What I Read Online – 09/13/2013 (a.m.)

13 Sep
    • The text refers to a unity of all true believers. The unity in question, as we have seen, is partly a function of being disciples of Jesus Christ, and partly something toward which we must grow and in which we must be perfected. This unity is not merely positional, for it is to function as a witness before the watching world; indeed, one might argue that it is the characteristic mark of the believing community.


    • This is not the place to work out an essential set of beliefs and practices necessary to justify the appropriation of the word Christian. However, if the term is to have anything like its New Testament meaning, then for a person to be a Christian he cannot legitimately hold to a belief structure which the New Testament explicitly disallows, or adopt practices which the New Testament explicitly forbids. More positively, he must at very least hold to what the New Testament itself insists is a minimum confession or an essential practice. If he does not, he prostitutes the term Christian.
    • Let us come to cases. Suppose someone confesses, “Jesus is Lord” (cf. 1 Cor. 12:3). Does this guarantee that the person in question is a Christian? Regretfully, no
    • It does not take much knowledge of the current ecclesiastical and theological scene to recognize that, if basic New Testament tests are preserved and applied to the sweep of modern Christendom, not everything that calls itself Christian truly qualifies. Charitable as we may wish to be, that person is not Christian (in any New Testament sense) who steps unambiguously beyond the bounds of what the Scriptures recognize to be a true believer in and disciple of Jesus Christ—the Jesus Christ who has revealed himself in history and who is revealed in the pages of the holy Scriptures.
    • If these reflections have any validity, they may prove helpful when we try to assess the ecumenical movement. If ecumenists seek to join together into one organization all branches of “churchianity” known to Christendom, then they are trying to unite wheat and tares. Even if we acknowledge that every church has some true believers within it (and I am not certain that is so), the systematic denial of biblically required truth or the wholesale disregard for biblically mandated conduct in certain groups does not inspire confidence. John 17 does not look to a unity made up of both believers and members of the “world.” Anyone who is not a true believer constitutes part of that world which stands in antithetical relation to the unity of the church. Whoever cites John 17 to justify a unity that [p. 204]
    • On the other hand, the things which tie together true believers are far more significant than the things which divide them. The divisive things are not necessarily unimportant: sometimes they are points of faith or practice which have long-range effects on the church for good or ill, reflecting perhaps some major inconsistency or misapprehension concerning the truth. Nevertheless the things which tie us together are of even more fundamental importance. Regardless of denominational affiliation, there ought to be among Christ’s people a sincere kinship, a mutual love, a common commitment, a deep desire to learn from one another and to come, if at all possible, to a shared understanding of the truth on any point. Such unity ought to be so transparent and compelling that others are attracted to it.
    • In New Zealand, we spent our time with the saints at Howick Baptist Church and fellow believers from about fifty congregations who attended the Stand for the Gospel Conference. Our time at the church and conference featured a variety of arrangements led by different members of the church all with an emphasis on the congregational voice as the main instrument. We had accompaniment by strings, brass, wood winds (I think) and probably some other things I’m not recalling now. But all of it was accompaniment; it went along with the singing to aid and encourage the singing. Different leaders provided useful comments along the way and helpful focus so that we sang with understanding and with emphasis. They even provided brief footnotes on the slides to teach and improve knowledge of what we were singing. The result was a congregation of people–Maore, Kiwi, Afrikaans, Nigerian, American, and many more!–singing together and with joyful zeal great truths about out God. We even learned to look at one another and sing to one another as we worshiped.
    • Turn the volume down
    • Whether you use various arrangements as our friends did in New Zealand or little accompaniment beyond hand clapping as our friends in Zambia, the instruments should play the background
    • Emphasize the voice. If it’s not the case already, it might be good for the church’s leadership and congregation to answer a question along the lines of, “What should be the major sound of Christian corporate worship?” For my part, I think it should be the human voice.
    • Teach the people to sing
    • Leaders are not performers
    • It doesn’t take much. In none of the meetings did we sing a ton of songs. Even in the conference settings there was no concert feel. In most cases we sang about four songs total. But because the songs were so well introduced and congregations so well led, those four songs edified as much or more as an hour of singing
    • Some cultural diversity won’t kill us. Actually, it’ll likely help us. The more I travel the more it seems people everywhere sing the same stuff. The sound is the same. I love the Gettys, Sovereign Grace, Stuart Townend and the like. But have the culturally distinct forms of worship disappeared altogether? Part of what I enjoyed in Zambia was that even something as simple as clapping can communicate some appropriate cultural distinctiveness.
    • I want to take a little different route and consider what are the behaviors and beliefs without which Scripture say we are not saved. These are not requirement we must meet in order to save ourselves and earn God’s favor. Rather these are the essential beliefs and behaviors that will be manifest in the true Christian

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

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Posted by on 13/09/2013 in Current Issues


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