What’s A Church Member to Be?-1

First and foremost, he or she is to be born again; to know the Lord Jesus Christ as his or her personal Savior and Lord. Yes, there are many church members who do not know Him. They can know about Him but need to really know Him in a personal relationship. (Jesus spoke of wheat and tares; the real plant and the ones that are weeds).They are to be wholly given over to the Lord of the church and to the church of the Lord. “For we are members of His Body, of His flesh, and of His bones. ….This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the Church” (Ephesians 5:30; 32). “….Christ also loved the Church, and gave Himself for it; that He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the Word, that He might present it to Himself a glorious Church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. ” (From Ephesians 5:25-27). ” Timothy Dwight gave us the hymn, “I Love Thy Kingdom, Lord.” In it. he gave us these inspiring words, “I love Thy kingdom, Lord, the house of Thine abode, the Church our blessed Redeemer saved with His Own precious blood. I love Thy Church, O God! Her walls before Thee stand, dear as the apple of Thine eye, and graven on Thy hand. For her my tears shall fall; for her my prayers ascend; to her my my cares and toils be given, ’till toils and cares shall end. Beyond my highest joy I prize her heavenly ways, her sweet communion, solemn vows, her hymns of love and praise.” Selah! Do we begin to grasp the wonder of being His Bride? Ron

Questions? E-Mail me at knowingtheway1@gmail.com  

What’s A Church to Be?-4

A church is to be a place where there is interaction between pastor and people. The preacher is to clearly communicate what God is saying; the people are to realize that God is speaking to them and give full attention to what He is saying. Faithfully preaching what God wants communicated brings many vitally important Truths to His listeners. (One of  the very best ways to do this is expository preaching). Conviction, by the Holy Spirit, of sin is a must! We live in a time when few realize how sinful that we are. Only when we grasp how wicked and condemned we are, will we cry out for grace and mercy. Once conviction has brought us face to face with our lost condition, we can open ourselves to receive God’s grace. Other things we are to hear (and respond to) include encouragement, challenge, commands, exhortation, guidelines for living, explanation of Spiritual things, resources, love, hope, relationship(s), etc. Paul informed Timothy and us that, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God (It is God-breathed), and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness that the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works” (II Timothy 3:16-17). The most important thrust of the Scriptures is to reveal the Savior, the Truth about Him, to move us to love, trust, obey, yield to and honor Him. Anything less will not cut it! In the hymn, “Break Thou the bread of Life,” Mary A. Lathbury prayed, “O send Thy Spirit, Lord, now unto me, that he may touch my eyes and make me see: show me the Truth concealed within Thy Word, and in Thy Book revealed, I see the Lord.” (Emphasis mine). Selah! When these things take place in a church, people (one person, a few, or many) will know that they have been confronted by the Almighty. Even one person is worth it all; more would be added blessing.  Ron

Questions? E-mail me at knowingtheway1@gmail.com 

What’s A Church to Be?-3

A church is to be a place where authentic Biblical preaching is top priority! This begins with the preacher. For discussion’s sake, we’ll assume that our hypothetical preacher is truly called of God. Preaching isn’t a lecture, it’s a message from God! Only God can take the content and make it work in lives. The preaching isn’t a display of the preacher’s knowledge, oratorical ability, homiletic skill, or dynamic personality. This is not to say that what God has gifted a man with cannot be sanctified for God’s use. Nevertheless, the power is of God; we are channels. We need to be clean (Spiritually pure) channels. These channels are to be filled with the rivers of living water (see John 7:37-38) which is to say, the fullness of the Holy Spirit. Spiritual preparation to preach is the most important preparation of all. Then, we are not to preach our thoughts but rather look to God to capture and communicate what He is saying.  “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of Truth” (II Timothy 2:15). Sarah E. Taylor, in her hymn, “The Divine Gift,” gave us these words: “Undimmed by time, the Word is still revealing to sinful men Thy justice and Thy grace; and questing hearts that long for peace and healing see Thy compassion in the Savior’s face.” Selah! Our voices must not drown out His voice, as He speaks to men from His Word.   Ron

