship of other believers cuts you off from a key, God-ordained source of biblical instruction, refining accountability, and spiritual growth (cf. Proverbs 27:17).

And the need for fellowship is even greater as we draw nearer to the return of Christ. The shepherdless flock won’t thrive; it’ll scatter. And the rogue sheep is easy prey for wolves. Faithful fellowship helps insulate you from the influences of a world that’s sprinting to hell. Why wouldn’t a Christian take advantage of that?

Instead, too many believers today approach church like a duty or a task—one that’s quickly pushed aside and forgotten as soon as it’s been accomplished.

I can’t understand that attitude. I want to be with the people of God every opportunity I get. I want to share together in our common love for the Lord and His truth. I want to build and deepen friendships, bear each other’s burdens, and extend comfort and encouragement to those who need it. I want to come together with a collective choir of believers to sing praises to the Lord. I want to pray and worship with people who love God’s Word, and I want to see firsthand what His Word is accomplishing in their lives.

All of that is meant to happen in the church, not in spite of it.

View the original post here on Grace To You

The Local Church and Why It Matters

By: John MacArthur

From: Grace To You Blog

I love the church. It’s the center of my life and has been since childhood. My father was the pastor of a church when I was born, and I grew up in the church. It’s the place where I was led to the knowledge of God, where I learned about the Person and work of Christ, and where I gained the knowledge of saving and sanctifying truth. It’s where I learned how to pray, how to sing, how to worship, how to love, and how to serve. And it was in the church that I experienced the leading of the Spirit of God directing me to a life of ministry.

I met my wife in the church. We raised our children in the church, and now our grandchildren, too. It’s where I’ve made lifelong friends and partners in ministry. The church touches every part of my life—in fact you could say it is my life.

People sometimes ask me why I write so much about issues in the church—why I can’t just be quiet and enjoy my ministry. The answer is, I love the church so much that I can’t stand by and watch it struggle. I want to help it be all God wants it to be, and that means I need to be a pastor. I love the church too much to do anything else.

And frankly, I can’t understand people who don’t have a similar love for the church—who aren’t eager for every opportunity to worship together with other like-minded believers. I can’t understand people who go to church on Saturday nights so they don’t “mess up” their Sundays. Why are they so eager to get away from the church? Where else would they rather be?

There was a time when coming to Christ meant coming to His church. As far back as the New Testament, salvation brought you into union with the visible, gathered Body of Christ (cf. Acts 2:47). Becoming a Christian meant entering into fellowship with the people of God.

That’s changed. The contemporary emphasis in evangelicalism is a believer’s personal relationship to Christ. Individual faith is the pervasive theme, and rarely is there any discussion of how believers are supposed to fit into the church.

When was the last time you read a tract or heard a gospel presentation that ends with a discussion of the believer’s relationship to the church? At best there is a very low emphasis on church involvement, church membership, and being a part of the family of God in the visible, gathered household of saints.

And in the massive effort to make salvation personal, the church has been left behind and overlooked to the detriment of many souls. Too many people today tend to be ecclesiastical consumers. They’re only interested in what they can get out of their church, and they bounce from congregation to congregation as their whims and interests change. They don’t have any particular commitment or loyalty to a specific assembly of saints.

In fact, they have little to no attachment to the church at all, and are under no obligation for regular attendance—if they make it, they make it; if not, it’s no big deal.

For people like that, their faith is completely anchored in their personal relationships with Christ—there is no corporate commitment or responsibility to the people of God. Their Christianity exists completely outside and apart from the church.

But the idea of believers living independently of the church is totally foreign to the New Testament. The Holy Spirit addressed almost every epistle to a local church, and other books like 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus, and Philemon were addressed to key leaders in the church. Even the book of James—which was written to believers scattered by persecution—assumes the recipients are still meeting together and deals heavily with life in the context of the church.

Throughout the New Testament the assumption is always the same: that the people of God are faithfully gathering together in a local assembly where the Word of God is being disseminated. That unified gathering—not just the invisible worldwide church, but the local, visible congregation—is at the heart of Christianity. The church is the only institution the Lord established and promised to bless. Why would anyone who claims to love the Lord want to keep His people at arm’s length?

The widespread lack of commitment to the church shows up in many other ways as well—the rampant neglect of baptism and communion, the explosion of parachurch ministries, and the forsaking of the biblical qualifications for church leadership are just a few examples. We’ll deal with each of those issues later in our series on the local church.

For now, we’re going to focus on our responsibility to the church and the role each of us is called to play in our local congregations. It starts with the important step of submitting to your local church in membership, and that’s where we’ll pick up next week.

Read the original post here

The Importance of Church Memberhip

By: John MacArthur

From: Grace to You Blog

Your local church plays a significant role in your spiritual life. In most cases, the local church is the primary source of Bible teaching, worship, discipleship, accountability, admonishment, encouragement, and fellowship.

Considering the vital role the local church plays in spiritual growth, it’s a wonder that so many Christians don’t feel the need to identify with a specific congregation through church membership. Rather than planting with one church body and developing deep spiritual roots, too many believers today seem content to drift among multiple congregations, landing wherever they feel their needs and interests are best served.

That consumer-driven approach contradicts the New Testament model for the church and bypasses the Lord’s design for spiritual growth and leadership. It also cripples the believer’s usefulness to the Lord and to the Body of Christ.

When John MacArthur was recently in studio, we asked him about the importance of church membership and the role it plays in the life of the believer. Here’s what he said:

View the original article here

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