• Samuel at Gilgal

    This year I will be sharing brief excerpts from the articles, sermons, and books I am currently reading. My posts will not follow a regular schedule but will be published as I find well-written thoughts that should be of interest to maturing Christian readers. Whenever possible, I encourage you to go to the source and read the complete work of the author.

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Samuel A CainSo then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit. (Ephesians 2:19-22 ESV)

What makes a healthy church? Many people have ideas about this, but are they Biblical? Luke writes this about the early church:

“And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.” (Acts 2:42 ESV)

These are healthy examples, but isn’t there more? The members of the church should be growing in holiness. (Hebrews 12:14 ESV) Evangelism must be a priority. (Mark 16:15 ESV) The emphasis of the church must be on Christ – not on the building or numbers. (Philippians 3:8-10 ESV)

I suppose a list of such as above could go on, but above all else, preach Christ to the glory of God. (2 Timothy 4:2 ESV) The Gospel is the power of God for salvation. (Romans 1:16 ESV) From it we learn that, “The righteous shall live by faith.” (Romans 1:17 ESV) Is the church congregation continuing to grow in faith?

“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9 ESV)

God has chosen to make Himself known to us through the Bible and preaching. I have heard it said that, “Preaching is truth on fire!” John Newton said, “Preaching is breaking the hard heart and healing the broken one.” Preaching is the power of God unto salvation. Preaching is foundational. John Calvin tells us that where the Word is not preached and heard, there is no church. Preaching is the principal action of Christian worship. Preaching God’s Word is the primary means by which God conforms Christians to the image of Christ.

“Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.” (John 17:17 ESV)

preachingPreaching Christ, and Him crucified, has been marginalized in many of our churches today. The authentic Gospel message has been corrupted by watering it down to the point where it has lost its power to produce born-again Christians. The serious need for repentance has been ignored. Worship has become shallow and self-centered. There is less and less interest in truly glorifying God. As the proclamation of Divine sovereignty has declined, we have lost the meaning of grace and judgment.

Gospel preaching has been turned into entertainment. The Gospel message has been reframed to make allowances for modern cultural relevance, as well as preference. Thus, the radical depravity of man, the inability of man, irresistible grace, and the perseverance of believers are among the major doctrines that are poorly taught or not taught at all.

“For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.” (2 Timothy 4:3-4 ESV)

A church cannot be healthy if the preaching and teaching are unhealthy. Only the Bible contains the authoritative Word of God and only the Scriptures give the truth and power for authentic preaching. Where you find healthy preaching according to God’s Word and people reading their Bibles, you will find a healthy church.

“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,” (2 Timothy 3:16 ESV)

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