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Christians and Organisations

If I am a Christian, can I be a member of other organisations?

Study notes from a talk at Templepatrick Reformed Church.

Text: Ephesians 5:1-11

Can a Christian belong to any other organisation – outside the visible church?   I personally think that associations and organisations fall broadly into three categories:- 

  1. Those that Christians should never be involved in.  I’m thinking of course of paramilitary groups, the Freemasons, ecumenical groups,  churches and religious bodies with dubious doctrines, practices and ethics.  
  2. Those that are spiritually harmless.  Parachurch organisations, business organisations, college alumni, etc.  
  3. Those that some Christians will be content to join, but others will not.  In this category we have a huge issue of subjective ethics, and Christian freedoms that need to exercised with great care, and with consideration for not only our own conscience, but the conscience of others.   Political parties, trades unions, sports and recreation clubs, professional bodies, dating clubs, And in this age, what internet groups should the Christian join? 

The question of how far Christians can associate with non-church organisations is nothing new, of course.  So, what are the Biblical foundations which we should consider when we are invited to join an organisation other than the church?   

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Where should the Christian find fellowship and friendship outside the church?

 

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Paul – A New Creation. Acts 9:20-31

A New Creation.

Text: Acts 9:20-31, Galatians 1:11ff 

In 2 Corinthians 5:17 Paul would write ‘Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.’   Our passage in Acts helps us to understand how radical that change in Paul’s life was after conversion, and how sudden, in its effect.   One of the first effects of conversion on Saul’s life, was that he straight away began telling others.  Let’s see how this worked out in Paul’s early Christian life:-

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Telling Others   –  Image by  GraphicMama from Pixabay

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The Intermediate State #2

The Intermediate State 2

In our last study we found that people are more than just a physical body – that we have a soul, and that soul lives on after death.  We looked then at the time between the death of a Christian, and the second coming of Christ, when we will be reunited with our resurrected bodies.  So we needed to ask where we would be during that time of waiting, and what we would be doing, and whether we would be conscious.  There are a couple more questions that people often ask about life after death, like,

Can we communicate with the dead?

Will we know each other in heaven?

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Shall We Know One Another in Heaven? JC Ryle

 

Shall We Know One Another in Heaven?

J.C. Ryle, 1870


I pity that man who never thinks about Heaven. I use that word in the broadest and most popular sense. I mean by “Heaven” the future dwelling-place of all true Christians, when the dead are raised, and the world has passed away. Cold and unfeeling must that heart be, which never gives a thought to that dwelling-place! Dull and earthly must that mind be, which never considers “Heaven!”

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Ananias of Damascus

Ananias of Damascus

Text: Acts 9:10-19 

Saul is at Damascus now – He has been humbled, has been brought low, is physically and spiritually broken, blind and ill, with no desire to eat or to carry out his mission, perhaps abandoned now by his retinue of followers… and he can do nothing except sit in his room, and pray.  I wonder about those prayers!  What was he praying about?   Of course, Saul had said many prayers as a Pharisee – after all the Pharisees LOVED to pray, standing up in the synagogues and in the streets, they prayed to be seen by others;  praying had been a formal matter, like going along to a dead church and mumbling your way through the ritual. Like the Pharisee in Luke 18:11 he had prayed about himself. What a difference now though, as now humbled before the Lord he lifted up his heart in repentance!    

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Saul of Tarsus – Ananias’ Worst Nightmare

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One Second After Death…

One Second After Death…

Text. Hebrews 12:18-24

In this study I want to look at what happens to us – specifically to a Christian believer, the very second that they die. 

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First we need to ask a very basic question:-

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The Joy of the Angels!

And angels rejoiced too.

Why, when one of God’s elect is born, angels stand around his cradle. He grows up, and runs into sin, angels follow him, tracking him all his way, they gaze with sorrow upon his many wanderings; the fair Peri drops a tear whene’er that loved one sins.
Presently the man is brought under the sound of the gospel. The angel says, “Behold, he begins to hear.” He waits a little while, the word sinks into his heart, a tear runs down his check, and at last he cries from his inmost soul, “God have mercy upon me!”
See! The angel claps his wings, up he flies to heaven, and says, “Brethren angels, list to me: ‘Behold, he prayeth.’” Then they set heaven’s bells ringing; they have a Jubilee in glory; again they shout with gladsome voices, for verily I tell you, “there is joy in heaven among the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.”
They watch us till we pray, and when we pray, they say, “Behold, he prayeth.”
Charles H. Spurgeon- “Paul’s First Prayer,”
A Sermon delivered on Sabbath Morning, March 25th, 1855