Church was a feast today, as it is every week of course! Yet the fare served by the Lord this Sunday morn was particularly sumptuous (how pompous do I sound?).
After the Lord's Supper, we were treated to John Thomson (former elder and the best lay preacher I've ever heard bar none) continuing our series on 'church matters'. His focus was on the central place that the PREACHED Word of God must have in our solemn assemblies. He pointed to Ephesians 4:
11And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, 14so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. 15Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love. (ESV)
Some thoughts in summary:
1. The gifts Christ gave to His church for edification are ONLY Word based gifts. Only by the Word preached will the church reach maturity and have the necessary equipment for 'the work of ministry'.
2. People like to force an antithesis between preaching and praxis, between love and theology. There is no such dichotomy here. The focus is preaching FOR praxis.
3. We are in a spiritual war. Satan is desperate to silence the voice of God. So those who want to sideline the Word in the worship service to replace it with anything i.e. praise, puppets or plays are unwittingly doing Lucifer's dark work. We only get around an hour and a quarter teaching on a Sunday. This is to help sustain us against the constant barrage of the counsel of the ungodly (through TV, conversations, etc). An hour and a freakin' quarter!, and some wish to cut it back? Check yourself before you wreck yourself.
4. We ought to be suspicious of our motives if we want to constantly sing about how much we love God, yet have little interest in hearing him speak to us.
5. The purpose of preaching and teaching is to create a church of mini-pastor/teachers, who constantly build one another up in love, as we teach and admonish one another with Psalms, hymns and songs from the Spirit.
6. The ONLY skill Paul requires of elders is that they be apt to teach. Not that they be skilled with finger puppets, good with a guitar or whatever. The job of elder is to minister God's word, period.
Watch out for a link to the sermon on the blog shortly. You won't hear much better stuff anywhere on the web.
Bless God for John Thomson. Would that there was more like him.