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    • By 1Timothy115 in Devotionals
         11
      Psalms 119:1-8                                         Sep. 5 - Oct. 2, 2019
      1 ALEPH. Blessed are the undefiled in the way, who walk in the law of the LORD.
      2 Blessed are they that keep his testimonies, and that seek him with the whole heart.
      3 They also do no iniquity: they walk in his ways.
      4 Thou hast commanded us to keep thy precepts diligently.
      5 O that my ways were directed to keep thy statutes!
      6 Then shall I not be ashamed, when I have respect unto all thy commandments.
      7 I will praise thee with uprightness of heart, when I shall have learned thy righteous judgments.
      8 I will keep thy statutes: O forsake me not utterly.
      The following verse stood out to me...
      5 O that my ways were directed to keep thy statutes!
      At first glance it seemed to me this person’s soul is poured out with intense desire to have God’s direction in keeping His Word.
      I made a small wood fire in our backyard for my granddaughter, Julia, since she would be staying overnight with us. My wife and Julia stayed outside at the fire for about half an hour. Then, I found myself alone to watch the fire die out on a particularly lovely evening. So I took my verse from above and began to repeat it for memorization. As I repeated the verse, I tried to contemplate the words and apply them to what I was seeing around me. 
      The moon and stars were out now peering through the scattered clouds above.
      [Genesis 1:16 And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also. Genesis 1:17 And God set them in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth, Genesis 1:18 And to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness: and God saw that it was good.]
      Thought 1         
      The moon has stayed his course since the day God created him, also the stars, obeying the statutes directed by God from the first day they were created. Can you imagine God’s direction to the Moon and stars, “moon you will have a path through the sky above the earth, stars you will occupy the firmament above the moon and be clearly visible in the cloudless night sky.”
      Then, the trees, grass, even the air we breathe obey the statues God gave them from the beginning. None of these creations have souls, none have hearts, none have intelligence, but they all observe God’s statutes, His instructions for their limited time on earth.
      Thought 2
      What if we were like the moon, stars, trees, grass, or the other creations which have no soul? We would be directed to keep God’s statutes without choosing to keep them. This is not the image of God, there would be no dominion over other creatures, or over the earth. We would not be capable of experiencing the joy and peace of learning the love of God
      Genesis 1:26 And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.
      Philippians 4:7 And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
      Thought 3 (October 2, 2019)
      Is the psalmist pleading God to force God’s statutes to become the man’s ways? No, he is speaking of his own failure in keeping God’s statutes and his desire to keep them, very much like Paul in Romans 7:14-25.
      God doesn’t work through force to turn men from their ways that they would desire His statutes or desire God Himself. Men must reject (repent) put aside his own ways and voluntarily seek God and His statutes.

Church Covenants: Yes or No?

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I am aware that many IFB churches, (I don't know about others), have Church Covenants, and to be a member, one must sign the covenant and promise to follow it.

Is this biblical? Are we under only the covenant made with Jesus Christ on the cross, and should that be sufficient, or can anyone point to somewhere in scripture that local churches should have a covenant, requiring certain behaviors by their members?

I can see where it would be a nice thing to have everyone understand at the outset of joining a local church that certain behaviors are expected, and others are discouraged, but is a 'covenant' biblical? Or can such a thing be considered liberty for a church? Does a covenant go against where the Bible says that our yea should be yea, and our nay, nay?

With my goal of obtaining a greater unity in our church, I have considered a covenant of some sort, though I am not sure that a covenant, per se, is the way to go. I believe a church, a pastor, ought to teach the way and lead as an example, but a covenant would be perhaps a step beyond that, setting a fear in the heart of 'If I don't always obey, I'll get kicked out". I have heard of female teachers in Christian schools being kicked out because on their own time they wore a pair of pants, and were seen by the pastor. I don't see that every aspect of a believer's life should be under constant monitoring, and I think maybe a covenant might set a precedent for that sort of thing.

So, where do others stand on such an idea?

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45 minutes ago, Ukulelemike said:

I am aware that many IFB churches, (I don't know about others), have Church Covenants, and to be a member, one must sign the covenant and promise to follow it.

Is this biblical? Are we under only the covenant made with Jesus Christ on the cross, and should that be sufficient, or can anyone point to somewhere in scripture that local churches should have a covenant, requiring certain behaviors by their members?

