Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The Second London Baptist Confession

Chapter 26 - The Church

26.10 Pastors are required to give constant attention to the service of Christ in His churches; they are to be engaged in the ministry of the Word and in prayer, and to seek the welfare of men's souls as those that must give account to the Lord. It is therefore imperative that the churches to which they minister should give them, according to the churches' ability, not only all due honor, but such abundance of this world's material good as will enable them to live in comfort, without the need to entangle themselves in secular employment, and which will also suffice to enable them to exercise hospitality towards others. Such an arrangement is required by the law of nature itself, and by the express command of our Lord Jesus, who has decreed that 'they that preach the gospel should live of the gospel'. Acts 6:4; 1 Cor. 9:6-14; Gal. 6:6,7; 1 Tim. 3:2; 5:17,18; 2 Tim. 2:4; Heb. 13:17.

26.11 Although it is the duty of the elders or pastors of the churches, according to their office, to be constantly active in preaching the Word, yet such a work is not to be regarded as confined wholly to them, for the Holy Spirit may qualify others for the same work by giving them the necessary gifts. In this case, when such men are approved and called to the work by the church, they may and ought to perform it. Acts 11:19-21; 1 Pet. 4:10,11.

26.12 All believers are under obligation to join themselves to local churches when and where they have opportunity to do so. It follows that all who are admitted to the privileges of church fellowship also become subject to the discipline and government of the church in accordance with the rule of Christ. 1 Thess. 5:14; 2 Thess. 3:6,14,15.

I highlighted the last point above because it is not well understood these days. Because the local church, or "particular Church gathered" as the Confession puts it, is the only biblically expressed manifestation of the Body of Christ, it follows that the only way to live out our union with Christ is to unite with a local church. The Confession is entirely correct that this is an obligation for all believers.

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