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Archive for April, 2012


Index CĂRŢI

Din cuvintele lui Ion Plugarul
Învăţături de bun simţ

de Charles Haddon Spurgeon

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Prefaţă
Pentru leneşi
Bunătatea din inimă şi tăria de caracter
Răbdare
Femeile guralive
Nu pierde prilejul
Deschide-ţi bine ochii
Gânduri asupra gândurilor
Cusururi
Lucruri care nu face să le încerci
Datorii
Căminul
Oameni cu greutăţi
Nădejdi
Cheltuieli
O vorbă bună pentru femei
Oameni cu două feţe
Câteva sfaturi pentru cine vrea să înainteze
Vorbe umflate
Ce n-aş vrea
Încearcă
Oameni foarte neştiutori

Index CĂRŢI

http://www.theophilos.3x.ro/Biblioteca/Carti/ONLINE/Din%20cuvintele%20lui%20Ion%20Plugarul/index.html

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The Holy Spirit in the Church

Submitted by William MacDonald on Mon, 02/07/2005 – 06:00

PRACTICAL GUIDANCE

The assembly should seek His guidance in all its affairs’ whether in choosing a location for its public testimony, arranging the types of meetings to be held, discerning the human instruments to be used in ministering the Word of God, disbursement of funds, or carrying on godly discipline.

THE HOLY SPIRIT IS SOVEREIGN

The local church should ever recognize the sovereignty of the Spirit. By this we mean that He can do as He pleases, and that He will not always choose to do things in exactly the same way, though He will never act contrary to the Word. Some of the symbols of the Spirit used in the scriptures – fire, oil, water, wind speak of fluidity, of unpredictable behavior. Thus, wise Christians will be sufficiently elastic to allow Him this divine prerogative.

It was so in the early church, but soon people became uneasy with meetings that were “free and social, with the minimum of form.” Thus controls were added and formalism and ritualism took over. The Holy Spirit was quenched, and the church lost its power.

QUENCHING THE SPIRIT

This shift from the freedom of the Spirit to human control has been described by James Denney eloquently. Though Mr. Denney writes at some length, the reader will find his article will richly repay study Commenting on the verse, “Quench not the Spirit,” (I Thess 5:19) he says: ‘When the Holy Spirit descended on the Church at Pentecost, there appeared unto them tongues parting asunder, like as of fire; and it sat upon each one of them’; and their lips were opened to declare the mighty works of God. A man who has received this great gift is described as fervent, literally, boiling, with the Spirit. The new birth in those early days was a new birth; it kindled in the soul thoughts and feelings to which it had hitherto been strange; it brought with it the consciousness of new powers; a new vision of God; a new love of holiness; a new insight into the Holy Scriptures, and into the meaning of man’s life; often a new power of ardent, passionate speech. In the First Epistle to the Corinthians Paul describes a primitive Christian congregation. There was not one silent among them. When they came together every one had a psalm, a revelation, a prophecy, an interpretation. The manifestation of the Spirit had been given to each one to profit withal; and on all hands the spiritual fire was ready to flame forth. Conversion to the Christian faith, the acceptance of the apostolic Gospel, was not a thing which made little difference to men: it convulsed their whole nature to its depth; they were never the same again; they were new creatures, with a new life in them, all fervor and flame

“A state so unlike nature, in the ordinary sense of the term, was sure to have its inconveniences. The Christian, even when he had received the gift of the Holy Ghost, was still a man; and as likely as not a man who had to struggle against vanity, folly, ambition, and selfishness of all kinds. His enthusiasm might even seem, in the first instance, to aggravate, instead of removing, his natural faults. It might drive him to speak-for in a primitive church anybody who pleased might speak – when it would have been better for him to be silent. It might lead him to break out in prayer or praise or exhortation, in a style which made the wise sigh. And for those reasons the wise, and such as thought themselves wise, would be apt to discourage the exercise of spiritual gifts altogether. ‘Contain yourself,, they would say to the man whose heart burned within him, and who was restless till the flame could leap out; ‘contain yourself; exercise a little self-control; it is unworthy of a rational being to be carried away in this fashion.’

“No doubt situations like this were common in the church at Thessalonica. They are produced inevitably by difference of age and of temperament. The old and the phlegmatic are a natural, and, doubtless, a providential, counterweight to the young and sanguine. But the wisdom which comes of experience and of temperament has its disadvantages as compared with fervor of spirit. It is cold and unenthusiastic; it cannot propagate itself; it cannot set fire to anything and spread. And because it is under this incapacity of kindling the souls of men into enthusiasm, it is forbidden to pour cold water on enthusiasm when it breaks forth in words of fire. That is the meaning of ‘Quench not the Spirit.’ The commandment presupposes that the Spirit can be quenched. Cold looks, contemptuous words, silence, studied disregard, go a long way to quench it. So does unsympathetic criticism.

