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Westminster Confession Of Faith – Lord’s Day 43

Westminster Confession Of Faith – Lord’s Day 43

Chapter 26 – Of the Communion of the Saints
I. All saints that are united to Jesus Christ their head, by his Spirit and by faith, have fellowship with him in his graces, sufferings, death, resurrection, and glory: and, being united to one another in love, they have communion in each other’s gifts and graces, and are obliged to the performance of such duties, public and private, as to conduce to their mutual good, both in the inward and outward man.
II. Saints by profession, are bound to maintain an holy fellowship and communion in the worship of God, and in performing such other spiritual services as tend to their mutual edification; as also in relieving each other in outward things, according to their several abilities and necessities. Which communion, as God offers opportunity, is to be extended unto all those who, in every place, call upon the name of the Lord Jesus.
III. This communion which the saints have with Christ, does not make them in any wise partakers of the substance of the Godhead, or to be equal with Christ in any respect: either of which to affirm, is impious and blasphemous. Nor does their communion one with another as saints, take away or infringe the title or property which each man has in his goods and possessions.


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Westminster Confession Of Faith – Lord’s Day 42

Westminster Confession Of Faith – Lord’s Day 42

Chapter 25 – Of the Church Cont. (Paragraphs 4-6)
IV. This catholic Church has been sometimes more, sometimes less, visible. And particular Churches, which are members thereof, are more or less pure, according as the doctrine of the gospel is taught and embraced, ordinances administered, and public worship performed more or less purely in them.
V. The purest Churches under heaven are subject both to mixture and error: and some have so degenerated as to become apparently no Churches of Christ. Nevertheless, there shall be always a Church on earth, to worship God according to his will.
VI. There is no other head of the Church but the Lord Jesus Christ: nor can the Pope of Rome in any sense be head thereof; but is that Antichrist, that man of sin and son of perdition, that exalts himself in the Church against Christ, and all that is called God.


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Revitalising The Adelaide Presbyterian Churches Promotional Video

This promotional video sums up a whole lot of steps that have taken place over the last seven years (or longer) to arrive a point where a new season of hope begins.
The Adelaide Churches Restoration Project.


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Westminster Confession Of Faith – Lord’s Day 41

Westminster Confession Of Faith – Lord’s Day 41

Chapter 25 – Of the Church (Paragraphs 1-3)
I. The catholic or universal Church, which is invisible, consists of the whole number of the elect, that have been, are, or shall be gathered into one, under Christ the head thereof; and is the spouse, the body, the fullness of Him that fills all in all.
II. The visible Church, which is also catholic or universal under the gospel (not confined to one nation as before under the law), consists of all those throughout the world that profess the true religion, and their children; and is the Kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ; the house and family of God, out of which there is nor ordinary possibility of salvation.
III. Unto this catholic and visible Church, Christ has given the ministry, oracles, and ordinances of God, for the gathering and perfecting of the saints, in this life, to the end of the world; and does by his own presence and Spirit, according to his promise, make them effectual thereunto.


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Liturgy For The Non-Liturgical Christian (via Stephen McAlpine)

Watch someone with a completely scripted contemporary order of service maintain they’re non-liturgical.
Stephen McAlpine bounces off the observation that all churches have a liturgy of some sort or another, the issue is whether it conveys the reality of the Kingdom of God or is shaped as a pastiche that reflects the Kingdom of the world.
This isn’t a matter of old-fashioned or new-fashioned. It’s a matter of intent and content.
McAlpine states that good liturgy serves as a means for Christians to be re-stored and re-storied.

A sample:

Self-conscious and faithful liturgy re-stories us. We gather to hear that we are in a different story to the stories that we have been plied with all week long. We gather to hear the story that begins in a Garden and ends in a City and that has a vision of the good life and of flourishing centred around the worship of the Lamb, not the worship of the self.
Good liturgy walks us through that story. Not all of it every week. But enough of it over time that we gradually can become impervious to the alternate stories of sex, power and money that are constantly reinventing and re-presenting themselves to us in various guises. Good, self-conscious liturgy is not the sum total of what we do when we gather in various formats as church, indeed it would be strange if it were, but it must the planet at the centre that pulls everything else we do into planetary alignment.
Good liturgy becomes embedded in us so that when those lies come to us as truths, the sheer weight of the truth in us casts them aside, and we find ourselves living liturgically in the gospel due to the sheer length of time we have spent proclaiming true liturgy. Good liturgy doesn’t pretend to be all of our worship, it simply prepares us for a life of worship that is directed towards what is worthy of our worship. Good liturgy sends us out after gathering us in with a clearer sense of the story.
The decision by many churches to cut liturgy at just the time the cultural liturgies were ramping up in energy, was to the church what uni-lateral disarmament was to politics in the 1970s and 1980s.
Both are suicidal and naive.

