John Piper’s sermon from this past weekend is awesome.  He really gets at the heart of the issues involved.  Here’s an excerpt:

So you see where this leads us: As a member of this church, you can be wrong on election, wrong on the power of sin, wrong on the extent of atonement, wrong on the power of grace, wrong on perseverance, and wrong on the sovereignty of God—but you can’t be wrong on baptism. Perhaps that’s the way it should be because of the uniqueness of baptism in its one-time, unrepeatable dramatization of Christian conversion. Or perhaps there should be membership not just for those who don’t fully understand and follow the doctrines of grace, but also for those who don’t fully understand and follow the doctrine of baptism.

This is part of a three part series.  Here’s the link to David Mathis’s summary.  I encourage everyone to check it out.  After listening to this I think the Lord has given me a go ahead to join a local PCA church that I have been attending for some time with a clear conscience even though I disagree with the way they administer baptism.  I praise God for being so faithful to answer my pleas for wisdom.

For anyone interested, a blog-debate (or conversation for those of you who bristle at the word debate) that took place last summer involving Piper, Wayne Grudem, Mark Dever, Sam Storms and others.  Justin Taylor summarized the whole exchange if you’d like to check it out.  This is what got me started thinking about everything over a year ago and I’m excited to have more of an idea where I am on this issue.  I may post in the near future describing my own experience in more detail.  Stay tuned 🙂

P.S.  The end of this message is so encouraging, the way that Piper humbles himself and shares a need for growth for himself and for his church.  It’s incredible to see how his theological convictions are so rooted in real life.

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From here on if I’m plugging a sermon, article, book, etc. that does a particularly excellent job at Making It (some aspect of the Gospel or it’s implications) Clear, I’m going to denote that with a “Wow Rating” from here on just “WOW.”  I may come up with other expressions for things I plug, but are not max caliber, but we’ll start here.

So the first WOW goes to John Piper for the sermon he preached this past Sunday on Church Membership.  They are beginning a series on this topic and it’s connection with Baptism (God is so hilarious in his sovereignty, I’ve been craving more answers on this exact combination of subjects) at Bethlehem Baptist Church and this first sermon is about why churches should have membership at all.  I have come away almost completely convinced of the biblical reality of church membership, and greatly encouraged to think and pray more about this subject with direction.  Here’s David Mathis’s description from the DG blog.

HT: Desiring God Blog

I’ve been reading a lot about the local church lately and can’t help but find the term itself a bit comical, though I agree it’s an important concept.  The reason I chuckle is that I personally drive past over a dozen churches no more than a block off the main road I take on my way to church in the morning.  I am sure I am passing brothers driving the opposite direction to worship at those other churches…what if we could scrap it all and start over?  Could we allocate Christians from the same neighborhoods, workplaces, schools, etc. so that they can more easily do ministry in these aforementioned places?  To make it happen would we be willing to make compromises on tertiary issues of music availability, building designs, preaching styles, etc.?  How about secondary issues involving non-essential doctrine and ordinances/sacraments?  Is it better that church is so democratized for us today?  Or is it preventing us from really practicing Eph 4:1-6?  Comments are always welcome.  Happy Lord’s Day!

If you’re like me and you’ve had questions about whether or not it’s imortant to become a member of a church, then I have found a message you really need to listen to.  It’s a message by Mark Dever called, “Membership and Congregationalism,” and it is the best resource I’ve come across on the subject so far.  I found it on the new Gospel Coalition’s website.  I have been wrestling with this subject a lot, and will probably share more thougths later, but Ifound this message to be very helpful.  I’ve been reading Josh Harris’s Stop Dating the Church, which has been helpful too.  Dever does a really great job making a clear, succinct argument that is very grounded biblically.  Check it out.

Also, check out the Gospel Coalition‘s new website.  They have an awesome collection of audio.  The bummer is that it’s not all free, but there is a lot of free stuff, and the contributors are second to none.