A Little Time With The 1689: Day 338

Day 338

Of the Church.

Chapter 26, Paragraph 15.

In cases of difficulties, or differences, either in point of Doctrine, or Administration; wherein either the Churches in general are concerned, or any one Church in their peace, union, and edification; or any member, or members, of any church are injured, in or by any proceedings in censures not agreeable to truth, and order: it is according to the mind of Christ, that many Churches holding communion together, do by their messengers meet to consider, and give their advice, in or about that matter in difference, to be reported to all the Churches concerned; howbeit these messengers assembled are not entrusted with any Church-power properly so called; or with any jurisdiction over the Churches themselves, to exercise any censures either over any Churches, or Persons; or to impose their determination on the Churches, or Officers.

Scripture Lookup

 

Acts 15:2,4,6,22,23,25

2 Corinthians 1:24

1 John 4:1

Reflection

When a disagreement arises in a church, it is fitting that it should seek out the counsel of like-minded churches. There is no perfect church, so there is wisdom and humility in obtaining advice outside of its local structure. Associating with other churches is healthy and Biblical.

When seeking the advice of other churches, however, it is important to note that this advice is not binding. The local church does not have to submit to the advice given. It is up to the congregation to decide what action to take, if any. There is no authority above the church except for Christ, so an assembly of churches cannot impose a decision upon a church.

Reading this, you may wonder: what does this have to do with me? Assemblies, church decisions, jurisdiction of authority – it seems to have no bearing on the average woman in the pew. However, knowing that a local church is answerable only to Christ gives a heightened responsibility to its members. It is incumbent upon you to determine the best course of action for your church. With the Spirit’s help, you are to study the Scriptures diligently so as to learn the doctrine contained in them. You are to seek peace and righteousness as much as you are able, so that division and strife are handled lovingly and Biblically. The actions of church members have a great impact on the church. Take your membership seriously.

 

Questions to Consider

  • Do you consider theological debates and discussion among church associations to have no bearing on your role in your church?

 

 

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A Little Time With The 1689: Day 337

Day 337

Of the Church.

Chapter 26, Paragraph 14.

As each Church, and all the Members of it are bound to pray continually, for the good and prosperity of all the Churches of Christ, in all places; and upon all occasions to further it (every one within the bounds of their places, and callings, in the Exercise of their Gifts and Graces) so the Churches (when planted by the providence of God so as they may enjoy opportunity and advantage for it) ought to hold communion amongst themselves for their peace, increase of love, and mutual edification.

Scripture Lookup

Ephesians 6:18

Psalm 122:6

Romans 16:1,2; 3

John 8-10

 

Reflection

No church is an island. The local church is not meant to be an isolated compound interacting with no one. The head of the Church is Christ, and while the local body is answers only to Him, it does not mean it is the only church that belongs to Christ. Remember, the saints are called out by Jesus from all times and places. We pray that those saints are encouraged, that they may increase, and that they will be strengthened in the faith.

It is encouraging to know that as a church you are not alone. When possible, meeting with other churches is an uplifting occasion.  You are with fellow believers who “get it”: they share your love for Christ, they understand the struggle against sin, and they know the need for the fellowship of the saints. When you hear how the Lord is working in other churches, it refreshes you, spurring you onward in the faith.

Holding communion with other churches also ensures that your church is not erring in some way. When issues arise, there is prudence in seeking advice from sister churches. “Without consultation, plans are frustrated, but with many counselors they succeed.” (Proverbs 15:22) The church is strengthened in her doctrine by the wisdom of fellow churches. Evidence for this is seen in the very Confession we are reading! Its very existence is a result of churches meeting together for mutual edification.

Christ’s command to love one another extends beyond the scope of the local church. Through intentional interaction with fellow churches, the local body as a whole is encouraged and edified. The local church ought to seek fellowship with like-minded churches.

Questions to Consider

  • What are the advantages to churches holding communion together? Are there any disadvantages?

 

 

A Little Time With The 1689: Day 336

Day 336

Of the Church.

Chapter 26, Paragraph 13.

No church members, upon any offence taken by them, having performed their duty required of them towards the person they are offended at, ought to disturb any church-order, or absent themselves from the assemblies of the church, or administration of any ordinances, upon the account of such offence at any of their fellow members, but to wait upon Christ, in the further proceeding of the church.

Scripture Lookup

 

Matthew 18:15-17

Ephesians 4:2,3

Reflection

Too many times someone gets offended in a church. It could be something someone said, it could be a decision of the leadership, or it could be that not enough people said hello to them that causes the offense. And too many times it seems easier to the offended to start afresh at another church in town. But is it the right thing to do?

Life in the church is not all sunshine, lollipops, and roses. There will be times when we get on each other’s nerves. We will be sinned against. We will sin against others. When we journey together as a church, we must remember to “ Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves…” (Phillippians 2:3).

While working through an offense, our instinct is to avoid everything and everyone involved. Assembling with the saints to worship God may be the last thing we feel like doing. Unless this church proves to be a false one, though, it is still governed by Christ. Obedience to his commands are not optional no matter how we feel. Until the matter is resolved, we are still called to fellowship with the saints to whom we are joined.

Questions to Consider

  • When should you leave a church?

 

 

A Little Time With The 1689: Day 335

Day 335

Of the Church.

Chapter 26, Paragraph 12.

As all believers are bound to join themselves to particular churches, when and where they have opportunity so to do; so all that are admitted unto the privileges of a church, are also under the censures and government thereof, according to the rule of Christ.

Scripture Lookup

1 Thessalonians 5:14

2 Thessalonians 3:6,14,15

 

Reflection

When looking to join a church, what do people usually look for? Sermons they agree with, friendly relatable people, programs to plug in to. How many, if asked, would say they were looking for accountability?