I can see where it would be a nice thing to have everyone understand at the outset of joining a local church that certain behaviors are expected, and others are discouraged, but is a 'covenant' biblical? Or can such a thing be considered liberty for a church? Does a covenant go against where the Bible says that our yea should be yea, and our nay, nay?

With my goal of obtaining a greater unity in our church, I have considered a covenant of some sort, though I am not sure that a covenant, per se, is the way to go. I believe a church, a pastor, ought to teach the way and lead as an example, but a covenant would be perhaps a step beyond that, setting a fear in the heart of 'If I don't always obey, I'll get kicked out". I have heard of female teachers in Christian schools being kicked out because on their own time they wore a pair of pants, and were seen by the pastor. I don't see that every aspect of a believer's life should be under constant monitoring, and I think maybe a covenant might set a precedent for that sort of thing.

So, where do others stand on such an idea?

IMO it is far from Scriptural Mike. Guide them in how to live for Jesus through your preaching. Signing a document won't make them walk in the Spirit, it will just make them more religious through rules and ritual.

Sad about the pants thing, that makes little Scriptural sense. If the pants were made for women and not form fitting/immodest, it is hardly sinful.

Edited by wretched
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We used to belong to a Missionary Baptist Church, and they had the Church Covenant on the wall...close to the pulpit area. It wasn't just on the wall...it was huge...about 10 feet tall x 6 feet wide (just an estimate there).

No one paid attention to it, and no one seemed interested in following it. I remember there was one section that said the members wouldn't drink alcohol or work in an establishment that sold alcohol. Not sure about the drinking part, but there were lots of folks who worked at grocery stores (including Wal Mart) that sold alcohol, and they were never reprimanded or kicked out.  :nuts:

My personal opinion is "no church covenant". I think the Bible, its teachings, and the teaching of it are all that is needed.

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“Can two walk together, except they be agreed?” - Amos 3:3

“That ye may with one mind and one mouth glorify God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” - Romans 15:6

“Finally, brethren, farewell. Be perfect, be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace shall be with you.” - 2 Corinthians 13:11

“Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel;” - Philippians 1:27

“Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.” - Philippians 2:2

“Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous:” - 1 Peter 3:8

 

Without a church covenant there is confusion.  God is not the author of confusion.  New Christians and new members need to know where your local church stands on the universal and universal invisible church.  They need to know where your local church stands on divorce, marriage, the Lord's Supper and Baptism among other doctrines and responsibilities.

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1 hour ago, swathdiver said:

Without a church covenant there is confusion.  God is not the author of confusion.  New Christians and new members need to know where your local church stands on the universal and universal invisible church.  They need to know where your local church stands on divorce, marriage, the Lord's Supper and Baptism among other doctrines and responsibilities.

Wouldn't that be a Doctrinal Statement...or Statement of Faith (as many now call it)?

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21 minutes ago, No Nicolaitans said:

Wouldn't that be a Doctrinal Statement...or Statement of Faith (as many now call it)?

Maybe a written/posted doctrinal statement? Though covering all the items Swath suggested is really a much more indepth statement than many churches do, dealing with issues such as divorce, marriage, baptism, Lord's Supper, etc.

Now I teach on all these things-that's just my thing-if I give regular sermons/lessons on the various doctrines, is it necessary to write each down and post it? I guess I kind of see the Bible, particularly the New Testament, as our church covenant, seeing as it covers everything-it is getting people to read it and learn it that can be a challenge.

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It can take some time to get back to preaching on these topics as you well know.  My local church has a handbook for new members that is very much like the Baptist Handbook that Pastor Moser has on the Baptist Challenge website.  A link to it cannot be posted right now as the website is under reconstruction.

Such a doctrinal statement/statement of faith will bring new members up to speed very quickly on where that local church stands rather than them waiting a year or more to hear it from the pulpit or to burden the pastor with multiple inquiries from as many new members repeating the same thing.

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When I first became the pastor, they had a handout for new members, but a lot of it was a little closer to southern Baptist than IFB. Guess I need to dig one up and go over it. But that's a good idea, putting together a book. Should have done that before.

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When I was still in Alaska my church there had a church covenant that was framed and hanging on the wall. We also had small ones that we could give to people to put in their Bibles if they chose. I still have one in my Bible

Ours was from the Baptist Sunday School Committee in Texarkana. It outlines what we as church members covenant together to do. We hung the large one on the wall so that new folks could quickly see what we stood for, rather than getting an unexpected surprise.