“Everyone knows that a fire smokes most when it is newly kindled; but the way to get rid of the smoke is not to pour cold water on the fire, but to let it burn itself clear. If you are wise enough you may facilitate this by rearranging the materials, or securing a better draught; but the wisest thing most people can do when the fire has got hold is to let it alone; and that is also the wise course for most when they meet with a disciple whose zeal burns like fire. Very likely the smoke hurts their eyes; but the smoke will soon pass by; and it may well be tolerated in the meantime for the sake of heat.

For this apostolic precept takes for granted that fervor of spirit, a Christian enthusiasm for what is good, is the best thing in the world. It may be untaught and inexperienced; it may have all its mistakes to make; it may be wonderfully blind to the limitations which the stern necessities of life put upon the generous hopes of man: but it is of God; it is expansive; it is contagious; it is worth more as a spiritual force than all the wisdom in the world.

“I have hinted at ways in which the Spirit is quenched, it is sad to reflect that from one point of view the history of the church is a long series of rebellions of the Spirit. ‘Where the Spirit of the Lord is,’ the Apostle tells us elsewhere, ‘there is liberty.’ But liberty in a society has its dangers; It is, to a certain extent, at war with order; and the guardians of order are not apt to be too considerate of it. Hence it came to pass that at a very early period, and in the interests of good order, the freedom of the Spirit was summarily suppressed in the church. ‘The gift of ruling,’ it has been said, ‘like Aaron’s rod, seemed to swallow up the other gifts.’ The rulers of the church became a class entirely apart from its ordinary members, and all exercise of spiritual gifts for the building up of the church was confined to them. Nay, the monstrous idea was originated, and taught as a dogma, that they alone were the depositaries, or, as it is sometimes said, the custodians, of the grace and truth of the gospel; only through them could men come into contact with the Holy Ghost. In plain English, the Spirit was quenched when Christians met for worship. One great extinguisher was placed over the flame that burned in the hearts of the brethren; it was not allowed to show itself; it must not disturb, by its eruption in praise or prayer or fiery exhortation, the decency and order of divine service.

I say that was the condition to which Christian worship was reduced at a very early period; and it is unhappily the condition in which, for the most part, it subsists at this moment. Do you think we are gainers by it? I do not believe it. It has always come from time to time to be intolerable. The Montanists of the second century, the heretical sects of the middle ages, the Independents and Quakers of the English Commonwealth, the lay preachers of Wesleyanism, the Salvationists, the Plymouthists, and the Evangelistic associations of our own day, all these are in various degrees the protest of the Spirit, and its right and necessary protest, against the authority which would quench it, and by quenching it impoverish the church.”

The assembly, then, should never fetter the Holy Spirit, either with unscriptural rules, stereotyped program, rituals, or liturgies. How grieved He must often be by rigid understandings that a meeting must end at a certain time, that a service must always follow a certain routine, that ministry at certain stages of a worship meeting IS quite unacceptable! Such regulations can only lead to a loss of spiritual power.

IF THE SPIRIT HAD HIS WAY TODAY

We might well pause to ask ourselves what it would be like in our local churches if the Holy Spirit were really depended on to be the Divine Leader. C. H. Mackintosh gives a vivid description of such a situation, and we reproduce it here:

“We have but little conception of what an assembly would be were each one distinctly led by the Holy Ghost, and gathered only to Jesus. We should not then have to complain of dull, heavy, unprofitable, trying meetings. We should have no fear of an unhallowed intrusion of mere nature and its restless doings—no making of prayer—no talking for talking’s sake—no hymnbook seized to fill a gap. Each one would know his place in the Lord’s immediate presence—each gifted vessel would be filled, fitted, and used by the Master’s hand—each eye would be directed to Jesus—each heart occupied with Him. If a chapter were read it would be the very voice of God. If a word were spoken, it would tell with power upon the heart. if prayer were offered, it would lead the soul into the very presence of God. If a hymn were sung, it would lift the spirit up to God, and be like sweeping the strings of the heavenly harp. We should feel ourselves in the very sanctuary of God and enjoy a foretaste of that time when we shall worship in the courts above and go no more out.

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THE CONVERSION OF MATTHEW

http://youtu.be/OqBsD3_0Q8A

Dr. Ray Sleiman “The Conversion of Matthew” 03/26/2012

Published on Apr 15, 2012 by Ray Sleiman

About Ray Sleiman

So-Cal Christian Medical (S.C.C.M.) is a Christian Organization/Non-Denominational with a Single purpose of proclaiming Jesus Christ as LORD and Savior and to build the Body of Christ.

