About the church….

The distinguishing “marks” of a true church, i.e., one authenticated by Scripture are 1) Purely preaching and teaching God’s Word and 2) proper administration of the sacraments of baptism and the Lord’s Supper. Does your church preach the Word purely and properly administer the sacraments?

The purposes of the church are threefold:
1. Ministry to God: Worship
2. Ministry to believers: Nurture
3. Ministry to the world: Evangelism and Mercy

All three of these are commanded by the Lord in Scripture. Therefore all three must remain important and none can be neglected. Does your church maintain a careful balance between these purposes?

BEWARE: A church that emphasizes only worship will end up with inadequate bible teaching of believers and its members will remain shallow in their understanding of Scripture and immature in their Christian lives.

A church that places the edification of believers over the other two purposes will produce Christians who know a lot about biblical doctrine but will have spiritual dryness in their lives because they know little of the joy of worshipping God or telling others about Christ.

Similarly, a church that makes evangelism such a priority that it causes the other two purposes to be neglected will also end up with immature Christians who emphasize growth in numbers over genuine love for God in worship, doctrinal maturity and personal holiness in their lives.

*Take a good hard look at your church. If these purposes are kept in balance and the sacraments performed, then it is a church of God. Small doctrinal differences do not give cause to separate.

Re: Spiritual gifts and the cessationist debate. In layman’s terms: cessationists are Christians who believe that certain spiritual gifts were only available during the time of the Apostles and have since “ceased.” These are miraculous gifts, such as tongues plus interpretation, prophecy, healing and the casting out of demons. This has been a devisive issue among protestants. Some adamantly believe in miraculous gifts (such as Pentecostals/Charismatics), while some adamantly disbelieve (cessationists: Reformed and Dispensational Christians). It must be said that a large group of Protestants (mainstream evangelicals) are simply undecided, and are unsure if this question can be decided from Scripture. For me, it is not that complicated. My analysis follows:

Both sides need each other for balance. It is simply not helpful for either side as a whole to think that they cannot learn from each other. The Reformed and Dispensational positions tend to be very strong in understanding Christian doctrine and a have a deep and accurate understanding of the teachings of Scripture. Historically this has been proven. On the other hand, Pentecostals/Charismatics have more practical experience in the use of spiritual gifts and in vitality of worship. As a Reformed Christian who studied in a Pentecostal Seminary, I am a man of both doctrine and practice, I can confidently say that God is Almighty. He can bestow or withhold gifts at any point in history, past, present, future. While logic, experience and history have shown us that spiritual gifts such as tongues and healing have lessoned exponentially since the time of the Apostles, we would be remiss to count them out completely in light of God’s Omnipotence.

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