The Church Book

“I can worship God on my own,” he said. “I do not need the church as a crutch to help me in my spiritual life. If I want to know what God says, I have the Bible right here. I do not need anyone telling me what the Bible says. I can read it, study it, and learn it on my own. I have a personal relationship with Jesus.”

I do not know how many times I have heard this idea expressed by those who shun church attendance and corporate worship. The idea runs contrary to the Bibles teachings. Those who say they can read the Bible on their own, and do not need the church, must not be doing so. If they did, the Bible would drive them to church. The Bible is a church book.

If you open the Bible to the gospels and read the words of Jesus himself, you will see that the Son of God says, “I will build my church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it.” (Matthew 16:18) The entire Book of Acts stands as a testimony to the growth of the church as it spread from “Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” (Acts 1:8). You can’t read the Book of James and adhere to its words without the church (James 5:13). When you open the Bible, the church spills out.

The majority of the New Testament is comprised of letters written by the Apostle Paul to churches. In the opening of several of these letters he explicitly names the church to whom he addresses. For example, “The Church of God that is in Corinth” (1 Corinthians 1:2 & 2 Corinthians 1:2), “The Church of the Thessalonians” (1 Thessalonians 1:1 & 2 Thessalonians 1:1), and the “Churches of Galatia” Galatians 1:2. When Paul closes the letter to the Romans, he sends a greeting from “the whole church” (Romans 16:23). Even in Paul’s short little letter to Philemon, he specifically addresses the church that meets in his house (Philemon 2).

When Paul writes to individuals, Timothy and Titus, the full content of the letters involves the operation of the church. He tells Timothy, the pastor of the Church in Ephesus, how important it is for a pastor to care for “God’s Church” (1 Timothy 3:5) and gives him explicit guidelines on how to do so. Paul’s letter to Titus reads like a church planting instruction manual as Titus oversees the planting of new churches on the island of Crete (Titus 1:5).

When Paul writes to the Church at Ephesus, he explains that God’s plan of self revelation floes through the church (Ephesians 3:10). When he writes to the church at Philippi he commends and thanks the church for their partnership (Philippians 4:15). When he writes to the Church at Colossae he reminds them that Christ is the head and the church is his body Colossians 1:18. So seeking a relationship with Christ apart from the church is like trying to decapitate Jesus.

The entire Bible speaks of believers in community with others. The author of the Book of Hebrews writes, “Let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” (Hebrews 10:24-25) So like author Wayne Mack said, “Attempting to grow in Christ outside the church is like trying to swim without ever getting into the pool.”

The Bible ends with The Book of Revelation which is written to seven churches (Revelation 1:4) and in the last chapter Jesus says, “I, Jesus, have sent my angel to testify to you about these things for the churches.” (Revelation 22:16) The Bible, from beginning to end is a church book. How could anyone claim to read the Bible, and walk away without hearing the Word of God pointing him to the church?

Lead On, O King Eternal

1. Lead on, O King eternal,
The day of march has come;
Henceforth in fields of conquest
Thy tents shall be our home:
Thro’ days of preparation
Thy grace has made us strong,
And now, O King Eternal,
We lift our battle song.

2. Lead on, O King Eternal,
Till sin’s fierce war shall cease,
And holiness shall whisper
The sweet amen of peace;
For not with swords’ loud clashing,
Or roll of stirring drums;
With deeds of love and mercy
The heav’nly kingdom comes.

3. Lead on, O King eternal,
We follow not with fears;
For gladness breaks like morning
Where’er Thy face appears;
Thy cross is lifted o’er us;
We journey in its light:
The crown awaits the conquest;
Lead on, O God of might.

- Ernest Warburton

The Church

  1. The church is the only institution that our Lord promised to build and to bless (Matt. 16:18).
  2. The church is the gathering place of true worshippers (Phil. 3:3).
  3. The church is the most precious assembly on earth since Christ purchased it with His own blood (Acts 20:28; 1 Cor. 6:19; Eph. 5:25; Col. 1:20; 1 Pet. 1:18; Rev. 1:5).
  4. The church is the earthly expression of the heavenly reality (Matt. 6:10; 18:18).
  5. The church will ultimately triumph both universally and locally (Matt. 16:18; Phil. 1:6).
  6. The church is the realm of spiritual fellowship (Heb. 10:22-25; 1 John 1:3, 6-7).
  7. The church is the proclaimer and protector of divine truth (1 Tim. 3:15; Titus 2:1, 15).
  8. The church is the chief place for spiritual edification and growth (Acts 20:32; Eph. 4:11-16; 2 Tim. 3:16-17; 1 Pet. 2:1-2; 2 Pet. 3:18).
  9. The church is the launching pad for world evangelization (Mark 16:15; Titus 2:11).
  10. The church is the environment where strong spiritual leadership develops and matures (2 Tim. 2:2).19

from Ed Stetzer ComeBack Churches

Resolution On Adoption And Orphan Care

Our local newspaper, The Sea Coast Echo, reported this week that we have 163 children in the county foster care system with only 12 licensed foster care homes. This crisis drives me to prayer. How can we as believers in Hancock County Mississippi, confront this situation with the gospel? Russell Moore’s resolution at this years Southern Baptist Convention offers a challenge.

