September 14, 2015

Nine Important Functions of the Local Church

by Aaron Dunlop

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.

4. The Christian’s home. The gathering of the saints should also be that place we where can feel at home without the fear of criticism, strife, and rivalry (Philippians 2:2–4). We are equals in the family. This is what Paul told Philemon regarding his former servant Onesimus (Philemon 1:16; Colossians 4:9). This is our “household of faith” (Ephesians 2:19; Galatians 6:10).

5. The Christian’s workplace. The body cannot function without the members (1 Corinthians 12:14–27). The Lord has given “gifts” to the church but “every joint” and “part” of the body works together for the building up of the body (Ephesians 4:16). Many times throughout the epistle Paul thanked those otherwise unknown labourers who were the backbone of the church (e.g., Romans 16:12; Philippians 4:3; 1 Corinthians 3:9).

6. The Christian’s hospital ward. The gathering of the saints also functions as a place of refreshing and recovery and strengthening from spiritual maladies, falls, and injuries. The Lord tells Peter this function was one of the good things that He would bring out of Peter’s fall: strengthening of the brethren (Luke 22:32). Paul also viewed the gathered saints as a sort of infirmary for wounded Christians (Galatians 6:1–2).

7. The Christian’s woodshed. The Christian should also expect to be chastised under the preaching of the Word. In his epistles to young pastors, Paul reminds them that it is their duty to “rebuke … sharply” “with all authority” (1 Timothy 5:20; 2 Timothy 4:2;Titus 1:13; 2:15). We ought not to fight spiritual chastisement, but expect it and accept it as from the Lord. When we feel that chastisement, we should thank Him, remembering that it is an evidence that we are His children whom He loves (Hebrews 12:6).

8. The Christian’s missionary activity. Another important function of the church is its missionary work. Missionary work includes both the evangelisation of the lost and the helping of other churches in less favourable circumstances. Every Christian is commanded to go out to the world with the gospel and it ought to be his desire to do so (Matthew 28:19–20; Acts 4:20; 8:4). The local church provides an opportunity to channel money to churches in other lands (1 Corinthians 16:1) and to help the church worldwide (Matthew 25:45; Galatians 6:10). But the local church should also send out young men and women to work in other places and to assist in the extension of the church of Christ across the world (Philippians 2:25).

9. The Christian’s soundtrack. If all of these functions are in their place in the local church—and we give them their place—is there not enough here to keep the mind active through the week as we ponder the Word preached and have the Psalms and hymns echoing in our hearts? Should we not be like Mary who “kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart”? (Luke 2:19).

Should the “Songs of Ascent” not also be our soundtrack as we think of “going up” again to the house of the Lord? “I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of the LORD” (Psalm 122:1; see also Psalm 42:4; 55:14; 63:1–3; 84:1–2; 84:10; 119:111).

September 18, 2015

Daily Devotionals: (18th Sept.) Meditations on the Rise of Peter

by Aaron Dunlop

The Folly of Sin

daily-devotionalsHow leprous and spreading sin is and how weak and impotent is human nature. A double temptation is not enough on Satan’s part, after a double denial. The devil goes further in tempting and the poor disciple goes further in denying.

Peter’s was a curse greater than any curse, even an anathema, to wish separation from the presence of God. I never remember any curse that did not proceed from love and fear. With Peter it is a love of self and a fear of death.

How strong and violent are passions, whether holy or natural. How secure on earth and negligent of his eternal estate can they make Peter, to avoid the displeasure of mortal man? It is the misery and error of our corrupt nature to shelter ourselves under sin from danger and to think ourselves secure there where it is violently wicked.

Dr. Edward Reynolds was born in 1599 in Southampton, England. He received his BA degree at Oxford in 1618. In 1622, before studying for his masters, Reynolds became a chaplain to the king and preacher at Lincoln’s Inn, London. The puritanical inclinations of Dr. Reynolds were well known; his character of piety and decorum were evident even in his college years. Edward Reynolds is known as the Bishop of Norfolk, but he was bishop for only the final fifteen years of his life and ministry. Prior to that he was the rector of Braunston, Northamptonshire, for almost thirty years. Although Reynolds was a Presbyterian by conviction, he had a reputation of moderation in his church polity. This was evidenced in his role in the Westminster Assembly. He was the only member to sit on all three of the major committees on the Confession of Faith, and with his moderate spirit provided balance in the discussions.
These devotions are taken from the works of Edward Reynolds. They have been edited for thinkgospel.com. © 2013 thinkgospel.

September 17, 2015

Daily Devotionals: (17th Sept.) Meditations on the Fall of Peter

by Aaron Dunlop

The Mercy of God

daily-devotionals

The increase of the enemies’ temptation accumulates with Peter’s sin. When Peter is pressed a second time and with stronger opposition, he comes up with a naked and empty denial, which is in effect an implied confession. In this second denial, to make it more credible, he must make himself more impious and to save face with men, he not only denies but renounces faith in God with oaths and curses. In all of this Christ is witness, not only to his lie, but his open revolt.

How deep the dye of sin and the degree of corruption that faith exists alongside of. Yet that faith, although smothered, was preserved by the prayers of Christ. Had the same action of malice against Christ that Peter displayed come from an unregenerate heart, it would have been the irremediable sin against the Holy Ghost. But this sin in Peter was preceded by fear and weakness, it was the sin of a believing and faithful heart.

