A Solemn Charge to BPCWA (Part 1)
Dear BPCWA worshipper, We thank God that we were able to celebrate BPCWA’s 36th Anniversary which passed earlier in February this year. Commemorating it together with our worship service allowed us the blessed opportunity to really consider the reason for BPCWA’s existence. It is important that we not forget why BPCWA exists. Every year’s anniversary should not just be a time of thankfulness for God’s preservation, without being reminded of the purpose of a church. It should also be a time of self-reflection and rededication for us as a church to fulfill God’s purpose for keeping it. This being so, I thought it was important that I write a pastoral to capture the sermon preached last week, entitled “A Solemn Charge for the Church”.
Godliness is expected of all Christians. In recounting his life experiences in 2 Tim 3:10-12, Apostle Paul was reminding Timothy that remaining godly and staying faithful is going to be difficult. A life of enduring hardship is not just something for the “past or early generations of Christians”. Every generation must “continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of” (2 Tim 3:14). To ensure that Timothy would continue to do this in the church even when Paul wasn’t there, Paul gave Timothy a serious charge, so serious that it was given “before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Tim 4:1). This wasn’t just a good to have, but it was something that was expected. To not fulfil it would be considered gross negligence and abandonment of duty to God.
The form of godliness in the modern thinking about the church. The importance of the church is on the decline even among those who call themselves Christians. Of all people, Christians cannot be unaware of what God says about the church. Yet, many today would unashamedly declare that while they “love” Christ, they don’t love the church. Others claim that Christianity is a private faith, and hence a “public” demonstration of such faith such as by going to church is optional. This dangerous concoction of truth laced with deadly error can “sound” acceptable and can sway even Christians attending sound churches. God forbid that such thoughts should reside in the hearts of our worshippers! At this 36th Anniversary, we must seriously ask ourselves – is the church an optional “extra” to a truly born-again Christian? How should a blood-bought child of God think of the church?
God’s Purpose for the church. 1) It is the primary place for preaching. The charge was to “preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine” (2 Tim 4:2). Where did Paul expect Timothy the pastor to preach? In the church! God intends and expects His children to receive their instruction through the preaching that is to be done in the church. This being the charge upon a pastor, then self-study of God’s Word at home is not all that God expects of the Christian. One’s study of God’s Word at home is expected and good. But the charge informs us that self-study alone is not sufficient for the good, healthy, growth of one’s spiritual life. 2) It is “the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth” (1 Tim 3:15). Someone who goes by the name of “Christian” thus must not be disinterested in what God calls His house. Since the church is the pillar of truth, the church’s mission is to uphold God’s truth. The Word of God is therefore a key reason why the church exists. If the Word of God is important to the Christian, then the church must be important to the Christian too! The church is the repository of God’s truth. In God’s purpose through history, He has used the church to keep and pass on His Word, His revelation to mankind. If the church is weak, our knowledge of God is weak. This is why Paul reminded Timothy that in order to continue faithfully, the means is through God’s Word alone. “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” (2 Tim 3:16). 3) It is where God gives people to help His children understand the mysteries of God. God gave mankind the Church “To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God” (Eph 3:10). To achieve this, Christ gave teaching gifts to His church, “He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things. 11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers” (Eph 4:10-11). The pastor-teacher (ie, the teaching elder which is the pastor) is gifted by God to teach in the church. This is especially important because there are “some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction” (2 Pet 3:16). Only when Christians know the Word aright, then can they live rightly. As a result, they can be true lights that reflect Christ in their daily living and worship of Him together in church. From this passage in Ephesians, God tells us that through the preaching of those whom God has given to the church, “all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ” (Eph 3:9). 4) It is part of God’s eternal purpose which He purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord (Eph 3:11). The Church is not an “afterthought” of God. Christ loved her and gave Himself for her.
Let us be clear of God’s purposes for the church in the above mentioned. All these are therefore what BPCWA must fulfil. Fundamentally, whether or not the church is important for Christians is determined by God and not by man, nor even by Christians. God’s purpose in Christ is to be achieved through the church. Hence, Christ loved the church and gave Himself for her (Eph 5:25). If so, then a Christian can never say that they “love” Christ but, not the church. What is the church to you?
I love thy kingdom, Lord, the house of thine abode,
the church our blest Redeemer saved with his own precious blood.
I love thy church, O God: her walls before thee stand,
dear as the apple of thine eye and graven on thy hand.
Yours in our Lord’s service,