Malachi is a book about corruption and justice. Corruption still lives today as we find ourselves standing on the brink of forgetting the final covenant between God and mankind. We must learn from the last precipice as the prophet of a dying age leaned over his own Nebo to glimpse the coming Messiah. Today’s church still needs Malachi. Your church still needs Malachi.
Schism is a scary, serious word. We often think of a schismatic as someone who has caused a split in a denomination over a hot topic issue or walked away from the church entirely, and these never include ourselves. But John Owen’s teaching on schism reminds us that schism can be much less dramatic than this and thus much easier to fall into without realizing it.
Founded in 1652, the New Park Street Chapel had been around for over 200 years when they called 19-year-old Charles Spurgeon to be their pastor in 1854. Like many other churches, this historic Baptist church went through many ups and downs throughout its long history. Reflecting on those pastoral transitions, Spurgeon shares nine lessons for pastors and church leaders to consider as they prepare their churches for the next pastor.
It was a clear and hot Sunday for October in Southwest Missouri. The doors of Stotts City Baptist Church opened to invite a breeze as the temperature climbed to 88 degrees outside. Inside, a fervor of God brought another kind of warmth that was unique to such a small outpost in God’s Kingdom. A young father had surrendered to a call to preach, and the church body rallied to recognize and endorse this divine appointment.
Before he was the pastor of the largest of church in London, president of the Pastors’ College, founder of an orphanage and dozens of other charitable institutions, and read by people from all over the world, C. H. Spurgeon pastored a small Baptist church in the village of Waterbeach, about five miles outside of Cambridge. At that time, few could have predicted what was to come. And yet, God used his faithful ministry to bring about a transformation to that village during his short time there.
No one enjoys conducting or receiving church discipline. At best, it’s awkward, and if there is no repentance, it can be devastating for individuals and families. The difficulty of addressing these situations can cause believers to shy away from initiating discipline. Yet, this must not stop believers from properly addressing sin in the church. One way to take back your courage is to remember that discipline is not an unloving thing to do, but the most loving thing to do, both for those who have sinned, and those who have been affected by their sin. In fact, there is such a close connection between discipline and love that John Owen lists love as a main purpose of discipline in his Inquiry Concerning Evangelical Churches.
Prior to his conversion, Martin Luther wrestled with the reality of sin in his life. Luther devoted himself to the Roman Catholic system of good works in order to appease his sinful conscience, but none of those works ever satisfied his guilty conscience. Only when he discovered Paul’s teaching of justification by faith, did he discover “the gate of heaven” and receive the grace of God that is found in Jesus Christ. He would devote the rest of his life to proclaiming this good news that justification is to be received by faith alone.
But Luther’s message was not limited simply to preaching about God’s free grace in Christ. Luther understood that before justification by faith made sense, one also had to embrace Scripture’s teaching regarding sin. While Luther experienced deep conviction of his own sin, he knew that not everyone shared his experience or sensitive conscience. Therefore, the acknowledgment of sin could not ultimately be rooted in subjective experience. Rather, like justification, our sinfulness also has to be received by faith based on God’s Word.
Let Dietrich Bonhoeffer help you frame out a general way to pray daily. In the morning, prayers of praise. At noon, prayers for strength. In the evening, prayers for needs. You can do this individually, but also alongside others, whether family, colleagues, or friends. Either way, this three-fold approach to prayer can help you become a person who prays without ceasing.
The value of the Kingdom of God is unparalleled in these two short parables of Jesus. Here are some brief illustrations and quotes that will help reinforce the priceless treasure Jesus offers you and me.