Closer than Blood: the Local Church

“Our world’s history is a long story of tribal conflict where no one is closer than those who are family. That is, with one critical exception of course: the local church. When two people share Christ—even if everything else is different—they are closer than even blood ties could ever bring them. They are the family of God.”

–Jamie Dunlop

From The Compelling Community by Jamie Dunlop and Mark Dever

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The Fear of the Lord is a Blessing

Can you see that the fear of the Lord is a blessing? Just imagine what it would be like to truly hate sin, first our own, then the sins of others (Matt. 7:3–5). What would happen to marital fights? They would be almost impossible. Spouses would be too busy listening and asking forgiveness for their own selfishness. What about the little cliques in the school yard? They would be telling good stories about somebody else. What about when someone sins against us? We would not longer have to murder the person in our own heart. Instead, we could cover the sin in humility and love, or we could confront the other person in the same spirit.

–Edward T. Welch, When People Are Big and God Is Small (p. 114).

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Satan is not Careless about Souls

Your enemy is restless. He never sleeps. He is always going about as a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour (1 Pet. 5:8). He is ever going to and fro in the earth, and walking up and down in it (Job 1:7). You may be careless about your souls: he is not. He wants them to make them miserable, like himself, and will have them if he can. Surely his enmity is not to be despised?

–Bishop J.C. Ryle, Thoughts for Young Men (p. 13).

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Why Practice Church Discipline?

Of Excommunication and Other Censures

The censures of the church, are appointed by Christ, for the preventing and removing, and healing of offences in the church:

for the reclaiming and gaining of offending brethren; for the deterring others from the like offenses; for purging out the leaven which may infect the whole lump; for vindicating the honour of Christ, and of his Church, and the holy profession of the gospel; and for preventing the wrath of God, that may justly fall upon the church, if they should suffer his covenant, and the seals thereof, to be profaned by notorious and obstinate offenders.

–The Cambridge Platform, 1648

From The Reformation of the Church by Iain H. Murray

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When We Sideline the Bible

Not only do the Scriptures shape the Christian’s mind into a worldview profoundly alien to the secularist and the endlessly selfish person, and not only do the Scriptures make us “wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus”, but precisely because they are “God­breathed,” the Scriptures are “useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness”. The danger in contemporary evangelicalism is not formal rejection of Scripture, but an unrealistic assumption that we know the Bible while in fact we press “on” (in reality, slouch backwards) toward endless conferences on leadership, techniques, tools, gimmicks, agendas. Some of these might even be useful if the Bible itself were not so commonly sidelined.

–D.A. Carson, For the Love of God, (Vol. 1) (p. 304).
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When Doctrinal Purity Must Be Sacrificed

Where money is the great wantnumbers must be sought; and where an ambition for numbers prevails, doctrinal purity must be sacrificed. The root of evil is the secular spirit of all our ecclesiastical institutions. What we want is a spiritual body; a Church whose power lies in the truth, and the presence of the Holy Ghost.

–James Henley Thornwell, 1846

From Evangelicalism Divided by Iain Murray

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The Legacy of George Whitefield

“Whitefield wrote no book for the million, of world-wide fame, like Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress. He headed no crusade against an apostate Church, with a nation at his back, and princes on his side, like Martin Luther. He founded no religious denomination, which pinned its faith on his writings and carefully embalmed his best acts and words, like John Wesley. There are Lutherans and Wesleyans in the present day, but there are no Whitefieldites. No! The great evangelist of the 18th century was a simple, guileless man, who lived for one thing only, and that was to preach Christ. If he did that, he cared for northing else.”

–Bishop J.C. Ryle, 1868

From George Whitefield Vol. 2 by Arnold DallimoreScreen Shot 2018-05-05 at 5.53.19 PM