One of the outstanding features of the reformed churches, particularly the ‘brethren’ was their commitment to local church. The Lord used them to re-discover a number of New Testament Church doctrines. They observed the church practices found in the book of Acts and epistles, in all its simplicity.
Love & care
They understood that Church is not just a building, but the gathering of believers saved and separated by the Lord Jesus Christ. They realized that Church must be seen in its ‘universal’ and as well as ‘local’ aspects. They believed and taught the unity of the church as the body of Christ.
It was their passion to establish new local assemblies and nurture them to stand firm as a testimony for the Lord. Because they found that there is nothing else Christ loves so much than His bride - the Church. He gave Himself for the Church and building it up today. He has assured that the gates of Hades shall never prevail against His Church. It is indeed a wonderful privilege for Christians to be used by God as workers together with Him in this great task of establishing and edifying the Churches of Christ.
Hinder & weaken
Alas today, it seems the descendants of those godly men referred above are losing sight of those precious truths. Many are ignorant of such fundamental church principles and with out any hesitation they openly violate the assembly truths held dearly by the forefathers. Commitment to local church and its activity is diminishing. Some others trouble the assembly by the carnal behaviour either silently or publicly.
More dangerous is the activities of some who divide the church for their selfish ambitions and destroy the life of a local church. Proliferation of Para-church organizations also contributes to the weakening of the local assemblies. Today many think that with out a registered society no body can serve the Lord. So, along with ‘theological education’ they come out of Bible Institutes with a new organization, often with out any involvement of the local Church.
This trend is very disturbing. Neglecting, avoiding and even breaking a local assembly for the sake of personal preferences. That takes away the power of the assembly. ‘Autonomy of the local church’ doesn’t mean that we can go against the basic church truths found in the New Testament.
Establish & instruct
If the Lord in His sovereign will and purposes, chose to establish an organization apart from the local body of Christ, who can forbid it? Let His perfect will be fulfilled in all these. Yet we must be clear about the basic principles and our priority. For the Lord Jesus Christ and the apostles Church was the main concern. Establishing new local churches where no assembly exists, and edifying the existing churches was the foremost goal of the saints in the past. Any spiritual ministry must be conducted in association with a local church.
In John 21:15—17 the Lord Jesus makes it very clear to Apostle Peter, that true love for Him should result in caring for His church. ‘Feed my lambs’; ‘tend my sheep’ are the commandments of Christ to those who claim to have supreme love for Him.
Do we love and care for the Church? What is the goal of our spiritual activities: to build up a name or the church of Christ? What is our contribution in the establishing and strengthening of local assemblies?
Our loyalty and involvement for the church proves our love and appreciation for Christ. Let us do what the Lord is deeply concerned in, that is the local church. Cf. Rev. 2, 3.
Confession of a ‘true Christian’
It’s again a true story took place around three years ago in Mumbai, India. Geoffrey Whitcombe from Briton was arrested by Air Intelligence Unit of Mumbai police on April 21, 2006 for possessing drugs illegally.
He admitted to the police that he has been suffering from severe depression since 1999 after his Japanese girlfriend was found murdered in a hotel room in Goa. Also he found that his mother had developed liver cancer. It was in this background he began to take drugs.
When his came before Special Judge J.S. Kalyanpur on 13the August 2007, Whitcombe said, “I am a true Christian. I have committed a crime. I do not wish to waste the time of this court. Punish me according to the law.” Officials from the British High Commission explained to him of his right to plead innocence. But he declined.
Judge Kalyanpur sentenced Whitcombe to 10 years rigorous imprisonment. He said later, “This court may have acquitted me, but how will I ever show my face to Jesus Christ.”
Public Prosecutor Azhar Khan said, “It was my first experience of such a case…Most accused in drug cases confess to the crime, but they always retract their statement.”
News & Views:-
Noah’s Ark Found
According to a report appeared in Hindustan Times dated 27th April 2010, a group of Chinese and Turkish evangelical explorers have found Noah’s ark – four thousand meters up a mountain in Turkey. The team says they recovered wooden specimen from a structure on Mount Ararat in eastern Turkey that carbon dating proved was 4,800 years old, around the same time the ark had been afloat.
The team from Noah’s Ark Ministries says, the structure had several compartments, some with wooden beams, which were house animals.
A true Christian may not need such a discovery to have faith in the word of God, yet such archeological evidences do confirm the authenticity of the Biblical account and strengthen our testimony. Praise God for the effort of the researchers.
Matters for prayer & praise:-
1. Mrs.Emily Chisengantambu, Zambia
Sister Luwi Nswana from Zambia informs us that her mother Sister Emily Chisengantambu, who was being used by the Lord in a wonderful manner in Christian education and ministry among women and poor in Zambia went to be with the Lord on the 3rd of Feb 2010.
Our dear sister was a trained teacher. In spite of so much adverse circumstances, trusting in the Lord she could establish Luwi Internation School and Luwi community orphans scheme to serve the poor and needy in Chingola community, Zambia. Her testimony has already challenged many from around globe.
She had a Heart problem, and her heart started enlarging on the left side and finally died of cardiac arrest. She was 47 years old.
Let us pray for her only daughter Luwi Nswana who is studying at Cavendish University and ministry she has left behind. That God give them enough wisdom and guidance to continue the work she was involved in.
2. Bro. C.John Evangelist Goa, India.
Evangelist C. John who served the Lord in Goa, India as a fulltime evangelist in association with the brethren assemblies for 30 years went to be with the Lord on May 14, 2010, in Mumbai. He was 84 years old.
Funeral was held on May 20 at Oshiwara Christian Cemetery in the presence of dear ones and many believers. More / tributes
The Church :-
“There are many sheep without, many wolves within.”
_________________________Augustine of Hippo
“The Church exists for the sake of those outside it.”
“Wherever we see the Word of God purely preached and heard,
there a church of God exists, even if it swarms with many faults.”