Wednesday, April 25, 2018

CHURCH MEMBERS: WHAT IS THEIR PRIMARY DUTY?



                       


One of the tragedies of the church today is that the concept of church membership has been lost. In this article I do not intend to defend the biblical position of formal church membership for it is obvious; my purpose is to show you the practical need for church membership.
What is your membership responsibility in your local church? In one word, members are to LOVE. Love the LORD your God with all your heart, soul and mind, and your neighbour as yourself. The Lord said:
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbour as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets" (Matthew 22:37-40, see also Deuteronomy 6:5, Mark 12:30, Luke 10:27).
1.    LOVE GOD
To love the Lord God is both the duty and delight of every believer. God has shown so much love to Christians that they cannot do anything but love Him. “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends” (Jn. 15:13). Jesus has shown His redeeming love. Therefore, ‘redeeming love should be the theme of our song’ until we die. You cannot afford to fail to love God because the Bible pronounces a curse on anyone who fails in this. If anyone has no love for the Lord, let him be accursed!” (1 Corinthians 16:22). So what is expected in loving the Lord our God?
a.    Negatively
(1) Hate sin. God is holy (Joshua 24:19); there is none holy like the Lord (1 Samuel 2:2); Our Holy God shows Himself holy in righteousness (Isaiah 5:16). Habakkuk nails it when he says, “You who are of purer eyes than to see evil and cannot look at wrong, why do you idly look at traitors and remain silent when the wicked swallows up the man more righteous than he? (Habakkuk 1:13). For this reason, we who are called by His name must be holy (1 Peter 1:16), and hate sin by killing it (Roman 8:13).
Put to death therefore what is earthly in you; sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming … But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off, the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator (Colossians 3:5,6,8-10).
(2) Hate the world. Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him (1 John 2:15). We have no abiding city in the world, and so we must live as pilgrims do. That is, we must not be too attached to this world or the things of this world. After all, they are transient. Be dead to the world. Your heart must not be stained by any worldliness. But why should we take this serious step in our relation to the world? You should realize that our hearts are too narrow to contain both loves. The human heart is more likely to be worldly than to be godly. The way to demonstrate your love for the Lord is by giving yourself to spiritual things. Unless your heart loves the Word of God and spends time listening to it, reading it, studying, memorizing, meditating and applying it, you are still in love with the world. Pray every day. Spend time with believers in Christian fellowship.
b. Positively
(1) Love Christ. God loved us so much that He gave His only Son (John 3:16). The Lord Jesus Christ loved us so much that He gave His life as the propitiation for our sins (1 John 2:2). He is our Advocate with the Father. He died our death. He took our curse and gave us His righteousness (2 Corinthians 5:21). How can we fail to love Him?  It is expected that we love Christ and live to serve Him. Grace be with all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with love incorruptible (Ephesians 6:24). You love Christ by knowing and doing His Word. This is how Christians become Christ-like. You love Christ by loving His church for which He gave His life. True believers are part of a local church themselves, and this is how they demonstrate that they are part of body of Christ. Christians are commanded not to neglect to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as we see the Day drawing near (Hebrews 10:25). Christians gather on Sunday, the Lord’s Day for worship and fellowship. In this way the fourth Commandment is fulfilled.
2.    LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOUR
a.    Love fellow Christians
(1) Love for their Pastors. Christ has appointed that His church be orderly. There are men whom He has provided for the leadership of the church. These men shepherd the flock of God which the Holy Spirit appointed them overseers to care for the church of God which He bought with His own blood (Acts 20:28). How are you to show that you love those that Christ has given to lead in the local church where you are a member?
·  Submit to them (Hebrews 13:17). The church has a responsibility to listen and obey the pastors. Listen attentively to what they teach and seek to practice it. The authority of the pastors is in the Word of God that they teach. When you seek their counsel (you should avail yourself this privilege), you should do as they recommend. The Bible teaches this truth in various passages:
We ask you, brothers, to respect those who labour among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, and to esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves. (1Thessalonians 5:12-13)
Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith. (Hebrews 13:7)
Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you. (Hebrews 13:17).
·  Pray for them (Colossians 4:3, 1 Thessalonians 5:25, 2 Thessalonians 3:1, Hebrews 13:18). You should pray for your pastor to be a godly, faithful preacher and shepherd of the flock. Pray that he may not be slothful in zeal but be fervent in spirit serving the Lord. Pray that he would grow in discernment so that he may not lead the church into error. Pray that the Lord may open doors of ministry for the Word to go forth through them. Pray that they will not be discouraged.
