In compliance with an order of the Association at its last session, the following brief report on the queries then and there discussed, is respectfully submitted, viz: 1. Whether a church of Jesus Christ, is rightly fulfilling her mission, in relying exclusively upou a temporary and extraneous supply of preaching? 2. Whether a church of Christ is properly fulfilling her mission, in making no efforts to supply the destitution around her? 3. Whether or not the present old and languishing state of the churches may not, in a good degree, be attributable to a lax and faithless discipline?
The mission of Christ's people is peculiar to every church organized upon Gospel principles. The great end to be secured in the fululiment of that mission, is the glory of Christ, "the head."
Christ is glorified in and by the church. He is glorified in the church by the maintenance of his public worship. Preaching the word, as an essential part of worship, is necessary to the development of individual Christian character, and guidance of Christian deportment; is necessary to the increase of knowledge, spirituality, and usefulness in the church. And the frequency and constancy with which this should be maintained, indicated by the recurrence of each successive "Lord's Day," inadequate in a greater or less degree by a stinted growth, diminished enjoyment, and enfeebled powers of usefulness.
The first query, therefore, admits of a categorical answer. A Church of Christ is not rightly fulfilling her mission in relying upon a temporary and extraneous supply of preaching. The true remedy of this partial and temporary ministration of the word among us, is found in each church, faithfully calling out, and employing all her gifts and graces in maintaining the constant worship of God. God will supply the wants of the churches when they properly employ the means of his appointment. But Christ is also glorified in the church by the maintenance of a sound spiritual discipline; such as he himself has prescribed. The end of all scripture discipline, whether in its formative or corrective features is to promote holiness. Holiness is that which distinguishes the people of God, from the world, and constitutes their meteness [meetness] for "the master service." Holy lives are a glory to Christ, because a reflection of his own holy name and character upon a corrupt world. It is upon such that the "Lord commands his blessing, even life forever more." To be holy is "to be spiritually minded," which "is life and peace." A want of faithfulness then, in the scripture methods of urging and inciting each other to holy lives, can only be fruitful in apathy, works of confusion, and loss of spiritual enjoyment. And the third query admits of an equally definite answer with the first. The present languishing condition of the churches is attributable, in a degree, to a lax, and unfaithful discipline.
But Christ is also glorified by the church when her energies and resources are faithfully employed in carrying out the great commission. The most natural scriptural method of doing this, is for every church according to her ability, to supply her own wants, and then provide for the region beyond, even to the uttermost parts of the earth. Upon this plan, the primative churches acted, and were highly commended by the apostle, says Paul of the Thessalonian Christians, "from you sounded out the word of the Lord, not only in Mascedonia and Achaia, but also in every place, your faith in God's word is spread abroad, so that we need not to speak anything." It is the mission of the church of Christ, "to publish a pure Gospel to the whole world." And we may answer the second query with as much definiteness as the first and third.
A church of Christ is not properly fulfilling her mission in making no effort to supply the destitution around her.
[From Northbend Baptist Association Minutes, 1860, pp. 7-8. — jrd]
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