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And He Himself gave some to be....evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ...
- Ephesians 4:11-12

THIS BLOG HAS MOVED TO www.timeintheword.org

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Location: The Hill Country of Texas

Pastor - Providence Reformed Baptist Church
Director - TIME in the Word Ministries

Thursday, December 15, 2005

The Fourth Mark of a Sound Church

TIME in the Word - Daily Devotional
Together for Inspiration, Motivation, and Encouragement

Verses of the Day
Acts 6:4 - "but we will give ourselves continually to prayer and to the ministry of the word."

Acts 13:44 - "On the next Sabbath almost the whole city came together to hear the word of God."

Romans 10:17 - "So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God."

2 Timothy 3:16-17"All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work."

2 Timothy 4:2 - "Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching."

Daily Scripture Reading - Psalm 19

Puritan Catechism
Question #10 - How did God create man?
Answer - God created man, male and female, after his own image (Gen. 1:27), in knowledge, righteousness, and holiness (Col 3:10; Eph. 4:24) with dominion over the creatures (Gen. 1:28).

Devotional Thoughts
The Fourth Mark of a Sound Church: The Word of God is Faithfully Preached, Taught, and Heard

In these times when "easy believism" and the prosperity gospel dominate most of the preaching people are exposed to, it is very important to understand that for a church to be a sound church the Word of God must be faithfully and consistently preached, taught, and heard. Pastors are responsible before God for what they preach every Sunday. That frightens me. Many pastors in today's church will be held accountable for leading people astray and for tickling itching ears instead of sounding forth the Word of Truth.

The preaching of the Word must be central to our worship. We must have the Word preached to us and we must HEAR the Word. By hear, I do not mean listen to, I mean obey! We are commanded to hear and do (James 1:22-25). And the Word preached must be preached fully and faithfully. There is no place in the pulpit for the preaching of psychology, preaching to meet "felt needs," preaching to further a political agenda, or preaching to sooth sin sick consciences.

The preaching must be faithful to the Word, faithful to God, and faithful to the congregation, even if it means hearing something we don't want to hear. How often were the prophets in the Old Testament voted most popular? Often they were run out of town or killed because they told people the truth!

Why is it so important that the Word preached is necessary for a church to be a sound church? First, because through preaching God has ordained the spread of the gospel (1 Cor. 1:21). Secondly, the Word is the only thing on this earth that can affect salvation and sanctification in the lives of believers! (Romans 1:16; 10:17; Col. 2:6)

Read Psalm 19:7-14. It tells us:

The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul; The testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple; The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; The commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes; The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever; The judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, Yea, than much fine gold; Sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. Moreover by them Your servant is warned, And in keeping them there is great reward. Who can understand his errors? Cleanse me from secret faults. Keep back Your servant also from presumptuous sins; Let them not have dominion over me. Then I shall be blameless, And I shall be innocent of great transgression. Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart Be acceptable in Your sight, O LORD, my strength and my Redeemer.

We must have a proper view of Scripture, believing it to be inspired and infallible. And in preaching the Word, we must preach it fully and faithfully. According to this text in Psalms we can understand exactly why the Word of God is central to the nature of the church we attend. If the church devalues Scripture and down plays the flood of liberalism, placing scientific theory above revealed truth, then that church is a synagogue of Satan. The Word of God is our authority. It is the only rule we have for faith and practice. This one section of Scripture teaches us the following about the Word of God:

1. The Law (doctrine, teaching) of the Lord is perfect (unimpaired, spotless) converting the soul (to restore, to revive, to bring life to the soul).

2. The Testimony (Ten Commandments, God's witness of Himself to us) of the Lord is sure (incontestable and reliable) making the simple wise (teaching wisdom to those who have no discernment).

3. The Statutes (precepts, orders) of the Lord are right (straight) rejoicing the heart (causing true joy).

4. The Commandment (code of order) of the Lord is pure (clear and clarifying) enlightening the eyes (illuminating the whole condition and perspective).

5. The Fear (reverent obedience) of the Lord is clean (morally clean and purifying) enduring forever (to abide with divine existence).

