Here is our church newsletter for May 2018. It has an article about repentance and the Lord’s Supper.
Archive for the ‘Feltham Evangelical Church’ Category
Having confessed faith in our LORD Jesus by being baptised the next stage for someone to consider is that of becoming a member of a church.
There are many Christian organisations around. However, it is the church which is the organisation with which all Christians are associated. In Scripture God has set this institution forth as the great means to display His glory in this world. The LORD Himself said I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it (Matt. 16:18b).
There are two aspects to the church which must be differentiated. The first aspect is that of the “church universal”. Every true Christian is a member of this church. The other aspect is that of the church in its local manifestation. There is one universal church, but there are many local churches. The word church in fact gives the idea of being called out. So in the local church there should be those who have been called out of the world to belong to the LORD Jesus.
In a similar way to how the scripture expects all Christians to be baptised, there is also the expectation that all believers should be church members. Let us look at 1 Cor. 5 to gain some perspective on this and establish the principle of how important it is to be in local church fellowship.
In verses 1-2 we see there a man, who is a church member, has committed something evil. Upon becoming aware of this Paul calls upon the church hand this man over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh (v5a). Satan is the one who is the prince of this world (John 14:30a) and the god of this age (2 Cor. 4:4a). Paul is thereby saying that this man should be removed from church membership and placed in the realm where Satan dwells which is “the world”. The purpose of this is to lead the man to repent so that he can return to the blessed position of being in the local church (see 2 Cor. 2:3-11).
We learn, then, from this that there is a division between the local church where God rules (and as a loving Father provides for and protects His people) and the world where Satan rules. If someone is not a church member, for whatever reason, he is effectively, out in the world and that is serious.
Following on from this we can say that when someone commits themselves to a local church they are saying that they are committing themselves to the institution where God rules (the local assembly of Christians) and disowning affiliation to the other place, the world, where Satan rules.
Summing this up, we conclude that it is a serious thing for a Christian to decide to be a lone ranger, and refuse to join in testimony with a local assembly of Christians.
This raises the question though about which church we should join. There are so many around.
However, which church is the one for us? The answer to this must be that everyone must move carefully and prayerfully before the LORD. Three things we might say in general you should look for are:
- A church which holds to the holy Scriptures as the word breathed out by God which has everything to equip a church for its construction and ongoing life (see 2 Tim. 3:16).
- A church where the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ as the only Saviour of sinners is held to and declared (see 1 Thess. 1:8a).
- A church where Jesus Christ is known to be LORD to the glory of God the Father (see Phil. 2:11b)
Having established this we must be aware that being a church member has to do with fellowship. It has to do with a sharing together in the things of God. So when someone finds a church they believe is seeking to follow the three things stated above, then it is necessary to go through a process of establishing that there really is fellowship between the individual and the church.
This process does not need to be overly formal, but needs to be undertaken otherwise church membership can just become a ticket to joining an organisation rather than, what it really is, a commitment to fellowship with a group of like-minded people.
When the church (duly led by the elders) and the individual are happy to commit themselves to one another then this is sealed by the formal joining of the church and becoming a church member.
We have considered then, the necessity for and means of becoming a church member. All this follows on from becoming a Christian. The order is in fact seen exemplified in the life of the first church at Jerusalem (see Acts 2:41-42) where the people were saved (they gladly received the word), were baptised and continued steadfastly together (as members of the church).
Last week, on February 1st/2nd, the three elders from Feltham Evangelical Church, Marc, Zach and myself, had a time-away at Stanton House near Oxford. This is the second time we have done this. We have benefited from it, i believe. We had five sessions together, but were very fluid as regards to how these worked out. Our basic programme was:
- Arrive at 15.00
- Settle in / tea
- Session 1: 16.00 to 17.30. Where we are as a church?
- Evening Meal at 18.00
- Session 2: 19.00 to 20.30. The individuals of the church; the spiritual state of people.
- Breakfast at 8.30
- Session 3: 9.15 to 10.30. Discipleship; using gifts
- Break: 10.30
- Session 4: 11.00 to 12.15. Activities and organisation.
- Lunch: 12.30
- Session 5: 13.15 to 14.30. Looking ahead; progress
- Leave at 14.30
The benefits of it all has been:
- We have opportunity to spend time together and grow in knowing each other. We are three individuals of very different backgrounds and of different characters. Yet, in the kind grace of our God, through our prayers, by being together we can draw closer together. Spending extended time together, talking over the meals etc. all contributes to this.
- We study the Word. This time we went though a chapter of 1 John in each session, and pray together. Again this helps draw us into being of one mind. It was grat to know how the Lord was speaking into our situation through this.
- We can explore ideas and concerns about matters in the church in a more unhurried way
- We have extra space to talk and consider God’s workings in the church.
- In God’s grace we get to sense a way forward generally for the church and in particular areas of church life.
- The church prays for us. I think there was particular awareness of this last week.
- We have time to pray about the people, activities and future of the church.
- The church of God is His bride and very special to Him. The time away gives that sense of extra care and thoughtfulness being given to how we can best serve that manifestation of His bride at Feltham Evangelical Church.
We have been reading through the Old Testament at our 11.00.a.m. service at Feltham Evangelical Church for, what must be, about 15 years now. We do not read every week, but very often we do. Last Sunday we concluded 2 Samuel. This means that we have read through 28% of the Bible in terms of verses. We initially just read the passage of Scripture. More recently, though, we have had a brief comment upon the reading.
So why is it good to have such a practice:
- It honours God. In reading His Word we are saying to the Lord that His Word matters to us. It is a good principle to have in our public gatherings all that honours the Lord. This is of primary importance and the public reading of scripture stands in that strand of thinking.
- The people of the church know we take the Bible seriously. We are not just reading a few verses, we are reading good chunks and are happy to do so.
- The people start to get familiar with the flow of scripture. They pick up “a little here and a little there”.
- We are fulfilling the injunction to Timothy by Paul to Until I come, give attention to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation and teaching (1 Tim. 4:13). We can be reassured by this verse that we are doing a God-pleasing thing.
- It is humbling to hear the scriptures audibly read and to know that you are under the pure Word of Truth. In reading scripture we are acknowledging that God has spoken and we want to humbly listen to what He has said.
- People start to understand the Word. This, I think, has been enhanced since we started to give a brief comment along with the reading.
So we are happy to read scripture publicly. One thing we have seen often happen is that the Bible Reading fits in with other aspects of the service. And we think this must be God’s doing and we praise Him.