Tag Archive: christianity


Congregational Church Governance

downloadWhat Is Congregational Church Governance?

Polity is how an organization, such as a church, functions—the policies that guide matters such as governance, decision making, structure and leadership. Baptists differ from most Christian denominations in matters of polity. The difference especially is evident in how congregations of Christians are governed.

One major difference between Baptists and many other denominations is that no person or group outside of a Baptist congregation is to have any authority over the church in regard to beliefs and religious practices. Furthermore, all of the members within the church fellowship are to have equal voice in the governance of the church.

Baptist church governance often is termed “democratic.” In a sense it is. In a democracy, all of the people have equal voices in decision making. No individual or group of persons is in control. Such is to be the case in a Baptist church. One way that democratic governance is practiced is that each member of the church has the right to vote on matters at church business meetings.

To many non-Baptists, and even to some Baptists, this seems to be a strange way for a church to function. Putting the governance of a church in the hands of persons who have no special training, education or calling appears to be foolish. Why would Baptists dare to function in this fashion?

Read more….http://baptistdistinctives.org/articles/congregational-church-governance/

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“For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person
—such a man is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.”

Ephesians 5:5 (NIV)

 The ideal of a believers’ church consistently appears in Baptist confessions of faith. Baptist theologians, pastors and other leaders through the centuries have held up no other model than that of a born-again church fellowship. That’s the ideal. But is this the reality?

Is There Evidence of a Decline in Regenerate Church Membership?

The distinguished Baptist historian William R. Estep stated, “Baptists in the United States are perilously close to losing their insistence upon a regenerate church membership.”

Other observers of Baptist life agree with Estep and cite as evidence for this conclusion such factors as the huge number of non-resident Baptist church members and the characteristics of many resident members with their lack of involvement in church life, a low level of financial support, little commitment to evangelism, missions and ministry, and a life style obviously contrary to the teachings of Jesus.

Of course, some of these factors may be the result of conditions other than an unregenerate condition, such as being “backslidden” or perhaps immature as a Christian (1 Corinthians 3:1-3; Ephesians 4:11-16). And certainly, numerous church members are wonderfully dedicated followers of Christ. Yet it would seem that these factors would not exist in such abundance if members of churches were truly born again.

Read more…http://baptistdistinctives.org/articles/regenerate-church-membership-in-peril/

images (2)How Do Baptist Churches Accept Members Into Their Fellowship?

Membership in a Baptist church is always to be voluntary. Therefore, persons request to be members. They are not compelled to be members. Baptist churches strive in several ways to maintain a born-again membership by how they admit persons to membership.

When a person who has never been a member of any church requests membership in a Baptist church, he or she is asked to give evidence of having trusted in Jesus Christ as personal Lord and Savior. Furthermore, Baptist churches require that a person experience believer’s baptism before becoming a member. Therefore, a person seeking membership is asked both to make a profession of faith in Christ and to be baptized.

When a person who is already a member of a Baptist church seeks membership in another Baptist church, normally the person is accepted on the basis of that prior membership. At one time some Baptist churches issued actual “letters” indicating that a person was a member and the person took the “letter” when moving to another church. Today, the term “coming by letter” usually indicates that the church receiving the member will contact the other church about the transfer of membership. The term “coming by statement” normally means that the church of which the person was a member no longer exists or that for a variety of reasons the record could not be obtained.

But what if a person seeking membership in a Baptist church is a member of a church other than Baptist? Baptist churches, being autonomous, respond in various ways. The response depends both on the church background of the person seeking membership as well as on the policies of the church.

Generally speaking, if such a person has not been baptized by immersion as a believer in Christ, a Baptist church will require that he or she indicate faith in Christ and be baptized before becoming a member. If the person has been immersed as a believer, but that baptism was considered necessary for salvation, most Baptist churches will require the person to be baptized before becoming a member; this is done in order to make clear that baptism, while important, is not necessary for salvation.

If the person has been immersed as a believer and understands that it was a way to testify symbolically that he or she had been born again, some Baptist churches will accept such a person into membership. Other Baptist churches will ask the person to be baptized in a Baptist church.

Although a few Baptist churches may accept as members persons who profess faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior whether or not they have been baptized by immersion as believers, most do not. The vast majority of Baptist churches take very seriously the importance of believer’s baptism by immersion.

Read more….http://baptistdistinctives.org/articles/regenerate-church-membership/

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John 9:6-7 When he had thus spoken, he spat on the ground, and made clay of the spittle, and he anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay, And said unto him, Go, wash in the pool of Siloam, (which is by interpretation, Sent.) He went his way therefore, and washed, and came seeing.

I read this passage and I wonder how I would react if someone mixed their saliva with some dirt on the ground and put it on my face like this. Ewww! Why didn’t Jesus just heal this guy and be done with it? Why the messy prelude?

