Building up believers and the New Testament church

The Function of the Church

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Discipline in the Body of Christ

Discipline in the Body of Christ

In the matter of church discipline, do we think the safest course is to leave everything in the hands of God and pray? Normally, God has provided oversight to care for souls. But when issues such as unresolved offenses, impure testimonies, or open sin are not affected by other means, the church is admonished by scripture to take action together for the purity of God's testimony and for the salvation of souls. If committed members have fallen into a fault or sin, the purpose of discipline is to restore fellowship with God and the body. We may be called to pay the price for involvement when we see that souls are at stake, and it will require spiritual discernment and wisdom from God. This article addresses many questions that must be answered as we seek to move responsibly before God. [Read Full Article]

Eldership

Eldership

In Acts 20:17-35 we read that elders were given a serious charge: to "shepherd the church of God." God wants us to have His leadership in our midst and to benefit from it. It may seem spiritual to say "Jesus is our leader" and leave it at that, but how does Jesus lead us? God's method is men filled with the Holy Spirit, which leaves God fully in control and men fully involved. Elders do not take the place of Christ, or exercise "lordship" over the gathering or any individual, but rather they express the Father's heart and perform the function of a father in the spiritual family. The purpose of this article is to briefly review God's plan for leadership in a local gathering, and to encourage the establishment of God-ordained leadership. Although it is a challenging subject, it is critical to the growth of any assembly. As we search the scriptures and obey what God shows us, we will begin to see why God has designed the body the way He has. His testimony will be strengthened, and each member will be blessed as a result. [Read Full Article]

Spiritual Gifts

Spiritual Gifts

Spiritual gifts in the church are a subject of much confusion and controversy today. However, as we study the scriptures with openness and simplicity of heart, the Spirit gives understanding and we need not fear being led astray. We cannot do away with any of God's wonderful gifts. Each has a vital purpose, and all are given to reveal the fullness of God's grace. No gift is to be exercised apart from complete dependence on Christ, and each gift has a unique function in the body of Christ. In this short booklet, the spiritual gifts listed in I Corinthians 12 are briefly explained, and each member is encouraged to "covet the best gifts" and be used by the Lord to build up His church. [Read Full Article]

Principles of Spiritual Fellowship

At Calvary, Jesus perfected fellowship between God and man. Paul tells us that now we are all baptized into one body by one Spirit (1 Cor.12:13). Spiritual fellowship with one another is based on our ongoing fellowship with God, and we have a responsibility in this love affair with God to express this oneness as a testimony of the abiding presence of the Lord Jesus Christ. True Christians will always desire fellowship, but many are hindered by a lack of understanding. This article brings out eight principles of Christian fellowship to consider and to seek God to strengthen, as we allow our lives to be structured in God and give forth a true and single testimony of the Lord Jesus Christ. [Read Full Article]

God's Call to Ministry

"Christ has given gifts unto men for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ..." (Eph. 4:8-13). Ministry is a gift of God's grace, and must come forth from His revelation under the control of the Holy Spirit. With the call of God comes His direction: when to work, what to do, where to do it, and how to do it. God will have nothing natural in His building. Therefore, those who look to man's institutions for training and preparation will never be a gift to the church. Ministers are brethren amongst brethren--called, prepared and filled by God to serve Christ in life, discerning spiritual needs and functioning together to supply the needs under the direction of the Spirit. This article sheds fresh light upon a critically important element in the functioning of the church. [Read Full Article]

Discipleship

Discipleship

The last command of our Lord before he ascended to heaven was, "Go therefore and make disciples..." Are we obeying this command? God's purpose includes His plan to bring every son and daughter to maturity, and to be trained for responsibility in His eternal kingdom. Have we begun to learn how discipleship works? We begin with a wholehearted commitment to Jesus Christ, and we continue by teaching, example, involvement, discipline and accountability. The grace of God that teaches us is given to every member, so we need each other. Most importantly, discipleship is always to be under the control of the Spirit. This puts a demand on each one to abide continually in Jesus. This instruction looks at the various aspects of discipleship and emphasizes its importance in our lives. [Read Full Article]

The Church and Evangelism

The Church and Evangelism

"The Lord is...not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance" (2 Peter 3:9). Every true child of God shares the Father's burden for the lost. But how is our burden to be fulfilled? Evangelism is always found in the plan of God, but God is not found in every plan for evangelism. God's plan for evangelism is utterly dependent on His grace and miraculous power. To see God add to His church, we should understand His purpose for the church, realize the responsibility of every member, and recognize the calling and ministry of the evangelist as he exercises his gift in association with the local church. This brief discussion addresses foundational issues to provoke further thought and study. [Read Full Article]

The Family of God

The Family of God

Just as the natural family is designed for certain purposes, the spiritual family is also at the center of God's purpose. When we are born into God's family by receiving His life, we are connected to the Head and to each other. God has designed His family so that His grace flows through each member to the others. All are dependent on the Father, and the Father guides every relationship and solves every problem. The primary purpose of the natural family, to bring sons and daughters to maturity, is also the primary thought in God's family. After being born again, God's children are to grow up into spiritual maturity, able to take responsibility and stand strong in this world. God has perfectly designed for this training to take place in His family. Many important details of the family of God are discussed in this encouraging tract. [Read Full Article]

Meeting With God

Meeting With God

The presence of God in the old covenant was manifested in the wilderness by a cloud by day and fire by night. The presence of God in the new covenant is manifested as the Holy Spirit comes to abide within each believer's life. As God's people come together to worship Him, to encourage one another, and most of all to meet with God collectively, the Holy Spirit in our midst will exhort, edify, and comfort us (I Cor. 14:3) through manifestations described in I Corinthians 12. This message reminds us of the utmost importance of coming to meet with God, using the exhortations to the churches in Revelation 3 to bring out the importance of order and sanctification within the church. [Read Full Article]

The Church at Jerusalem

"God has left us many warnings in the pages of scripture, and few are more poignant than the barrenness of the church at Jerusalem, the church which graced the dawn of the Christian gospel radiating the grace and authority of its ascended Lord. Its inner life sapped by the creeping paralysis of tradition, hedged about by a wall of uniformity which kept the people of God out...it ended up as merely--the first Christian denomination." In this insightful article, John Kennedy examines the dangers of uniformity, of one-man rule, and of centralization, apparent in the church at Jerusalem in the years immediately following Pentecost. The lessons drawn from this example continue to find valuable application in the church today. [Read Full Article]

The Great Snare

In God's working with man, from Adam until today, we see a fundamental dividing question: Will we allow God to initiate all things and then obey His leading, or will we come up with our own solutions to life's challenges, and then work them out in our own strength? God does not accept our works. We may have heard this and believed it, but so often we turn around and begin to plan what we are going to do for God. This article explores what it means to really know God and do His will, how to leave behind our struggle to "do something for God" and find a place of rest under His authority, and how to draw from God's resources rather than our own. [Read Full Article]