October 2002

1 October 2002

OCTOBER, 2002 From the Pastor Greetings in the name or our Lord Jesus Christ. On September 1, Harmony Church rejoiced to receive Darren Burroughs by confession of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. His baptism was on that day. We are thankful for the Lord adding to His Church at Donaldson. I encourage our whole membership to pray that the Lord will send others among us who will rejoice in a risen Lord. What is happening at DONALDSON Presently, we are continuing our study in the book of 1 Corinthians. I appreciate the opportunity to study this book and share the many wonderful principles with our church. They have been very patient in receiving this instruction and we all feel we have grown spiritually. The more I preach from this book, the more I realize just how contemporary it is. In many ways, our world is becoming more and more like that of the Corinthians. I believe many churches and pastors face some of the same challenges today as were faced at Corinth in Paul's day. There are many rebukes found in Paul's words to Corinth. Yet, in the midst of his rebukes we have found a love for the cause of Christ and the truth. Thus far, we have studied through the first eleven chapters. Since our last newsletter, these are some of the things we have learned from this book. In Chapter 9, we spoke on "A Forgotten Ordinance" as we took our text from verse 14, "Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel." Here we find one of the old paths that was ordained by the Lord Himself. It should be a goal for every church to care for their man of God as Paul taught Corinth. In verses 7-10 Paul uses several analogies. He compares the pastor to a soldier who is going to war. When the soldier went to war, his weapons, uniform, transportation, food and shelter were provided by those that he fought for. That thought in itself is pregnant with illustrations. Paul encouraged Timothy to "fight the good fight of faith" and to "endure hardness as a good soldier". This is preaching, pasturing and shepherding the flock of God, a battle against Satan, false apostles and the world at large. The pastor equips the Saints to fight this battle as well and minister to fellow soldiers. As the pastor equips the Saints to minister to one another and fight their own personal battles against the world, the flesh and the devil, they equip him with the carnal necessities of life. Though a soldier was equipped by necessity, the pastor should be equipped and cared for out of love. As he ministers to the families of the church, the church should minister to his family as well. Paul also compares the Pastor to a husbandman that tends and keeps the vineyard. As he does, he eats the fruit thereof. I have heard some churches say, "We are just too small to care for a pastor". Certainly, this may be true many times. Yet, by this principle of husbandry, if the man of God is blessed in planting, pruning and watering the vineyard, it will grow and the church should reward the steward accordingly as the fruit increases. The more the husbandman labors, the more fruit is born in the vineyard. The more fruit that is born, the better the vineyard takes care of its husbandman. Surely, a lazy husbandman should not be cared for as much as one who labors. His crop will diminish rather than grow and what will the church have to give such a steward? Thus, as Paul said in another place, "Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine"-1 Timothy 5:17. This means to care for such a man doubly, that he may use his gift more abundantly!!! Paul also uses the example of the shepherd. He feeds a flock and drinks of the milk. This example is one of feeding. As the pastor feeds the flock of God, the flock feeds the shepherd. Thus, a mutual care one for another using the gifts and assets that each one has. I have heard hundreds of sermons at associations and special meetings but I have never heard a preacher preach from these passages of scripture. I presume they fear they will be criticized for preaching for money. Yet, this is a principle that becomes a blessing for all. I believe the Lord is judging churches in this matter today. We are no longer living in the depression where people are living from hand to mouth. When God's people spend more money on adult toys and entertainment than God's house, the Lord is greatly dishonored. Just like the old prophet said, "But Jeshuran waxed fat, and kicked." I am sure that those churches that are sincerely seeking the old paths would be interested in considering this much overlooked truth. I told you there were rebukes!!!!! In chapter 10, we learned about the goodness and the severity of God. Yes, God led Israel about in the wilderness. He blessed them to drink of the same spiritual drink ... a picture of Christ. They were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud ... a figure of being baptized unto Christ in the Church. But ... "with many of them God was not well pleased." Why? Paul then lists the five most common sins found among baptized believers: Lust, idolatry, fornication, tempting Christ and murmuring. I especially enjoyed the thought of "tempting Christ". We used the example of tempting our own parents: "I will see just how far I can push them, how much I can get away with." That is tempting our Lord! We spoke about Christian liberties and how we should always consider those around us as we enjoy