Tonight, I begin a short series entitle The Church: A Display of God’s Glory, pulling from material written by Mark Dever of Capitol Hill Baptist Church and 9Marks ministries. I love the simplicity of this material on deacons, elders, congregationalism, and membership. This isn’t the first time we’ve taught this at UBC. I take our new deacons through it each year in September around the time of their installment. While not exhaustive, it’s 4-point laser focus on the church being a communal display of God’s glory is essential.
Here are some thoughts that are relatively unorganized, but represent some of my thoughts about church in general right now:
1) We need simple structures that are streamlined with increased accountability. Now, you could say that for government (in a big way), but when it comes to the church we should take what scripture says explicitly and make sure we do it. We should then take what it says implicitly and make sure our structures are clear enough for God exalting principles to come through. The more complicated church structures are, the more apt they are to become man-centered rather than God-glorifying.
2) We need godly men doing godly things. Christ has given the church gifts in the form of people (Eph.4). I believe that the most explicit offices in each local church are elders / pastors and deacons. While there is variation in the interpretation and administration of elders, each church must have these two offices represented to be a New Testament church. Therefore, the qualifications of 1 Timothy 3 must be intact in a HUGE way. The church will ultimately only be as God-honoring as the men who fill these offices are God-honoring. Let the church be discerning, young men striving, and older men un-tiring in this pursuit.
3) The church needs members who are recognized. What I mean by this is NOT a brass plate on the back of some donated piece of furniture. What I mean is that the local church should recognize who is in their fellowship for edification and accountability. This means that members who are in name only and not in presence should be cared for until they are recommitted to the body or removed to live life in another fellowship. Does this sound harsh? My way or the highway? Actually, it’s simple obedience to the commands of Scripture in Hebrews 10 & 13. As well, in order to live out Christ’s priestly prayer in John 17, that the world see Him in our love for each other, we have to be with each other. I am clearly not referring to the home-bound or ill. In fact, our love for those unable to attend should be excessive!
4) The church must be a place that God’s Word is central in every place. We may say that God’s Word is central, but if it is not sufficiently at the core of all of our equipping, encouraging, and even disciplining of one another, then we are deceiving ourselves. The Word is not an idea, it is TRUTH. We should be teachable, lovers of truth and pursuers of truth. This means that doctrine matters. Because the Word of God is Christ-emphatic, this means that doctrine is by no means cold, rather it is the warmest affection for those who want to better know the Savior. Remember, Peter said in 2 Peter 1:16-21 that the Word of God is the “more sure thing” when it comes to bearing witness of the Christ.
5) The church must be a witness. As a witness to the glories of Christ, we must faithfully fulfill our mandate to make disciples. Yes, actually make disciples. We are not to be in the business of merely morally influencing people or even seeing conversions only. We are to proclaim, witness, observe, teach, walk, weep, laugh, cry with people. We are to see them through while they seek to make their calling and election certain. We are to run faithfully alongside one another as disciples making disciples. We will not rest until this is faithfully our task.