6. The Judgments (unchangeable legal decisions) of the Lord are true and righteous altogether (spoken as truth, firm, and inclusively just).

7. By His Judgments we are warned (to shine a light on danger) of our duty, danger, and remedy.

8. There is great reward (multiplied thousands of good consequences and gain) in keeping them.

If all this is true of the Word of God, then why would we preach anything else? That is easy to answer. Because we are sinful. We would rather hear false doctrine to sooth our emotions and build up our self-esteem! We would rather hear lies than truth as long as the lies sound good and convince us that we are good, too! We naturally hate God and His Word. And it is no wonder when so many church members today are not even genuinely saved in the first place that they do not want pastors who preach the Word. The Word brings conviction of sin and it is a mirror that reveals our true nature before God! It demands a change of heart and a daily renewal!

The Word of God must be preached, taught, heard, and obeyed - or there is no soundness in the church!


BONUS #1: Here is a sermon preached by Pastor Way that you can download and listen to for free. The Word of God - Psalm 19:7-11

BONUS #2: Here is the link for an article written by the elders at our church that defines the Bible as Inspired, Inerrant, and Infallible.

BONUS #3: Dr. Albert Mohler started a 3 part commentary on his blog today that answers the question "Why Do We Preach?". Here is
A Foundation for Christian Preaching, Part One.

Puritan Voices
We are reading a small portion each day from a poem by John Bunyan titled The Building, Nature, Excellency, and Government of the House of God.

X.

THE WAY OF REDUCING WHAT'S AMISS, INTO ORDER HERE.

Although this house thus honourable is,
Yet 'tis not sinless, many things amiss
Do happen here, wherefore them to redress,
We must keep to our rules of righteousness;
Nor must we think it strange, if sin shall be
Where virtue is; don't all men plainly see
That in the holy temple there was dust,
That to our very gold, there cleaveth rust?
In Abraham's family was a derider
I' th' palace of a king will be the spider.
Who saith, we have no sin, doth also say
We have no need at all to watch and pray;
To live by faith, the flesh to mortify,
Or of more of the spirit to sanctify
Our nature. All this wholly needless is
With him, who as to this, has nought amiss.
But we confess, 'cause we would not be liars,
That we still feel the motions and desires
Of sin within us, and should fall away,
Did not Christ intercede and for us pray.
We therefore do conclude that sin is here,
But that it may not to our shame appear,
We have our rules, thereby with it to deal,
And plaisters too, our deadly wounds to heal.
And seeing idleness gives great occasions
To th' flesh, to make its rude and bold invasions
Upon good orders, 'tis ordained we see,
That none dwell here, but such as workers be:
So plain's the law for this, and so complete,
It bids who will not work, forbear to eat;
Let then each one be diligent to do
What grace or nature doth oblige them to.
Who have no need to work for meat or clothes,
Should work for those that want. Not that the sloth
Of idleness should be encouraged,
But that those, poor indeed, be clad and fed.
Dorcas did thus, and 'tis to sacred story
Committed for her praise and lasting glory.

This house then is no nurse to idleness;
Fig-trees are here to keep, and vines to dress;
Here's work for all; yea, work that must be done;
Yet work, like that, to playing in the sun;
The toil's a pleasure, and the labour sweet,
Like that of David's dancing in the street;
The work is short, the wages are for ever,
The work like me, the wages like the giver

No drone must hide himself under those eaves;
Who sows not, will in harvest reap no sheaves.
The slothful man himself, may plainly see,
That honey's gotten by the working bee.
But here's no work for life, that's freely given;
Meat, drink, and cloths, and life, we have from heav'n;
Work's here enjoined, 'cause it is a pleasure,
Vice to suppress, and augment heavenly treasure
Moreover, 'tis to shew, if men profess
The faith, and yet abide in idleness,
Their faith is vain, no man can ever prove
He's right, but by the faith that works by love.
If this good counsel is by thee rejected;
If work and labour is by thee neglected;
If thou, like David, lollest on thy bed;
Or art like to a horse, pamper'd and fed
With what will fire thy lusts, and so lay snares
For thine own soul, when thou shalt be i' th' wars:
Then take what follows, sin must be detected,
And thou without repentance quite rejected.

