PMT 2013-004b by Jeffrey K. Boer
Note: This is our final installment offering biblical directives for finding a biblical church. We will pick up where we left off in our last article. Please consult the previous articles for the preceding points.
19. Biblical Training
I Timothy 4:7-8 says, “Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives’ tales; rather, train yourself to be godly. For physical training is of little value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.”
A faithful church should encourage every member towards further training in godliness. Some powerful means to this end include the teaching of the Catechisms of the church (in both doctrine classes and worship) and the use of other good Christian literature and materials. Many people today are filling their minds with all sorts of godless myths and the trash of the world rather than with good, Christian substance. A faithful church should constantly provide its members with biblical training materials through a library, book table, discount book ordering service, video and cassette tapes, Christian newsletters, or any of numerous other means. These materials can be studied by members and then passed on to others, to help share the teachings of God’s word with them as well.
Getting the Message (by Daniel Doriani)
Presents solid principles and clear examples of biblical interpretation
20. Biblical Christian Fellowship
Romans 15:6-7 says, “May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.”
Philippians 2:1-4 says, “If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.”
God’s word encourages Christians to love and help one another. At a faithful church, this might take the form of Bible breakfasts, pizza/prayer meetings, church dinners, bowling nights, diaconal assistance, picnics, parties, church work days, volunteer janitorial and nursery systems, Thanksgiving dinners, a summer youth camp, handicapped ministries, Sunday school events, seminars and special speakers, beach breakfasts, fishing outings, moving assistance, transportation assistance, wedding and baby showers, etc. The possibilities are endless. At a faithful church we should consider one another to be family and we should all take part in various ways to love and serve one another in Christ in accordance with the gifts and abilities as well as the opportunities we have been given by God.
If you’ve taken the time to read through this paper and to consider the Scriptures that have been given, you should have the necessary tools to evaluate the churches around you. One of the best ways to evaluate a church is to talk to the pastor to find out what he believes in each of these areas. Visiting a worship service can tell you a lot as well, but there are many of the above areas which may not come up in a single visit to a worship service. Checking out these areas ahead of time may save you a wasted trip to visit a church which clearly is unacceptable, biblically. We believe that the Orthodox Presbyterian denomination, although imperfect, in most cases exemplifies the majority of those characteristics mentioned above. But we realize that there are many areas of the country which do not have such churches within reasonable driving distance. You should keep in mind, of course, that individual congregations will vary as well, both within and without the Orthodox Presbyterian denomination.
You should know that is of utmost importance that you become a member of some body of Christ’s visible church, even if you can’t find one that meets all of the above qualifications. The Westminster Confession of Faith, Chapter XXV, section II, summarizes the biblical teaching on the importance of church membership. It says,
The visible Church, which is also catholic or universal under the Gospel (not confined to one nation, as before under the law), consists of all those throughout the world that profess the true religion; and of their children: and is the kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ, the house and family of God, out of which there is no ordinary possibility of salvation.
This statement from the Confession reminds us that even though God can and does save people through extraordinary ways and means, we are not to expect to be saved if we refuse to use the ordinary means which He prescribes in His word. We must “ordinarily” enter into covenant with Jesus Christ through baptism and through participation in the Lord’s Supper as a member of His covenant body, the church, if we are to be saved. To put it another way: “Ordinarily” to be outside of the true, visible church of Jesus Christ is to be outside of Christ. And that is a dangerous place to be. So we encourage you to join a church that teaches the truth very soon. And if that means you have to drive quite a long distance to get you and your family to that church, so be it. What shall a man give in exchange for his soul?
Wall of Misconception: Separation of Church and State (by Peter Lillback)
Examines our nation’s historic understanding of and the founding fathers intention in the relationship of our Constitution to matters of faith, ethics, and morals, taking into account the historical and biblical context as well as the concept s relation to today’s culture.