.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}


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

My Photo
Location: The Hill Country of Texas

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

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

The Third Mark of a Sound Church

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

Verses of the Day
1 Peter 1:22 - "Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart,"

John 13:35 - "By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another."

Daily Scripture Reading - 1 Corinthians 13

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 Third Mark of a Sound Church: Love for Christ and the Church

This third mark is often misunderstood. Many people in churches today are more than willing to say that they love Christ and that they love one another. However, when the Bible talks about love it is often a very different quality than what we think of when we talk about love.

We think about an emotion. It comes and goes. You may fall in love, love chocolate, love your new house, love your children, and you might even fall "out" of love. We have allowed love to become an ever-changing warm fuzzy feeling when in reality love is a decision of the will! That's right. Biblical love is a choice.

When I say Biblical love I am specifically speaking of love as translated from the Greek word agape. There are other Greek words used in the Bible and other ancient literature that are also translated "love," but I am not referring to any of them. The word phileo for instance refers to family love, as between brothers and sisters. The word storge also refers to familiar love, or affection. A better translation would be the word "like" instead of love. And the word eros refers to physical love and is often confused with sexual lust!

But agape is different. It is unconditional love. Always desiring and thinking the best for the one you love. This is how God loves us and it is how He expects us to love Him and each other. To define this love appropriately let us look at the "love chapter" in the Bible, 1 Corinthians 13. There we learn the following:

Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.(1 Cor. 13:4-8)

According to this inspired text, true love is patient, suffering long if necessary. Love is kind and gentle, always! It is not envious or jealous. It does not parade itself as a public spectacle of pride. Love is not full of itself and puffed up. It never behaves rudely and never seeks its own way. Love cannot be provoked and will not think evil! It does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth. Love also bears up under all things, believes the best, hopes always, and endures any situation, encounter, or treatment! That is love. True love never fails.

We are to love one another in the body of Christ. If there is pride, arguments, fightings, and rivalries - there is not love. If there is evil speaking, backbiting, gossip, and slander - there is not love. If there is rudeness and envy - there is not love. And remember that love is a choice of the will. We decide to love one another. Often in Scripture we are even told that in the church a proof of love is our willingness to put up with each other!

Christ said we would be known for our love for each other. The New Testament church was known for the way they loved each other. Is your church known for the way the members love and care for each other?

Above all, we are to love Jesus! And it is not an easy thing to live up to exactly what that means. When we talk about loving God, often we think that it is a normal thing to love God. How many people would answer the question with a "No" if they were asked if they loved God?

But loving God means some very specific things to Him! He says in His Word that to love Him is to obey Him! That's exactly what it means to love God. If we dare say that we love God and then live in blatant disregard of His Word, we have proved with our behavior that we certainly do NOT love God! Many people stop here and say that surely I cannot seriously believe that to love God means to obey Him. But listen to what He has to say for Himself about what it means to love Him and love His church. Jesus said in John 14:15,

If you love Me, keep My commands.

And John also wrote in 1 John 2:3-5 and 5:3-4,

Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him.

By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep His commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome. For whatever is born of God overcomes the world.

If we really do know and love Jesus Christ, then we will obey Him and love each other. If we think His commands are burdensome and hard to keep then we are not loving Him. If the church attempts to carry out its mission without loving and therefore obeying His Word then that church is not a sound church and it will ultimately fail!

All of the Scriptures are summed up, Jesus said, in two commandments. Love God with everything you are. And love everyone else just as you love yourself. He came to give us the power to do just that. To obey Him and love Him and each other in ways that were impossible for us to love before He gave us a new heart!

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.



As I have shew'd you who in office are,
So I will tell you how, and with what care
Those here intrusted with the government,
Keep to the statutes made to that intent.
By rules divine this house is governed;
Not sanguinary ones, nor taught nor fed
By human precepts: for the scripture saith,
The word's our ghostly food; food for our faith.
Nor are all forced to the same degree
In things divine, tho' all exhorted be
To the most absolute proficiency
That law or duty can to them descry.

