Take note that this key has been entrusted to you by the Lord Jesus. You are, as it were, the porters of a city. Such porters are most unfaithful who permit the entrance of an approaching enemy coming to destroy the city. You would likewise be unfaithful porters if you permit those enemies to enter and to remain within, and thus destroy the congregation which puts her trust in your faithfulness.
You are the cause that the church is becoming degenerate to the core. You are responsible for all the consequences of this. As a result, God’s Name is dishonored, many people are kept from joining the church who otherwise would do so, souls are destroyed who by the use of the keys of God’s kingdom would repent, and the flouring of godliness is obstructed. You will be the cause that one member imitates the other in the commission of evil, and that the godly are oppressed and secretly must sigh over the wretched condition of the church.
Know that the Lord will bring you into judgment for all these things, and that there you will have to give an account of the manner in which you have ruled the church entrusted to you and concerning the souls over whom the Lord appointed you as an overseer. The Lord will demand blood of all those souls who will perish due to the neglect of the use of this key. Oh, what a weighty responsibility this is, and how dreadful will God’s judgment be upon all unfaithful elders! Oh, that many would never have been elders!
–Wilhelmus à Brakel, The Christian’s Reasonable Service, vol. 2, (p. 185).
From The Church and the Surprising Offense of God’s Love (pp. 322-323).
Submitting to a local church:
- Identifies us with Christ.
- Distinguishes us from the world.
- Guides us into the righteousness of Christ by presenting a standard of personal and corporate righteousness.
- Acts as a witness to non-Christians.
- Glorifies God and enables us to enjoy his glory.
- Identifies us with Christ’s people.
- Assists us in living the Christian life through the accountability of brothers and sisters in the faith.
- Makes us responsible for specific believers.
- Protects us from the world, the flesh, and the Devil.
–Jonathan Leeman, The Church and the Surprising Offense of God’s Love (p. 267).
A man who claims to be righteous in Christ yet makes no effort to pursue a life of righteousness is, at best, self-deceived. Likewise, a woman who claims to love all Christians everywhere but does not love her Christian sister is likewise self-deceived. Both are hypocrites. They are nominal Christians––Christians in name only––because their profession does not translate into action or reality. They claim a positional status before the throne of God, but nothing in their lives commends the reality of that status, as if God were a fool who could be mocked (Gal. 6:7). Their faith is without works, which, James tells us, is a dead faith. It’s meaningless. It’s hot air, even if they think that they really, really mean it. The kingdom of Christ is about reality––a new reality, not the illusory old one.
So too with one who claims to belong to the church without belonging to a church. I fear that he looks very much like a nominal Christian and a hypocrite.
–Jonathan Leeman, The Church and the Surprising Offense of God’s Love (p. 214).