In this the Christian learns both to despair of his own strength and not to despair of the mercy of God, which can keep faith in that heart. The mercy of God can raise a man up to martyrdom who had so deeply plunged himself into apostasy. He that suffered Judas to be the subject of His judgement raised Peter from a sin which was in itself as great as Judas’, to be a preacher and witness of His mercy.

Dr. Edward Reynolds was born in 1599 in Southampton, England. He received his BA degree at Oxford in 1618. In 1622, before studying for his masters, Reynolds became a chaplain to the king and preacher at Lincoln’s Inn, London. The puritanical inclinations of Dr. Reynolds were well known; his character of piety and decorum were evident even in his college years. Edward Reynolds is known as the Bishop of Norfolk, but he was bishop for only the final fifteen years of his life and ministry. Prior to that he was the rector of Braunston, Northamptonshire, for almost thirty years. Although Reynolds was a Presbyterian by conviction, he had a reputation of moderation in his church polity. This was evidenced in his role in the Westminster Assembly. He was the only member to sit on all three of the major committees on the Confession of Faith, and with his moderate spirit provided balance in the discussions.

These devotions are taken from the works of Edward Reynolds. They have been edited for thinkgospel.com. © 2013 thinkgospel.


September 16, 2015

Daily Devotionals: (16th Sept.) Meditations on the Fall of Peter

by Aaron Dunlop

The Faith of Following Christ

daily-devotionalsThe form and manner of Peter’s second denial as it is variously recorded in the gospels is nevertheless related. One writer records the words “I know not the man” (Matthew 26:72) while the other records the words “I am not of them” (Luke 22:58). One might think these are two separate denials, but they are not.

Can a man know Christ and not follow Him? No. We see here the mystery of faith in the fall of Peter. No man knows Christ unless he follows Him and to whom Christ has united Himself. If it is true that we are not one with Christ, it is also true that we do not know him, because knowledge consists in union with Christ. It is for this reason that the philosopher said, the soul, in understanding a thing, is made the very thing which it understands. In this sense we call the image of our face in the mirror, the face itself, or the impression in the wax, the seal itself.

Likewise, there is no union of Christ and us, or no dwelling of Him in us, or engrafting of us into Him, without that faith whereby we follow Him. This makes us to be so nearly one with Him that the name of Christ is sometimes in Scripture taken for the church of Christ. And therefore only to those that believe He has given to know Him. Christ is not truly apprehended either by the fancy or by the understanding. He is known by possession. It is an experiential and not a speculative knowledge that knows Him. He only understands Christ who has experienced Him. We see Him in His grace and truth, in His Word and promises, not in a carnal or physical manner. Pilate knew Him in this manner and Judas also. A true believer can see and know Him better in heaven, than the Romanist can by the hands of the priest in the transubstantiated bread. Let the faith of the Romanist have the assistance of teeth and jaws; ours, though toothless, eats Him with less injury and more nourishment.

Dr. Edward Reynolds was born in 1599 in Southampton, England. He received his BA degree at Oxford in 1618. In 1622, before studying for his masters, Reynolds became a chaplain to the king and preacher at Lincoln’s Inn, London. The puritanical inclinations of Dr. Reynolds were well known; his character of piety and decorum were evident even in his college years. Edward Reynolds is known as the Bishop of Norfolk, but he was bishop for only the final fifteen years of his life and ministry. Prior to that he was the rector of Braunston, Northamptonshire, for almost thirty years. Although Reynolds was a Presbyterian by conviction, he had a reputation of moderation in his church polity. This was evidenced in his role in the Westminster Assembly. He was the only member to sit on all three of the major committees on the Confession of Faith, and with his moderate spirit provided balance in the discussions.

These devotions are taken from the works of Edward Reynolds. They have been edited for thinkgospel.com. © 2013 thinkgospel.


September 15, 2015

Daily Devotionals: (15th Sept.) Meditations on the Fall of Peter

by Aaron Dunlop

The Strategy of Satan

daily-devotionalsWe can see here the method of Satan. His first temptation is by one maid, the second by many servants who stood by. The weaker he finds us, the greater force he uses against us. He uses the first attempt to weaken us and the second to wound us. Just as in the keeping of a city, the enemy sends in the spy to observe the fortifications, so Satan sends in the small temptations to find where our weaknesses are. Then he rushes us with the multitude of his armed and able servants, who would certainly take us and spoil us if there were not a stronger than he to overcome him and secure us.

Dr. Edward Reynolds was born in 1599 in Southampton, England. He received his BA degree at Oxford in 1618. In 1622, before studying for his masters, Reynolds became a chaplain to the king and preacher at Lincoln’s Inn, London. The puritanical inclinations of Dr. Reynolds were well known; his character of piety and decorum were evident even in his college years. Edward Reynolds is known as the Bishop of Norfolk, but he was bishop for only the final fifteen years of his life and ministry. Prior to that he was the rector of Braunston, Northamptonshire, for almost thirty years. Although Reynolds was a Presbyterian by conviction, he had a reputation of moderation in his church polity. This was evidenced in his role in the Westminster Assembly. He was the only member to sit on all three of the major committees on the Confession of Faith, and with his moderate spirit provided balance in the discussions.
These devotions are taken from the works of Edward Reynolds. They have been edited for thinkgospel.com. © 2013 thinkgospel.

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