If you’ll notice, Jesus did two things. First, He placed mud on the man’s eyes. Then, He told him to go and wash himself in the pool of Siloam. Of course, the man willingly obeyed. If you had some gross concoction smeared on your eyes, wouldn’t you? The mud actually provided the motivation for his obedience.

My point? We don’t always have to understand why we find our selves muddy sometimes. Perhaps if we weren’t muddy, we’d never be motivated to obey! And obedience is crucial to a successful and flourishing walk with the Lord.

Let’s not despise the mud on our face today. We all have times of trial. Let’s use them for an opportunity to be obedient! God is just trying to help us see better!

 

Read more…http://www.worthydevotions.com/

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“Choose ye this day whom ye will serve.”

Joshua 24:15

Is soul competency the primary Baptist distinctive? Some very outstanding Baptist leaders, past and present, seem to indicate that it may be.

“…the principle of the competency of the soul in religion under

God is a distinctive Baptist contribution to the world’s thought….”

–E. Y. Mullins (b.1860 – d.1928)

Baptist educator/theologian
“Out of this principle flow all other elements of Baptist belief….”

– Herschel H. Hobbs (b.1907 – d.1995)

Baptist pastor/theologian

“The concept of the soul’s competency is more than a single doctrine;

actually, it undergirds all the other doctrines of the faith.”

–H. Leon McBeth (b.1931)

Baptist educator/historian

The Meaning of Soul Competency

What does “soul competency” mean? Various terms have been used for this concept, such as soul freedom, freedom of conscience and soul competency. Basically it means the God-given freedom and ability of persons to know and respond to God’s will. Baptists believe that God gives people competency–that is ability–to make choices. Human beings are not puppets or machines.

Baptists emphasize that this ability is not a mere human characteristic, but a gift from God. In creation, God gave to persons the freedom to make choices. The Genesis account of creation makes crystal clear that this freedom carried with it awesome responsibility. We are responsible for our choices. God sets forth the consequences of good and bad decisions. If we exercise our freedom to obey him, we have life. If we use our freedom to deny him, the result is death (Genesis 1—2).

Read MORE About Baptist Distinctives HERE

images (1)1 Corinthians 6:19-20 What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.

We’ve been working on so many different things recently and we’re just exhausted. But this is a word of advice the Lord gave us. Perhaps it’s for some of you too.

Oftentimes we forget that our spiritual, mental and emotional livelihood is directly connected to our physical one. What I mean by that is when we don’t take care of our bodies, not only can we get physically sick, but spiritually, mentally and emotionally as well. The media and the medical industry may have a lot of ideas and “quick fixes” for getting healthy but it really all boils down to a few important fundamentals.

Let’s consider for a minute the way we’ve been treating our bodies. Have we been drinking enough water? Lot’s of water is the number one cure for many bodily ailments including weight loss. Are we eating the kinds of things we should? We can’t expect to put junk in our bodies and expect them to function normally. Are we moving enough? We need to get some form of exercise each day, even if it’s just taking a stroll around the block a few times. I know exercise is a scary word for some of us, but it’s so very important! Are we getting enough sleep? At least eight hours a night for any length of time is key!

Have you been running, running, running and losing your cool? When we don’t take care of our body the way we should, it’s bound to happen! Want to do greater things for the Lord? Want to get God’s direction for your life? Want to get more stable mentally and emotionally? Let’s commit to taking care of our body. It is the Temple of the Holy Spirit living in us. We should strive to keep it in good shape. There’s so much work to be done!!

It happened to the best of them!

imagesPsalms 51:10-12 Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.  Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me.  Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit.

David is called a “man after God’s own heart.” Considering that he lusted after his neighbor’s wife, committed adultery with her, and had her husband murdered, the Lord’s description of him is remarkable. How could a man who was convicted a murderer and an adulterer also be called one after God’s own heart?

The answer is simple but profound: God did not regard David according to the actions of his sinful nature, but according to the deepest motivations and disposition of his heart and will; and these were revealed by David’s response to the conviction which Nathan the prophet brought upon him; a conviction which brought immediate total confession and repentance, and a broken and contrite heart. This response exemplified the shepherd king’s walk with God throughout the entire journey of his life .

If, after David had fallen he made excuses, rationalized, or resisted the clear message of his sinfulness it would have been a totally different story. His heart would have revealed a self-justifying, self-righteous attitude with no realization of his absolute need for God’s mercy. This would have defeated and defined him as a man after his own heart. But the immediacy and completeness of David’s confession qualified him for the Lord’s forgiveness and mercy, saving him from death and restoring him to that most treasured relationship of his life, his relationship with YHVH.

The consequences of his sin were very serious and followed David all the days of his life. But he demonstrated the genuineness of his repentance by never railing against God for the troubles which followed him as a consequence of his sin with Batsheva. David always rose up, submitted, and humbly praised God, writing wonderful psalms and pouring out his heart before the Lord. He served God and worshiped Him all his life. So the Lord God didn’t reckon David’s life by his fall – but by his walk, and by his heart.