RESOLUTION NO. 2 ON ADOPTION AND ORPHAN CARE – SBC 2009

WHEREAS, In the gospel we have received the “Spirit of adoption” whereby we are no longer spiritual orphans but are now beloved children of God and joint heirs with Christ (John 14:18; Romans 8:12-25; Galatians 3:27-4:9; Ephesians 1:5); and

WHEREAS, The God we now know as our Father reveals himself as a “father of the fatherless” (Psalm 68:5) who grants mercy to orphans (Deuteronomy 10:18; Hosea 14:3); and

WHEREAS, Our Lord Jesus welcomes the little ones (Luke 18:15-17), pleads for the lives of the innocent (Psalm 72:12-14), and shows us that we will be held accountable for our response to “the least of these brothers of mine” (Matthew 25:40); and

WHEREAS, The Scripture defines “pure and undefiled religion” as “to look after orphans and widows in their distress” (James 1:27); and

WHEREAS, The satanic powers and the ravages of sin have warred against infants and children from Pharaoh to Molech to Herod and, now, through the horrors of a divorce culture, an abortion industry, and the global plagues of disease, starvation, and warfare; and
WHEREAS, Southern Baptists have articulated an unequivocal commitment to the sanctity of all human life, born and unborn; and

WHEREAS, Churches defined by the Great Commission must be concerned for the evangelism of children—including those who have no parents; and

WHEREAS, Upward of 150 million orphans now languish without families in orphanages, group homes, and placement systems in North America and around the world; and

WHEREAS, Our Father loves all of these children, and a great multitude of them will never otherwise hear the gospel of Jesus Christ; now, therefore, be it

RESOLVED, That the messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention meeting in Louisville, Kentucky, June 23-24, 2009, express our commitment to join our Father in seeking mercy for orphans; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we call on each Southern Baptist family to pray for guidance as to whether God is calling them to adopt or foster a child or children; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we encourage our pastors and church leaders to preach and teach on God’s concern for orphans; and be it further
RESOLVED, That we commend churches and ministries that are equipping families to provide financial and other resources to those called to adopt, through grants, matching funds, or loans; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we encourage local churches to champion the evangelism of and ministry to orphans around the world, and to seek out ways to energize Southern Baptists behind this mission; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we encourage Southern Baptist churches to join with other evangelical Christians in setting aside a special Sunday each year to focus upon our adoption in Christ and our common burden for the orphans of the world; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we pray what God is doing in creating an adoption culture in so many churches and families can point us to a gospel oneness that is determined not by “the flesh,” or race, or economics, or cultural sameness, but by the Spirit, unity, and peace in Christ Jesus; and be it finally

RESOLVED, That we pray for an outpouring of God’s Spirit on Southern Baptist congregations so that our churches will proclaim and picture, in word and in deed, that “Jesus loves the little children, all the children of the world.”

Lakeshore Baptist Church Covenant

The best we can ascertain, this is the original church covenant when Lakeshore Baptist Church constituted in 1911:

Having been led as we believe, by the spirit of God, to receive the Lord Jesus Christ as our Savior, and on the profession of our faith, having been baptized in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, we do now in the presence of God, angels and this assembly most solemnly and joyfully enter into covenant with one another as one body in Christ.

We engage therefore by the aid of the Holy Spirit to walk together in Christian love, to strive for the advancement of this church, in knowledge, holiness and comfort; to promote it’s prosperity and spirituality: to sustain it’s worship, ordinances, discipline and doctrines; to contribute cheerfully and regularly to the spread of the gospel through all nations.

We also engage to maintain family and secret devotion; to religiously educate our children; to seek the salvation of our kindred and acquaintances; to walk circumspectly in the world; to be just in our dealings, faithful in our engagements, and exemplary in our deportment; to avoid all tattling, backbiting, and excessive anger; and to be zealous in our efforts to advance the Kingdom of our Savior.

We further engage to watch over one another in brotherly love; to remember each other in prayer; to aid each other in sickness and distress; to cultivate Christian sympathy in feeling and courtesy in speech; to be slow to take offense, but always ready for reconciliation, and mindful of the rules of our Savior, to secure it without delay.

We moreover engage that when we remove from this place, we will as soon as possible unite with some other church where we can carry out the spirit of this covenant and the principles of God’s Word.

The Gospel – Thabiti Anyabwile

“The gospel or good news of Jesus Christ is that God the Father, who is holy and righteous in all his ways, is angry with sinners and will punish sin. Man, who disobeys the rule of God, is alienated from the love of God and is in danger of an eternal and agonizing condemnation at the hands of God. But God, who is also rich in mercy, because of his great love, sent his eternal Son born by the Virgin Mary, to die as a ransom and a substitute for the sins of rebellious people. And now, through the perfect obedience of the Son of God and his willing death on the cross as a payment for our sins, all who repent and believe in Jesus Christ, following him as Savior and Lord, will be saved from the wrath of God to come, be declared just in his sight, have eternal life, and receive the Spirit of God a a foretaste of the glories of heaven with God himself”

- from “distributed raman amplifierWhat Is a Healthy Church Member?” by Thabiti Anyabwile, pp 40-41