Questions? E-Mail me at knowingtheway1@gmail.com 

What’s A Church to Be?-2

I consider preaching to be the centerpiece of any genuine church. The music, the tithes and offerings, the people’s hearts, Scripture reading, even the Sunday School should all climax with a strong exposure to what God has said in His Word. Having said that, however, let me assert that it must be the right kind of preaching. The portion shared must have preached to the preacher before it is preached to his hearers. The preacher must be sure that he is but the channel. Only as God speaks, using this channel, will the message be as God intends. The man in the pulpit must avoid any watering down of the message. Yet, while the message will convict, teach, challenge, exhort, encourage, etc. it will always be tempered by God’s love and grace. By the way, preachers must be full of that love for and grace toward God’s people. He must reflect God’s heart. In II Timothy 3:16-17, we are told what preaching is to accomplish. A list is given which is worth studying. Ephesians 4:12 gives the responsibility of Godly leaders. Paul explained that that responsibility was, “for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying (building up) of the Body of Christ.” (See also Verses 13-16). William W. How in his hymn, “O word of God Incarnate.” pens these thoughts, “O Word of God incarnate, O Wisdom from on high, O Truth unchanged, unchanging, O Light of our dark sky; we praise Thee for the radiance that from the hallowed page, a lantern to our footsteps, shines on from age to age.” Selah! Preachers who are clean channels that the Holy Spirit will use to bring God’s Word to bear on the flock will be blessed and a blessing!    Ron

Questions? E-Mail me at knowingtheway1@gmail.com 

What’s A Church to Be?-1

Once we start to go and reach out as individuals and as a church, some people will gradually come to service. What awaits them? What should await them? A nurturing church will sincerely and earnestly welcome them. The born again ones, in this kind of fellowship, will sing from the heart and not just as a part of the routine. There will be a heart-felt worship from redeemed hearts. The preaching will be energized by the Holy Spirit and God’s Word will make an impact in the listeners’ minds and hearts. Jesus will be loved and honored. People will discover that they are in the Presence of God. This kind of atmosphere is created when God’s people are fully engaged with God. Routine is a very deadly weapon with which to diminish vitality. Ephesians 5:18b-19 describes a vital service. Paul, under inspiration, wrote “….be filled with the Spirit; speaking to yourselves in Psalms and hymns and Spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your hearts to the Lord.” Preaching will accomplish Spiritual ends. “For the Word of God is quick (living, vital), and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12). Once again, Charles Wesley gives voice to this need, in his hymn, “Ye Servants of God.” He wrote, “God ruleth on high, Almighty to save, and still He is nigh, His Presence we have; the great congregation His triumph shall sing, ascribing salvation to Jesus our King.”Selah! What are you and what am I doing to foster this kind of vitality in our local assembly?  Ron

Questions? E-Mail me at knowingtheway1@gmail.com

What’s A Church to Do?-4

As the training and discipling process continues onward, as it will from the moment of one’s new birth, the next step is to reach out to others. This begins with a deep concern for those who are lost. We need to “feel” the awfulness of eternity in Hell. We must truly care for people and earnestly desire for them to escape from the wrath to come. We must pray, depend on the Holy Spirit to use us and empower what we do in witnessing. It is His work and we can be channels through which He may work. Witnessing can take many forms, from handing out a tract, giving our testimony, the quality of our Spiritual values and conduct, earning friends’ willingness to listen to the Truth, etc. There is a way for every Christian to share God’s way of salvation. Reaching out is not optional! It is our mission! “Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us; we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God” (II Corinthians 5:20). Could we pray as Herbert G. Tovey did, in his hymn, “A passion for Souls?” He prayed, “Give me a passion for souls, dear Lord, a passion to save the lost; O that Thy love were by all adored, and welcomed at any cost. Jesus, I long, I long to be winning men who are lost and constantly sinning; O may this hour be one of beginning the story of pardon to tell.” When some respond, would they find themselves in a nurturing environment in our local church? Selah! When was the last time you heard a message filled with passion and motivation to reach the unsaved? What would happen if those who are saved were to become earnest witnesses? Isn’t it time that we get back to basics?   Ron

Questions? E-Mail me at knowingtheway1@gmail.com 

What’s A Church to Do?-3

If we have given apologetics training to Christians in our local churches, what is the next part of this process in this second step (see yesterday’s article)? Discipling is an ongoing process. Christians need to be given sound directions for witnessing; they must be experiencing a growing burden for the lost. Those who belong to Him must learn to study and to use good tools to do that. Missionary concern and involvement must become a vital part of their lives. They must be encouraged to read good material and to have a good plan to do so. They must learn to discipline themselves to be actively involved in worship (see recent article: What Happened at Church?). In other words, they are to: “….grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” (From II Peter 3:18). In the Hymn, A Charge to Keep I Have, Charles Wesley gives voice to our mission, “A charge to keep I have, a God to glorify, a never dying soul to save, and fit it for the sky. To serve the present age, my calling to fulfill; O may it all my powers engage, to do my Master’s will! Arm me with jealous care, as in Thy sight to live, and O thy servant, Lord, prepare, a strict account to give! Help me to watch and pray and on Thyself rely, and let me ne’er my trust betray, but press to realms on high.” Selah! What would happen, if churches majored in things mentioned in these first three articles?  Ron

