Being Christian is a personal matter, not a private one

by Thabiti M. Anyabwile, Pastor First Baptist Church, Grand Cayman Islands:

Being Christian is a personal matter, not a private one. When you are born again, you are born into a family. And that family is not only the great extended family of Christians throughout the world, but also the particular nuclear family of a local congregation. Page 11

Inviting our non-Christian friends to church services is an excellent way to expand on the personal conversations you have head with him about the gospel.

It’s also an opportunity for them to see the gospel “fleshed out” in the lives of an actual congregation of believers. In the church, non-Christians should see that kind of unity and love that testifies to the truth and power of the gospel in God’s love (John 13.34-35; 17.20- 21). Our friends will see the gospel with their eyes as they witnessed Christians observing baptism and the Lord’s Supper. Both in the way we live together at the church and in the ordinances of the church, we display the gospel in ways that complement the preached word of the gospel.

Have you ever considered how many practices and commands given to the New Testament church lose all their meaning if membership is not practiced, visibly identifiable, and important? Page 65.

The mark of Christian discipleship is love — love of the kind that Jesus exercised toward his followers, love visible enough that man will recognize it as belonging to those people who follow Jesus.

Not surprisingly, then, a healthy Christian is one who is committed to expressing this kind of love toward other Christians. And the best place for Christians to love this way is in the assembly of God’s people called the local church. Is it no wonder then that the author of Hebrews instructs us to “consider how to stir out one another to love and good works,” and then right away says, “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.” (Hebrews 10.24 – 25)?

Faithful church attendance is associated tightly with during each other to love and good deeds. The local church is the place where love is most visibly and compellingly displayed among God’s people. It’s where the “body of Christ” is most plainly represented to the world. Page 67.

A healthy church member has a pervasive concern for his or her own personal growth and the growth of other members of her or his church. As Mark Deaver correctly notes, “Working to promote Christian discipleship in growth is working to bring glory not to ourselves but to God. This is how God will make itself known in the world.” Since a concern for God’s glory should be uppermost in our lives as believers, our concern for growth should be pervasive. Page 88.

The public assembly is meant for the edification, the building up, the growth of the Christian. Neglecting to participate in the corporate life of the church or failing to actively serve in and be served is a surefire way to limit our growth. Ephesians 411-16 offers a strong argument that participation in the body of Christ is the main way in which Christ strengthens and matures us. When we serve others in the church, bear with one another, love one another, correct one another, and encourage one another, we participate in the kind “spiritual maturity co-op.” where our stores and supplies are multiplied. The end result is growth and discipleship. Page 91.

The Christian life is a family life, and our prayers are to focus on the entire family, esteeming others more highly than ourselves. One way to do this is to pray regularly through your local church’s membership directory, if they publish one. Pray through one page, or one letter of the alphabet per day. Page 112.

~ What is a Healthy Church Member?

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