Devoted to God’s Church: Core Values for Christian Fellowship by Sinclair B. Ferguson. Banner of Truth Trust. 200 pages. 2020
This book, by respected theologian Sinclair Ferguson, is about what it means for Christians to be members of a church. Some wonder if it is important to be members of a church. This would be a good book to read to help address that question. The author tells us that being a Christian, by definition, involves belonging to the church—and that, in turn, means belonging to a particular church.
Ferguson tells us that family is what the church is. Through faith in Christ, we become members of his family, and when we become church members, we are saying ‘I too am a disciple of Jesus.’
Among the topics covered in the book are church membership, worship, discipleship, baptism and the Lord’s Supper, prayer, service, witness, and evangelism.
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Ferguson tells us that at the end of the day this is what it means to belong to a church:
- To be part of a fellowship that worships and serves locally, but whose vision stretches to the ends of the earth and to the end of history.
- To be part of the family of Christ in which brothers and sisters are united in faith and hope and love.
He writes that it is the greatest privilege in the world to believe in Christ and to belong to his people.
Below are 15 of my favorite quotes from the book:
- Salvation is free, but it leads to a discipleship that will cost you everything you have.
- The whole Christian life involves an ever-repeated cycle of discovering fresh layers of sin to be dealt with and fresh supplies of forgiveness and cleansing.
- God never leaves us in church in the same condition in which he found us when we came to worship.
- Baptism summons us to live the whole of our lives in relation to the Name that has been written on us in water.
- The sign of baptism proclaims the gospel to us; it points us to Christ and all that faith receives from him.
- We praise God because he is great and glorious, we pray to him because we are weak and in need.
- Unless we see prayer as work, we may never get round to including it in our schedule as a basic discipline in our lives. It will be treated as an optional extra.
- Prayerlessness is a kind of practical atheism.
- To be a Christian, then, to belong to the church, means to be willing and eager to serve, and then actually to serve.
- The most important fact to know about the Lord’s Supper is that Jesus Christ himself is present with us when we receive the bread and wine from the table.
- It (the Lord’s Supper) is a foretaste of what is yet to come. The invisible presence of Christ with us assures us of the glory that his visible presence will bring.
- Obedient Christians, faithful church members are therefore, by definition, witnesses.
- Our witness to the world is seen in both word and action.
- Evangelism therefore needs to be seen as a corporate activity in which each member of the entire church family has a role to play.
- Obedience is the only way to maximize your life for Jesus Christ.
- Read Like a Christian: Five Principles for What and How. Samuel James commends five principles that can help and challenge us to read like a Christian.
- My Book Reviews. Read more than 460 of my book reviews on Goodreads.
- Study, Savor and Share Scripture: Becoming What We Behold. My wife Tammy has published a book about HOW to study the Bible. The book is available on Amazon in both a Kindle and paperback edition. She writes “Maybe you have read the Bible but want to dig deeper and know God and know yourself better. Throughout the book I use the analogy of making a quilt to show how the Bible is telling one big story about what God is doing in the world through Christ. Quilting takes much patience and precision, just like studying the Bible, but the end result is well worth it.
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We are reading through Truths We Confess: A Systematic Exposition of the Westminster Confession of Faith by R.C. Sproul. From the Ligonier description:
“The Westminster Confession of Faith is one of the most precise and comprehensive statements of biblical Christianity, and it is treasured by believers around the world. R.C. Sproul has called it one of the most important confessions of faith ever penned, and it has helped generations of Christians understand and defend what they believe.
In Truths We Confess, Dr. Sproul introduces readers to this remarkable confession, explaining its insights and applying them to modern life. In his signature easy-to-understand style and with his conviction that everyone’s a theologian, he provides valuable commentary that will serve churches and individual Christians as they strive to better understand the eternal truths of Scripture. As he walks through the confession line by line, Dr. Sproul shows how the doctrines of the Bible—from creation to covenant, sin to salvation—fit together to the glory of God. This accessible volume is designed to help you deepen your knowledge of God’s Word and answer the question, What do you believe?”
This week we look at WCF 3: Of God’s Eternal Decree. Here are a few quotes from the chapter:
- The Reformed doctrine of predestination, by contrast, is called unconditional election. It teaches that election is based not on people’s meeting conditions but on the eternal decree of God Himself.
- Some people respond to the gospel and some do not because God has chosen to bring some to Himself.
- The reason for any salvation, for any election, is to manifest the glory of God.
- God is glorified by the judgment of the wicked in hell just as much as He is glorified by the rescue of the saints in heaven. On the one hand, God’s mercy is made manifest. On the other, His justice is made manifest.
- God makes it clear that He has the sovereign prerogative to give mercy and bestow grace on whomever He wants to. He can give an executive order of unmerited clemency to those whom He pleases. That is why it is mercy. That is why it is grace.
- The Reformed view is called double predestination because it includes both election (the positive side) and reprobation (the negative side).
- In the biblical view, people who are elected by divine grace to believe and be saved will believe and be saved. God’s redemptive work accomplishes what His sovereign decree of election determined to accomplish, namely, the salvation of the elect, whom He has chosen for His own good pleasure.
- The preaching of the gospel has been at the forefront of every revival in church history that has had an impact on the world.
- In the case of the elect, God extends mercy. In the case of the reprobate, He withholds it.
- Our assurance rests not in our self-examination but in our confidence in God’s promise to bring His people safely through to the final state of our salvation. A chief benefit of understanding the biblical doctrine of election is a greater sense of assurance of our standing before God.