·  Financial support (1 Corinthians 9:2-14, 1 Timothy 5:17). While every pastor may not necessarily be financially supported, yet the church should always desire to meet the general principle that the labourer is worthy his wages. Pastors are usually poorly remunerated, not because people don’t have means but because they do not highly value the work that they do. Yet it is the pastor who will bring them the gospel, by which they are saved (salvation is the greatest and highest blessing ever!). It is the pastor who will counsel them in godliness, and usually this counsel is invaluable. It is the pastor who visits when they are sick, when they marry, when they have a baby. It is the pastor to baptize them. And the pastor is there even to bury them when they die!
(2) Love for their brethren.
·  We are to love with a fervent love those upon whom the heavenly Father has cast His electing love. Love with a sincere heart those that Christ has redeemed by His blood. May you show brotherly affection to all those who are indwelt by the Holy Spirit. What does this love look like?
·  We are our brother’s keeper: It is our duty to watch their backs so that the enemy, the devil does not attack them. Satan is compared to a roaring lion prowling around looking for someone to devour. We should be on the lookout to help them differentiate wolves in sheepskin from their fellow sheep.
·  The ‘one-anothering’ ministry. The Bible has a lot to say on how we are to relate with each other. Some of the phrases show that ours is a very close relationship. There are many passages that have this kind of exhortation. Jesus said, “Be at peace with one another” (Matthew 9:50) and “Love one another” (John 13:34, 35; 15:12,17). Paul wrote, “Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honour (Romans 12:10). We are to live in harmony with one another (Romans 12:16, 15:5); to welcome one another as Christ has welcomed us, for the glory of God (Romans 15:17). We are to instruct one another (Romans 15:14), greet one another with a holy kiss (Romans 16:16; 1 Corinthians 16:20; 2 Corinthians 13:12); and wait for one another (1 Corinthians 11:33). Members are commanded to have the same care for one another (1 Corinthians 12:25). Brothers are to comfort one another, and to agree with one another (2 Corinthians13:11).
·  We are encouraged through love to serve one another (Galatians 5:13) and to bear with one another’s burden and so fulfil the law of Christ (Galatians 6:2; c.f. Ephesians 4:2). At all times we are warned against and discouraged from biting and devouring one another or consuming one another (Galatians 5:15). We are to desist from provoking or envying one another (Galatians 5:26). Neither are we to bear false witness nor are we to lie to one another (Colossians 3:9). Instead, we are to be kind to one another, tender hearted, forgiving one another as God in Christ forgave us (Ephesians 4:32).
·  Moreover, we are to submit to one another out of reverence for Christ (Ephesians 5:21). We are to let the word of Christ dwell in us richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom (Colossians 3:16). We are urged to abound in love for one another and for all (2 Thessalonians 3:12). Besides, we are to encourage one another (1 Thessalonians 4:18; 5:11; Hebrews 10:25) and do good to one another and to everyone (1 Thessalonians 5:15).
·  We are to exhort one another every day (Hebrews 3:13) and to consider how to stir up one another to love and good works (Hebrews 10:24). It is also the will of God for us to confess our sins to one another and pray for one another (James 5:16).
·   We are to show hospitality to one another without grumbling (1 Peter 4:9).  Let us also remember to clothe ourselves with humility toward one another (1 Peter 5:5) and to have fellowship with one another (1 John 1:7).
b.    Love unbelievers
(1) Set an example of godliness. Christ expects us to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world. The way we show that we belong to Christ is by living in this world as He did. Our conduct must show that we do not belong to this wicked world of sin, but that we are citizens of the kingdom of God where righteousness dwells. A godly example for a Christian is the best platform for preaching the gospel. Unless one has the moral authority established on the principle of being above reproach, honest, godly, peaceable, loving, respectful and a man of integrity, the possibility of your faith being taken seriously is very low. How you live can either endear sinners to the cross of Calvary or repulse them. While we should endeavour to be as perfect as our heavenly Father is, yet we should realize that we do have flaws. The difference between us and the world is that we are willing to accept responsibility for our failures, confess our sins and even bear the brunt of our shortcomings while the unbelievers will try to hide.
(2) Preach the gospel. While our conduct is vital in representing Christ as His ambassadors, unbelievers are unable to see them. This is why we should bring the gospel in words and in a way that they can understand.  As witnesses of Christ we should be prepared to give an account for the hope we have. We must not get tired of telling the world of Christ and of His saving grace. We should constantly urge them to believe in Christ and repent of their sins.