S.C.C.M. holds at least two dinner meetings a year in March and October

S.C.C.M. is an extension of Grace & Truth Gospel Church and Lebanon Prayer Group

Matthew 9:9
As Jesus passed on from there, He saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax office. And He said to him, “Follow Me.” So he arose and followed Him

https://ioan17.wordpress.com/2012/02/03/there-was-a-great-joy-in-the-city-10-24-2011dr-ray-sleiman/

https://ioan17.wordpress.com/2012/02/03/church-labor-dr-raymond-sleiman-mpg-translated-in-romanian/

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SHE HATH DONE WHAT SHE COULD

Published on Apr 15, 2012 by

About Ray Sleiman

So-Cal Christian Medical (S.C.C.M.) is a Christian Organization/Non-Denominational with a Single purpose of proclaiming Jesus Christ as LORD and Savior and to build the Body of Christ.

S.C.C.M. holds at least two dinner meetings a year in March and October

S.C.C.M. is an extension of Grace & Truth Gospel Church and Lebanon Prayer Group

SHE HATH DONE WHAT SHE COULD

For AltoSolo,Choir,Violin and Pian

                             Words and music,by Julia Montoro

                                                 Arr.Dale Lieser

In the midst of the noise and the happy occasion

There was just one kneeling there in adoration

Tears softly flowed, like ointment she poured

On the head, on the feet,of her Savior and Lord

She hath  done what she could,

And the work it is good.

Precious oil, pure and sweet

She hath poured at my feet

For my death she prepared

In my sorrow she shared

She hath done,she hath done

what she could what she could

There were some that would scorn,

They would try to give her blame

He spoke the words,

,,She has come to praise my name’’

Worship went on

And the fragrance so rare

Filled the house,

And God’s glory was shown to us there

Dear Saint,as you walk in this wicked world of sin,

Sin crowding in many voices screaming out,

Be not dismayed, keep your eyes on the Lord

Let your life,pure and clean,praise  our Savior adored

She hath done what she could,

And the work it is good

Precious oil, pure and sweet

She hath poured at my feet

For my death she prepared

In my sorrow she shared

She hath done,she hath done

what she could, what she could

Related articles

https://ioan17.wordpress.com/2012/04/01/a-prostitute-teaches-me-how-to-worship/

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The Headship of Christ

Submitted by William MacDonaldon Mon, 02/07/2005 – 06:00

CHRIST THE HEAD

 A second truth to which the local church should be a witness is that Christ is the Head of the body. How can believers testify to this fact today? Obviously they must accept no human leader as head of the Church. The most glaring violation of this is the head of a large religious system who claims to be the temporal head of the body of Christ. Most Christians today have seen the folly of such a pretension, yet in somewhat subtler forms the evil has infiltrated into almost all segments of Christendom.

The Headship of Christ is truly acknowledged when He is allowed to control the church’s activities, to make its decisions, to superintend in every department. To many this will sound vague and impractical. How can the Lord in heaven guide a local church on earth? The answer is that He will never fail to make His will known to those who patiently wait on Him for it. True, this requires a great deal of spiritual exercise on the part of the believers. It would be much easier to take matters in their own hands, and make their own plans. But it should be remembered that New Testament principles can only be carried out with New Testament power, and those who are unwilling to tread the path of dependence, prayer, and patient waiting will never have the privilege of seeing the Great Head of the Church guiding the local church or assembly here on earth.

At this point it might be appropriate to emphasize that it is one thing to give lip-service to the Headship of Christ and quite another thing to acknowledge it practically. There are some who apparently would shed their blood for the truth of the Headship of Christ, and yet who deny it practically by being virtual dictators in the assembly. A man or a group of men may not have any official title or designation in a church and yet rule it ruthlessly. Diotrephes was such a man (3 John 9, 10). He loved to have the preeminence; he spoke against godly men like John with malicious words; he would not receive such men, and forbade those who would, casting them out of the church. This was a positive denial of Christ as Head.

Perhaps a word should be added concerning the headquarters of the church. The word headquarters speaks of the center of operations and of authority. The headquarters of the church are where the Head is; namely, in heaven. A local church cannot consistently recognize any controlling organization such as a synod, presbytery, or council where control is exercised over a single church or a group of churches. Each assembly stands directly responsible to the Head of the Church, and should be nothing and do nothing that would deny that truth.