This is the text of that covenant:

Having been led, as we believe by the Spirit of God, to receive the Lord Jesus Christ as our Saviour and, on the profession of our faith, having been baptized in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, we do now, in the presence of God and this assembly most solemnly and joyfully enter into covenant with one another as one body in Christ. We engage, therefore, by the aid of the Holy Spirit to walk together in Christian love; to strive for the advancement of this church in knowledge, holiness and comfort; to promote its prosperity and spirituality; to sustain its worship, ordinances, discipline and doctrines; to contribute cheerfully and regularly to the support of the ministry, the expenses of the church, the relief of the poor and the spread of the gospel throughout all nations. We also engage to maintain family and secret devotions; to religiously educate our children; to seek the salvation of our kindred and acquaintances; to walk circumspectly in the world; to be just in our dealings, faithful in our engagements, and exemplary in our deportment; to avoid all tattling, backbiting, and excessive anger; to abstain from the sale of, and use of, destructive drugs or intoxicating drinks as a beverage; to shun pornography, to be zealous in our efforts to advance the kingdom of our Savior. We further engage to watch over one another in brotherly love; to remember one another in prayer; to aid one another in sickness and distress; to cultivate Christian sympathy in feeling and Christian courtesy in speech; to be slow to take offense, but always ready for reconciliation and mindful of the rules of our Saviour to secure it without delay. We moreover engage that when we remove from this place we will, as soon as possible, unite with some other church where we can carry out the spirit of this covenant and the principles of God's Word.

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3 minutes ago, Jim_Alaska said:

This is the text of that covenant:

Having been led, as we believe by the Spirit of God, to receive the Lord Jesus Christ as our Saviour and, on the profession of our faith, having been baptized in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, we do now, in the presence of God and this assembly most solemnly and joyfully enter into covenant with one another as one body in Christ. We engage, therefore, by the aid of the Holy Spirit to walk together in Christian love; to strive for the advancement of this church in knowledge, holiness and comfort; to promote its prosperity and spirituality; to sustain its worship, ordinances, discipline and doctrines; to contribute cheerfully and regularly to the support of the ministry, the expenses of the church, the relief of the poor and the spread of the gospel throughout all nations. We also engage to maintain family and secret devotions; to religiously educate our children; to seek the salvation of our kindred and acquaintances; to walk circumspectly in the world; to be just in our dealings, faithful in our engagements, and exemplary in our deportment; to avoid all tattling, backbiting, and excessive anger; to abstain from the sale of, and use of, destructive drugs or intoxicating drinks as a beverage; to shun pornography, to be zealous in our efforts to advance the kingdom of our Savior. We further engage to watch over one another in brotherly love; to remember one another in prayer; to aid one another in sickness and distress; to cultivate Christian sympathy in feeling and Christian courtesy in speech; to be slow to take offense, but always ready for reconciliation and mindful of the rules of our Saviour to secure it without delay. We moreover engage that when we remove from this place we will, as soon as possible, unite with some other church where we can carry out the spirit of this covenant and the principles of God's Word.

I "think" that's the exact same one that I spoke of earlier!

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12 minutes ago, Ukulelemike said:

I like that. It isn't "THOU SHALT DO SUCH AND SUCH!!". The wording is more of, This is how a believer ought to live their life and what we seek to do"

I agree Mike. There are many church covenants and statements of faith out there. We chose this one because it came the closest to what we believe and wanted. Although it is put out by the ABA, the wording was what we were looking for and this fit the bill. Their book store sells many different covenants, so I don't know if this one is the one they actually use or not, not that it matters at all.

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On 4/18/2016 at 7:38 PM, Jim_Alaska said:

When I was still in Alaska my church there had a church covenant that was framed and hanging on the wall. We also had small ones that we could give to people to put in their Bibles if they chose. I still have one in my Bible

Ours was from the Baptist Sunday School Committee in Texarkana. It outlines what we as church members covenant together to do. We hung the large one on the wall so that new folks could quickly see what we stood for, rather than getting an unexpected surprise.