Read the whole post at Stephen McAlpine.


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Overcommitted Churches (via Thom Rainer)

Thom Rainer writes about how churches can find themselves with so many programs and activities that they become ineffective at discipling Christians and sharing the Gospel.

From Rainer’s post:

So how did our churches get in this predicament? The causes are many, but here are seven of them:

  1. Our churches equate activity with value. Thus busy churches are deemed to be churches of value. And busy, exhausted, and frustrated church members are deemed to be Christians of value.
  2. Programs and ministries became ends instead of means. I recently asked a pastor why he continued a ministry that had dwindled from 220 participants to 23 participants. “Because,” he said, “this program is a part of the history and heritage that defines our church.” Warning: If a program defines your church, your church is in trouble.
  3. Failure of churches to have a clear purpose. Even the best of churches can only do so many things well. Once a church has no clear and defining purpose, it has no reason to start or discontinue a program or ministry. That issue then leads to the next two reasons.
  4. Church leaders have failed to say “no.” Some church leaders can’t say “no” to new programs and ministries because they have no clear or defining purpose on what they should do. Others leaders simply lack courage to say “no.”
  5. Fear of eliminating. Once a program, ministry, or activity has begun, it can be exceedingly difficult to let it die. Sometimes leaders lack courage to kill programs. Sometimes they are blinded to the need to kill programs. Sometimes they hesitate to kill a program because they don’t know a better alternative. We need more churches in the program killing business.
  6. Church is often defined as an address. As long as we think “church” means a physical location, we will try to load up that address with all kinds of busyness. Many churches are ineffective at reaching their communities because their members are so busy at the building they call the church. That’s both bad ecclesiology and bad missiology.
  7. Churches often try to compete with culture rather than reach culture. A church in the deep South had a dynamic basketball ministry where they fielded community basketball teams comprised of church members and non-believers. But once the church built its own gym and recreation center, the church members started spending all their time playing at their new facility. In an attempt to have a gym as good as those in the community, the church ironically became less effective reaching those in the community.

Read the whole post at Rainer’s blog, which also promises a follow-up which deals with churches that have de-programmed and become more effective.


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Why Tradition Is Good And Why Traditionalism Is Not Good (via Chuck Swindoll)

Chuck Lawless quotes Chuck Swindoll:

Why tradition is good:

  1. It honors God for what He has done. Tradition, by definition, is tied to the past. Ideally, though, it focuses on God and what He has done, not on what we used to do in the church. Healthy tradition is concerned about glorifying God only.
  2. It celebrates the past while pressing toward the future. There’s nothing wrong with celebrating yesterday as long as that rejoicing encourages us to move into the future. My first church had an annual homecoming service that retold God’s work to encourage us to capture God’s vision for tomorrow—and that’s a good kind of tradition.
  3. It grounds next generations in the work of God. Tradition is good when it helps next generations appreciate what God has done through His people in the past. For example, the Hebrews marked places where God worked so their children and grandchildren could know His care and guidance (e.g., Joshua 4).
  4. It offers wisdom when making change. Sometimes, the traditions of a church cause leaders to carefully and prayerfully consider options before making a change. That’s not a bad thing.
  5. It evokes gratitude and unity. Because it celebrates God’s work in the past as a means of faith for the future, our response ought to be thanksgiving as the family of God.

Why traditionalism is not good:

  1. It emphasizes what we (or others) have done more than what God has done. Traditionalism fights to save traditions, but the traditions are what we’ve done . . . what our forefathers did . . . what our denomination has “always” done. It assumes that our preferences are God’s commands.
  2. It elevates the past over the future. Traditionalism is protective and reactive. It guards yesterday’s turf at the expense of making a difference today and tomorrow. It fears the future more than it influences it.
  3. It hinders reaching the next generations. Traditionalism assumes that almost anything new is a threat to the gospel, even if the gospel itself is never compromised. It requires young generations to become us if they want to follow God.
  4. It blocks making necessary change. Traditionalism fights change, often without honest consideration of the options. It doesn’t inform change like tradition does; it obstructs it.
  5. It leads to division. Traditionalism is elevating tradition to the level of commandment as if it equals the gospel. The emotion behind such a position usually creates conflict and disunity.

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