RECEPTION POLICY

As pointed out previously, a third important truth in connection with the Church is that all believers are members of the body. It is the duty of the assembly to set forth this truth with accuracy and faithfulness. Nothing that it teaches or practices should deny the oneness of all Christians. If we inquire how the local church can witness to this, we shall find ourselves concerned with the policies it follows in receiving others into its fellowship. This subject is commonly known as reception policy, and the principles are clear.

 1. THE GENERAL RULE

The general principle is that the local church or assembly should receive all those whom Christ has received. “Wherefore receive ye one another as Christ also received us to the glory of God” (Romans 15:7). The basis of true fellowship is the fact that a person has already been received into the body of Christ. The local church merely gives visible expression to that fact by welcoming him into its midst.

2. EXCEPTION TO THE RULE

However, this is not a rule without exception. There are three additional requirements which are implicit in the teachings of the New Testament. The person received must be holy in life (1 Corinthians 5:11; 10:21). It would obviously give a very inaccurate representation of the holy character of the church to receive a fornicator, a covetous man, an idolater, a railer, a drunkard or an extortioner.

Closely associated with this is the fact it would be quite improper to receive a person who was at the time under discipline by another local church (1 Corinthians 5:13). This would be a denial of the unity of the body of Christ (Ephesians 4:4). Until an excommunicated person has been restored to fellowship with the Lord and with His people, he is counted as a heathen man and a publican (Matthew 18:17).

Finally, the person must be sound as to the doctrine of Christ (2 John 10). “If there come any unto you and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed”, The question arises here as to what is included in the doctrine of Christ. The expression is not explained in this passage, but we would suggest that the doctrine of Christ includes the great truths concerning His Person and Work: namely, His deity, His virgin birth, His sinless life, His substitutionary death, His burial, resurrection and ascension, and His coming again.

To summarize then, we would conclude that a local church should receive into its fellowship all born-again believers who are holy in life, not under discipline by some other local church or assembly, and sound in doctrine.

3. OTHER PERTINENT RULES

But the Scriptures give us some other instructions as to the matter of reception. The local assembly should:

1. Receive him who is weak in the faith (Romans 14:1). This refers to a Christian who is unduly scrupulous with regard to matters of moral indifference. The fact that he is a vegetarian, for instance, should not exclude him. 2. Receive without respect of persons (James 2 1-5). The Bible warns against showing special consideration to the rich, and despising the poor. This would apply too in the matter of race, social level, or culture. Discrimination is unchristian. 3. Receive on the basis of life, not light (Acts 9:26-38). Fellowship is not dependent on how much one knows, but rather on the Person whom he knows. Thus, Apollos was received in Ephesus, even though his knowledge was quite defective (Acts 18:24-28). 4. Receive on the basis of life, not of ordinance. Baptism is nowhere said to be the door into the local church. Though it is true that all believers should be baptized (Matthew 28:19), yet the moment we say that a person must be baptized in order to be received into fellowship, we have gone beyond the Word. 5. Receive on the basis of life, not service. Just because we might not agree with a Christian’s sphere of service is no reason for denying him the fellowship of the local church. In Luke 9:53, we read that the Samaritans would not receive the Lord Jesus because His face was as though He would go to Jerusalem. They were motivated by sectarianism rather than by divine principles. 6. Receive a person in spite of what he may have been before he was saved. Paul had been a persecutor, but he was received without regard to his past history (Acts 9:27, 28). Onesimus had been a thief, but Paul exhorts Philemon to receive him (Philemon 12,15,17). When an assembly’s doors are closed to converted drunkards, gamblers, or outcasts, it has lost its true character as an available center of worship for God’s people. 7. Receive believers in the Lord with gladness (Philippians 2:29). In a very real sense, the way we treat the weakest member of His body, is the way we treat the Lord Himself. ’’inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren. ye have done it unto me” (Matthew 25:40).

4. HOW TO KNOW IF A PERSON IS SAVED

Now the question invariably arises, “How is an assembly to know whether a person is really saved and eligible for fellowship? At least five possible approaches may be suggested. First, there is the use of letters of recommendation (Romans 16:1). A Christian travelling from one assembly to another can avoid considerable difficulty and embarrassment by carrying a letter from his home assembly, testifying to his faith and walk.

Then the testimony of two or three witnesses is acceptable (Matthew 18:16). If a person is known to two or more Christians in a local church, that church may receive him on their recommendation.

The testimony of only one person, but one who has the confidence of the assembly, can be taken. Paul commended Phebe to the saints at Rome (Romans 16:1), and Epaphroditus to the church at Philippi (Philippians 2:28-30).

A man’s own reputation as a servant of Christ is sufficient (2 Corinthians 3:1-2). Paul disclaimed the necessity of a letter of commendation to the church at Corinth because he was well-known to them as an apostle of Jesus Christ.

