Tag Archives: Corporate Witness

“From this evil, good Lord deliver us” by Charles Spurgeon

“The more the Church is distinct from the world in her acts and in her maxims, the more true is her testimony for Christ, and the more potent is her witness against sin.

We are sent into this world to testify against evils; but if we dabble in them ourselves, where is our testimony? If we ourselves be found faulty, we are false witnesses; we are not sent of God; our testimony is of none effect.

I do not hesitate to say there are tens of thousands of professing Christians, whose testimony before the world is rather injurious than beneficial. The world looks at them, and says, ‘Well, I see: you can be a Christian, and yet remain a rogue.’

‘Ah!’ says another, ‘you can be a Christian, I perceive; but then you will have to be doleful and miserable.’

‘Ah!’ cries another, ‘these Christians like to drink sin in secret behind the door. Their Christianity lies in not liking to sin openly; but they can devour a widow’s house when nobody is looking on; they can be drunkards, only it must be in a very small party; they would not like to be discovered tipsy where there were a hundred eyes to look at them.’

Now, what is all that? It is just this,—that the world has found out that the Church visible is not the unmixed Church of Christ, since it is not true to its principles, and does not stand up for the uprightness and integrity which are the marks of the genuine church of God.

Many Christians forget that they are bearing a testimony: they do not think that anybody notices them. Ay, but they do. There are no people so much watched as Christians.

The world reads us up, from the first letter of our lives to the end; and if they can find a flaw—and, God forgive us, they may find very many—they are sure to magnify the flaw as much as ever they can.

Let us therefore be very watchful, that we live close to Christ, that we walk in his commandments always, that the world may see that the Lord hath put a difference.

But now I have a very sad thing to say—I wish that I could withhold it, but I cannot. Unless, brothers and sisters, you make it your daily business to see that there is a difference between you and the world, you will do more hurt than you can possibly do good.

The Church of Christ is at this day accountable for many fearful sins. Let me mention one which is but the type of others.

By what means think you were the fetters rivetted on the wrist of our friend who sits there, a man like ourselves, though of a black skin?

It is the Church of Christ that keeps his brethren under bondage; if it were not for that Church, the system of slavery would go back to the hell from which it sprung.

If there were no slave floggers but men who are fit for so degrading an office, if there were not found Christian ministers who can apologise for slavery from the pulpit, and church members who sell the children of nobler beings than themselves, if it were not for this, then Africa would be free.

Albert Barnes spoke right truly when he said slavery could not exist for an hour if it were not for the countenance of the Christian Church.

But what does the slaveholder say when you tell him that to hold our fellow-creatures in bondage is a sin, and a damnable one, inconsistent with grace?

He replies, ‘I do not believe your slanders; look at the Bishop of So-and-so, or the minister of such-and-such a place, is not he a good man, and does not he whine out ‘Cursed be Canaan?’ Does not he quote Philemon and Onesimus? Does he not go and talk Bible, and tell his slaves that they ought to feel very grateful for being his slaves, for God Almighty made them on purpose that they might enjoy the rare privilege of being cowhided by a Christian master. Don’t tell me,’ he says, ‘if the thing were wrong, it would not have the Church on its side.’

And so Christ’s free Church bought with His blood, must bear the shame of cursing Africa, and keeping her sons in bondage.

From this evil, good Lord deliver us.

If Manchester merchants and Liverpool traders have a share in this guilt, at least let the Church be free of this hell-filling crime.

Men have tried hard to make the Bible support this sum of all villanies, but slavery, the thing which defiles the Great Republic, such slavery is quite unknown to the Word of God, and by the laws of the Jews it was impossible that it ever could exist.

I have known men quote texts as excuses for being damned, and I do not wonder that men can find Scripture to justify them in buying and selling the souls of men.

And what think you is it, to come home to our own land, that props up the system of trade that is carried on among us?

I would not speak too severely of Christ’s Church, for I love her; but because I love her I must therefore utter this.

Our being so much like the world, our trading as the world trades, our talking as the world talks, our always insisting upon it that we must do as other people do, this is doing more mischief to the world, than all our preachers can hope to effect good.

‘Come ye out from among them; touch not the unclean thing, be ye separate, saith the Lord, and I will be a father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters.'”

–Charles H. Spurgeon, “Separating the Precious from the Vile,” in The New Park Street Pulpit Sermons (vol. 6; London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1860), 6: 154–156.

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“What Christians are to wear” by Francis Schaeffer

“First, Christians are called upon to love all men as neighbors, loving them as ourselves. Second, we are to love all true Christian brothers in a way that the world may observe.

This means showing love to our brothers in the midst of our differences– great or small– loving our brothers when it costs us something, loving them even under times of tremendous emotional tension, loving them in a way the world can see.

In short, we are to practice and exhibit the holiness of God and the love of God, for without this we grieve the Holy Spirit.

Love– and the unity it attests to– is the mark Christ gave Christians to wear before the world. Only with this mark may the world know that Christians are indeed Christians and that Jesus was sent by the Father.” (John 13:34-35; 17:21)

–Francis Schaeffer, The Mark of the Christian in The Complete Works of Francis A. Schaeffer: A Christian Worldview, Volume Four, A Christian View of the Church (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 1982), 204.

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“The church is the gospel made visible” by Mark Dever

“Christian proclamation might make the gospel audible, but Christians living together in local congregations make the gospel visible (see John 13:34-35). The church is the gospel made visible.”

–Mark Dever, “The Church,” in A Theology For the Church, Ed. Daniel L. Akin (Nashville: B&H, 2007), 767.

