Monday, 14 January 2013

Church Membership in the New Testament

by John MacArthur
It’s obvious that the early church knew its flock well. In Acts 20, Paul exhorted the elders of the Ephesian church to faithfully watch over and shepherd their people. But it’s very difficult to shepherd if you don’t know who your flock is. And sheep don’t survive well just roaming around on their own.

While the New Testament never speaks of church membership in today’s terms, the principles of life in the early church lay the foundation for faithfully submitting and belonging to a local congregation. While the original membership process might vary from today’s patterns, there’s no doubt that New Testament Christians were lovingly united and bound to their local body of believers.

Thursday, 3 January 2013

How Do You Measure Up?

by John MacArthur

We’ve reached the end of our series on spiritual formation and sanctification, but before we close the discussion, I want to encourage you with some practical ways to evaluate your own spiritual growth.

Yesterday we discussed the true, biblical nature of sanctification—that it’s the work of the Lord in the lives of His people.

However, each of us bears some responsibility for our own spiritual growth, as well. I can’t tell you what percentage of the responsibility falls on you, or exactly how your disciplined life cooperates with God’s work in you (Isaiah 55:9). But I can tell you that faithful Bible study, prayer, and self-discipline play a vital role in your sanctification. As we’ve seen over the last several weeks, we can’t manufacture spiritual growth on our own, but we can certainly hinder it through unchecked sin and spiritual laziness.

What Is Sanctification? (And What It Isn't)

by John MacArthur

You probably know that most people in America and many more worldwide identify themselves as Christians. But how many of them can explain and defend the gospel, articulate basic biblical theology, or live lives that support the claims of their faith? The tragic fact is that compared to the vast number of people who claim to be Christians, very few are actually growing to be more like Christ.

That process of spiritual growth is called sanctification, and it’s a vital part of every believer’s life. For the past several weeks, we’ve been looking at some popular, purported methods of sanctification—commonly called spiritual formation—and weighing them against the biblical models for spiritual growth. As we near the end of this series, I want to highlight some basic, clear teaching from Scripture about the nature of sanctification and help you properly evaluate your own spiritual growth.