There can be a careful inquiry and investigation by the assembly itself. By this is meant that an assembly, perhaps through the elders, may question a person as to his faith in Christ, etc., asking him to give a reason of the hope that is in him (1 Peter 3:15). They may then receive him after reasonable assurance that he belongs to Christ.

 5. COMMON PROBLEMS

Before closing this section on reception, we should also consider three other questions which commonly arise in connection with this subject.

Does the church have any right to judge whether a man is saved or not? The answer is that this is not only a right but a sacred obligation. Since Christians are forbidden to have fellowship with unbelievers (2 Corinthians 6:14, 17), it is obvious that they are required to use every reasonable means to discern the spiritual status of those who seek a place among the people of God.

Suppose an assembly receives a man and he subsequently teaches error in the church? Then his teaching should be publicly refuted from the Word of God (1 Timothy 5:20). A New Testament church can only function in the environment of an open Bible. It should have godly elders who can expose error and defend the faith (Titus 1:9).

Suppose a local church receives a person, and he either attends irregularly thereafter, or never comes back? In the first place it should be emphasized that fellowship means sharing or holding things in common. Those in fellowship should enter into the life of the assembly, bear their load of responsibility, and share the work involved. Generally speaking, if a person attends only one service a week, he is limited in fellowship. Reception into a local church is in reality a reception into the hearts and homes of the Christians making up the fellowship of that church. With regard to a person who is received but who never returns, the man himself is accountable. The assembly is responsible to present to him a faithful and spiritual representation of the Church. He is thereafter obligated to be obedient to the truth.

Obviously the subject of reception is a complicated one, and we have only been able to touch on some of its more important aspects. Recognizing the incompleteness of our coverage, we move on to the next major point.

http://www.plymouthbrethren.org/article/523

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The Local Church Defined

Submitted by William MacDonaldon Mon, 02/07/2005 – 06:00

THE LOCAL CHURCH DEFINED

Down through the years, there has been considerable disagreement as to what constitutes a New Testament church. The usual approach is to list a certain number of requirements or marks; if a group of Christians answers to these qualifications, then it is considered to be a true local church.

Henry Barrow has given what might be considered a rather typical definition of a church. He defined it as follows: “A true-planted and rightly-established church of Christ is a company of faithful people, separated from unbelievers, gathered in the Name of Christ, whom they truly worship and readily obey. They are a brotherhood, a communion of saints, each one of them standing in and for their Christian liberty to practice whatsoever God ha commanded and revealed unto them in His Holy Word.”

First Corinthians 1:2 gives a simple, yet accurate description of a local church. “To them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, and called to be saints, with all that in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours.”

Other definitions have been far more restricted with the result that only the churches of a certain denomination or group actually qualify.

THE NEW TESTAMENT APPROACH

This raises a very real question. Does the New Testament list a certain number of requisites or essentials of a local church? Are the marks of an assembly stated so clearly that any believer could separate the fellowships in any area into those which ate true New Testament churches and those which are not?

We would suggest that this is not the case. If becoming a true church were merely a matter of conforming to a certain pattern or going through a specified routine of meetings, then this could be done quite mechanically without spiritual exercise. Lethargy and complacency would result. Though the position of a church might be ever so correct, yet the condition of the believers might be far otherwise.

Instead of that, we believe that the New Testament approach is this. All believers are instructed that, by the grace of God, they are members of the Church. They are exhorted to gather together in such a way as to give expression to the great truths of the Church. Some assemblies of Christians give a very poor representation of the body of Christ. Other groups present a more faithful likeness. None does so perfectly.

Thus, instead of following the legalistic method which says, ‘lf you meet certain requirements, you will become a church,’ the language of Scripture is the language of grace; namely, “You as believers are the Church; now meet in such a manner as to give an accurate expression of this fact to the world.” The motive power under grace is love for the Savior, and this love should make us want to present a faithful image of the body of Christ to those around us.

A BRIEF SUMMARY – THE LOCAL CHURCH

To summarize then, the local church should be a miniature of the Church universal. It should be nothing and do nothing that would contradict the great truths of the Church which is the body of Christ.

As Ridout has said: “Its nature and unity must be manifested. It must be seen that it is the body of Christ, formed by and indwelt by the Holy Spirit, that all believers are members of it, united to Christ glorified and to one another; that the Lord’s coming is the hope before it; and that the Name of Christ is the only one by which it is called. Furthermore, it must exhibit the unity of the body of Christ.”