our liberties so as not to wound a weak brother's conscience. Many of the baptized Corinthians had learned that the idol's temple was nothing, so they felt free to go there for some good food. Yet, as they went, some of those that had just joined their congregation, or were visiting their church, saw them there and thought they were worshiping the idol as well. Where we go, what we do and who we do it with is before the eyes of many. We should never do anything that would jeopardize our testimony to the Lord Jesus Christ. In Chapter 11, we learned the necessity of the Lord's supper and the importance of every member being present during this special time. I read to them "The Rules of Church Membership", written by John Fletcher of Madeley(1729-1785). Found among these was, "Every member must take part in the Lord's Supper at every opportunity. See Acts 2:46, I Corinthians 11:24." We would not bring the Lord's people under the law to be present during this time, yet, there must be something spiritually wrong when a person does not want to remember the One who died to set them free from their sins. I have read stories of people saved from terrible accidents by some innocent bystander. It seems that that person's soul was knit to their rescuer. Should our soul not be knit to our Lord Jesus Christ, our rescuer, our Savior, our Salvation? There should be a burning desire in the heart of every believer to assemble together and remember His body and blood, given for our sins. In chapter 12, we found another area of scripture that has been much overlooked in our day. This chapter teaches us about the many "gifts" that the Lord has vested in the local church. In this chapter, Paul depicts every baptized member of the church as a part of a body. The church is a living organism made up of "lively stones". Every member has a function in the local assembly. As our natural body has body parts, such as he hand, the eye, the nose, so the local church has body parts. If you are a baptized member of the church, you have a gift of some kind given to you by the Creator for the purpose of ministering. I believe this is written to the church at Corinth to cause every member to pray and seek their spiritual gift in the church. This is more important than seeking a profession in the world. This, too, is a much forgotten subject among the Saints. This is the reason that many churches have turned into the speaker, audience format. Much like the speaker who comes into town to give a lecture and goes home. There is no personal interaction, nothing demanded or expected from the audience. Just listen. Certainly listening is important. Yet, there are gifts vested in every church, every member, that are being overlooked. A lively church is a church where spiritual gifts are active! We found the word "Church" to be an interesting word. It is used over one-hundred times. It is never used to describe a building, a national church, a denomination or even a group of churches. When we think of Church, our mind should be upon that body we are spiritually attached to. Yes, we should pray for other bodies of believers. But when our thinking of Church becomes something out there that we do not contribute to or become a part of, we render our own personal gift useless. If we say we love the church, we are saying we have "charity", an action word, towards every member and our heart is focused on ministering to their needs. Loving the Church is not loving an invisible nebula of doctrine, practice, history and past meetings. That is worshiping the past. The Church is the people we meet with who are presently contending for the "faith once delivered to the Saints." Every church member should focus their attention and resources upon the place of their membership. When I was visiting the Metropolitan Tabernacle in England, I purchased a little brochure entitled, "CHURCH MEMBERSHIP IN THE NEW TESTAMENT". This was written by the present pastor of this church, Dr Peter Masters. I was encouraged by his thinking concerning the local church as his teaching was the same as ours. He, too, taught the principle of the Church as being a living organism as he used all the metaphors of the body, the family and the autonomy of the local church. I do not have space to quote all that he wrote, but concerning I Corinthians 12:12, this is a portion of what he wrote, "One reason why God has joined us together in a church is because it is essential that every one of His people is involved in the growth of the body, in true evangelism. Is it possible that a limb or part of a body could ever be disconnected and kept somewhere apart from the body? Is it conceivable that a Christian can opt out of being a church member? Is there any provision in the new Testament for some one who does not wish to be a church member? The only answer to that question is: only if a person has to be put out of a church for some reason." Surely, every member should be active, involved and knowledgeable of what is going on with the rest of the body. A couple of years ago, Elder Bradley was invited to speak at "The Church" located at Star City. Many of our people have visited this faithful band of Christ's followers and they have attended some of our meetings as well. Their pastor is Elder John Fuqua. I mentioned our visit with them last year in a previous publication. A few weeks ago, Marilyn and I visited one of the restaurants there, owned by one