Alas! here's children, here are great with young;
Here are the sick and weak, as well as strong.
Here are the cedar, shrub, and bruised reed;
Yea, here are such who wounded are, and bleed.
As here are some who in their grammar be,
So here are others in their A, B, C.
Some apt to teach, and others hard to learn;
Some see far off, others can scarce discern
That which is set before them in the glass;
Others forgetful are, and so let pass,
Or slip out of their mind what they did hear
But now; so great our differences appear
Wherefore our Jacob's must have special care
They drive their flocks, but as their flocks can bear;
For if they be o'erdriven, presently
They will be sick, or cast their young, or die.
The laws therefore are more and less of force,
According as they bring us to the source,
Or head, or fountain, or are more remote
To what at first we should ourselves devote.
Be we then wise in handling of the laws,
Not making a confused noise like daws
In chambers, yea let us seek to excel,
To each man's profit; this is ruling well.
With fundamentals then let us begin,
For they strike at the very root of sin.
So the foundation being strongly laid,
Let us go on, as the wise builder said,
For I don't mean, we should at all disdain
Those that are less, we always should maintain
That due respect to either which is meet;
This is the way to sit at Jesus' feet.

Repent I must, or I am cast away;
Believe I must, or nothing I obey:
Love God I must, or nothing I can do,
That's worth so much as loosing of my shoe.
If I do not, bear after Christ, my cross;
If love to holiness is at a loss;
If I my lusts seek not to mortify;
If to myself, my flesh, I do not die;
What law, should I observe't, can do me good?
In little duties life hath never stood.

One reads, he prays, he catechises too;
But doth he nothing else, what doth he do?
I read to know my duty, I do pray
To God to help me do it day by day;
If this be not my end in what I do,
I am a sot, an hypocrite also.
I am baptiz'd, what then? unless I die
To sin, I cover folly with a lie.
At the Lord's table, I do eat; what though?
There some have eat their own damnation too.

I will suppose, I hear, I sing, I pray,
And that I am baptiz'd without delay,
I will suppose I do much knowledge get,
And will also suppose that I am fit
To be a preacher, yet nought profits me
If to the first, poor I a stranger be:
They are more weighty therefore; in compare
These unto them, but mint and anise are.

Not that I would the least of duty slight,
Because the least command, of divine right,
Requires that I myself subject thereto;
Willful resisters do themselves undo.
But let's keep order, let the first be first;
Repent, believe, and love; and then I trust
I have that right, which is divine, to all
That is enjoined; be they great or small.
Only I must as cautionary speak,
In one word more, a little to the weak;
Thou must not suffer men so to enclose
Thee in their judgments, as to discompose
Thee in that faith and peace thou hast with him;
This would be like the losing of a limb;
Or like to him who thinks he doth not well,
Unless he lose the kernel for the shell.
Thou art no captive, but a child and free;
Thou wast not made for laws, but laws for thee;
And thou must use them as thy light will bear it;
They that say otherwise, do rend and tear it,
More like to wicked tyrants, who are cruel,
And add unto a little fire, more fuel.
But those who are true shepherds of the sheep,
To quench such burnings would most gladly weep.
But I am yet but upon generals;
Particulars our legislator calls
For at our hands, and that in order to
Consummate what we have begun to do.

1. My brother I must love, in very deed.
I'm taught of God to do it: let me heed
This divine duty, and perform it well,
Who loves his brother, God in him doth dwell;
The argument which on me this imposes,
Smells like to ointment, or the sweetest roses.
Shall God love, shall he keep his faith to me?
And shall not I? shall I unfaithful be?
Shall God love me a sinner? and shall I
Not love a saint? Yea, shall my Jesus die
To reconcile me to my God? and shall
I hate his child, nor hear his wants that call
For my little assisting of him? fie
On such a spirit, on such cruelty;
Fie on the thought that would me alienate,
Or tempt me my worst enemy to hate.[13]

2. He that dwells here, must also be a sharer
In others' griefs; must be a burden-bearer
Among his brethren, or he cannot do
That which the blessed gospel calls him to.
In order hereunto, humility
Must be put on, it is our livery,
We must be clothed with it, if we will
The law obey, our master's mind fulfil.
If this be so, then what should they do here,
Who in their antic pranks of pride appear?
Let lofty men among you bear no sway,
The Lord beholds the proud man far away.
It is not fit that he inhabit there
Where humbleness of mind should have the chair.
Can pride be where a soul for mercy craves?
Shall pride be found among redeemed slaves?
Shall he who mercy from the gallows brought,
Look high, or strut, or entertain a thought
That tends to tempt him to forget that fate,
To which for sin he destin'd was of late,
And could not then at all delivered be,
But by another's death and misery?
Pride is the unbecoming'st thing of all:
Besides, 'tis the forerunner of a fall.
He that is proud, soon in the dirt will lie,
But honour followeth humility.
Let each then count his brother as his better,
Let each esteem himself another's debtor.
Christ bids us learn of him, humble to be,
Profession's beauty is humility.

3. Forgive, is here another statute law;
To be revenged is not worth a straw,
He that forgives shall also be forgiven,
Who doth not so, must lose his part in heaven;
Nor must thou weary of this duty be
'Cause God's not weary of forgiving thee.

