A Church of All Sorts

Variety

One of the things I love about the church is the variety of its members. You will meet brothers and sisters who have walked with the Lord for many years and others who are newly converted. There are people from different ethnic backgrounds and personality types. The church is made up of all sorts. For this reason, a church is not to exclude people because of their age, personality or appearance. A healthy church will be a place in which redeemed people from various ages and stages in life (according to the Word of God) are welcome to fellowship and worship the Lord.  Continue reading A Church of All Sorts

The People of God and Unity

 

UNITY

Before He went to the cross, Jesus prayed for His people. Among the numerous things He prayed for, one of them was unity. He asked,

 

that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me” ().

Continue reading The People of God and Unity

21 that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, 23 I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.

Why I Love Going to Church

Why I Love Going to Church

I am really excited about the first day of the week. As Sunday morning and evening comes by my family gets ready and we go to church. Going to church ought not to be a mere routine or something to fill in time. Going to church ought to be an exciting occasion that we count as a privilege and anticipate the blessing that awaits us. When I say I love going to church, I am not referring to the building (though the church will be in a particular location or building). I am referring to the local gathering of believers – my local church. Why do I love going to church? Though there are many reasons that could be provided, I would like to share three broad reasons that contain many implications as to why I love going to church. Continue reading Why I Love Going to Church

Playing Favourites

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Everyone has favourites – favourite colours, favourite foods, and favourite places – we all have favourites. Though these may be legitimate determinations of one’s desires, there is a kind of favouritism that is dangerous and divisive when it comes to the Christian life. In this post I want to raise the issue of favouritism in the church. This is a practice that is ungodly and contrary to what the Lord requires of His people. Whether it be seen in forming of certain groups of “fellowship” that purposely exclude others that don’t cut it, or in the act of giving prominence to certain people in the church, the sin of partiality is a damaging witness of the gospel.

In , James raises the issue of favourtism in the church by looking at three things it does to us. His point is that favourtism ought not to occur in the church because it makes us judges (2:2-4), inconsistent (2:5-7) and transgressors (2:8-13).

FAVOURTISM MAKES US JUDGES ()
James begins by providing a scenario in which two individuals walk into the assembly – one is “wearing a gold ring and fine clothing” and the other is a “poor man in shabby clothing” (). The wealthy man is shown honour whereas the poor man is shown dishonour (James 2:3). Whoever shows this kind of favourtism becomes a judge “with evil thoughts” (James 2:4). Favourtism is sinful because it turns you into a judge. Christian, that is not your title!

FAVOURTISM MAKES US INCONSISTENT ()
To discriminate against the poor by showing favourtism to the rich is inconsistent with God’s dealings. Generally speaking, God has primarily chosen those who are poor to be saved (James 2:5). James reminds his readers that they “have dishonored the poor man” (James 2:6) by showing favourtism to the rich, even though it is the rich who are oppressing them (James 2:6). It is horribly inconsistent to apply favourtism to those “who blaspheme the honorable name by which you were called” (James 2:7) and yet ignore those who are your brothers.

FAVOURTISM MAKES US TRANSGRESSORS ()
In this final section, James reveals that the sin of favourtism makes you a transgressor guilty of breaking all of God’s law (James 2:9-10). Because God’s law is unified, the breaking of one aspect of it (in this case not loving your neighbor), you have broken all of it and thus become a transgressor (James 2:11). In-order to prevent this, the Christian is to speak and act in accordance to the law of liberty, which refers to their freedom and ability to obey God’s law (James 2:12). In that final Day of Judgment, there will be no mercy to those who didn’t show it, but for those who did, “mercy triumphs over judgment” (James 2:12).

The believer ought not to display favouritism with people because it is not compatible with who they are in Christ. It is the duty of the Christian to fulfill the royal law: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (James 2:8). Don’t play favourites in the church, but take the opportunity to enjoy the rich fellowship with a variety of people that the Lord has placed in the body.

2:1 My brothers, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory. For if a man wearing a gold ring and fine clothing comes into your assembly, and a poor man in shabby clothing also comes in, and if you pay attention to the one who wears the fine clothing and say, “You sit here in a good place,” while you say to the poor man, “You stand over there,” or, “Sit down at my feet,” have you not then made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts? Listen, my beloved brothers, has not God chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom, which he has promised to those who love him? But you have dishonored the poor man. Are not the rich the ones who oppress you, and the ones who drag you into court? Are they not the ones who blaspheme the honorable name by which you were called?

