What comes to mind when you think about church? Do you picture a large building with stained glass windows? Maybe you recall memories of childhood Sunday school classes. Today on The Bible Study Hour, Dr. Boice explains what the book of Ephesians has to say about what – or more accurately, who – the church should be.
The historical account of Melchizedek reveals him to have served as both a priest and king. When he is recorded as having met up with the man Abraham, to him Abraham paid tribute in respect of Melchizedek's superiority. In the letter to the Hebrews he is identified as having been a type of Jesus Christ in respect to his holding both positions of priest and king. As this study progresses the superiority of Jesus Christ to the levitical priesthood will be developed with the historical account of Melchizedek being a significant point in reference.
Note from CM: This will be my last week of full time writing for awhile. When it gets to Tuesday of next week, pray for me, because by then the DT’s will probably be setting in hard. As I’ve tried to think about what to share this week, I thought it might be good to [...]
Unity without uniformity; the danger of being subjective; and forgetting our sonship; parts of the habitation of God; the Church; and our relationship to the whole; the importance of calling; and the danger of organised activity; 'being' before 'doing'; and the importance of the teaching given to the new Christian; rushing of converts into activity is dangerous.
Almighty and everlasting God, you have given to us your servants grace, by the confession of a true faith, to acknowledge the glory of the eternal Trinity, and in the power of your divine Majesty to worship the Unity: Keep us steadfast in this faith and worship, and bring us at last to see you [...]
May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy. (Colossians 1:11)<br/><br/>Strength is the right word. The apostle Paul prayed for the church at Colossae, that they would be “strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience” (Colossians 1:11). Patience is the evidence of an inner strength.<br/><br/>Impatient people are weak, and therefore dependent on external supports — like schedules that go just right and circumstances that support their fragile hearts. Their outbursts of oaths and threats and harsh criticisms of the culprits who crossed their plans do not sound weak. But that noise is all a camouflage of weakness. Patience demands tremendous inner strength.<br/><br/>For the Christian, this strength comes from God. That is why Paul is praying for the Colossians. He is asking God to empower them for the patient endurance that the Christian life requires. But when he says that the strength of patience is “according to [God’s] glorious might,” he doesn’t just mean that it takes divine power to make a person patient. He means that faith in this glorious might is the channel through which the power for patience comes.<br/><br/>Patience is indeed a fruit of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22), but the Holy Spirit empowers (with all his fruit) through “hearing with faith” (Galatians 3:5). Therefore, Paul is praying that God would connect us with the “glorious might” that empowers patience. And that connection is faith.<br/><br/>This excerpt from Future Grace is also featured today on Solid Joys, the daily devotional from John Piper available as a free app for Apple and Android devices, as well as through a new website.
Making disciples might not carry the same luster as other church ambitions, but robust discipleship often is the most fertile ground for leadership development.<br/><br/>To go and make disciples is the mission that Jesus has given us (Matt. 28:19)—but how do we do it? In his book Insourcing: Bringing Discipleship Back to the Local Church, Randy Pope shares his story as an experienced practitioner who has been a part of many different ministry models since planting his church 30 years ago.<br/><br/>Perimeter Church started at the twilight of the traditional pastoral ministry model, and Pope was an influential leader and example in the attractional church ministry model (“Come to us”) and also in the missional ministry model (“We go to you”). Yet a number of years ago he decided to lead his church in a direction that was not new per se but rather quite old: life-on-life missional discipleship groups (LOLMD).<br/><br/>Target practice<br/><br/>If you’re going to take a shot, you first consider the target. (p. 28)<br/><br/>By all outward measurements, Pope’s Atlanta church was successful and doing well. “We were being celebrated and applauded, held up as an example of innovation, but for all the wrong reasons. The accolades we’d received were not because we’d hit an appropriate target but because the distance we’d shot impressed people” (p. 13). Pope realized that the target ought to be the maturing and equipping of their people. Since that was the goal, Pope decided to start seeing how that was being done around his church.<br/><br/>But our most important questions weren’t sparked by the models at all. They had more to do with the people themselves. Because after the model has been relegated to the storage unit or the dumpster, the people will still be here. So we asked, were our people becoming the right kind of people. (p. 26)<br/><br/>Sidetracked by ‘success’<br/><br/>Pope starts by asking that we look at our ministry models as “vehicles” and ask if they are taking us to our target of equipping people to make disciples (p. 84). He argues that often the allure of success sidetracks us from impact:<br/><br/>What is the purpose of the vehicles, or models, your church employs? Is it success, something that can be gauged by numbers and buildings, and programs? Or is it impact, something that can be measured only by truthfully examining the lives of your people and the lives of the people they touch? Let’s say you want to be a church of impact. Do you own a vehicle that can get you there? . . . For too long the church has focused on numerical growth—which may well be the most accurate church-ese word for success—instead of on healthy impact. . . . A healthy child will grow, but it isn’t always true that a growing child will be healthy. (pp. 89–90)<br/><br/>Pope’s concern is that success, as it is often defined in the church, can lead us to fail in discipling and equipping people because making disciples might not carry the same luster and prominence as other church ambitions. Pope notes that the latter types of church “success” are even more dangerous because of how apt other churches and pastors are to want to imitate it, “You know the pattern. A church stuns its peers with some unprecedented practice or program. Other churches can’t help but notice the splash. It looks like it works. Before you know it, everyone is doing the same thing. The end seems to justify the means. If it works (appears successful), give it a try” (p. 88).