Friday, April 13, 2018

The Biblical Position on LGBT, etc.



1.   All human beings are made in the image of God
Let us make man in our image, after our likeness… So God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. And God blessed them…”  (Gen. 1:26, 27, 28)
a)      All human beings are made by God. Man is a product of a deliberate creative act by God. From the dust of the ground, and the breath of God (Gen. 2:7) man was made, with a body and a soul/spirit. Each human being has a soul that does not die. Man is created as the apex of God’s creation. This gives all human beings profound dignity and immense worth. No human being is more or less, small or greater, better or worse, than another before God. All human beings are made in the image of God. We therefore are to give the same dignity to men or women, young or old, regardless of their sexual orientation.
b)      By being made in the image of God, man is like God in three ways: Eph.4:24; Col. 3:10
i)                    Knowledge – ability to comprehend what God says and have a relationship with God and other people
ii)                   Righteousness – man is a moral being able to hear, understand the law of God, and do it. Only men were given God’s law and required to obey it. Only man can transgress, or sin against God.
iii)                 Holiness – Man is set apart from the rest of creation, exalted to have dominion over the rest of the creatures. Only man can have a relationship with God.
Homosexuals are also in the image of God!
c)       God created human beings with gender distinction“male and female He created them.”  Male and female completes God’s image on earth. God gave this as common grace for all people. God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.”  In this statement, God is not simply saying that Adam did not have a friend, but He is saying that Adam could not find his full fulfilment in himself or in anything else, but needed fellowship, companionship and complementary relationship in another human being (similar) but who would be his helper (different), who could provide this. This is why we read later on, “… But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him.”
d)      God blessed them. You notice that the Bible does not say that God blessed him, but them. This is both before the woman was created (v. 26) and after (v.28). Special blessing is given to man and woman that had not been given before. The possibility of God’s blessing of becoming ‘fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion’ over the rest of the creation.
One of the greatest disasters with LGBT agenda is that it strikes at the heart of the family unit. If all people became entangled on LGBT, then there would be no children, no human life! Is it to say that the human race is rejecting God’s blessing? Children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb a reward. Psalm 127:3
2.   All human beings are equally sinful
Adam, did not obey God in the matter of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. For God told him, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat of it, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” (Gen. 2:16, 17) Clearly sin has consequences.
Therefore, in chapter 3 we see Eve and Adam eat of the tree by the instigation of the devil. The devil overturned the first family by the fruit, and he continues to attack the family by various means, calling wrong right and right wrong. In eating of the forbidden fruit, our first parents, brought into the world sin and misery upon themselves and their posterity. Therefore, God pronounced a universal curse upon His creation. Therefore, in Genesis 5, we read that Adam lived 930 years and he died… Seth lived 912 years and he died, etc.
Temptation to sin is universal. There is difference between being tempted and sinning. Jesus was tempted in every way as we are yet did not sin (Heb. 4:15). We must not cave in to temptations, whether sexual or otherwise. We are to pray that the Lord may deliver us from these temptations or help us to resist but use them for our spiritual good. Only the Lord can help us to master these temptations, because Christianity demands that we subdue every thought, every lust, every desire to our faith and commitment to be under the rule of Christ.
Sin is universal. To be human is to have this propensity to sin against God and His law. With regard to sexual sin. We need to realize that all human beings have sexual disorders. We all do have some aspects of sexual drives which are against the God-designed sexuality. Lust is too common, but this is rarely admitted. People do all kinds of things with their bodies in the privacy of their rooms which is wrong and embarrassing. Therefore, the Bible says, “None is righteous, no, not one… All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one!” (Rom. 3:10,12)
The consequence of sin is universal. All die because all sin. And so the Bible says, “Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned… Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come” (Rom. 5:12, 14).
3.   Any sin can be forgiven.
