September is coming!

Micah 6:8 He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?

As we prepare to enter into our Fall programs, I wanted to touch briefly on my rationale for New Members Classes or our Men’s Study on 1 Timothy beginning September 22nd.

Being made in the image of God is assumed by most believers. However, due to the world’s distaste for pinpointing or calling out actual sin, even believers can fail to grasp the damage sin has wrought in our lives and how our sanctification is so important in restoring that image. “I’m good,” is a common response by Christians, who obviously forgot Jesus’ admonition that only God is good. While God may tell us specifically what is “good” according to his word and will, we have a perverse tendency to use the world’s standards as a yardstick for our morality or what we should “do” as the church. Can you guess why? The simple answer is the world’s way is easier and glorifies us rather than God. Folks may even convince themselves their way is well intended, but our way is clearly not the Lord’s way. This assertion of our will over God’s is sin.

Proper, biblical instruction for church membership and our continued maturation through deeper study then becomes critical to our faith journey.

The Membership Class I am putting on this Saturday morning at 9 am addresses five areas scripture defines as necessary to being part of the body of Christ. These are laid out in Dr. Joel Beeke’s “A Faithful Church Member” booklet. Paramount is our immersion and submission to God’s holy word. Only his word can lead us to Christ, put into perspective who our awesome triune God is, and layout what our duties are to the One who has given us life in its fullness in Jesus. Next, that word clarifies what our union in Christ should look like. Again, God specifies those parameters, not us. We continue by seeing how actual membership is further defined by connectionalism to our brothers and sisters in the faith. If anything, Covid has shown us how absolutely necessary this is. Membership also requires service to others as Christ has so lovingly served us. And our fifth mark is putting in the work to grow in the image of our Savior. Naturally, to do this we must learn to hate sin and actively kill it off in our lives. It means making time to pray – a lot. Our dependence on the Holy Spirit and prayer is a must. Spiritual work of this kind will expose how our fallen nature kicks and screams to not give up on sins we enjoy. None of this is easy, but it is all incontrovertibly laid out in scripture.

Notice this is not about denominationalism, just a wonderfully clear, distilled presentation of what the Lord wants in respect to who we are within the body of his Son. No guesswork is needed.

Our Men’s Study in the Fall is a tool to assist Christian men in actively pursuing the upward way. 1 Timothy is often referred to as a manual for “church organization and practice.” It is that, but more. Paul encourages Timothy in his letter and shows him what living in God’s household should look like. He calls on Timothy to push back against false teachers; he lays out the conduct of men and women during worship; he gives definitive qualifications for elders and deacons; Paul also circumscribes how Timothy should act as minister of the gospel. These guidelines are not for just a rarified few, but should be goals of all men in the church.

When we use true biblical standards for both membership and leadership it becomes obvious we are far from “good.” We then have to acknowledge our total need for Christ and show humility in the completely unmerited grace we have been granted. Only then can we “do justice, and love kindness” because we now know God’s perfect justice and the kindness he has lavished on us in Jesus.

So give me a ring if you need a booklet for Saturday (251-295-4600). And gentlemen, bring your friends as we hike the upward way together for God’s glory in our Fall study. It will be “good” because finding God’s goodness in Christ will be our study’s objective!

In expectation and gratitude,

John