This is the house of God, his dwelling-place,
'Tis here that we behold his lovely face;
But if it should polluted be with sin,
And so abide, he quickly will begin
To leave it desolate, and then woe to it,
Sin and his absence quickly will undo it.

And since sin is, of things the worst of all,
And watcheth like a serpent on a wall,
Or flyeth like an eagle in the air,
Or runs as desperate ships, void of all care,
Or, (as great Solomon hath wisely said)
Is as the way of wantons with a maid,
Who tick, and toy, and with a tempting giggle
Provoke to lust, and by degrees, so wriggle
Them into their affections, that they go
The way to death, so do themselves undo:
As it is said, this mischief to prevent,
Let all men watch, yea, and be diligent
Observers of its motions, and then fly,
This is the way to live, and not to die.
He that would never fall, must never slip,
Who would obey the call, must fear the whip.
God would also that every stander by
That in the grass doth see the adder lie,
Should cry as he did, death is in the pot,
That many by its poison perish not.
But if that beastly thing shall hold its hold,
And make the man possessed basely bold
In pleading for it, or shall it deny,
Or it shall seek to cover with a lie;
Then take more aid, and make a fresh assault
At it again, diminish not the fault,
But charge it home. If yet he will not fear,
But still unto his wickedness adhere,
Then tell the house thereof. But if he still
Persist in his abomination will,
Then fly him, 'cause he is a leprous man,
Count him with heathens and the publican.
But if he falls before thee at the first,
Then be thou to him faithful, loving, just.
Forgive his sin, tell it not to a brother,
Lest thou thyself be served so by another.

If he falls not, but in the second charge,
Spread not his wickedness abroad at large.
But, if thou think his sorrow to be sound,
Forgive his sin, and hide it under ground.
If he shall stand the first and second shot;
If he before the church, repenteth not,
Deal with him as the matter shall require,
Let not the house for him be set on fire.
If after all, he shall repent and turn
To God, and you, you must not let him burn
For ever under sense of sin and shame,
You must his sin forgive in Christ his name.

Confirm your love to him in Christ, you must,
By all such ways as honest are, and just.
Shy be not of him, carry't not aloof,
But rather give him of your love such proof,
That he may gather thence, ye do believe
To mercy Christ again doth him receive.

Two things, monish you, as to this, I would;
The first, to shew the church wherein she should
In all her actions so herself behave,
As to convince the fault, she would save
His soul; and that 'tis for this very thing,
She doth him unto open judgment bring.
Then would I shew the person they reject,
What will, without repentance, be th' effect
Of this tremendous censure, so conclude;
Leaving my judgment to the multitude
Of those who sober and judicious be,
Begging of each of them a prayer for me.

1. This house, in order to this work, must be
Affected with the sin and misery,
Of this poor creature, yea, must mourn and weep,
To think such tares, in your neglect, or sleep,
Should spring up here, nor must they once invent
To think, till he's cast out, you're innocent.

2. Thus leaven, the whole lump has leavened;
Israel was guilty of what Achan did;
And so must stand, until they purged are,
Till Achan doth, for sin, his burden bear.
The reason is, Achan a member was
Of that great body, and by nature's laws,
The hand, foot, eye, tongue, ear, or one of these,
May taint the whole with Achan's foul disease.
The church must too be sensible of this,
Some lep'rous stones make all the house amiss:
And as the stones must thence removed be,
In order to the house's sanctity,
So it must purged be (in any wise)
Before 'tis counted clean (by sacrifice).

3. Next have a care, lest sin, which you should purge
Becomes not unto you a farther scourge,
The which it will, if such shall judges be,
Which from its spots and freckles are not free;
Pluck thou the beam first out of thine own eye,
Else the condemned will thee vilify
And say, let not the pot the kettle judge;
If otherwise, it will beget a grudge,
A great one 'twixt the church and him that sinned,
Nor by such means, can ever such be winned
To a renew'd embrace of holiness;
More like be tempted further to transgress.