The mercy and grace of God, comprehended in Christ is sufficient to deal with any sin. This is why we read that the Corinthian church had saints who were formerly sexual perverts, idolaters, homosexuals among others! But they had been washed and sanctified and justified in the name of Christ and the Spirit of God! (1 Cor. 6:9,11).
We must not exalt or minimize one sin above the other. No sin is greater than the other. All sins are equally heinous in the sense that the soul who sins shall surely die (Eze. 18:4, 20). Each one shall die for his own sin (2Kings 14:6). We must not vilify one sinner since we are ourselves sinful. Instead we are to realize that any sin is forgivable. LGBT is not the unforgivable sin. The Bible lists homosexuality along with lying (1 Tim. 1:10), idolatry, robbing, being greedy, swindling (1 Cor. 6:9), gossiping and committing murder (Rom. 1:25). Such broad lists like these are meant to convey one thing: we all have a sin issue. It's bad news for everyone. But it's not just bad news that affects individuals. Sin impacts society as a whole. "Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people," says Proverbs 14:34. In other words, any society that condones destructive, sinful behaviour (as Scripture defines sin) is a society that will weaken and decline.
We must not endorse any sin. While it is true that Christians are loving people, who obey God, by loving God, and their neighbours as themselves, yet we must in the same breath not condone, or welcome sin. It is not that Christians are against LGBT, but they are opposed to any sin, because this is what it means to be Christians. Christians kill sin! They put to death any passion of the flesh. No true disciple of Christ will be happy to live in sin, leave alone try to justify his sinful conduct.
You must not attempt to re-write the Bible. One of the marks of a Christian is his or her desire to be obedient to Christ's teaching. Certainly most of us would like to rewrite the scriptures to make life easier, or so it would seem. I would change where Christ says that lust is the same as doing the deed. Christianity is a demanding faith. The scriptures define and change us, not the other way around. A Biblical sexual ethic does not, indeed cannot, change with the times!
God created sex for His glory and man’s pleasure. God is all for sex in the context of a loving, male-female marriage.  But because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband. (1Cor. 7:2). He designed it. The joy and companionship found in Christian marriage will never be rivalled by any alternative. God is against the wrongful use of sex because He has our best interests at heart. It is the curse of sin that warps our minds and leads us to re-define happiness according to our own desires. We want happiness as we choose to define it. But God isn't a willing recruit for anyone's personal agenda. Instead, He wants to rescue us from ourselves.
We must also not find alternative ways of dealing with sin except what God has provided. The wages of sin is death but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord (Rom. 6:23). There is no sin that can be propitiated any other way apart from Christ. Therefore, turn from your sin and live. "Seek the LORD while he may be found; call upon him while he is near; let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the LORD, that he may have compassion on him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.” Isa 55:6-7.
Since any sin is forgivable, if it is confessed and renounced, then why not? The Bible is clear that he who conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them sins will obtain mercy (Prov. 28:13)

 This message was live-streamed on FB and can be obtained here:


Friday, March 2, 2018

God Controls World Politics


1.      Who controls all the affairs of the nations? 
It is the Sovereign God, who is both the Creator and Preserver of all things.
2.      Where do we learn that God controls all things, including all the affairs of the nations? 
It is written in His Word, the Bible.
3.       How do we know that His counsel shall stand in all things? 
By the assurance in His Word that He is working out all things for the good of His people.
4.      Is there a good reason to believe that the plans of political leaders will ultimately succeed? 
No. God has always had the final word even over the most powerful political leaders who have ever lived.
5.      Where is the anchor of our souls in the present political affairs? 
It is that God will be ultimately vindicated as holy, all-wise, powerful and good in the preserving and governing all things according to the counsel of His will.
6.      What is the purpose of God in creating and governing all things as He does? 
That He would be glorified by all His creatures, and His goodness known by His people.
7.      How do we conduct ourselves as Christians in light of the prevailing circumstances? 
We should be found faithfully trusting in the Lord Jesus Christ, depending on His merit, and living for His glory and the good of His people, patiently waiting and hastening the glorious appearing of our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ.

*****Prepared by the author *****