of their members, Brother Layne Baugh. I stayed in this good brother's home during one of the meetings. He has a wonderful family and they treated me with great hospitality. When we ordered our food, Brother Layne handed me an article that one of their members had written. I appreciate him sharing it with me and I share a portion of it with you at this time. It is entitled, "HOLINESS". "Let a pastor insist on holy living and sooner or later he will be crucified. Let the life's aim of his ministry and service be geared to holy living and all the hordes of hell will rally together to crush his intentions. If he insists on his congregation living Christ-like lives; nay, if he rather insists that they step aside entirely, and allow Christ Himself to live out His life in and through them, that pastor or minister will have warfare all his days. Let him insist that his hearers strive for the right response and reaction to every daily challenge every day of their lives and he will never face the problem of building programs, expansion of church facilities, and so on. One small meeting place will hold his audience. A minister must fearlessly preach sound doctrine. He must faithfully expose sin and error. Yet that minister may preach what could be termed the letter or mechanics of form of sound doctrine without insisting on holiness. A pastor may build his church on the preaching of the fundamentals of the faith: infallibility of scripture, virgin birth, the Trinity, bodily resurrection, for example. He may found his church on the preaching of the doctrines of grace. A pastor may build a church on soul-winning and outreach. An evangelist may center his ministry around revival. Yet all these ministers may pull punches when it comes to insisting on holiness. Or more likely, ignore holiness altogether. Yet the holiness of God must be the bottom line of every preacher's efforts and concerns or else all his works will end like the house built on the sand. "Great was the fall-the ruin of that house," said our Lord. Every preacher who sets his face to insist on holiness must brace himself for the inevitable name-calling. "Legalist," they will cry. "Overbearing." "Puritanical." "Dictatorial." "Tyrant." "Too authoritative." "Cultic." But in all their appellations, they will never acknowledge him by his right name- a preacher of holiness. The knowledge of the holy is a lost truth in our day. That pre-eminent attribute of God; that ineffable essence of glory; like an invisible aura, which separates and sets Him apart from everyone and every thing that is not of Himself; surrounding everything that God is, and says, and does; that absolute moral perfection, free of sin and evil, is virtually unknown in today's average congregation. But without holiness, no man shall see the Lord, said the writer to the Hebrews. Woe to the pastor or preacher who will not insist on holiness. How then will his hearers ever see the Lord?" Surely we must agree with the brother. His article agrees much with what we have been learning about the church at Corinth and the several messages we delivered to the church on being like Jesus Christ. Being a Christian is being Christ-like in our mind, heart and actions. Fellowship We enjoyed our picnic at Brother Leon and Sister Patti Burris' home. Our membership is scattered over about a seventy mile radius and these outing allow us the opportunity to get to know one another better. In a simpler time, the membership of most churches lived among one another in a small vicinity. They saw one another on a daily basis, at community meetings and school functions. They helped one another on their farms and had the opportunity to visit and know one another. Today, it is important for the body of Christ to know one another. There must be more to fellowship that hearing a sermon and going home without personal interaction. The home made ice cream and watermelon from Leon's patch were greatly enjoyed on that hot day that we will all remember for years to come. Book review "America's Godly Heritage" is a VCR tape we have in our library that "clearly sets forth the beliefs of many of the famous Founding Fathers concerning the proper role of Christian principles in education, in government, and in the public affairs of the nation." Today, in many schools, there is a concerted effort being made to destroy the role model of our founding Christian leaders in the eyes of our children. This tape will enable the parent to teach their children the truth concerning men like George Washington, Patrick Henry, John Quincy Adams, Thomas Jefferson and many more. I am always looking for helpers in our church. I enjoy seeing people use their gifts. I am thankful for Sister Mary Kelly who is serving as our librarian. I appreciate her willingness to help with our books and tapes. We have some books that have been out for over a year and I have asked her to track some of these books down. If you get a call from her, please do not be offended. If you are still reading the book, just let her know. You may keep them as long as you like. She has already made a difference. If you will notice, we have a new sign by our books and tapes and a new holder for our cards. I can promise you that this reading material is much better than what you will find in the world. Remember in prayer Sister Karen Gray has undergone surgery for arrhythmia. They have installed a pacemaker and she is doing much better.