I Belong (8): The Necessity & Blessing of Local Church Membership (Part 3)

How about we quickly pick up where we left off last time. Last week, we unpacked the first part of Article 28 of the Belgic Confession with points 1-10. Today we’ll continue with points 11-20. And as a reminder, these points help clarify for us what true faith and unbelief look like practically in everyday life. These points help us know what to repent from and how to obey Christ by faith. We are inclined to withdraw from the church, so we need God’s grace to help us repent, believe, and...

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I Belong (7): The Necessity & Blessing of Local Church Membership (Part 2)

Your church is God’s gracious gift to you. It’s flawed, but hopefully, it bears the marks of a true church, and you’re grateful for it (BC Article 29). Why don’t you thank the Lord for your church right now?   Last time I read Article 28 of the Belgic Confession. You can find the Belgic Confession at threeforms.org. Article 28 explains the necessity and blessing of belonging to a local church. I’d like to unpack the article in an affirmations and denials type of format. I’ll...

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I Belong (6): The Necessity & Blessing of Local Church Membership (Part 1)

Perhaps unlike any time in history, many professing Christians today are entirely comfortable attending a local church perpetually without ever intending to belong to that body of believers. To be clear, I’m not talking about that period of time when people look for a law and gospel church, a period of time that should be as short as is prudent and should conclude with membership. I’m talking about perpetual dating without the intent to marry. I’m talking about people who attend a church...

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I Belong (5): Comfort in the Visible Church

Church. Think about that word. Church. What is it? What does it mean? Does it refer to a building where people meet to worship God? Does it signify the public worship of God? Does it mean the one organized and global body of believers prior to the Reformation? Does it represent the elders or leadership of a particular body of believers? Is it a verb describing the process of teaching and discipling unbelievers? I think it’s safe to say the word church means different things in different...

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I Belong (4): The Beauty of the Church’s Ethnic Diversity

I absolutely love ethnic food. I love Ethiopian, Mexican, Thai, Trinidadian, Chinese, Greek, Italian; oh my, there are so many excellent spices and tastes from around the world and so little time . . . and money. American food tends to be bland, but thankfully, as the melting pot of the world, many countries are represented in the US which makes choosing a restaurant much more interesting.   What if food all tasted the same? Imagine everything tasting like white rice. I adore white...

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I Belong (3): Belonging to One Another

Think about your body – bones and muscles, brain and spinal cord, heart and arteries, white blood cells and lymph nodes, and all the rest. Your body was fearfully and wonderfully made, and each part contributes to your well-being (Ps. 139:14). Think about your right big toe. Not the most glamorous part of your body, but it’s great. Your big toe bears much weight and helps maintain your balance. Walking, gymnastics, and skateboarding are thrilling in part because of big toes...

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I Belong (2): A Church from the Beginning

Christ’s church is a beautiful and wonderful thing. The very concept and existence of Christ’s church is hopeful and comforting. Why would I say that? How could the church’s existence give us hope and comfort? Let me explain. The covenant of works was clearly defined from the beginning: “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die” (Gen. 2:16–17). The...

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I Belong (1): Belonging to Christ Is Paramount

Years ago, another elder and I met with a couple in their home to talk about their church membership. They were members of our church but did not attend corporate worship with us. In fact, I don’t think they’d joined us for corporate worship in years. They were essentially strangers. When meeting with this couple, the husband seemed disinterested in our church and church in general. I don’t think he believed he needed a local church, and he didn’t show any desire to be an active part...

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Keep the Sabbath Holy & Be Greatly Blessed (HC LD 38, QA 103)  

Is there any part of God’s moral law more misunderstood or ignored by Christians than the fourth commandment? Maybe the second or the seventh, but it is evident that the fourth commandment has fallen on hard times among many Christians. In fact, the fourth commandment is so misunderstood that people continue to confess Christ and claim to follow him while they unashamedly continue to disobey the fourth missing its goodness. They assume they can have deep intimacy with God apart from obedience...

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Are the Anabaptists Right about Swearing Oaths (HC LD 37, QA 101-102)?

I grew up in the Mennonite Church, and for Mennonites, oaths are a no-no. You simply don’t swear oaths. As a kid, I remember feeling a bit nervous about the possibility of needing to go to court and standing up against the hand on the Bible part. What would I do? By law, Anabaptists are not required to swear oaths in court. They can simply give legal affirmations which are defined as follows: In law, an affirmation is a solemn declaration allowed to those who conscientiously object to...

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