This is the text of that covenant:

Having been led, as we believe by the Spirit of God, to receive the Lord Jesus Christ as our Saviour and, on the profession of our faith, having been baptized in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, we do now, in the presence of God and this assembly most solemnly and joyfully enter into covenant with one another as one body in Christ. We engage, therefore, by the aid of the Holy Spirit to walk together in Christian love; to strive for the advancement of this church in knowledge, holiness and comfort; to promote its prosperity and spirituality; to sustain its worship, ordinances, discipline and doctrines; to contribute cheerfully and regularly to the support of the ministry, the expenses of the church, the relief of the poor and the spread of the gospel throughout all nations. We also engage to maintain family and secret devotions; to religiously educate our children; to seek the salvation of our kindred and acquaintances; to walk circumspectly in the world; to be just in our dealings, faithful in our engagements, and exemplary in our deportment; to avoid all tattling, backbiting, and excessive anger; to abstain from the sale of, and use of, destructive drugs or intoxicating drinks as a beverage; to shun pornography, to be zealous in our efforts to advance the kingdom of our Savior. We further engage to watch over one another in brotherly love; to remember one another in prayer; to aid one another in sickness and distress; to cultivate Christian sympathy in feeling and Christian courtesy in speech; to be slow to take offense, but always ready for reconciliation and mindful of the rules of our Saviour to secure it without delay. We moreover engage that when we remove from this place we will, as soon as possible, unite with some other church where we can carry out the spirit of this covenant and the principles of God's Word.

This is really nice IMO. Throw in KJB, church attendance and some Biblical differences in men and women in behavior and appearance and you got a complete discipleship program you could teach in a church over a period of 12-16 weeks (Sunday Nights and/or Wednesdays maybe). For bigger churches, make it a Sunday School or Friday night training class over 12-16 weeks so you can thoroughly expose each area Scripturally to newborns. Or all those church members you often wonder about because they stopped growing while they were in diapers. This might just weed them out.

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Well, a constitution is generally done for legal purposes for a church that is incorporated as a 501C3 entity, which we are not. We DO have one because we used to be until I became the pastor, but mostly it concerns rules and regs for what members can and can't do. It isn't really a document with doctrines.

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Here's my opinion, you can take it or leave it. A church covenant, like many things, can be good or bad depending on how it's used. It can be a good thing to have expectations in writing, that way no one has an excuse for not knowing. If they are required to read the church covenant before becoming a member than they know what is expected of them as a member and they can't say, "I wasn't there when you taught on that". What should you put in a church covenant? I guess that all depends on what you expect from your members. I would say, if you are going to have a church covenant, write it yourself. Don't rely on someone else to decide what is Biblically right to expect of the members.

Just my two cents.

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Church Covenants are neither biblical nor unbiblical. They are just one of a number of ways to assist in making sure everyone is at least roughly on the same page. Given that church membership is voluntary not compulsory, given that covenants are commonplace in scripture, and given that it is not uncommon for people to enter a church with ulterior motives a church covenant can be one tool to make subversion of a congregation a bit more difficult. 

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Update:

Well, today the church voted on how binding it should be, an actual covenant, or just a general list of what the church holds to, and they absolutely voted for a covenant that they would each be accountable to. Kind of surprised, really, but that's what they want. Guess we'll see how much they want it when I hold them accountable. lol.

So we all brought up idea of what should be on it, went over dress and modesty, hair length, KJV, as well as mandatory reading of the Bible. (They actually ASKED for 'homework'!) And of course, tattoos and piercings, doctrines, marriage between man and woman. Smoking and drinking. I will add to that some other things, as well as some of the suggestions above.

On 4/21/2016 at 6:13 PM, John81 said:

What were the requirements to join the church exampled in Scripture?

From what I've noticed, without doing an exhaustive study at this time, there were only two requirements.

Being saved (born again), followed by baptism, added to the church.

After being added to the church members received preaching, teaching and instruction (as well as examples) of what they should know, how they should live, etc.

I think one thing we deal with that the church in Acts 2 didn't, was believers coming from other churches, already saved but moving location. So we need to have some set idea as to bringing them on. One is that they must be saved and scripturally baptized, (Acts 2) and then that we are in one accord, also found in Acts 2. Thats the point of the covenant I am looking at.

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We accept members who have made a profession of faith and been baptized in our local church, by letter from their former church and by statement of faith.

If they come from Calvary Chapel, a Catholic Church or any church holding to a universal, invisible position, they must of course have a biblical testimony of salvation and be scripturally baptized before coming to a vote for membership.  I've seen some families keep attending but not join because there daddy baptized them in the Pentecostal church when they were whatever and others who could not possibly believe their former church and pastor were biblically wrong in doctrine.  Most came around eventually and some left to continue happily in their sins, rather than be burdened with conforming to truth.  Our Gracious Father brings people into our lives to be a blessing and He removes them too!

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