In the Bible, God has outlined priorities for the local church. He has told us, as a local church, how we are to spend our time, what we are to value, and what we are to seek after. Here are the priorities that we strive to maintain at Crossway:
Romans 11:36 says, "For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen." This passage teaches us what true worship involves. Worship is an expressing to God..
our understanding of who He is and what He does; our appreciation for who He is and what He does (all things are from Him); our complete dependence upon Him (all things are through Him); and our commitment to serve Him exclusively for His pleasure and glory (all things are for Him).
We should also express these things to God with our lips as well as through a manner of living which is honoring to Him. Hebrews 13:15-16 says, "Through Him [Christ] then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name. And do not neglect doing good and sharing, for with such sacrifices God is pleased."
We seek to maintain worship as a priority. Our times of corporate worship are not for the sake of "tradition." Rather, we eagerly and carefully worship God through testimonies, prayer, Scripture reading, preaching, singing, and faithful living.
Acts 2:42 says the believers in the early church "were continually devoting themselves to the apostles' teaching." It is God's will that we prioritize teaching and instruction in the life of the church.
Teaching must be biblical.It must truly be the "apostles' teaching." The church needs God's truth as delivered to us through His apostles. The church does not need the opinions of men or the "wisdom" of men.
Teaching must be authoritative. Teachers in the church have authority only so far as they are communicating the Word of God. The teacher has no authority in and of himself, but he does have God's Word which is authoritative. Paul told Timothy to "prescribe and teach" the Scriptures (1 Timothy 4:11), and he told Titus to "speak and exhort and reprove with all authority" (Titus 2:15).
Teaching must be received in humility. James 1:21 says, "...putting aside all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness, in humility receive the word..." The mere opinions of men need not be accepted, but the truth of God as revealed in the Scripture must be received. Paul said to the Thessalonians, "For this reason we also constantly thank God that when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but for what it really is, the word of God, which also performs its work in you who believe" (1 Thessalonians 2:13).
Teaching from the Bible should be given both publicly and privately. Paul said to the church at Ephesus, "I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable, and teaching you publicly and from house to house" (Acts 20:20). Both public and private (counseling/discipleship) teaching should be biblical and authoritative.
Acts 2:42 says the believers in the first church "were continually devoting themselves to...fellowship." Verse 44 says, "And all those who had believed were together and had all things in common." Fellowship involves sharing. Believers share together in Christ. Each Christian is a member of the Body of Christ, and all members are therefore drawn together. They truly have "all things in common."
Not only do believers have fellowship (or, share in) Christ, but all believers in the local church are to devote themselves to fellowship with one another. They are to share the blessings of the Christ with one another as they are members of one body.
Scriptural commands, often referred to as the "one anothers," help us understand the responsibilities and privileges of fellowship in the local church. Christians in the local church must continually devote themselves to...
- Loving one another
- Showing hospitality to one another
- Meeting the needs of the saints
- Praying for one another
- Forgiving one another
- Teaching one another
- Confessing faults to one another
- Admonishing one another
- Encouraging one another
- Serving one another
- Stimulating one another to love and good deeds
- and many others...
These commands involve mutual responsibilities. Consider the command to love one another. God intends that each Christian show love to fellow believers in the local church as well as receive love from his fellow believers. Every Christian must be tightly knit together with members of the local body so that others can fulfill their responsibilities to him.
Every Christian is an ambassador of Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 5:20). He has been given a message (the gospel), and he must live to proclaim it to the world on behalf of Christ.
Christ has commissioned all believers to make disciples of Jesus Christ (Matthew 28:19-20). This necessarily includes sharing the gospel, fishing for men, and pleading with unbelievers to "be reconciled to God."
Members of the church family should know the gospel well and consistently seek to speak the truth of the gospel in love to the lost. Outreach to the community should be gospel-centered.