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

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The greatest way we can fight sin is with the word of God.  However, we are prone to rely on ourselves and try to handle our struggles all on our own.  Becoming hard-pressed by temptation often leads us to isolate ourselves spiritually, emotionally, and at times physically.  While there are times for great solitude, fighting sin is not one of those times.  In his epistle, James calls us to fight sin together:

Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed.  The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working (James 5:16 ESV).

The writer of Hebrews encourages this type of community as well:

And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near (Hebrews 10:24-25 ESV).

And lastly Paul exhorts us to bear each others burdens in fighting sin:

Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness.  Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.  Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ (Galatians 6:1-2 ESV).

This clip from Planet Earth made me think of what this should look like in our lives.  Let’s fight together the way these otters do! (Start at 2:29 for illustration)

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.