Thou livest by forgiveness; should a stop
Be put thereto one moment, thou wouldst drop
Into the mouth of hell. Then let this move
Thee thy dear brother to forgive in love.

And we are bid in our forgivenesses
To do as God doth in forgiving his.
If any have a quarrel against any,
(As quarrels we have oft against a many)
Why then, as God, for Christ's sake, pardons you,
For Christ's sake, pardon thou thy brother too.
We say, What freely comes, doth freely go;
Then let all our forgivenesses be so.
I'm sure God heartily forgiveth thee,
My loving brother, prithee forgive me;
But then in thy forgiveness be upright;
Do't with thine heart, or thou'rt an hypocrite.

4. As we forgive, so we must watch and pray;
For enemies we have, that night and day,
Should we not watch, would soon our graces spoil,
Should we not pray, would our poor souls defile.
Without a watch, resist a foe who can?
Who prays not, is not like to play the man?
Complaint that he is overcome, he may;
But who would win the field, must watch and pray.
Who watches, should know who and who's together:
Know we not friends from foes, how know we whether
Of them to fight, or which to entertain?
Some have instead of foes, familiars slain.
Sometimes a lust will get into the place,
Or work, or office, of some worthy grace;
Till it has brought our souls to great decay.
Unless we diligently watch and pray,
Our pride will our humility precede:
By th' nose, our unbelief our faith will lead.
Self-love will be where self-denial should;
And passion heat, what patience sometime cool'd.
And thus it will be with us night and day,
Unless we diligently watch and pray.

Besides what these domestics do, there are
Abroad such foes as wait us to ensnare;
Yea, they against us stand in battle-'ray,
And will us spoil, unless we watch and pray.
There is the world with all its vanities,
There is the devil with a thousand lies;
There are false brethren with their fair collusions,
Also false doctrines with their strong delusions;
These will us take, yea carry us away
From what is good, unless we watch and pray.
Long life to many, is a fearful snare;
Of sudden death we also need beware;
The smiles and frowns of men, temptations be;
And there's a bait in all we hear and see.
Let them who can, to any shew a way,
How they should live, that cannot watch and pray.

Nor is't enough to keep all well within,
Nor yet to keep all out that would be sin,
If entertained; I must myself concern
With my dear brother, as I do discern
Him tempted, or a wand'ring from the way;
Else as I should, I do not watch and pray.
Pray then, and watch, be thou no drowsy sleeper,
Grudge, nor refuse, to be thy brother's keeper,
Seest thou thy brother's graces at an ebb?
Is his heel taken in the spider's web?
Pray for thy brother; if that will not do,
To him, and warn him of the present woe
That is upon him; if he shall thee hear
Thou wilt a saviour unto him appear.[14]

5. Sincerity, to that we are enjoined,
For I do in our blessed law-book find,
That duties, how well done soe'er they seem,
With our great God, are but of small esteem
If not sincerely done; then have a care
For hypocrites are hateful everywhere.
Things we may do, yea, and may let men see
Us do them too, design but honestly;
Vain-gloriously let us not seek for praise,
Vain-glory's nothing worth in gospel days.
Sincerity seeks not an open place,
To do, tho' it does all with open face;
It loves no guises, nor disfigurations.
'Tis plain, 'tis simple, hates equivocations.
Sincerity's that grace by which we poise,
And keep our duties even: nor but toys
Are all we do, if no sincerity
Attend our works, lift it up ne'er so high.
Sincerity makes heav'n upon us smile,
Lo, here's a man in whom there is no guile!
Nathaniel, an Israelite indeed!'
With duties he sincerely doth proceed;
Under the fig-tree heav'n saw him at prayer,
There is but few do their devotions there.
Sincerity! Grace is thereto entailed,
The man that was sincere, God never fail'd.
One tear that falleth from sincerity,
Is worth ten thousand from hypocrisy.

6. Meekness is also here imposed by law,
A froward spirit is not worth a straw.
A froward spirit is a bane to rest,
They find it so, who lodge it in their breast.
A froward spirit suits with self-denial,
With taking up the cross, and ev'ry trial,
As cats and dogs, together by the ears;
As scornful men do suit with frumps[15] and jeers.
Meek as a lamb, mute as a fish, is brave,
When anger boils, and passions vent do crave.
The meek, God will in paths of judgment guide;
Good shall the meek eat, and be satisfied;
The Lord will lift the meek to highest station;
Will beautify the meek with his salvation.
The meek are blest, the earth they shall inherit:
The meek is better than the proud in spirit.
Meekness will make you quiet, hardy, strong,
To bear a burden, and to put up wrong.
Meekness, though divers troubles you are in,
Will bridle passion, be a curb to sin.
Thus God sets forth the meek before our eyes;
A meek and quiet spirit God doth prize.

