Bavinck on Church Planting

“…a planted church is not immediately perfect. On the contrary, it is a field that needs to be constantly weeded, a tree that must be pruned at the proper time, a flock that must also be led and pastured, a house that requires constant renovation, a bride who must be prepared to be presented as a pure virgin to her husband. In addition to the sick, the dying, the tested, the grieving; those who are under attack, conflicted, in doubt, fallen, imprisoned, and so forth who need teaching and instruction, admonition and consolation, the church must increase in the knowledge and grace of the Lord Jesus Christ.”

Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics Abridged in One Volume, 635.

How Do I Commit to the Local Church? (pt. 3)

[Part 1 #1-4]

[Part 2 #5-8]

9.      Humbly Listen and Apply God’s word

Show up on Sunday morning ready to humbly prepared to apply the sermon to your own life.  It is so easy to be critical of our pastors and pick on their shortcomings in the area of preaching.  However, even if all the pastor does is read God’s word on Sunday then the Spirit can still use that to change our lives.  As C.J. Mahanney has taught on many occasions, we will be held accountable for what we have heard on Sunday mornings no matter how the pastor delivered it to us. This does not mean that we should ignore heresy, wrong doctrine, or an inappropriate use of God’s word.  It simply means that we shouldn’t elevate our own “preaching preferences.”  Rather, we should look take a long look at our own hearts before we criticize the preaching of someone else.  And then, after the service, don’t have “roasted pastor” for lunch!  Instead talk about all the ways that God convicted you through His word.

10.      Guard your attitude

Because of our pride it is easy to get a bad attitude about the church we attend, the people in it, and the leaders of it.  We must be aware of this and guard our attitudes.  If we are consistently struggling to love our church and the people of it then something has gone array with our attitudes.

11.      Never Gossip

During WWII the Navy had a saying that “loose lips sink ships.”  Well, the same thing is true for churches.  That is why if you are committed to your local church you will not gossip.  Gossip is so dangerous for churches for a few reasons:

  • It is sin (Romans 1:29)
  • It doesn’t deal with conflict biblically (Prov. 10:12, Matthew 18:15-18)
  • It leads others into sin (Prov. 20:19)
  • It creates misconceptions (Prov. 18:17)

12.      Practice the “One Anothers”

The biblical standard for how we are to treat our brothers and sisters in Christ has been outlined in Scripture.  Unfortunately there are many times when we are either ignorant about how we should treat other Christians, or we neglect the biblical principles.  If you want to commit to the local church it means committing to the people of your local church, which means that you need to practice the “one anothers” toward them.  These “one anothers” begin with loving one another, and then extend out into every area of our relationships applying that love.  Here is a practical tip, print up a list of all the “one anothers” in the New Testament and keep it somewhere that you will see it frequently.  Then, as you go through your week, check yourself to see how you are doing.

How Do I Commit to the Local Church? (pt. 2)

12 Ways to Commit to the Local Church

[Part 1 with #1-4]

5.      Obey

Commitment to the church requires obedience.  First, it requires obedience to God, but secondly it requires obedience to those whom God has providentially put over you.  Hebrews 10:17 makes it clear that obedience is an important part of the process.  This does mean that you have a cult like allegiance to any leader.  But understand this, when you are a part of a church you have a biblical responsibility to respect and obey the God-ordained leaders of that congregation.

6.      Pray

It is absolutely critical for you to be praying for the needs of your local church.  Ephesians 6:18 says that we need to always be alert in this matter.  When we are praying for the needs of our church then it will not only be used by God, but it will better equipped to serve our church.  We will know the needs that need to be met, we will know the people, and we will have a greater love for those we are praying for.

7.      Give Sacrificially

Commitment to the local church requires that you give sacrificially to the church.  Proverbs 3:9 is clear in its teaching.  1 Corinthians 9:6-7 is also clear in its teaching; we must give generously and cheerfully to the church.  This is a requirement for commitment to the local church.  Sometimes it is hard to give to the church, especially when you don’t have much.  But God’s word is clear.  If we trust God to provide for our needs then we are going to give to the church.  Furthermore, if the church is a priority for us then we are going to give our money to the church before we spend it on things like entertaining ourselves.

8.      Take your commitment seriously

When you join a local church and make a commitment to that church you are entering into a covenant with that church.  Understand that your church is not just another organization that you are a part of.  God has placed in you in that church, you have entered a covenant with that church, now you need to take that commitment seriously.