Christians are called out of this world by Christ. They are commanded to not walk alone, but to walk with other saints in a local church. By joining together, they mutually encourage one another. They rejoice with those that rejoice, and weep with those that weep. They speak to one another in “psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs” (Ephesians 5:19). They teach and admonish one another.

However, there are times when confrontation needs to occur. Action needs to be taken for unrepentant sin. Sometimes, fellowship has to be broken and discipline enforced. This is the duty of the church. When we join a church, we don’t just receive the happiness of being together: we become answerable to the government of the church.

Accepting and submitting to the authority of the church is not easy. It means we are vulnerable to those we worship with. What if we get hurt? When we remember who the head of the church is and how He has demonstrated His love for us, we gain the reassurance that whatever command He gives, it is good. Jesus commands us to place ourselves under the authority of a local church. This is good.

Questions to Consider

  • How would you counsel someone who claims to be a Christian, but does not want to formally be a member of a church?

 

 

A Little Time With The 1689: Day 334

Day 334

Of the Church.

Chapter 26, Paragraph 11.

Although it be incumbent on the Bishops or Pastors of the Churches, to be instant in Preaching the Word, by way of Office; yet the work of Preaching the Word is not so peculiarly confined to them; but that others also gifted and fitted by the Holy Spirit for it, and approved, and called by the Church, may and ought to perform it.”

Scripture Lookup

Acts 11:19-21

1 Peter 4:10,11

Reflection

Who gets to preach? Could any man get up and deliver a sermon? Should only those who are pastors be allowed to preach?

While pastors ought to preach to their people, the role of preaching is not limited to ordained ministers. There are men who may not have had training or have been called to an office within the church, but have been gifted with teaching and preaching. In giving these men a chance to display their skills, the church is further strengthened and edified by the preaching done in her midst.

While the church should recognize those with the gift of preaching, it should be careful not to thrust any man into that position quickly. The recognition of a layman’s gift for preaching should come after a time of observation, and it should be the decision of the whole church. This way the preaching of the word is kept in high regard, not to be taken lightly.

With the rise of popularity among Calvinists for public preaching, it is important that measures be taken among churches to approve and call men who are gifted for preaching. While all are called to share the Gospel, not all are meant to be preachers. Having the church recognize some for preaching the word will ensure that these men are held accountable and that those who are gifted are able to use their gifts.

Questions to Consider

  • Does your church recognize any laymen that have the gift of preaching?

 

 

A Little Time With The 1689: Day 333

 

Day 333

Of the Church.

Chapter 26, Paragraph 10.

“……and this is required by the Law of Nature, and by the Express order of our Lord Jesus, who hath ordained that they that preach the Gospel, should live of the Gospel.”

Scripture Lookup

1 Corinthians 9:6-14

Reflection

Sick? Go to the doctor. Need legal advice? Hire a lawyer. Want to learn a subject? Take a class with a teacher. When it comes to needing instruction and counsel, we do not blink an eye at going to a professional. We expect them to spend time with us, instruct us, and aid us. In return we pay for their services.

It is only fitting that those who work receive compensation for their work. Why, then, is the issue of paying a pastor such a difficult one? Here are some possibilities as to why that is the case:

  • It is not considered work. Earnestly studying the Bible and shepherding souls is erroneously viewed as a cushy job.
  • The wealthy pastors get all the attention, and we despise their consumerism (or secretly covet it).
  • It is personal. We might pay someone for their services in the secular world, but we do not always know their salary or go to their house for dinner. If we are involved in our pastor’s life, we will not only know his salary, but we will get an idea of how he spends it.
  • We still equate the pastorate with a vow of poverty.

All of these reasons fail to understand how the Bible defines the role of the pastor. It is a lifelong calling, and one the Lord Jesus commands should be compensated. As Christians who desire to obey our king, we should never begrudge our minsters their wages.

There are great spiritual consequences, for better or for worse, depending on the performance of this duty (Galatians 6:7-9). The wicked and oppressive failure of most evangelical churches to support their pastors amply is at the root of much of the dearth and curse which is upon the professing church of Jesus Christ. Those who highly value the labor of the servant of God will find themselves blessed with highly valuable labour. -Samuel Waldron

 

 

Questions to Consider

  • How are you helping to support your pastor?

 

 

A Little Time With The 1689: Day 332

Day 332

Of the Church.

Chapter 26, Paragraph 10.

“…so as they may have a comfortable supply, without being themselves entangled in secular affairs; and may also be capable of exercising hospitality towards others;…

Scripture Lookup

2 Timothy 2:4
1 Timothy 3:2

Reflection

Bitterness abounds towards the flashy pastors who appear to live large on the backs of their congregants. Such men use the church for their own gain, and should be rebuked for such. That is often what people think of when the topic of pastors and pay is brought up. While financial fleecing does sadly occur, the impoverished state of a pastor and his family is more likely to happen in your average church. Where is the balance?

It is often joked that a pastor only has to work one day a week. Nothing could be further than the truth. In this chapter of the Confession, a key word describing the work of the pastor is “constantly”. Constantly is he to attend the service of Christ. Constantly is he to attend to the ministry of the word. Constantly is he to be in prayer, and constantly does he watch over the souls in his care. This never-ceasing aspect of the role of the pastor takes a toll emotionally and spiritually. Seeking to provide for himself as well is a great burden, one that the church should be able to relieve through their financial provision.

The church that cares for its spiritual health, and the well-being of its pastor, will provide enough so that he may devote himself to the work of the church. He will not have to obtain employment elsewhere that may hinder his availability. With the generosity of the church, he will in turn be able to be generous to those in his midst. Both pastor and church will be blessed by one another.

Questions to Consider

  • Why is the compensation of a pastor such a sensitive subject for many?