If then, the local church must be a replica of the complete Church, what are the great truths of the body of Christ to which it must provide a living testimony? We have already referred to seven of these fundamental truths; namely:

A. There is one body.

B. Christ is Head of the body.

C. All believers are members of the body.

D. The Holy Spirit is the representative of Christ in the Church.

E. The Church of God is holy.

E. Gifts are given for the edification of the Church.

G. All believers are priests of God.

Our present objective, therefore, is to take these truths one by one, and seek to determine how the local church can portray them to the world.

THE TRUTH OF THE ONE BODY

The first truth to which the local church is responsible to witness is that there is one body. How can believers testify to this fact today?

1. WHAT NAME SHOULD BE TAKEN

Perhaps the most obvious way is by adopting no names that would separate them from other Christians. In the church of Corinth, some were saying, “I am of Paul,” “I am of Apollos,” or “I am of Christ.” Paul indignantly condemns such a spirit by asking, “Is Christ divided?’ (1 Corinthians 1:10-17).

Today Christians divide themselves into denominations named after countries, religious leaders, ordinances, or forms of church government. All such are a practical denial of the unity of the body of Christ.

Clearly, the scriptural approach is for God’s children to be known only by such names as are given in the Bible – names such as “believers’’ (Acts 5:14); “disciples” (Acts 9:1); “Christians” (Acts 11:26); “saints” (Ephesians 1:1); and “brethren,” (James 2:1). It is perhaps one of the most difficult tasks in the Christian life to carry no name but that of a simple believer. The vast majority today feels that one must belong to some organized church and carry some other name than those given in the Word. Anyone who refuses to be known as anything but a child of God will suffer reproach at the hands even of other Christians and will always be a conundrum in the community. Yet how can believers consistently do otherwise?

But obviously it is not enough just to have a scripturally accurate name. It is all too possible to adhere strictly to the language of the Bible and yet be extremely sectarian in spirit. Some in Corinth were saying, “I am of Christ,” for instance. Perhaps they prided themselves on the correctness of their name, but they actually meant that they were of Christ to the exclusion of other true believers. Paul found fault with them equally as much as with those who claimed loyalty to himself or Apollos.

2. WHAT ABOUT THE DENOMINATIONS?

When any doubt is voiced as to the scripturalness of denominations, the objection is commonly raised that the Lord has richly blessed in some of the great divisions and sects of the Church. Granting that this is true, we should still remember that the blessing of the Lord does not indicate divine approval in every detail. He honors His own Word though often its delivery is accompanied by much failure and imperfection. If God blessed only where there was perfection, there would be no blessing. Therefore the fact that any group has seen His hand does not mean that He approves of all that the group does. The message is always greater than the messenger.

The Lord’s attitude toward divisions in the Church is clearly shown in 1 Corinthians 3:4: ‘For while one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; are ye not carnal?’

Divisions in the Church bring great evils. They create artificial barriers to fellowship. They limit the movement of gifted men of God whose ministry should be available to all the Church. They confuse the world, causing men to ask, “Which church is right?”

In his renowned work, The Lord’s Prayer for Believers, Marcus Rainsford wrote: “For my own part, I believe sects and denominations to be the result of the devil’s attempt to mar and hinder as far as possible the visible union of the Church of God; and that they all have their root in our spiritual pride and selfishness, our self-sufficiency and our sin.’

“May God forgive us for, and correct our divisions! Nothing gives greater occasion to the outside world, than the differences between professing Christians. The bickerings and contentions between men and women of different sects and denominations of the visible Church of God has always been one of the world’s greatest hindrances. Instead of looking on, and being constrained to confess, See how these Christians love one another,’ the world has too often reason to say, ‘See how they carp at one another, see how they judge one another, see how they malign one another.’

Sadly, this deplorable state exists all too often within some local churches and dishonor is thereby brought upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

3. TRUE UNITY

Believers who determine to witness to the unity of the body of Christ will find it a great difficulty to separate themselves from all divisions in the Church, and at the same time maintain a loving spirit toward all the people of God.

C. H. Mackintosh, beloved author of the Notes on the Pentateuch, wrote: “The grand difficulty is to combine a spirit of intense separation with a spirit of grace, gentleness and forbearance; or, as another has said, ‘to maintain a narrow circle with a wide heart.’ This is really a difficulty. As the strict and uncompromising maintenance of truth tends to narrow the circle around us, we all shall need the expansive power of grace to keep the heart wide and the affections warm. If we contend for truth otherwise than in grace, we shall only yield a one-sided and most unattractive testimony. And on the other hand, if we try to exhibit grace at the expense of truth, it will prove, in the end, to be only the manifestation of a popular liberty at God’s expenses most worthless thing.”’

