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Tag: NT Assemblies

Who Killed The Bible Reading?

Believers that seek to meet according to the New Testament pattern for assembly gathering have been blessed with a long succession of gifted teachers over the past one hundred and eighty years. Men like John Nelson Darby, William Kelly, C.A. Coates, Henry Soltau, Edward Dennett, John Gifford Bellett, Frederick W. Grant, and Charles Henry Mackintosh helped their own generation, as well as subsequent generations through their spiritually sound writings. Many of their works originated in public “conversational Bible readings” that were held throughout the English-speaking world. These meetings consisted of a gifted brother leading the study, coupled with the contributions of other exercised brethren. The study leader would typically introduce the passage to be studied, and then allow time for questions and comments by other Christians. While there are many other viable formats for corporate Bible studies, this method allows for different believers to exercise their gifts (in keeping with the spirit of passages like 1 Cor.14:26-35.) Furthermore, it generates interesting and edifying discussion, bringing out the many faceted depth of the scriptures. Bible readings were once a fixture in the meetings of God’s assemblies throughout North America. In recent times, however, many assemblies have abandoned them in favor of regular preaching services. While these preaching meetings are biblical and valuable, it is the author’s firm conviction that there is still a valid place for the Bible reading in our gatherings.

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The Indispensable Widows

If one were asked to make up a list of the most important people in our world today, the names would probably be culled from the ranks of the famous statesmen and policy makers in the various regimes of the globe. Doubtless, numerous brilliant scientists and scholars would be listed among the ranks of the great; other people would include immensely talented artists, writers, and musicians. Still others would discuss great business leaders, who help shape the economies of the world. On such a list of the ‘Who’s who’, would we find people who are commonly called widows? Striking a bit closer to home, would we choose to build a new assembly around a core group of widows? Most church planters would probably prefer to begin a new local testimony with young individuals or couples, and there is nothing intrinsically wrong with such a desire. Nevertheless, it is important to remember that the assembly has a desperately needed role for the widows to play. They are especially useful to God, and need to exercise their ministry among His people.

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The Search For Talent

Recently the British newsmagazine The Economist ran a major story on the difficulty of finding “talent” in the business sector. With the technological advancements of the past twenty years, the need for science-savvy employees has exploded. What is more, middle and upper management is suffering from a dearth of creative minds. As the world scene becomes more economically interdependent, companies are scrambling to find dependable and capable workers to perform the skilled and innovative tasks that fuel mercantile growth. The need is so pressing, that among large American firms, the human resources manager is frequently among the highest paid executives. Similarly, the Church is in dire need of many spiritually talented people to step forward for service to the Lord.

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Proper Body Function

Most people take their physical and mental well-being for granted. Until there is a problem, we seldom think about ordinary tasks like putting on our clothes, brushing our teeth, or feeding ourselves. It is only when there is a health crisis that we become mindful of how wonderfully made we really are. Recently my father suffered two “mini-strokes,” which had debilitating effects on his health and movements. (Calling them “mini-strokes” reminds me of a cynical definition I once heard for the phrase “minor surgery”: Minor surgery is surgery performed on someone other than the person dubbing it “minor.” Whoever prefixed the term “stroke” with “mini” obviously never had one!) In all seriousness, the strokes could have been much worse. By the grace of God my father retains his faculties and has an excellent prognosis to recover most, if not all, of his normal abilities. In viewing the aftermath of this episode, it has turned my thoughts toward the common biblical metaphor of the Church as the Body of Christ.

The brain is an amazingly complex thing. It is more sophisticated than any computer that man has developed, and scientists are still probing its mysterious workings. It is capable of doing an astonishing array of tasks and is involved in all of the intricate workings of the human body. When a clot or arterial blockage cuts off the flow of blood to the brain, however, severe repercussions follow for this multifaceted organ. Due to brain damage, what had been easy tasks suddenly become difficult or nearly impossible. As traumatic as this is in the human physical body, this can happen to “the Church which is His Body” as well.

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Why Be Interested In The Lord’s Supper?

The modern landscape in Christendom presents a wide variety of churches. Some of them bear little resemblance to the character or teachings of the biblical Christ. Many others, however, hold to the major “fundamentals of the faith,” believing that Christ is God, the only Savior, & that He will return one day. It is not difficult in North America to find congregations that believe in the saving power of the Lord Jesus by grace through faith alone. Many of these groups aggressively evangelize by a variety of methods. Furthermore, the majority of them believe in imparting sound principles for Christian living, the family, and other ethical issues. They are morally and doctrinally conservative, and genuinely praise God for their standing in Christ. Given that so many of these fundamental churches are similar in doctrine and practice, how is one to choose where they should attend?

While many churches preach the true Gospel and uphold the major doctrines of biblical Christianity, very few hold to the New Testament pattern for government and weekly function. The one-pastor system, absence of biblically operating elders, lack of opportunity for the functioning of the gifts within the church and other nonscriptural innovations all contribute to the local meeting of saints falling short of God’s intention for it. Often times, believers who meet in local churches that try to follow the New Testament way of gathering find themselves on the defensive when conversing with brothers and sisters in more mainstream congregations. Rather than major on modern, unscriptural corruptions of the biblical blueprint, it would be more constructive to focus on the beauty of New Testament principles themselves. Chief among these distinctives must be the remembrance feast, known by the biblical name “the Lord’s Supper.”

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Why Be Interested In The Lord's Supper?

The modern landscape in Christendom presents a wide variety of churches. Some of them bear little resemblance to the character or teachings of the biblical Christ. Many others, however, hold to the major “fundamentals of the faith,” believing that Christ is God, the only Savior, & that He will return one day. It is not difficult in North America to find congregations that believe in the saving power of the Lord Jesus by grace through faith alone. Many of these groups aggressively evangelize by a variety of methods. Furthermore, the majority of them believe in imparting sound principles for Christian living, the family, and other ethical issues. They are morally and doctrinally conservative, and genuinely praise God for their standing in Christ. Given that so many of these fundamental churches are similar in doctrine and practice, how is one to choose where they should attend?
While many churches preach the true Gospel and uphold the major doctrines of biblical Christianity, very few hold to the New Testament pattern for government and weekly function. The one-pastor system, absence of biblically operating elders, lack of opportunity for the functioning of the gifts within the church and other nonscriptural innovations all contribute to the local meeting of saints falling short of God’s intention for it. Often times, believers who meet in local churches that try to follow the New Testament way of gathering find themselves on the defensive when conversing with brothers and sisters in more mainstream congregations. Rather than major on modern, unscriptural corruptions of the biblical blueprint, it would be more constructive to focus on the beauty of New Testament principles themselves. Chief among these distinctives must be the remembrance feast, known by the biblical name “the Lord’s Supper.”
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Commission Minded Assemblies

From the beginning of Creation God has disclosed Himself to mankind. He wants to manifest Himself to the world, even if humans are unwilling to hear from Him. The Christian faith is the capstone of the Almighty’s revelation to His creatures. In engaging in missions, the Church shares in the Lord’s commitment to reach the world with the Gospel. There are numerous benefits to local churches when they are involved in foreign missionary endeavour. Believers profit from these activities, for in supporting the witness of Christ worldwide, they enjoy greater unity of purpose, dependence on the Holy Spirit, and love for the lost.

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