The Planks of the Faith: Remembering for Re-Membering, Part 22
Good day, Beloved of God!
Before we chow down, please close your eyes and take a deep breath right now. Afterwards, please reconsider if you’ve known it before today but need to know it on a deeper level, or perhaps consider it for the first time, whom “beloved” refers to in the Bible: First to the Son of God (Matthew 17:5) and second to the Sons (and Daughters) of God: Jesus Christ, “the first Beloved” lives in us, “the second beloved” at the point of adult conversion.
“Beloved” is the person who is convicted by the Holy Spirit of God’s holiness, of their own sin, of their need of repentance, and of a Savior for salvation, and a Lord to rule their life. And thereby becomes a Child of God… and not before.
“See what kind of love the Father has given to us (by means of the birth, death, resurrection of the Son), that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know Him. Beloved, we are God’s children NOW (at the point of regeneration, conversion), and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when He (Jesus) appears we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him as He is” (1 John 3:1-2—parenthesis, emphasis added).
Those “running the good race” (2 Timothy 4:7; Acts 20:24; 1 Corinthians 9:25) are Children of God (Romans 8:7; 1 John 11:52), Beloved (1 Peter 4:2; 1 John 2:7), saved for time and eternity (Romans 9:8), saved to serve (James 1:22)… and so much more!
Since we first chewed on “The Holy Catholic Church” when we last supped together, the next several Training Table meals will focus on some vital details about the Obligations, the Marks, the Government, the Order and Discipline of the church.
A “Lighthouse Offering”—Spoken in Truth, Love, and Gross Fallibly… by Me
Lighthouses warn sailors of the dangers of well-traveled yet rocky realms. The level of detail that supports how we can treat the institutional church in our day is voluminous… and not in the least complimentary of the beloved of God: For far too many Christians, being a committed and contributing member of a local church is as optional as fries, slaw, or fruit as a side dish. “Ouch…”, I know. Hang in there…
As referenced above, there are many complex and concomitant factors that contribute to this reality. Please allow me to respectfully offer one that resonates deeply within my own story and with many whom I have known well throughout my life: A previous wound from an authority figure—and a resultant disdain for all authority figures, structures, or “specters”… any known and unknown “ghosts of authority” (emotional responses) of any kind.
I humbly offer this “lighthouse warning” because I believe that much of the abstract (the truth claims) and (especially) the emotional reaction to the upcoming Articles about the church will be motivated by the above “woundedness and disdain for authority” dynamic: Please (tenfold) reconsider, or consider for the first time, that God has instituted the institutional church for The Supernatural Church’s (the beloved’s) GOOD!
The Planks of the Faith: Article 28: The Obligations of Church Members
“We believe that since this (The Holy Catholic Church) holy assembly and congregation is the gathering of those who are saved and there is no salvation apart from it, no one ought to withdraw from it, content to be by himself, regardless of his status or condition.
But all people are obliged to join and unite with it, keeping the unity of the church by submitting to its instruction and discipline, by bending their necks under the yoke of Jesus Christ, and by serving to build up one another, according to the gifts God has given them as members of each other in the same body.
And to preserve this unity more effectively, it is the duty of all believers, according to God’s Word, to separate themselves from those who do not belong to the church, in order to join this assembly wherever God has established it, even if civil authorities and royal decrees forbid and death and physical punishment result.
And so, all who withdraw from the church or do not join it act contrary to God’s ordinance.” (Article 28, The Belgic Confession of Faith, 1561)
Honestly, beloved of God, there are a handful of things we could point to that contribute to a widespread “lukewarmness” (Revelation 3:14-22) of the Western Church, but clearly one of the biggies is the lack of seriousness with which we treat being a people of God who are wholly committed and contributing to a local, Bible-believing, doctrinally-sound, disciple-growing, and redemptively-serving… church.
Next Training Table Feast: Article 29: The Marks of the True Church
May God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit richly bless you and yours as the beloved of God “TODAY…” (Psalm 95:7-8),