W. H. Griffith Thomas expressed the same thought in his book, Ministerial Life and Work: “Let the principles be firmly fixed on the unmistakable rock of Divine truth, but let the sympathies go out as widely as possible to all who are endeavoring to live and labor for Christ. Never shall I forget the words of the saintly and noble Bishop Whipple of Minnesota, the Apostle of the Indians, as I heard them in London on a memorable occasion: ‘For thirty years I have tried to see the face of Christ in those who have differed from me.’

The visible display of the unity of the body of Christ is not to be brought about by the various ecumenical movements about which so much is heard today. Such unions, councils or federations succeed only by compromising the great truths of the Scripture. Christian congregations deny their Lord when they join with those who repudiate the virgin birth of Christ, His sinless humanity, His substitutionary death, His bodily resurrection, His ascension and exaltation, and His coming again.

The true basis of Christian unity is a common devotion to Christ and His Word. When His glory is the great desire of our hearts, then we will be drawn together, and then His prayer will be answered: “That they may be one, even as we are one,” (John 17:22). As Griffith Thomas has said, “It has often been pointed out that when the tide is out, there are little pools of water here and there on the shore, separated from each other by vast stretches of sand, and it is only when the great tide rolls in and submerges them all in its vast embrace that they become one and are united. So must it be, so will it be with our severances of heart, ‘our unhappy divisions’; the great tide of God’s love will flow deeper and fuller into each and all of our lives, and in the ocean of that love we realize the Divine ideal of love, joy, peace for evermore.”’

In the meantime the responsibility of local churches is to seek to maintain a testimony to the unity of the body of Christ in a day when most of Christendom serves only to deny the fact. They can do this by acknowledging in spirit, principle and practice all their fellow-believers.

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Great Truths About the Church

Submitted by William MacDonaldon Tue, 02/08/2005 – 06:00

THERE IS ONE BODY

According to Ephesians 4:4 there is only one Church. In spite of all the circumstances

that seem to deny it, the fact remains that as far as God is concerned, there is only

one body of believers on the earth today. Although this Church is never visible to

man in its entirety, yet it is formed into a common body by the Holy Spirit.

CHRIST IS THE HEAD OF THE BODY

By using the analogy of the human body (Ephesians 5:23, Colossians 1:18), Paul

teaches us that Christ as Head in heaven controls His body on earth. The head

speaks of authority, leadership, and the seat of the intellect. The head and the

body share the same life, interests and prospects. As the head is not complete

without the body, so, in a sense, Christ is not “complete” without His Church.

Thus we read in Ephesians 1:23 that the Church, as His body, “is the fulness of

Him that filleth all in all.” This is cause for deepest awe and worship in the believer.

ALL BELIEVERS ARE MEMBERS OF THE BODY

The moment a person is saved, he is added to the Church as a member of the

body (Acts 2:47). This membership transcends the bounds of race, color,

nationality, temperament, culture, social caste, language and denomination.

In his classic passage on the members of Christ’s body (1 Corinthians 12:12-26)

, Paul reminds us that there are many members in the body (vv. 12-14). Every

member has a function to perform (vv 15-17). However, not all members have

the same function (v. 19). The welfare of the body depends on all the members

working together (vv. 21-23). Because all the members of the body need each

other, there is no cause for envy or discontent, on the one hand (vv. 15-17); or

for pride and independence on the other (v. 21). Because all are members of

the one body, there should be mutual care, sympathy, and joy (vv. 23-26).

THE HOLY SPIRIT IS THE REPRESENTATIVE OF CHRIST IN THE CHURCH

After He ascended into heaven, the Lord Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to be His

Representative on the earth (John 14:16,26). The Spirit’s activities in the

Church may be seen in part from the fact that He leads Christians in their

worship (Ephesians 2:18); He inspires their prayers (Romans 8:26, 27);

He empowers their preaching (1 Thessalonians 1:5); He guides them in their

activities, both positively (Acts 13:2), and negatively (Acts 16:6, 7); He raises up

overseers for the church (Acts 20:28); He bestows gifts for its growth and

effectiveness (Ephesians 4:11) and He guides believers into all truth (John 16:13).

THE CHURCH OF GOD IS HOLY

God is calling out of the nations a people for His name. He sets them apart to

Himself from the sinful world and calls upon them to respond with lives of

practical holiness (1 Corinthians 3:17). Only in this way can the Church faithfully

represent a holy God in this corrupt scene.

GIFTS ARE GIVEN FOR THE EDIFICATION OF THE CHURCH

It is the Lord’s will that the Church should grow both spiritually and numerically

. To that end the risen Christ gives gifts to the Church (Ephesians 4:11).

These gifts are men who are given special ability to build up the Church.

