Tuesday, 17 June 2008

The Importance of the Local Church (Part 2)

Part 2: The Importance of the Local Church
Mathew 18:15 ¶ "And if your brother sins, go and reprove him in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother.
16 "But if he does not listen [to you,] take one or two more with you, so that BY THE MOUTH OF TWO OR THREE WITNESSES EVERY FACT MAY BE CONFIRMED.
17 "And if he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax-gatherer.
18 "Truly I say to you, whatever you shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.
19 "Again I say to you, that if two of you agree on earth about anything that they may ask, it shall be done for them by My Father who is in heaven.
20 "For where two or three have gathered together in My name, there I am in their midst."
21 ¶ Then Peter came and said to Him, "Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?"
22 Jesus *said to him, "I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.

Review of Matthew 16
The example of Upper Chapel and Hanover Methodist are warnings.

1. Central House Church: Review in the Post-founder Era

A. Summary of where the church is at after almost 40 years (personal fellowship with Peter since 1995).
i. Calvinistic in doctrine; explain the TULIP confession.
ii. Baptist in government and immersion of adult believers
iii. Independent and autonomous, but not averse to an association of churches
iv. Non-charismatic following the cleavage after Toronto, that places it in an Evangelical position that adheres to:
· The sufficiency and final authority of Scripture
· The primacy of preaching for the church and evangelism
· Proper caution of manifestations
· Placing doctrine before experience
· Maintaining a desire for the power of the Holy Spirit in our midst of conversion of sinners, a desire for righteousness among Christians and genuine godly living.
· The definition of prophesy to be explored: Preaching and public praying.
The church is Calvinistic, Baptist and evangelical.
An encouraging lineage includes:
John Bunyan
William Carey
Andrew Fuller
Charles Spurgeon
They would trace their doctrine and church model to Calvin and Geneva and claim continuity with the early church, the apostles and Christ Himself.
Note: No room for any form of pride.

2. Discipline in the Local Church
Discipline is;
a. Moral as in 1 Corinthians 5 and the sexual immorality
b. Doctrinal as Alexander the Coppersmith (2 Timothy 4: 15) who strongly opposed apostolic doctrine and preaching. Hymenaeus and Philetus (2 Timothy 2: 16-19), note God’s firm foundation stands.
Step 1: V 15 Brother = the church
‘in private’ and the aim is to ‘win your brother’ not a blazing row. Note ‘if he listens to you’. The art of good listening ‘he that has ears’.

Step 2: V16 Take one or two more: the basis for this is Deuteronomy 19: 15-21 and there is a clear OT blueprint for ‘judges’ that being spiritual leaders.
Note: ‘that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses’. We are dealing with evidence by witnesses, not speculation, gossip or opinions.

Step 3: V 17 ‘Tell it to the church’ but must go via the elders. (Congregational versus elders)
Step 4: Excommunication and treating them as a non-Christian.

If people do not follow these steps then they are subject to discipline themselves.

· Quote and explain the 1689 Baptist Confession of faith, section 26 on the Church, point 12 and 13.
12.____ As all believers are bound to join themselves to particular churches, when and where they have opportunity so to do; so all that are admitted unto the privileges of a church, are also under the censures and government thereof, according to the rule of Christ. ( 1 Thessalonians 5:14; 2 Thessalonians 3:6, 14, 15 )
13.____ No church members, upon any offence taken by them, having performed their duty required of them towards the person they are offended at, ought to disturb any church-order, or absent themselves from the assemblies of the church, or administration of any ordinances, upon the account of such offence at any of their fellow members, but to wait upon Christ, in the further proceeding of the church. ( Matthew 18:15-17; Ephesians 4:2, 3 )
There are only three reasons why someone does not partake of the Lord’s supper;
a. They are not a Christian, or unsure of their salvation.
b. Under church discipline and it is withheld
c. They are proclaiming that they are in wilful disobedience and unrepentant sin.
3. Confessions of Faith
Who wrote them?

Calvin and the French confession
Luther and Melancthon and the Augsburg confession
The English Puritans and the Westminister Confession
John Owen and Thomas Goodwin and the Savoy Declaration used by Independent churches
1689 and the Baptist Confession for Calvinistic Baptists.
Belgic, second Helvetic, Scots, Welsh Calvinistic Methodists confessions etc.

Are they Biblical?
Acts 2: 42, the order is the apostles doctrine first and to be devoted to it

They Provide an open document ‘in the light’ for churches to believe and practice

Are they above the Bible?
Absolutely not, but they are a marvellous summary of the apostles doctrine.

Why have one? Or Why not have one?

Illustration: Train tracks and the train

To not have one is to depart from historic Christianity, leaves the door open to subjective private interpretations and provides little basis for the unity of the faith.

Who am I to depart from Jonathan Edwards, Spurgeon, Calvin, John Knox, John Owen etc.
· For the up building of the church (the truth sets one free)
· For a well ordered church practice (Lord’s supper)
· Guard rails for preaching and putting someone into office
· Defending against heresy and bringing doctrinal correction
· Helping Christians find their identity
· Connected to church history

Why reinvent the wheel?


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