Are we A Strong Congregation?

3-09-15 Eph 6_6

What do you look for in a strong congregation? The scriptures teach that a congregation is made up Christians in a local area who assemble to worship and to work together. Revelations 3:1 calls the church in Laodicea dead and in 3:16 is lukewarm. None of us want to be in dead or lukewarm congregations, so what sets apart a strong congregation from a dead one? 

They Love God

The first and foremost characteristic of a strong congregation is when it’s composed of Christians who, “…love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.” [Mark 12:30]

The most powerful and effective motivation to obey God’s word is a sincere and deep love of God.

They Love God’s Word

A strong congregation loves God, therefore also loves His word. When I speak to “religious” people, one thing I notice is the lack of knowledge of God’s word and His patterns.

Weak congregations are short on giving; “…attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine.” [1Timothy 4:13] Strong congregations consider FIRST what the will of the Lord is from His divine Word, for it is the truth; [John 17:17]. This enables them to worship in truth [John 4:24], Teach the truth [1Timothy 1:3] and do His work according to the divine pattern [Ephesians 4:12]. 

They Rejoice in the Lord

When a strong congregation loves God and His word, they will rejoice despite the difficulties that come from living on this side of the Judgement.

Paul warned the early Christians that life was tough, and not many others had a more difficult time than he. The Lord teaches, through Paul, to be content regardless of circumstance. [Philippians 4:11-13] The Lord also taught us to be prepared for trials that every Christian will face and to rejoice. [James 1:2; 1Peter 4:12] 

It is Growing and Working

Every congregation has folks that are at varying levels of their maturity. There are new converts, babes in Christ, some more mature, some struggling and overcoming sins and still others that are strong in their faith. [1Corintheans 8:12-31]

All of them, doing their own part in the body [Ephesians 4:11-12], are growing in grace and knowledge of the Lord [2Peter 3:18], so that the body grows [Ephesians 4:16], always abounding in the work of the Lord. [1Corintheans 15:58] 

It Follows the New Testament Pattern of organization

A strong congregation is striving to attain and to follow the New Testament pattern for its organization. [Philippians 1:1]

They have or are qualifying men to oversee as elders [Acts 20:17; 1Timothy 3:1-7; 1Peter 5:1-2], doing the same regarding deacons to serve under elders, [1Timothy 3:8-13]. In whichever state, the strong congregation has faithful men to see that the work of the Lord is accomplished never losing sight of the ideal. 

They’re Proactive

The strong congregation never waits. It continues to be zealous for good works [Titus 2:14; Revelations 3:19]. They want to be found doing and increasing in the Lord’s work [Matthew 25:14-30], never burying their talents or content with just getting themselves to heaven, because they want to others to be saved also [2Timothy 2:2].

What About the Church in Borger?

I bet, that as you read this article, you were also thinking about our congregation. I believe that we have a strong congregation. Perhaps not like the church in Smyrna which the Lord had nothing negative to say [Rev 2:8], but one that has the ability to overcome what is lacking [Revelations 2:7].

I feel that we are strong because we love God and His word, we rejoice and help each other during difficult times. We all desire for the truth to grow in Borger and that folks respond to the Gospel. I am grateful to you and to God for this local congregation.

That’s just my opinion, but what do you think? If you were to rate our congregation on a scale of 1-10, what number would you give us? If it’s not a 10 for being the best, why not? More importantly, what are you doing to change it?

A church worth investigating

A member recently brought me a bulletin for the Franklin St church of Christ from April 1959. It held a timeless message that I wanted to share with you all.

A church worth investigating

The church of Christ was not established on a sudden whim of the Lord, nor was its establishment merely an afterthought. It had been God’s intention throughout the entire history of the world to build the church. All of the many centuries were spent in preparation for the establishment of the church. The church and its work is “According to the eternal purpose which He purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord.” –Eph. 3:10

About 800 years before Christ came to this earth the prophet Isaiah foretold that the government of the Lord’s house should be established at Jerusalem, and all nations should flow unto it. –Isa. 2:2. This could not have referred to the house of Israel, for that had already been established and it was not for all nations. What then is the Lord’s house of which the prophet wrote? Turning to 1Timothy 3:15, we read, “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.” So we see that the house of God is the church, and of this house Isaiah wrote hundreds of years before Christ. What more is required to show the importance which God has placed upon the church of Christ?

Why the church of Christ is important

This brings us to the following question: WHY IS THE CHURCH OF CHRIST IMPORTANT? The church is important because God’s wisdom is seen in it: “To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God,” — Eph 3:10. Is it important to know the wisdom of God?

Again, there is glory to God in the church: “Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.” — Eph 3:21. Is it important to glorify God?

Also the church is important because its purchase price was the blood of Christ: “…feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.” — Ac 20:28. Do you believe the church is worth the purchase price: The church of Christ is important because Jesus “loved the church, and gave himself for it.” –Eph. 5:25. Would you give yourself for something that is not important to you?