4. Again, let those that loud against it cry,
See they don't entertain it inwardly;
Sin, like to pitch, will to the fingers cleave,
Look to it then, let none himself deceive;
'Tis catching; make resistances afresh,
Abhor the garment spotted by the flesh.
Some at the dimness of the candle puff,
Who yet can daub their fingers with the snuff.

5. Beware, likewise, lest rancour should appear
Against the person, do in all things fear:
Bewail the man, while you abhor his sin;
Pity his soul; the flesh you still are in;
Thyself consider thou may'st tempted be,
Hast thou no pity, who will pity thee?

6. See that the ground be good on which you go:
Sin, but not virtue show dislike unto.
Take heed of hypocritical intentions,
And quarrel not at various apprehensions
About some smaller matter, lest it breed
Needless debates, and lest that filthy seed
Contention, should o'errun your holy ground,
And lest not love, but nettles there are found.

7. You must likewise allow each man his grains,
For that none perfect are, sin yet remains,
And human frailties do attend the best;
To bear and forbear here, will tend to rest.
Vain jangling, jars, and strifes will there abound,
Where moles are mountains made, or fault is found,
With every little, trivial, petty thing;
This spirit snib, or 'twill much mischief bring
Into this house, and 'tis for want of love,
'Tis entertain'd: it is not of the dove.

8. For those that have private opinions too
We must make room, or shall the church undo:
Provided they be such as don't impair
Faith, holiness, nor with good conscience jar:
Provided also those that hold them shall
Such faith hold to themselves, and not let fall
Their fruitless notions in their brother's way,
Do this, and faith and love will not decay.

9. We must also in these our dealings shew
We put a difference 'twixt those sins that do
Clash with the light of nature, and what we
Perceive against the faith of Christ to be.
Those against nature, nature will detect;
Those against faith, faith from them must direct
The judgment, conscience, understanding too,
Or there will be no cure, whate'er you do.
When men are caught in immoralities,
Nature will start, the conscience will arise
To judgment; and if impudence doth recoil,
Yet guilt, and self-condemnings will embroil
The wretch concerned, in such unquietness
Or shame, as will induce him to confess
His fault, and pardon crave of God and man,
Such men with ease therefore we conquer can.

But 'tis not thus with such as swerve in faith
With them, who, as our wise Apostle saith,
Entangled are at unawares, with those
Cunning to trap, to snare, and to impose
By falsifyings, their prevarications:
No, these are slyly taken from their stations,
Unknown to nature; yea, in judgment they
Think they have well done to forsake the way.
Their understanding, and their judgment too
Doth like, or well approve of what they do.
These are, poor souls, beyond their art and skill,
Ta'en captive by the devil, at his will,
Here therefore you must patience exercise,
And suffer long, ye must not tyrannize
It over such, but must all meekness shew;
Still dropping of good doctrine as the dew,
Against their error; so its churlishness
You conquer will, and may their fault redress.

The reason why we must not exercise
That roughness here, as where conviction lies
In nature, is because those thus ensnared
Want nature's light and help to be repair'd.
A spirit hath them taken, they are gone,
Delusions supernat'ral they're on
The wing of; They are out o' th' reach of man
Nothing but God, and gospel reach them can.
Now since we cannot give these people eyes,
Nor regulate their judgment, wherein lies,
Our work with them, if not, as has been said,
In exercising patience. While display'd
The holy word before their faces is,
By which alone they must see what's amiss
With their poor souls, and so convert again,
To him with whom salvation doth remain.

Obj. But they are turbulent, they would confound
The truth, and all in their perdition drown'd.

Ans. If turbulent and mischievous they are,
Imposing their opinions without care
Who they offend, or do destroy thereby.
Then must the church deal with them presently,
Lest tainted be the whole with their delusion,
And brought into disorder and confusion.


Bible Reading For Further Study

Recommended Songs for Worship

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