7. Temp'rance also, is on this house imposed,
And whoso has it not, is greatly nosed[16]
By standers by, for greedy, lustful men:
Nor can all we can say, excuse us, when
Intemp'rance any where to them shall be
Apparent; though we other vices flee.
Temperance, the mother is of moderation,
The beauty also of our conversation.
Temperance will our affections moderate,
And keep us from being inordinate
In our embraces, or in our salutes
Of what we have, also in our pursuits
Of more, and in a sedate settlement
Of mind, will make's in all states be content.
Nor want we here an argument to prove
That who, inordinate is, in his love
Of worldly things, doth better things defy,
And slight salvation for the butterfly.

What argument can any man produce,
Why we should be intemperate in the use
Of any worldly good? Do we not see
That all these things from us a fleeting be?
What can we hold? What can we keep from flying
From us? Is not each thing we have a dying?
My house, my wife, my child, they all grow old,
Nor am I e'er the younger for my gold;
Here's none abiding, all things fade away,
Poor I at best am but a clod of clay.

If that be true, man doth not live by bread,
He that has nothing else, must needs be dead;
Take bread for what can in this world be found,
Yet all that therein is, is but a sound,
An empty sound, there is no life at all,
It cannot save a sparrow from her fall.
Let us then use this world as we are bid,
And as in olden times, the godly did.
Who buy, should be as if they did possess
None of their purchase, or themselves did bless
In what they have; and he that doth rejoice
In what he hath, should rather out of choice,
Withdraw his mind from what he hath below,
And set his heart on whither he must go.
For those that weep under their heavy crosses,
Or that are broken with the sense of losses,
Let them remember, all things here are fading,
And as to nature, of a self-degrading
And wasting temper; yea, both we and they
Shall waste, and waste, until we waste away.
Let temperance then, with moderation be
As bounds to our affections, when we see,
Or feel, or taste, or any ways enjoy
Things pleasing to the flesh, lest we destroy
Ourselves therewith, or bring ourselves thereby
To surfeits, guilt, or Satan's slavery.

8. Patience, another duty, as we find
In holy writ, is on this house enjoined;
Her state, while here, is such, that she must have
This grace abounding in her, or a slave
She'll quickly be unto their lusts and will,
That seek the mind of Satan to fulfil.
He who must bear all wrongs without resistance,
And that with gladness too, must have assistance
Continually from patience, thereunto,
Or he will find such work too hard to do.
Who meets with taunts, with mocks, with flouts and squibs,
With raileries, reproaches, checks, and snibs;
Yea, he who for well-doing is abused,
Robb'd, spoiled, and goal'd, and ev'ry way misused;
Has he not patience soon will be offended,
Yea his profession too will soon be ended.
A Christian for religion must not fight,
But put up wrongs, though he be in the right;
He must be merciful, loving, and meek,
When they smite one, must turn the other cheek.
He must not render railing for reviling
Nor murmur when he sees himself a spoiling,
When they shall curse, he must be sure to bless,
And thus with patience must his soul possess.
I doubt our frampered[17] Christians will not down
With what I say, yet I dare pawn my gown,
Do but compare my notes with sacred story,
And you will find patience the way to glory.
Patience under the cross, a duty is,
Whoso possess it, belongs to bliss;
If it is present work accomplisheth;
If it holds out, and still abideth with
The Truth; then may we look for that reward,
Promised at the coming of the Lord.

9. To entertain good men let's not forget
Some by so doing have had benefit;
Yea for to recompense this act of theirs,
Angels have lodged with them unawares.
Yea to encourage such a work as this,
The Lord himself makes it a note of his,
When hungry or when thirsty I have been,
Or when a stranger, you did take me in.
Strangers should not to strangers but be kind
Specially if conferring notes, they find
Themselves, though strangers here, one brotherhood,
And heirs, joint heirs, of everlasting good;
These should as mother's sons, when they do meet
In a strange country, one another greet
With welcome; come in, brother, how dost do?
Whither art wand'ring? Prithee let me know
Thy state? Dost want or meat, or drink, or cloth?
Art weary? Let me wash thy feet, I'm loth
Thou shouldst depart, abide with me all night;
Pursue thy journey with the morning light.

Bible Reading For Further Study

Recommended Songs for Worship


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home