As listed in Ephesians 4:11, the gifts are apostles, prophets, evangelists,

pastors and teachers. (see note 1).

We believe that the apostles and prophets were concerned primarily with

the foundation of the Church (Ephesians 2:20). The need for these apostles

and New Testament prophets passed when the foundation was laid, and we

no longer have them, in the primary sense of the terms.(see note 2)

However, we still do have evangelists, pastors, and teachers. The evangelists

go out to the world with the Gospel, bring sinners to Christ, and then lead

them into the fellowship of the local church. Pastors take a shepherd-care

of the flock, nourishing the sheep, encouraging them, and guarding them

from evil. The teachers unfold the Word of God in an understandable way,

and present the doctrines of the Scriptures in a well-balanced manner. However,

the probability is that the “pastor-teacher” gift is one gift as the care of the flock

would include teaching the Word of God.

As these gifts minister, the Church grows and the saints are built up in their most

holy faith. Gifts are God’s provision for the expansion of the Church.

ALL BELIEVERS ARE PRIESTS OF GOD

A final truth which we will mention in connection with the Church is the priesthood

of all believers (1 Peter 2:5, 9). In the old Testament, only a certain group of men

were eligible for the priesthood – the tribe of Levi and the family of Aaron

(Exodus 28:1). Today there is no special caste of priests, separate from their

fellows, with distinctive garb and peculiar privileges. All children of God are priests

of God with all the privileges and responsibilities that go with such a name.

THE COMPLETION AND DESTINY OF THE CHURCH

As has already been noted, the Church is now in the process of construction. Every

time a soul is saved, a living stone is added to the building. The edifice is rising silently

without sound of hammer. The Holy Spirit adds daily to the Church such as

should be saved (Acts 2:47).

One day soon, the work will be finished. The last stone will be added, and the Lord

Jesus will descend into the air. As if drawn by a divine magnet, the Church will rise

to meet the Savior, and together they both will return to the many mansions of the

Father’s house. And so shall we ever be with the Lord” (1 Thessalonians 4:17).

It will be the Church’s blessed portion not only to be with Christ forever, but also to

share the glories which He won during His earthly career (John 17:22).

Throughout eternity the Church is destined to be an eternal witness to the glory of

God. “That in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in

His kindness toward us through Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:7).

In the meantime, the Church is God’s masterpiece on the earth – an object lesson

to principalities and powers in heavenly places of the manifold wisdom of God. Every

believer should therefore be vitally interested in the Church, and his Christian service

should have the expansion and edification of the Church as one of its primary aims.

NOTES (1)

 

In 1 Corinthians 12:8-10, another list of spiritual gifts is given: the word of wisdom,

the word of knowledge, faith, the gifts of healing, the working of miracles, prophecy,

discerning of spirits, divers kinds of tongues, and interpretation of tongues. There is

no necessary contradiction between the two lists. In Ephesians 4, the gifts are

personswhose whole career, apparently, is given over to evangelism, teaching, or

pastoral work,

In 1 Corinthians 12, the gifts are endowments or abilities which are not necessarily

limited

to certain individuals but which the Holy Spirit may give to any member of the Body

of Christ at any time He chooses. For instance, any Christian man may be Spirit-led

to give a “word of wisdom” or a “word of knowledge” and yet not be exactly a

teacher. Another may be able to point a soul to Christ and yet not be an evangelist.

Again in 1 Corinthians 12:28, Paul speaks of apostles, prophets, teachers, miracles,

gifts of healing, helps, governments, and diversities of tongues. The question

inevitably arises here as to whether we still have gifts of a miraculous nature today.

In Hebrews 2:4, it is stated that God used signs and wonders to authenticate the

early preaching of the Gospel. This was in days before the complete Word of

God wasavailable in written form. Many believe that with the coming of the

complete Bible, the

need for these miracles ceased. The Bible does not settle the matter decisively.

Whilewe believe that these miracle gifts are not with us today, generally

speaking, yet wecannot say that the sovereign Spirit is not at liberty to use

them still, especially on those mission fields where the Scriptures are not

extensively available. In any event, thosewho do profess to have these

miraculous gifts must be careful to use them in accordancewith the

instructionsof the Word (for example, the use of tongues is regulated in 1

Corinthians 14).

NOTES (2)

In a secondary sense, we doubtless still have apostles, if we simply mean

men sentforth by the Lord, In this lesser sense, we still have prophets also,

that is, men whocry out for God against sin and abuse But we utterly reject

the idea that there are men

today who have the same authority as was committed to the original

apostles or whocan speak by the same direct and inspired revelation as the

New Testament prophets.

http://www.plymouthbrethren.org/article/525

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