Hope Reflected

Encouragement and Hope from God's Word

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Friday

16

February 2018

Hope Reflected | Understanding the characteristics of a solid church

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“Worship is no longer worship when it reflects the culture around us more than the Christ within us.” A.W. Tozer | Characteristics of a solid church | See more at hopereflected.com

Understanding the characteristics of a solid church

After last week’s column, a few readers suggested that perhaps just as important as going to church is that the church that you’re going to needs to be a solid church.

So what makes a solid church?

There are several characteristics. A solid church is so much more than a bricks-and-mortar building. A solid church is about the people attending, and more than that, that the people attending are all joining together for the same purpose – to worship God, and to proclaim the Gospel, that Jesus Christ died on the cross for our sins and was raised from the dead, so that we might not perish but have everlasting life. (John 3:16)

If you’ve been looking for a church, or contemplating what kind of church you should be attending, here are a few indications of a solid church.

A solid church speaks the truth. “For we are not as many, which corrupt the word of God: but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ.” (2 Corinthians 2:17) A solid church is one that believes that the Bible is the divinely inspired – and complete – Word of God. What is the truth? The Bible. A solid church speaks the truth. “He who speaks truth tells what is right, but a false witness, deceit.” (Proverbs 12:17) God’s Word is faithful and true (Revelation 22:6) and that’s what you’ll find in a solid church.

A solid church challenges and inspires growth. “…from who the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.” (Ephesians 4:16) A solid church isn’t just a place where you go to feel good about yourself – no, a solid church is about much more than just “feeling”. Beyond any emotion, a solid church will challenge you through speaking the truth, and inspire growth.. “A wise man will hear and increase in learning. And a man of understanding will acquire wise counsel.” (Proverbs 1:5) A solid church is place where Christians can seek “wise counsel” and grow in their faith. And as Matthew Henry said, “The Christian’s growth tends to the glory of Christ.”

A solid church provides comfort. “For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day.” (2 Corinthians 4:16) A solid church is a place that provides comfort and renewal. As much as it’s meant to challenge Christians, the church is also meant to be a place where believers can have fellowship one with another. Through fellowship, and the preaching of God’s Word, we can find comfort and renewal. You may be familiar with Proverbs 16:24, which tells us that, “Pleasant words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the bones.” A solid church provides comfort through fellowship with other Christians.

A solid church isn’t trying to look like the world, to remove the Cross, or to provide entertainment for the masses. As Tozer said, “Worship is no longer worship when it reflects the culture around us more than the Christ within us.” A solid church speaks the truth, challenges and inspires growth, and provides comfort. It also encourages Christians to serve humbly, to live by faith, and to grow closer to our Lord.

Originally published as “Understanding the characteristics of a solid church.” Minto Express, Independent Plus, Arthur Enterprise-News, Mount Forest Confederate. November 30, 2017: 7. Print. Web.

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Tuesday

30

January 2018

Hope Reflected | The Church

Written by , Posted in Christian Living, Published Work

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“Church attendance is as vital to a disciple as a transfusion of rich, healthy blood to a sick man.” D.L. Moody | See more at hopereflected.com

The Church

Many Hope Reflected readers grew in a home where Sundays were made for going to church. I can remember as a child one Sunday in particular. I was about four years old, was wearing my favourite purple dress, and I was thirsty (think crawling through the Sahara desert and longing for a drop of water thirsty). I was trying to figure out a way to strategically squeeze out from between my parents and get out to the water fountain for a drink. As I was devising my plan, the pastor asked passionately, “Is anybody thirsty?!” and I immediately thought he was directing his question at me. “Yes!” I called out, “I am!” Of course, my outburst got a lot of laughs from the congregation, and eventually I really did get a drink.

More than an obligation or a ritual, there are so many reasons why going to church is important. A key part of our Faith, going to church can help each of us grow in several ways.

Going to church allows us a time for personal inventory and reflection. “Let us search out and examine our ways, and turn back to the LORD.” (Lamentations 3:40) One thing I love about being part of the Bible Chapel, is that during communion, we’re afforded the opportunity to reflect on what our Lord has done for us. 1 Corinthians 11:28 says, “But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup.” Just as much as church is a time for fellowship with other Christian believers, church is also a time for personal inventory and reflection. Through communion, Sunday sermons, Bible studies, and prayer, church provides an excellent opportunity to look at our own lives and look to the Lord. “I considered my ways and turned my feet to your testimonies.” (Psalm 119:59)

Going to church cultivates our character. “Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God.” (Philippians 1:11) Going to church helps to cultivate character. When you’re being taught truth from a Biblical perspective, and as you learn to discern the difference between right and wrong, your character will grow. Being part of a solid church will help to develop and deepen your relationship with God, and will strengthen your character.

Going to church means being part of a family. “Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God.” (Ephesians 2:19) Even if your home life isn’t great, you can still be at home in the house of Christ. When you belong to a solid church, you’re part of an even greater family – God’s family. Jesus points out in Matthew 12:48, “Who is my mother, and who are my brethren?” He wasn’t questioning who his mother and his brothers actually were, He was merely pointing out the importance of our relations in a spiritual sense. Matthew Henry said in his commentary, “let us look upon every Christian, in whatever condition of life, as the brother, sister, or mother of the Lord of glory; let us love, respect, and be kind to them, for His sake, and after His example.”

Going to church is about so much more than going through the motions. When you’re part of a solid church, you will be challenged, cherished, comforted, and more. As the evangelist Dwight L. Moody said, “Church attendance is as vital to a disciple as a transfusion of rich, healthy blood to a sick man.”

Originally published as “The Church.” Minto Express, Independent Plus, Arthur Enterprise-News, Mount Forest Confederate. November 16, 2017: 7. Print. Web.

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