If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well. But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors. 10 For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it. 11 For he who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said, “Do not murder.” If you do not commit adultery but do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law. 12 So speak and so act as those who are to be judged under the law of liberty. 13 For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.

For if a man wearing a gold ring and fine clothing comes into your assembly, and a poor man in shabby clothing also comes in, and if you pay attention to the one who wears the fine clothing and say, “You sit here in a good place,” while you say to the poor man, “You stand over there,” or, “Sit down at my feet,” have you not then made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?

For if a man wearing a gold ring and fine clothing comes into your assembly, and a poor man in shabby clothing also comes in,

Listen, my beloved brothers, has not God chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom, which he has promised to those who love him? But you have dishonored the poor man. Are not the rich the ones who oppress you, and the ones who drag you into court? Are they not the ones who blaspheme the honorable name by which you were called?

If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well. But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors. 10 For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it. 11 For he who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said, “Do not murder.” If you do not commit adultery but do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law. 12 So speak and so act as those who are to be judged under the law of liberty. 13 For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.

Resources for Spiritual Growth – Part 2

spiritual-growth2

In my last post we saw the importance of the priority of prayer and the permeation of Scripture in spiritual growth. In this final instalment of of posts on resources for spiritual growth I will consider the final two: the power of the Spirit and the presence of fellowship. 

The Power of the Spirit
If we are going to serve the Lord with our highest love, reverence and obedience we are in need of Divine help. For this reason we need the power of the Holy Spirit. This power will help us apply what we learn in the word of God. Both the permeation of the word and the power of the Spirit work hand in hand. How does this power work? We need to be filled with the Spirit. To be filled with the Spirit is a  straightforward command in Scripture, “And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18). The word “filled” in this verse means “to make full” in the sense of permeation or control. The idea is that the believer’s life is to be under the control and direction of the Holy Spirit. This control leads to conduct that is in conformity to the word of God (cf. Col. 3:16).

Continue reading Resources for Spiritual Growth – Part 2

The Lord’s Supper: Open your eyes and look around!

© LWF/J. Latva-Hakuni , under the Creative Commons License.

I grew up in the Anglican tradition, and one thing I miss about it is the way in which my family’s church did the Lord’s Supper. We’d all get up the front, and stand in a semi-circle. The minister and some of the elders would walk around with the bread and the wine, and serve them to the individual members of the congregation. More often than not, you were standing next to your family, but then you were also standing next to the mid-30’s single guy, and on the other side, the 83 year old saint who could barely stand. Across the circle, you could look your brothers and sisters in the eye. It was  communion in more ways than one. It was not just communion with Christ, but it was a communion with the body. Continue reading The Lord’s Supper: Open your eyes and look around!

Choosing to Have Fellowship with God

Photo credit: Some rights reserved, by Jill Clardy

“God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.” ( ESV)

Why is it that even though we know God’s truth through the Bible, we choose to turn our backs on it? Do we know better? Do we think we can live our lives independent of God? Are we too lazy or not motivated? Do we think we have everything we need already? Are we ashamed to face God? No doubt there are many reasons why we may ignore or turn from God. I am saddened at how I find myself at times slipping back into my old ways of thinking, and therefore living. I know better but I don’t choose to act on it. When I come to my senses and remorsefully turn back to God’s forgiving arms I am left wondering why I do it. Why I even delight in doing it. Continue reading Choosing to Have Fellowship with God

This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.

Fundamentalist or Liberal – What Causes Churches to Polarise?

© Sue Colvil #340071 Fotiolia

The church is not perfect.  I don’t know whether you’ve noticed that? ;-)

Sydney, where I come from, is blessed with many good and strong Bible teaching churches that are a pleasure to be at.  I’ve noticed in Melbourne that good Bible teaching churches are much harder to find (though they are here!).  There seems to be more of a polarisation when there is not strong Bible teaching: either churches become soft (a bit liberal and wishy-washy) or they become very ‘fundy’ (majoring on the minors and rejecting most other Christians).  Some of the more ‘fundy’ folk may withdraw in the end from the church and form very small house groups, sometimes consisting of little more than their own family.  Continue reading Fundamentalist or Liberal – What Causes Churches to Polarise?

7 Basic Habits Every Christian Needs to Develop

    1. In order to grow we need to eat—Read the Bible