Finding a Truly Biblical Church (5)

PMT 2014-003b Jeffrey K. Boer

Note: This is our fifth installment on the subject of finding a biblical church. We will pick up where we left off in our preceding article. Please consult the previous articles for the preceding points.

16. Biblical Local Evangelism

I Timothy 4:13-14 says, “Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching. Do not neglect your gift which was given you through a prophetic message when the body of elders laid their hands on you. Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress. Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.”

The preaching of the Gospel is the responsibility and calling of those who have been properly trained and then ordained and sent by the church to preach the Gospel. This work is not the calling of every Christian. In fact, James 3:1 clearly warns, “Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.”

Yet many churches, just like the Jehovah’s Witnesses or the Mormons, pressure their members to go out into the communities to teach or preach the Gospel to people. Apart from the question of whether or not such methods of evangelism were even used by Christ and the apostles, churches should surely not pressure (or even encourage) laymen and women to do these things, according to James. Rather, the Scriptures reveal that it’s ordinarily through the ordained preaching of the word in the public worship services of Christ’s church that sinners hear the word of God proclaimed in all its power, authority, and fullness.

I Corinthians 14:24-25 says, “But if an unbeliever or someone who does not understand comes in…the secrets of his heart will be laid bare. So he will fall down and worship God, exclaiming, ‘God is really among you!’”

We believe that the vast bulk of evangelism done in the New Testament was done in the public worship of the church. The Jews were evangelized primarily in the synagogues and temple, and the Gentiles were evangelized primarily in the various “house churches.” While the minister brings the authoritative word of God, it is the people who bring the presence of the Holy Spirit Himself, Who promises to be present in a special way where the church meets for worship! It is for this reason that the members of a faithful church should be encouraged to be zealous in inviting others to come to church. It may even have been a member of such a church who gave you this paper, inviting you to come and worship God in a faithful church. It is there that you will hear the Gospel officially proclaimed by God’s servant.

In addition, church members should be encouraged to tithe, pray, faithfully attend worship, train their children biblically, and live such godly lives before the world in their callings that they bring honor to the Gospel of Jesus Christ and influence others to believe in Him. We want everyone to come to know and love Jesus Christ our Lord because He deserves the praise of all men, so we certainly should not hesitate to tell our friends and neighbors about Him. But the work of the “evangelist,” “preacher” or “teacher” we must leave to those who have been gifted, trained, examined, called, and ordained by God, through His church, to engage in that work.

Church Censures (1 CD)
In this sermon Dr. Gentry presents the biblical case for church discipline. An important message in the contemporary evangelical church, which generally holds as its motto: “Let bygones, be bygones.” Christ’s church is the historical manifestation of his kingdom. And his kingdom has structure, a government with disciplinary powers.

17. Biblical Worldwide Missions

Matthew 28:18-20 says, “Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I will be with you always, to the very end of the age.’”

We believe that this command of our Lord to His apostles instructs the church, not only to evangelize and make baptized church members of the whole world, but also to go on to teach them to incorporate Christian principles into every part of their lives and culture. That’s why a faithful church should support the biblical mission work of their denomination, as well as the local efforts of that particular church. In addition, a faithful church may support the efforts of other biblically sound ministries of the Gospel throughout the world. Through our tithes and offerings and prayers and other labors, we may all be involved in proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ and establishing and supporting Christian churches, schools, and seminaries throughout the world.

You may not be gifted by God to preach the Gospel, but when you use your God-given calling to serve your fellow man and then you tithe your income to Christ’s church, your godly life and words provide an example to others and your money provides preachers and missionaries to proclaim the word of God with power and authority.

18. Biblical Church Discipline

Hebrews 13:17 says, “Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you as men who must give an account. Obey them so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no advantage to you.”

Hebrews 12:5-6 says, “My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those he loves.”

Christ has instituted elders to govern His church and to keep watch over His flock. We do not believe in government by a “dictator,” but by a plurality of elders, with the individual member having the right to appeal any problems at the local church level to the broader courts of the church, that is, to the presbytery (composed of all the elders in a region) and even to the general assembly (composed of all the delegated elders representing the whole church). This system of “Presbyterian” government (or rule by a plurality of elders with a system of appeals) is the system of church government established by Moses in the Old Testament and reaffirmed by Christ and the apostles in the New Testament. It is this same biblical system, with its “balance of power” and its “courts of appeal,” which provided the basis for our “republican” form of government in the United States and in other free countries.

Many churches refuse to practice biblical church discipline for fear of losing members, but if a church refuses to discipline you when you’re heading on the road to hell, they’re not doing you any favors. Find a church that takes church discipline seriously, for your own sake and that of your family.

Finding a Vision (by Michael Milton)
Presents a biblical vision of church ministry and involvement.

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