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Reality Check (V)

The day’s second teaching session was taken by Jeff Noblit who preached a message about the duties of church membership. He said “If you do not get this, you do not get anything. And if you get this, you have about everything.” He spoke of our duty to the bride of Christ. We live at a time when church membership means almost nothing. It’s a disgraceful thing almost to challenge people as to their duties to the church. The church is the centerpiece, the foundation of God’s work in the world and He has no plan b.

He spoke from Hebrews 10:24-25 which reads “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”

There were three main points: The exhortation to be about your duty to the church, the motivation as to why we need to be about this duty; the culmination—the end of this duty to the church.

The exhortation to be about your duty to the church - There are two chief words for this point—consider and stimulate. “Consider” means to have your mind attentatively fixed on something. In other words, you must choose to fix your mind on the bride of Christ. You’ll choose to focus here. This is your calling and your responsibility. The word “how” indicates a studying aspect, that you would study the ways you can better serve them. How many of us study our churches so we may know how to serve others? “Stimulate” means to provoke or encourage. The root of this word is the same as “vinegar”—you are to be like a splash of vinegar to these people. The health of the body of Christ and the glory of God depends on people going to church with this intentionality. We are to purpose that we will be a vinegar-like stimulating effect on others mostly through our lives, but also through our mouths when necessary.

The motivation as to why we need to be about this duty - We are to consider how we are to stimulate one another. The Bible is primarily written to churches and not to individuals. Even when it addresses individuals, it is primarily to teach how you can serve within that church family. You need to either accept that and glory in that, or just get right out of the way. We are to focus on the “one anothers”—those of us who are spiritually, miraculously the same through God’s grace. There’s a negative side to this—things that must not occur within the body of Christ. Our motivation must never be to dishonor a brother or sister in Christ; we must never harbor dishonoring thoughts or attitudes towards others. We must always be walking in love. The motivation, then, is that we are all part of one another other as members of the same body.

The culmination—the end of this duty to the church - The author culminates this in the text by saying that we are to do all of this so that God’s love will produce love and good deeds. Love is the primary grace that we should provoke in each other. Sometimes we need others to stir up this love. God has meant for us to be dependent upon other Christians to walk in love and good works. You are not Superman—you must have brothers and sisters in Christ to be the Christian God wants you to be. This should make us want to pray for them and for ourselves. The chief thing that happens is that we should now see the love that God has put in us flowing out of us. This word love indicates a kind of rest—a great rest. Through the merits of Jesus Christ, God is greatly at rest with us—he loves us. The one who apart from Christ would arouse God’s wrath, but through Christ he is at great rest.

We used to bear the image of the earthly and so we loved the earthly. But now we bear the image of the heavenly and so we love the heavenly. There is now a miraculous and even mysterious love for other Christians. All Christians are marked by the image of the heavenly and it draws us together.

There are four marks of this love:

  1. This love is unique to Christians and no one else has it

  2. This love is a delight to God. It delights Him to see this love shared and lived out among us

  3. This love makes us most like God

  4. The love is a fruitful mother. All other graces and all other spiritual works, duties or deeds flow from this love. If it’s not from this love, it’s not of God.

In the final analysis, this love is what most glorifies God. The challenge is to rededicate your life to the bride of Christ, to give yourself to her, and to seek to bring glory to God in this way. You must find a true church and give your life to it.