We all stumble in many ways, but God does not define us by our failures. It’s our love for Him and our honesty before Him that reveals a true walk of faith! So if you fell, you messed up, your sin got the best of you, then come clean. Make your confession. Accept the consequences without complaining, allow the Lord to forgive and restore you completely, and continue on your journey with Him. That was David’s heart. His example is worthy to follow. May you also be one of those that lived their life “after God’s own heart!”

 

For more DEVOTIONAL TOPICS, VISIT HERE

Live your life in Him!

8_jesusJohn 21:14-15, 22 This is now the third time Jesus showed Himself to His disciples after He was raised from the dead. So when they had eaten breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me more than these?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Feed My lambs.”

Jesus said to him, “If I will that he remain till I come, what is that to you? You follow Me.”

After Jesus’ resurrection, He showed himself to the apostles several times. Once, they were fishing, and Jesus met them on the shore of the Sea of Galilee. Peter was there, back at his craft, but swirling with inward emotions. The anguish of his recent denial, three times, exactly as Jesus had predicted, mixed with the amazement and perplexity at the empty tomb, and finally the astounding relief and joy witnessing the risen Lord. Peter was on an emotional roller coaster for days, but the issue of his denial remained unresolved.

The Lord’s encounter with Peter on the Sea of Galilee was to fully restore him. Three times Jesus probes His beloved disciple “Do you love me?” But this is more than just a quantitative restoration. The Lord is penetrating the apostle’s heart in this amazing conversation, because He really knows how much Peter loves Him and He wants Peter to know that He trusts him completely even after his awful failure. So Jesus gives Peter his lifelong commission– “Feed my lambs!”; “Feed my sheep.” Jesus knew that He could entrust Peter with this responsibility, and He told him so. Peter was restored.

Yet Peter still wobbles, even as he receives his restoration, when he asks about his fellow apostle, John. Jesus’s response, “what is that to you, you follow me!” settles the matter. The Lord is saying, “stop the competition, Peter. Those days are over, yet you’re still comparing…I have work for you; I have a life for you; live it!”

The enemy would love to dig up your past, thrust it in your face, and leave you comparing yourself with others for the rest of your life – but the Lord has a life for you and He wants you to live it. Your life, not someone else’s. He loves you and He trusts you to be who He made you to be. So don’t allow your past failures or your present jealousies to prevent you from the life you’re called to live for Him!

Walking out the Will of God!

1 Thes 5:14-18 Now we exhort you, brethren, warn them that are unruly, comfort the feebleminded, support the weak, be patient toward all men. See that none render evil for evil unto any man; but ever follow that which is good, both among yourselves, and to all men. Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.

The apostle Paul‘s epistle to the Thessalonians contains clear and powerful exhortations concerning the will of God for believers. These exhortations express the specific will of God in relationships with others, with ourselves, and with the Lord. Packed into these short verses are patterns of life and behavior which receive His blessing in all these relationships.

“Warn them that are unruly”; people who are idle, undisciplined, pleasure seeking, need to know the danger they are in.

“Comfort the feebleminded”; comfort people who are disheartened; come alongside them with brotherly affection and encouraging words, and pray for them.

“Support the weak”; our natural tendency is to despise and neglect weaker people, to stay away from them since they have nothing to offer us, and can damage our reputation. Yeshua (Jesus) says no, find them, and lift them up however you can.

“Be patient toward all men”; realizing how patient God is with you, and that “patient” is the first thing that love is, [1 Cor. 13:4]. It means waiting in love and hope, with prayer, for people to see what they need to see, do what they need to do, change how they need to change.

“See that none render evil for evil;” do not allow evil men in this world to corrupt your own behavior and character. This is a constant temptation throughout life because evil people are everywhere, including the church.

“Follow that which is good”; being and doing good of every kind is our lifelong mandate as believers; there are millions of ways to obey it. This is God’s will for us toward all men – even those who don’t deserve it!

“Rejoice evermore”; Yeshua has rescued your eternity from unspeakable misery and pain to everlasting joy and pleasure. The constant reality of your life is undergirded by an ecstatic future forever. You can afford to be quite happy about it.

“Pray without ceasing”; ‘impossible’, you say. Given the fact that your relationship with the Lord is wide open to communication with Him 24/7, why not continually include Him in your words and thoughts?

“In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you”; gratitude is a life saver, apart from being the most appropriate response to having been created, redeemed, and blessed by our loving Lord. Thankfulness in all things turns you into the beautiful soul your were intended to be. Gratitude in the midst of suffering is a special perfume for the Lord.

The will of God is not so hard to figure out when we read these simple statements. Just obeying these exhortations is enough to do for a lifetime. Wherever the Lord calls you, He calls you to this lifestyle. God’s Holy Spirit inspired these words, and He alone gives the power to carry them out. Our part is to believe and act, He will fill us as we do.