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The Clarion Herald

    To experience the blessings that are inherent in faithful church membership is to enjoy the highest privileges open to men in this age. But it must ever be remembered that membership in the "body of Christ" is a PRIVILEGE -- not a RIGHT. Membership in a New Testament church means that one has voluntarily surrendered the RIGHT to look out for his own self-interest -- as regards the functioning of the church. His life is no longer exclusively "his own business"; being "members one of another", the conduct of each member becomes the concern of every other member.
     It is wonderful to participate in the unique blessings enjoyed in the sphere of covenant fellowship -- where one is the special object of divine love and care. But such a position imposes extraordinary responsibility to "walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called; with all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; Endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace", (Eph. 4:1-3). Or as Paul prayed for the Colossians, "That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being


    Since one's relationship to the church (the body of Christ) involves his relationship to Christ, it is essential that the relationship between himself and his brethren (fellow body members) be placed above every other consideration. One's attitude toward, and relationship to, his brethren (in the body) is ACTUALLY his attitude toward, and relationship to, THE CHRIST. He
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fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God", (1:10).
    The spiritual health and prosperity of the BODY, for the glory of Christ, is far more important than the personal whims, likes or dislikes; of ANY individual member. When ALL, in lowliness of mind, esteem others "better than themselves" spiritual unity will be maintained. But when this is lacking there will develop such confusion, discord and schism as will require DISCIPLINE -- the last resort of which sometimes requires the severing of fellowship with those who stubbornly persist in their offensive conduct, (2 Thes. 3:6-15; Cor. 5; Matt. 18:l5-l8).

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The Clarion Herald The Clarion Herald

FAITHFULNESS ..... Continued

may thumb his nose at the church of which he is a member -- piously insisting that he is serving the Lord with gladness -- but such fraudulent hypocrisy will soon be exposed TO HIS SHAME!
    Sacred as are one's duties to his family and the State, those to the church (in which he holds membership), and through it to Christ, are higher and holier still. Every Christian OUGHT to love his relatives; but he must love Christ MORE (Matt. 10:37). While rendering due honor and obedience to the State, he must regard loyalty and obedience to God as a higher and more sacred obligation, (Rom. 13:1; Acts 5:29).
    This is a principle that has been recognized and practiced by the saints of all ages. ABRAHAM forsook homeland and kindred that he might become the progenitor of a new "race", (Gen. 12:1-4). MOSES

severed his connection with the court of Pharaoh -- choosing rather "to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season", (Heb. 11:25). The APOSTLES "forsook all" to follow Jesus, (Mk. l0:28-30). And when it became necessary for them to choose between their Jewish ancestry and commitment to Jesus Christ, they did not hesitate to follow Jesus all the way. Tender as was Paul's love for his "kinsmen according to the flesh", he placed his relationship to the New Testament "order" higher -- devoting his life to the preaching of the Gospel among the Gentiles.
    Nothing short of wholehearted abandonment of ourselves to the service of Jesus Christ -- the submerging of all self-interest under the surpassing interest of THE BODY where we hold membership -- is acceptable to our Lord in this day of compromise and exceeding wickedness. Are YOU following God's "order"? or, are you walking DISORDERLY?? There is NO OTHER POSSIBILITY !!


    The Word of God is the chief instrument through which faith is wrought and maintained, (Rom.lO:17; 1:16). It is described as "the sword of the Spirit". Divinely used it is LIVING and POWERFUL -- sharper than any two-edged sword -- and breaks down strongholds of resistance. Through the Word of God we are born again; by its washing our lives are constantly being cleansed (I Pet. 1:23; Eph. 5:26).
    The Word of God is DEPENDABLE --

