I would suggest that there are certain components which must be part of any assembly which would call itself a biblical “church.” Without these you cannot have a church:
- Gospel believing individuals
- Baptized in demonstration of their conversion
- Recognizably covenanting together
- Regularly meeting around God’s Word
- Under legitimate leadership
- Administering Baptism and the Lord’s Table
Let’s take a look at the fourth essential component of a NT local church: Regularly meeting around God’s Word
Here is a question for you. What if we treated Tolkien’s work, The Hobbit, like we treat the Bible? We would pick up a portion here and there. We may do a word study on “second breakfast,” or a character study on Gollum. We may take seven weeks to walk with Bilbo through the forest, or have a special seminar on “Giant Spiders in Your Life.” Most likely we would never get around to reading the whole story. What a shame.
What is involved in meeting around God’s Word?
A. Consistent Expository Preaching (from the shepherds)
- NT Example (Heb 13:7; Acts 20:26-27 [Neh 8:8]; 1 Tim 4:13)
- Reasoning – If Scripture is sufficient (2 Tim 3:16-17), shouldn’t we take time to know it?
- Here is where we often go astray. We like to hear the nice stuff. Our ears are itching for keys for the good life, 3 steps to my best life, or living like it were Friday every day. But that doesn’t cut it. Storms will come, and fluff doesn’t last long in a storm.
- An example can be seen in one of the major food groups, cookies. A sad lesson I had to learn as a child was that you can’t have cookies without bitter ingredients. Take out the baking soda, vanilla, salt, butter, and flower and you are left with sugar and chocolate chips. You don’t have a cookie. However, if you have the right mixture you have what is called “magic.” Consistent expository preaching makes sure you get all the ingredients, imprecatory prayers and all.
B. Dedicated Study of its Theology
- NT Example – 2 Pet 3:14-18
- Reasoning – God has revealed himself through creation (Ps 19), Jesus (John 14:9; Heb 1:1-2), and His Word (2 Tim 3:16-17)
- Don’t short cut deep study for three easy points. Our Sunday Schools/Small Groups/Bible Studies should not be focused on “What does this mean to you?” but on “What does this tell us about our Great God and Savior Jesus Christ?”
C. Inter-Personal Gracious Admonishment (one to another)
- NT Example – Col 3:16; 2 Thess 3:15; Rom 15:14
- Reasoning – we are sinners in need of God’s grace in order to grow (Eph 4:12-16)
- “Admonishment” – telling a brother in Christ that he is either being stupid or sinful, and needs to look to Christ. (You may want to look up “tact” before you do too much of that)
- NT Example – 2 Thess 3:13-15
- Reasoning – Merely hearing the Word is not sufficient (Jas 1:22-25)
What other practices would you add?