Monday, October 19, 2009

Why do we come together?

I know people come to Sunday worship for a number of reasons. Pressure from loved ones, a sense of obligation, a need to be served, good programs and services etc. However why we come and what we do when we gather says a lot about us.

After the 3000 came to the Lord on Pentecost, the very next verse reads this way: 42 They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles' teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Acts 2:42 (NASB)

We then read: 46 Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart,47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved. Acts 2:46-47 (NASB).

They were of one mind (homothumadon) they had one accord or impulse that drove them to assemble together. Their desires and goals were the same. They praised God for everything and not just the good stuff. They found favor with “all the people” having a God centered drive rather then a world centered drive. They could be seen as helpers of others, they were sincere in what they did, they shared meals and each others burdens (caring for any that had a need).
They also prayed daily as a body and individually. They continually devoted to the teachings of the apostles (Jesus) and their fellowship witnessed to their love for one another. Notice the use of the term breaking bread twice in this chapter. In verse 46 they were breaking bread from house to house. This was the sharing of meals together. But notice in verse 42, they were devoting themselves to “the breaking of bread”. The definite article there tells us this was the Lords Supper and this was done daily in the infant church.

While I think daily partaking of the Lords Supper is not practical in today’s world, I am saddened by the way the Supper has been treated in recent times. Some partake only monthly, while others only once or twice a year. In 1 Cor 11 Paul says “as often as you eat the loaf and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes. This is a public declaration of what price was paid and it was according to Paul to be done often.

I have spoken with some churches that have moved the Lords table off to the side so as not to block the view of the stage where Drama’s and music presentations take place. Others have told me the emblems are in the back and people are free to partake as they leave. I believe we have lowered the place this Supper the Lord instituted and replaced it with entertainment. We make the preacher the star of the show and that is who people come to hear rather then share in the declaration of the Lord’s death until He comes. When people view the Supper as something that has gotten iin the way of why we meet, we need to reevaluate why we meet.

What do you think?

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Preaching and the Pastor/Elder

I once heard someone say, "Our pastor’s (elders) are great shepherds but they really are not good preacher’s". I really did not know how to contain myself (those that know me will understand that statement). That’s like saying he’s a good shepherd but when it comes time to feed the sheep he either feeds them junk or he disappears. The pastor, the shepherd is to preach (feed) his flock with the most nourishing of God’s word.

John MacArthur said this: "the God-ordained means of saving, sanctifying and strengthening His church is preaching. The proclamation of the gospel is what elicts saving faith in those whom God has chosen (Rom 10:14). Through the preaching of the word comes the knowledge of the truth that results in godliness (John 17:17; Rom 16:25; Eph 5:26). Preaching also encourages believers to live in the hope of eternal life, enabling them to endure suffering (Acts 14:21-22). The faithful preaching of Gods word is the most important element of pastoral ministry.

The Apostle Paul told Timothy: 2 Timothy 4:1-4 (NASB)
1 I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: 2 preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction.
3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, 4 and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths.

Those may have been the last words Timothy ever heard from his mentor and Spiritual father. In this Paul set forth the Pastors highest priority. But Paul had instructed Timothy in this earlier as well: 1 Timothy 4:13-14, 16 (NASB) 13 Until I come, give attention to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation and teaching. 14 Do not neglect the spiritual gift within you, which was bestowed on you through prophetic utterance with the laying on of hands by the presbytery…. 16 Pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching; persevere in these things, for as you do this you will ensure salvation both for yourself and for those who hear you.

Paul made it clear that the "elder who rules well is to be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who work hard at preaching and teaching" (1 Tim 5:17). After giving Timothy instructions about relationships between Christians masters and slaves, Paul told Timothy to "teach and preach these principles" (1 Tim 6:2). What Timothy had "heard from [Paul] in the presence of many witnesses, he was to entrust to faithful men who would be able to teach others also" (2 Tim 2:2). So important was this that the Holy Spirit through Paul made sure one qualification of the Pastor/Elder was that he be "able to teach".

Sadly many elders have surrendered this part of their ministry to paid professionals we call ministers or preachers (not found in Gods word). People have come to expect their elders to be a sort of corporate board under the CEO (Minister or Preacher). And since we pay him this is what he is expected to do while the Pastor/Elders do what? Well if it is not feeding the sheep of Christs flock He purchased with His blood, they had better re-examine just what they are doing.

What do you think?