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“One Songleader, our Lord Jesus Christ” by Sinclair B. Ferguson

“We come for worship to be led by one Songleader, our Lord Jesus Christ. Which, incidentally, is one of the reasons you ought to be singing. Shame on me if I am silent when I am standing at the shoulder of my Lord Jesus Christ singing His heart out in praises to His heavenly Father.

Shame on me if I am in His choir and I am silent when He is urging me to sing the praises of this magnificent God. It is a marvelous incentive to sing that you know that it is Jesus who is leading your singing.”

–Sinclair B. Ferguson. “True Spirituality, True Worship.” Lookout Mountain, GA: Covenant College, 2004. Audio CD. As quoted in Ron Man, Proclamation and Praise: Hebrews 2:12 and the Christology of Worship (Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock, 2007), 80-81.

[HT: JB Salmon]

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“This is serious business” by Carl Trueman

“If God is awesome, sovereign and holy; if human beings are small, sinful, and lost; if Christ died and rose again by a most miraculous and costly act of grace, then this should impact the way things happen in church. This is not to argue for a one-size-fits-all-my-way-or-the-highway approach to church. Context and culture are important; but what is expressed through the idioms of particular cultural manifestations of the church should be awe, reverence, and, above all seriousness – not a colourless and cold miserable seriousness but a fitting amazement at the greatness of God and His grace.

A church service involving clowns or fancy dress or skits or stand-up comedy does not reflect the seriousness of the gospel; and those who take the gospel seriously should know better. Frankly, it is more appropriate to liberal theology which does not take the gospel, or the God of the gospel, seriously. Serious things demand serious idioms.

I heard recently of a church service involving dressing up in costume and music taken from a Tom Cruise movie. Now, if I go for my annual prostate examination, and the doctor comes into the consulting room dressed as Coco the Clown, with ‘Take my breath away’ from Top Gun playing in the background, guess what? I’m going to take the doctor out with a left hook, flee the surgery, and probably file a complaint with the appropriate professional body. This is serious business; and if he looks like a twit and acts like a twit, then I can only conclude that he is a twit.

You can tell a lot about someone’s theology from what they do in church. Involve Kenny G’s music in your worship service, and I can tell not only that you have no taste in music but also that you have nothing to offer theologically to those who come through the church doors; indeed, what you do have can probably be found better elsewhere.”

–Carl Trueman, “Look, It’s Rubbish!” Reformation21 as cited on http://www.reformation21.org/counterpoints/wages-of-spin/look-its-rubbish.php (accessed May 12, 2009).

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“We meet together” by Tertullian of Carthage (A.D. 160-212)

“We meet together as an assembly and congregation, that, offering up prayer to God as with united force, we may wrestle with Him in our supplications. This violence God delights in. We pray, too, for the emperors, for their ministers and for all in authority, for the welfare of the world, for the prevalence of peace, for the delay of the final consummation. We assemble to read our sacred writings, if any peculiarity of the times makes either forewarning or reminiscence needful.

However it be in that respect, with the sacred words we nourish our faith, we animate our hope, we make our confidence more steadfast; and no less by inculcations of God’s precepts we confirm good habits. In the same place also exhortations are made, rebukes and sacred censures are administered. For with a great gravity is the work of judging carried on among us, as befits those who feel assured that they are in the sight of God; and you have the most notable example of judgment to come when any one has sinned so grievously as to require his severance from us in prayer, in the congregation and in all sacred intercourse.

The tried men of our elders preside over us, obtaining that honour not by purchase, but by established character. There is no buying and selling of any sort in the things of God. Though we have our treasure-chest, it is not made up of purchase-money, as of a religion that has its price. On the monthly day, if he likes, each puts in a small donation; but only if it be his pleasure, and only if he be able: for there is no compulsion; all is voluntary.

These gifts are, as it were, piety’s deposit fund. For they are not taken thence and spent on feasts, and drinking-bouts, and eating-houses, but to support and bury poor people, to supply the wants of boys and girls destitute of means and parents, and of old persons confined now to the house; such, too, as have suffered shipwreck; and if there happen to be any in the mines, or banished to the islands, or shut up in the prisons, for nothing but their fidelity to the cause of God’s Church, they become the nurslings of their confession.”

–Tertullian of Carthage, Apology XXXIX in Ante-Nicene Fathers: Latin Christianity: Its Founder, Tertullian, Vol. 3, Ed. Allan Menzies (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2001), 46.

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“On the day called Sunday” by Justin Martyr (A.D. 110-165)

“And on the day called Sunday, all who live in cities or in the country gather together to one place, and the memoirs of the apostles or the writings of the prophets are read, as long as time permits; then, when the reader has ceased, the overseer verbally instructs, and exhorts to the imitation of these good things.

Then we all rise together and pray, and, as we before said, when our prayer is ended, bread and wine and water are brought, and the overseer in like manner offers prayers and thanksgivings, according to his ability, and the people assent, saying Amen; and there is a distribution to each, and a participation of that over which thanks have been given, and to those who are absent a portion is sent by the deacons.

And they who are well to do, and willing, give what each thinks fit; and what is collected is deposited with the overseer, who provides for the orphans and widows and those who, through sickness or any other cause, are in want, and those who are in bonds and the strangers sojourning among us, and in a word takes care of all who are in need.

But Sunday is the day on which we all hold our common assembly, because it is the first day on which God, having wrought a change in the darkness and matter, made the world; and Jesus Christ our Saviour on the same day rose from the dead.”

–Justin Martyr, 1 Apol. LXVII in Ante-Nicene Fathers: The Apostolic Fathers with Justin Martyr and Irenaeus, Vol. 1, Ed. A. Cleveland Coxe (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2001), 186.

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