How Do I commit to the Local Church? (pt. 1)

Introduction:

The local church is paramount in the growth of individual believers & the growth of the Kingdom of God.  A disciple of Christ must be committed to the church.  Over the next couple of days I want to practically help with what commitment to the church looks like.  Specifically, I want to look at 12 ways that you can commit to the church.  This is not a comprehensive list, however it does provide a good starting point on what it means to commit to the local church.  Last time I gave you my top 12 reasons why you should commit to the local church, now I want to give you my top 12 ways to commit to the local church.

1.      Show Up

This is a pretty simple one.  Show up.  Whenever there is a gathering of God’s people try and be there.  Make it a priority to be involved in as many ministries as your family can handle.  Don’t starve yourself spiritually by hardly ever being at church.  Sure, there will be times when you would like to “take a night off” or “your just too tired” and sometimes that is ok.  However, on those days when you would like to skip out on church ask yourself what you are going to be doing instead.  Is it going to be more profitable for your soul and the kingdom of God for you to miss church?

 2.      Prepare for Sunday

J.I. Packer reminds us how important Sunday worship is with these words, “We must never let our Sundays become mere routine engagements; in that attitude of mind, we shall trifle them away by humdrum formality.  Every Sunday is meant to be a great day, and we should approach it expectantly, in full awareness of this.”   Here are some practical tips for making your Sunday a great day:

  • Make the Lord’s Day a priority for the Week.
  • Prepare your heart for worship with scripture and prayer
  • Go to bed early the night before
  • Give yourself enough time to get ready and be on time
  • When you arrive remind yourself of the significance of what you are doing.
  • Stop going to sleep in service, and start keeping notes.

 3.      Stick around after the service

This may sound like a strange one, but I think that it is an important one.  Usually when we arrive to the church on Sunday (or whenever) we are rushed to get where we need to be in time.  This leaves very little time for fellowship, or encouragement.  If you are the guys running out the back door as soon as the final amen is said then you are going to miss out on a lot in the life of the church.  You don’t have stay forever, but you are not going to be exposed to radiation poisoning if you stick around for a few minutes after the service.  I can’t tell you how many people I know who have left churches because they didn’t feel like the church welcomed them, or because they didn’t feel connected to the people of the church.  Almost always these were the people who were lacing up their shoes during the final prayer to make it out the door in record time.  Next Sunday try sticking around for a little while after church.

 4.      Serve

Commitment to the local church means serving the local church.  It means that you show up for church ready to serve rather then consume.  Find ways that you can help fill the needs of the church.  You don’t necessarily need to start a formal ministry in order to serve, just be helpful.  Look for areas where you think something is lacking and try to fill that need.  Don’t go tell the pastor that you would like to serve and then wait for him to tell you exactly what to do (although sometimes you might need help getting started). Whether it is encouraging someone with a phone call during the week, changing the trash in the church, or showing up to mow the church lawn just find ways to minister to the church.  Be proactive about serving.

Christ the Judge with Eyes of Fire

[Rev 1:14b Sermon Audio]

Everyone must prepare for judgement

We often live our lives as if there will be no judgement.  However, John’s vision of Christ having eyes of fire in Rev 1:14 reminds us that there will be a judgement, and that Christ will be the perfect Judge of all.  This means that we must all prepare for judgement (Hebrews 9:27).  The time of repentance is now (Acts 17:30-31).

For those of us who have repented, how are we to think about the judgement of Christ?

As Christians, we do not fear ultimate judgement b/c of what Christ has done.  Romans 8:1 tells us that there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.  However, we are expected to be good stewards & our faithfulness on earth will be measured by heavenly standards. Let me demonstrate this with a few passages.
2 Cor 5:10

For we must all appear before the judgement seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good our bad.

This is not talking about Christians being judged based on their morally evil or good, Jesus dealt with that.  Our sins have been forgiven and we have been provided the righteousness we need.  Here Paul is talking about the our faithfulness as Christians to Christ’s kingdom being evaluate based on the eternal value of our service.  In other words, was our fruit  eternally worthwhile and profitable or not.  Think of it this way:

If we are investing in our own kingdom that work will be burned up, but if we are investing in God’s Kingdom then that work will last.

1 Cor 3:13-15

Each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it because it  is to be revealed with fire and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work.  If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.