forever settled in heaven. Through long centuries it has been the delight of those who truly love God. The Psalmist testified: "I will delight myself in thy commandments, which I have loved ... The law of thy mouth is better unto me than thousands of gold and silver .. O how love I thy law! it is my meditation all the day ... Thy word is pure: therefore thy servant loveth it", (Psa. 119:47, 72, 97, 140).
    In the writings of Paul it is quite evident that he regarded one of the primary functions of a New Testament church as being an educational institution in which young converts learn HOW TO LIVE in an unchristian world. He lays great emphasis on the importance of mutual instruction, counsel, exhortation, edification and rebuke. He saw it as necessary to discipline young souls to mature faith and fullness of true character -- unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ. He placed great emphasis on the fact that no one could attain that high ideal INDEPENDENTLY. ONLY in a New Testament assembly can anyone truly "learn Christ" or come to possess such qualities of Christ-likeness as pleases God.
    What diligence, therefore, ought to be given to one's ATTENDANCE at the house of God and ATTENTION to the teaching and preaching of God's Word. It is necessary to spiritual growth. Apart from it spiritual nourishment is utterly impossible. No one can DESPISE the Word of God while enjoying the fellowship of the Most High. Nor may one TRULY experience the liberty and joy of the Holy Spirit while despising the

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very "order" that the Spirit has come to administer.
    Let us beware lest sentimentality and carnal associations supplant our loyalty to Jesus Christ, and turn our feet in other paths than that He has charted for our eternal good and His glory!


    In the wisdom of God the relationship existing between a pastor and his people (in a New Testament church) is likened to that existing between a shepherd and his sheep. It is not that the shepherd OWNS the sheep; but he IS responsible for their welfare -- to the best of his ability. I think it was Uncle Mose who mused that "No pastor can be a "good shepherd" to a buttin' sheep".
    Nor is our Lord so unjust as to burden a pastor with weighty responsibility without balancing it with the authority to ACT as a shepherd. It is the role of a shepherd to LOVE his flock, to GUARD the flock, to FEED the flock and to RULE the flock. This does NOT mean that he is to become a whip-cracking cowboy -- throwing the fear of his authority into the sheep, so that he may drive them as he pleases. Rather, it suggests that he LEAD the flock in safe paths -- so far as possible dealing with gentleness and tenderness. When one or more member of the flock becomes unruly and disorderly, a wise shepherd will adopt such methods as will teach them the costliness of their rebellion. Nor will the flock, as a whole, stampede

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while he so deals with them.
    Every church member ought to understand that the pastor "watches for his soul", and that he must one day give account to God for every member of the flock. Nor will the Chief Shepherd regard with indifference the account given by the one He Himself has COMMISSIONED to "tend the flock". It was with this thought in mind that the Hebrew writer urged: "OBEY them that have the RULE over you, and SUBMIT yourselves: for they WATCH FOR YOUR SOULS; as they that must give account, that they may do it WITH JOY, and not with grief: for THAT is unprofitable for you", (Heb. 13:17).
    Every church member should recognize in his pastor an "ambassador of Christ" -- commissioned to proclaim His will, (2 Cor. 5:20). He should be esteemed "very highly IN LOVE" for his work's sake, (I Thes. 5:12-13). Those who hear him hear Christ, and those who despise him despise Christ, (Luke 10:16). When He preaches the Gospel, or privately speaks words of admonition, comfort or guidance, the Savior speaks through him. And EVERY church member will be held accountable for the attitude of his own heart toward the shepherd God has placed over him FOR HIS GOOD.
    How vastly more effective would be the testimonies of New Testament churches today if EVERY MEMBER endeavored to encourage the pastor in his work; if EVERY MEMBER gave attention to the preaching of the Word -- not for the sake of finding fault, but in order to PROFIT thereby; if EVERY MEMBER received the message, not as the word of man, but as it is IN TRUTH, the Word of God!
    Paul wrote to Timothy "Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honor (pay), ESPECIALLY them that labour in the word and doctrine (I Tim. 5:17-21). Few churches seem to follow this admonition, but surely EVERY church member should support his pastor with his presence, prayers, attention, encouragement and finances -- according as the Lord enables him to do so.
    And, is it UNREASONABLE to expect church members to bear with the shortcomings of their pastor -- just as he must bear with theirs?