Questions? E-Mail me at knowingtheway1@gmail.com 

What’s A Church to Do?-2

I wonder how many times in our local churches we make our decisions based on clear leading that we gain from prayer. For discussion’s sake, let’s assume that we have prayed until we have the mind of God on what we should do as a church. (Is there church leadership that has that much patience and trust)? What would be the next step? I suggest apologetics. Why? Because we need to know what we believe, why we believe it and know how to stand for it with good reasons. “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear” (I Peter 4:15). If we have not become grounded doctrinally, we can’t speak with authority and our own confidence can be undermined. A careful study and understanding of sound teaching (doctrine) also may reveal if we have exercised authentic faith in Jesus as our Lord and Savior. Once we are grounded, we are ready for the next step. (See tomorrow, God willing). If we are grounded, we can relate to Daniel W. Whittle’s expression of confidence and conviction that he gave us in his hymn, “I Know Whom I Have believed.” He put it this way, “I know not how the Spirit moves, convincing men of sin, revealing Jesus through the Word, creating faith in Him. But I know Whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I’ve committed unto Him against that day.” Selah! Being well taught and well grounded gives very blessed assurance.   Ron

Questions? E-Mail me at knowingtheway1@gmail.com 

What’s A Church to Do?-1

We’ve tried a lot of things to make our local churches effective. Have they worked? Has it helped at all? Has it helped in increased attendance and support only? Has it helped, Spiritually? If God sent us a printed copy of His evaluation of our church, what would He include with which He is pleased? What would earn His displeasure? Is it time for us to take a hard look at our activities as a church and make some fundamental changes? A good place to begin would be to take prayer seriously! Do we honestly believe that God answers prayer? Have we prayed about each facet of our church life? Have we sought His guidance on our expenditures? Do we pray for lost people? Do we pray for the Spiritual health of our local assembly? Are we faithful in intercessory prayer for others and for missions? Why have we allowed prayer meetings to become sterile, boring and even obsolete? Perhaps it’s time to major on prayer for personal and corporate revival. “Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much” (Sound counsel from James 5:16). Consider these thoughts from Albert S. Reitz’s hymn “Teach Me to Pray, “Power in prayer, Lord, power in prayer, here mid earth’s sin and sorrow and care; men lost and dying, souls in despair; O give me power, power in prayer!” Selah! What might God do, if we made prayer a major factor in our church? As important as preaching the Word is, it needs prayer in order to reach our hearts with God’s power! Let’s get back to vital prayer!   Ron

Questions? E-Mail me at knowingtheway1@gmail.com 

Prayer Atheists?

Are we prayer atheists? By that, I mean do we accept prayer as a doctrinal concept only, but do not really believe that God actually responds to our prayers? Oh, we believe that sometimes prayer seems to work but not often and often not in ways that we want Him to respond. Since an atheist believes in no god, prayer might be regarded as having some psychological value or that if it helps someone, what harm is it. Too many Christians, on the other hand, treat prayer as a good religious practice and may only resort to it when other options have been exhausted. One other poor response is to, consciously or unconsciously, use prayer as if God were our celestial servant to do whatever we ask, when and how we want Him to do it. Prayer for the genuine Christian is to bring himself or herself into alignment with the will and wisdom of God. We tell those who will listen that prayer is always answered. It may be yes, no or wait. Incidentally, this is also true for any Bible believing local church. God knows what He is doing; we don’t have to  know. William D. Longstaff gives us these wise words, “Take time to be holy, let Him be thy Guide and run not before Him, whatever betide. In joy or in sorrow (no matter how prayer is answered)  still follow thy Lord, and, looking to Jesus, still trust in His Word.” (From the hymn: “Take Time to Be Holy“)  God inspired Paul to write, “Be careful for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God” Philippians 4:6). Then trust Him to respond His way; not ours! Selah! A wise and loving father responds to his children with what he knows is best for them; so does God for His children!  Ron

Questions? E-mail me at knowingtheway1@gmail.com