<br/><br/>TEAMS work<br/><br/>Pope began to observe how men in the groups he was leading were already being discipled and saw five common emphasis for hitting the target, forming the acronym TEAMS:<br/><br/>Truth Equipping Accountability Mission Supplication<br/><br/>Each one of these emphasis has an instructional element that allows people to thrive in their spiritual formation: Equipping = coaching, Accountability = support, Truth = directing, and Mission = delegating. Pope argues that this model has helped them hit their target because many churches go right from giving directives to delegating to their people. When you leave out coaching, and support for people as they grow in using their spiritual gifts and being on mission, you end up creating “disillusioned learners” (p. 38). Rather with ongoing, direction, coaching, support, and delegation, Pope states they have seen multiplication of disciples making disciples (p. 136).<br/><br/>Tested and true<br/><br/>One of the most helpful things about Insourcing is that it is tested. Pope began implementing it at his church in 1997 and has had an extended season to see the fruit of it in his church. Yet he still speaks with the humility of saying, “The day our particular version of discipleship ceases to point people to Jesus will be the day it becomes an idol” (p. 189). Along the way he notes a few other interesting things for church leaders to pay attention to:<br/><br/>On the leadership of his church, “They became leaders during the process of discipleship. Life-on-life is not a program we launched but rather a movement that we seeded. These men—and most of our women in leadership as well—grew out of discipleship” (p. 92). Robust, relational discipleship often is the most fertile ground for the development of leaders.<br/><br/>On evangelism and mission in his church, “The motivation that propels the masses out into the world and leads to lasting spiritual growth isn’t a pep rally: it’s a huddle (p. 114).<br/><br/>Many of the leaders we need are already in our church but just need to be invested in, “Discipleship is not a factory for cranking out healthy Christians; it is a laboratory for reproducing leaders. . . . Our leadership base for everything else we do as a church is broadening because we no longer recruit leaders; we reproduce them (p. 150).<br/><br/>Insourcing shows the fruit of a seasoned pastor who has wrestled hard with the important questions of discipleship and leadership for decades. The book is full of insights on what really matters in church ministry, creating a discipleship culture, and what it really looks like to see people equipped to make disciples from a man who has been faithfully serving the church for years.
Unless this Christ, the Son of God, is in the central place as the only way to God, there is no gospel.… The times are desperate, they are urgent, and I can think of nothing sadder than for men and women to think they are in relationship to God and then find, at the critical moment, [...]<br/><br/>Advertise here with Beacon Ads
Horatius Bonar was born in 1808 in Edinburgh, Scotland, the son of a ruling elder in the Church of Scotland. After a relatively uneventful upbringing, Bonar entered into the ministry himself, becoming pastor of the North Parish in the rural town of Kelso.Not long after he entered the ministry there was a disruption in the Church of Scotland that resulted in the withdrawal of 451 ministers from the Established church, among whom were Bonar and a number of his friends. Together they formed The Free Church of Scotland.Bonar spent the next 20 years pastoring the congregation in Kelso, writing, and engaging in evangelism. Throughout his life he had been strongly influenced by Thomas Chalmers, and in 1866 he planted a new church in his home city of Edinburgh: the Chalmers Memorial Chapel. He was to serve that church until the year before his death in 1889.In Bonar’s day the Scottish church had no substantial library of hymns since they sang metrical Psalms almost exclusively. Bonar had begun to write hymns before his ordination when he was serving as superintendent of a Sunday school. He found that the youth had little love for either the words or the tunes they were singing, so he set out to write a few hymns with simpler lyrics and already familiar tunes. These hymns were received wonderfully.It wasn’t long after this that Bonar, apparently having a gift and an interest in writing verse, took to writing adult hymns. This continued as a habit while he served as pastor, and in the course of his ministry he published a number of hymn compilations.“I Heard the Voice of Jesus Say” was one of the hymns he wrote during his tenure at Kelso. This is perhaps his most famous song, having found good reception not only in Scotland but also in the wider English-speaking world.What makes the hymn so widely appealing may well be its focus on the gospel call of Christ to come to him, look to him, drink, and rest, and the simple call to obey and to find in him all that he has promised. It is simple, sweet and encouraging.I heard the voice of Jesus say, "Come unto Me and rest;Lay down, thou weary one, lay down Thy head upon My breast."I came to Jesus as I was, weary and worn and sad;I found in Him a resting place, and He has made me glad.I heard the voice of Jesus say, "Behold, I freely giveThe living water; thirsty one, stoop down, and drink, and live."I came to Jesus, and I drank of that life giving stream;My thirst was quenched, my soul revived, and now I live in Him.I heard the voice of Jesus say, "I am this dark world's Light;Look unto Me, thy morn shall rise, and all thy day be bright."I looked to Jesus, and I found in Him my Star, my Sun;And in that light of life I'll walk, till traveling days are done.Advertise here via BEACON
The recent decision by the Boy Scouts of America to change its moral stance towards homosexuality is a tragic failure that calls for a response from Christians who are involved in Scouting. This would include me, since both my boys are Boy Scouts and my church sponsors a Boy Scout troop. Having prayerfully considered this matter, I would offer advice to fellow Christians with respect to two questions. First, can we continue involvement in and support of Boy Scouts in light of this new policy? The answer is No. Second, when should we pull out of Boy Scouts? The answer is By the end of the year, but not yet.