This does not mean that we will earn extra merit toward our salvation.  It simply means that we were good stewards of the grace provided for us & that will be beneficial in the Kingdom.  But even the rewards we receive for “kingdom fruit” is a testament to the power of Christ.  One of the ways the NT describes these rewards is “crowns.”  But notice what Rev 4:10 says,

the 24 elders will fall down before Him who sits on the throne, and will worship Him who lives forever and ever, and will cast their crowns before the throne…

Even the rewards we receive at the judgement seat of Christ are ultimately a testament to the grace of God and for his glory.

Trust & Fear are Mortal Enemies

When Christ told us not to be anxious for anything He knew what he was talking about.  Too often we as disciples of Christ allow fear into our hearts.  The fear we usually let in is nothing more than unbelief.  It is a failure to trust Christ.  We don’t call it that.  We call it “nerves” or “worry” or whatever, but usually it is really unbelief that we are struggling with.  If you are trying to diagnose the fear in your heart you might find this quote from Hans Bayer helpful:

Deadly doubt must… be distinguished from constructive doubt.  In constructive doubt we humbly wrestle with the challenge of being able to trust Jesus wholeheartedly. In deadly doubt we persist in a skeptical posture toward God.  Trust and fear cannot coexist in our hearts (Mark 4:40, 6:50)

Hans F. Bayer, A Theology of Mark: The Dynamic between Christology and Authentic Discipleship, p. 106

Why Did Jesus Have Glowing Bronze Feet?

[Listen to Sermon Audio]

In Revelation 1:15a John describes Christ in this way:

“His feet were like burnished bronze, refined in the furnace”

What does this picture of Christ teach us? Well, the glowing metal represents the purity of Christ’s holiness (Dan 10:6; Ezek 1:27, 8:2) & the feet represent Christ’s authority and domination (you sit under the feet of a King).  So, the radiant feet represent Christ’s crushing enforcement of purity.  He is not only pure, as the glowing metal represents, but he also enforces this purity, as the feet represent.

So this image of Christ is a reminder that Christ is spiritually present with the Church and enforcing purity within the church.  This is a great reminder, but practically what does this look like?

Let’s start with determining exactly what is purity. To answer this lets look at a few passages to help us define purity.

  • Prov 22:11  speaks of purity of heart which reminds us that Purity Begins internally.
    • Titus 2:7 – purity requires that we think right about God, have right doctrine
    • 2 Cor 11:3– purity requires devotion to Christ not moral determination
  • Ps 24:4 makes it clear that Internal Purity is manifested externally.
    •  Ps 12:6 – purity equals conformity with the Word of Christ
    • Prov 15:26 – purity requires right words, b/c from the heart the mouth speaks.
    • James 1:27 – Purity is reflected in how we treat others

DEF: Purity is the absence of anything that would prevent a heartfelt devotion to God (internal) that leads to practical holiness (external).

If this is what purity is, then in what way does Jesus purify the church? Let me give you a few ways Christ purifies his church.

1. He purifies the church from the punishment of sin:

  • Heb 1:3
  •  By faith we can be positionally purified from the sin that prevents us from devotion to God.

2. He purifies the church from unrepentant sinners (sheep goats):

  • Mt 25:31-40
  • The Church is his bride, and only those who have been positionally purified will be a part of that.

3. He purifies the church from sin within the individual believer:

  • Even though we are positionally purified we have practically impurities
  • Heb 9:14Help our devotion to God so our works will be good

4. He purifies the church from idolatry (Jesus is an idol breaker):

  • 1 John 5:21
  •  Jesus will use his burnished bronze feet to crush anything that would hinder us from a heartfelt devotion to God that leads to practical holiness. In other words, he will crush our idols.  It’s not easy when Jesus has to step on you with his burnished bronze feet, but His grace is always there to help us back up and leave our idols in the dust.

As Believers, we can prevent the foot coming down on us by taking advantage of easier means of grace to pursue purity.  Here a few examples of this:

  • 1 Pt 1:22 – obedience to truth and intentional love promote purity
  • Phil 4:8 – invest your mental energies in those things that will promote purity
  • 1 Tim 5:22 – stay away from the sins of others… (and drink wine?????)
  • I John 3:3 – hope in Jesus’s work to glorify you
  • James 4:8 – Forgot purity rings and commitment cards, just know and pursue God.