Finally, we shall mention that the church is important because all of the saved are added to it: “And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.” — Ac 2:47. It is surely regrettable that denominationalists preach that the church is not important.

Not a denomination

The church of Christ is not, and cannot be, a human denomination because the church does not wear a denominational name. All denominations wear names which distinguish them from “other Christians”, as they say. But the church of Christ does not seek to distinguish itself from others who are Christians, since we firmly believe that ALL Christians are members of the church of Christ. There is nothing denominational about the name which we wear, for it only honors Christ, and is worn by His command. –Acts 4:12, Rom. 16:16.

The church is not a denomination, furthermore, because we do not subscribe to a creed written by men. We believe in Jesus Christ as he is revealed in the New Testament, but we refuse to accept human interpretations of the New Testament. It is sectarian to make any book of human origin the standard of fellowship and communion. We extend our fellowship to any who follow only God’s word.

The church is not a denomination because we have no earthly headquarters. Christ is the only head of the church, Col. 1:18, Eph. 1:22-23, Matt. 28:18, and His is in heaven. Thus our headquarters is in heaven. Instead of all of the churches of Christ being tied into one central unit, each church is directly, and independently, responsible to Christ.

Almost all religious people are in agreement on one important point; that is, that the church we read about in the Bible is the right church. Most folks will also agree when asked that the Bible mentions only one church. Where, then, does the idea come from that one church is just as good as another? If the Bible only mentions one church, ad this is the right church, it follows that all other churches are wrong. This is the case whether we wish to accept it or not. By this position we are not trying to consign all of the members of the other churches to hell, but rather we are trying to teach them the truth so that they can be saved.

Nor is the idea true that all denominations are simply branches of the Bible church, for all denominations contradict one another in points of faith, doctrine, name, and practice. The Bible does not contradict itself, so all of the many churches could not be parts of the Bible church. For a church to be the right church, it must be identical with the church that we read about in the New Testament. This is true of no religious body save the church of Christ. We do not need to make a labored attempt to distort history, and trace an unbroken chan of churches all the way back to Bible times, because we can prove by the Bible itself that everything we teach, and everything we do, was taught and practiced by the church under the direction of the apostles. This makes it the right church, and nothing else can make a church right. We invite you to attend the services of the church of Christ and to investigate it. We believe that it is a church that is worth investigating.

–Gordon Wilson, Sacramento, CA 1959

God Wants Unity Too

The other day a man said, “All us protestants need to get together.” Yes, unity would be great. I just have 1 question, How would that look? This is no new issue, men of old have been discussing this for years. So, I turn to a gospel preacher from a number of years ago…….

by Robert F. Turner

There seems to be two general philosophies for attaining unity in religion. One school urges men to find their own middle ground — something on which all can agree — making whatever compromise is necessary on the part of each human faction. The other recognizes Gods truth as the only proper basis for unity; but they find it difficult to agree on what constitutes this truth, so they put their hopes in unity in diversity — seeking a level of understanding acceptable to all human parties, and expecting God to be satisfied with this level.

In each case men seem determined to whittle on Gods end of the stick. All agree that unity demands a common ground, and since we are thinking of unity in religion (before God) it follows that God and man are the ultimate parties to be reconciled. God must be taken into consideration; a ground found that is acceptable to God as well as man. Mans free agency gives him the power of choice, to accept or reject, but when men begin to judge the law and declare this part of Gods law essential, that part non-essential, they are whittling on Gods end of the stick. They act as though God had done nothing — made no sacrifice — to unite men among themselves, and to Himself.

Note: God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. (2 Cor. 5:19) Jesus said, sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth. (Jn. 17:17) And Jesus prayer for unity among men was a prayer for those who believe on me through their (Apostles, rt) word. (Jn. 17:20) Gods end of the stick includes the means (Christ) and the instructions (inspired word) for unity acceptable to God.

To contend that men can not come to a common understanding of Gods word (of reconciliation) is to argue that Gods part is imperfectly done. To require more, or less, or a substitution for Gods word, is to reject the completeness of divinity. God wants men united — apparently far more than we want to be united. Have we no faith in Gods desire and plan?

When two men understand and act upon a single step of Gods truth, they are united upon that step. It doesnt make them fellow-Christians. but it makes them fellow-learners. If one stops there, while the other continues to learn and obey, they are separated — cease to be fellow -learners.  They can become fellow -Christians by continuing to learn and obey Gods truth (remember God determines this level, not man. This discussed p. ii.) or they can be further separated by the difference in their willingness to trust in God. (Matt. 10:32-f) In all cases God furnishes the means of unity, but it is up to man to use these means.

A divided church is a monument to the shameful fact that men have been and are unwilling to use Gods means of unity. Some may be over—scrupulous (Rom. 14:) (see p. 7) and both sides may err in understanding and practice but THE FAULT lays with those who refuse to continue joint Bible study.

This was from the September 1969 issue of “Plain Talk

 

spencer
Borger, Tx
806/274-5021

Ask me how to make your calling and election sure. 2Pet 1:10