Monthly Archives: February 2016

Today Marks Two Years Of Ministry For Kitwe Church!


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Kitwe Church exists to glorify God by making gospel-centered, reproducing disciples of Jesus Christ.

Our identification as Christians is not national, ethnic or cultural, our identification is that we are children of the King. The church is the place where the world can see in microcosm what the Kingdom of God looks like.  People from every “tribe, tongue and nation” together in gospel unity for the purpose of bringing glory to God!

There are people in Kitwe and its environs who are not being targeted by any existing church. Some are Zambians who have been turned off by “the church” and have nothing to do with it. There are also people living in our city who are from Chinese, Indian, South American and European backgrounds who are effectively unreached by an intentional gospel witness.

Kitwe Church sprang from a burden to reach out to all of these groups with the gospel. In 2014 Philip Hunt family and the Nathan Washer family banded together with the blessings of Faith Baptist Church of Riverside to begin an evangelistic Bible study outreach. Kitwe Bible Study Fellowship held the first meeting on February 23, 2014 at the Polo Club next to the Agricultural Showgrounds in Kitwe. A small handful of unchurched people attended that first Bible study.

For the first three months an apologetics approach was taken that answered questions and arguments about Christianity. The remainder of the year was Bible studies from the Gospel of John explaining the deity of Christ and the need to submit to Him for salvation. During this same period the children were being taught a survey of the Bible using the various stories from Creation to the return of Christ.

A variety of people began to attend the study, and began to invite their friends and acquaintances. Visitors came to the study from Kitwe, Chingola, Mufulira and Chiliabombwe. Attendance grew during the first year from a handful to between 40-50 people each week.

In December 2014, the executive committee from the M.O.T.H.S Club in Parklands reached out and invited our Bible Study Fellowship to use their hall at no charge. The change in venue coincided with a spike in weekly attendance.

Jamie & Mandy Smith joined the leadership team in December 2014 and plans were made to transition the ministry from a Bible Study Fellowship to a church plant that would be known as Kitwe Church (www.kitwechurch.com). In early 2015 the Bible study transitioned from an informal Bible study to a more structured service format. A music team was organized and congregational singing was incorporated. Attendance continued to grow through the year with a high attendance in 2015 of 135 attendees. By the middle of 2015 Kitwe Church opened a bank account, began to collect offerings, instituted Small Group Bible Studies and began a monthly teen activity and Bible study.

Several people have professed faith in Jesus Christ, and in December 2015 the first baptism service was held with 9 persons following Christ in believer’s baptism. A series of messages were presented the second half of 2015 that dealt with all aspects of local church membership, structure and duties. During the last quarter of 2015 the Elders completed work on a doctrinal statement and adopted a Church Covenant, Mission Statement, Core Values and a Church Constitution.

The first Membership Orientation will be held the first three Sundays of March 2016 followed by a Chartering Service scheduled for Easter Sunday, March 27, 2016.

We are thankful for what God has done over the past two years and eagerly anticipate what He will continue to do in the years to come!  Our goal is to Know Truth, Love God & Serve Others! If you reside in the Kitwe area and do not have a church you call “home” please join us this Sunday!

Understanding Church Membership


Introduction:

We live in a country where it is fashionable and accepted to claim to be a Christian. Yet many who make that claim commit adultery, abandon their wives, get drunk, frequent the clubs, cheat their employers, engage in corrupt business, display out of control temper and  engage in slanderous speech.

Jesus warned that in the last days many would claim to be His followers. How does the world know who represents Jesus?  There is an abundance of false teachings in the name of Christ, there are many who live lives that do not match the holiness and character of God yet claim to be members of His body.

How does the world know who is true and who is false?  Who is really a Jesus follower.

There are many false religions teaching opposing things – How will the world know the truth, and how will they know who represents that truth to them?

The answer to these questions drives us to the heart of our topic for this evening: Understanding Church Membership

What is the church?

What the church is NOT: Popular misconceptions from our culture:

  1. The local church is not a club.  It is not a volunteer organization where membership is optional.
  2. The local church is not a service provider.  In a business the customer is always right. The church is not a service provider where the customer has all authority.
  3. The local church is not a support group. It is not just a friendly group of people who share an interest in Divine things and get together every week to talk about them.

What is the Church?

The church is referred to as a body (Ro12:4; ICo12:12-27), bride (2Co11:2; Eph5:24,32), building (1Co 3:9; 2Co6:16; Eph 2:20-22)

“A formally organized body of believers meeting to worship together.”

“A called out assembly of believers, meeting together in a particular location for the purpose of worship, and spiritual accountability.”

A local church is a group of Christians who regularly gather in Christ’s name to officially affirm and oversee one another’s membership in Jesus Christ and His kingdom through gospel preaching and gospel ordinances.” – Leehman

Wrong thinking about the church:

  • Christians can think it’s fine to attend a church indefinitely without joining;
  • Christians think of getting baptized apart from joining;
  • Christians take the Lord’s Supper without joining;
  • Christians view the Lord’s Supper as their own private, mystical experience for Christians and not as an activity for church members who are incorporated into body life together;
  • Christians don’t integrate their Monday-to-Saturday lives with the lives of other saints (p. 23).

Cause of wrong thinking about the church:

We assume that we have the autonomy and authority to conduct our Christian lives on our own.  We can include the church piece when and how we want.

The Authority of the local church

“The local church is the authority on earth that Jesus has instituted to officially affirm and give shape to my Christian life and yours.”  (p. 24).

The church is added to: Repent, Baptized.  Salvation and Identification with Christ. The place that this takes places is in the local church.

  1. Accept God’s grace in forgiving your sin by faith in Jesus Christ.
  2. Identify with & Submit to the body of Christ through baptism.

All Christians are to identify with and submit to a local church:

  1. Christians are commanded to submit to those in church leadership because they must give an account. (Heb 13:17)
  2. God calls specific elders to care for specific people (1Pt.5:1-5, Acts 20:29-30)
  3. Church is called to discipline sinning Christians. (1Co5:1-12).  Church discipline cannot work if local church membership doesn’t exist.  How do you put someone “out” if they were never “in”?

Just as the Bible establishes the government of your nation as your highest authority on earth when it comes to your citizenship in that nation, so the Bible establishes the local church as your highest authority on earth when it comes to your discipleship to Christ and your citizenship in Christ’s present and promised nation. (p. 25).

There is no example in Scripture of someone who truly believes yet does not identify with the body of Christ.  There is no spiritual free-agent unaccountable to a local church.

  1. It is through the church that the Christian lives out his faith by sharing Christ with others.
  2. Sacrificially giving to God through the church.
  3. The proclamation of the truth was entrusted to the local church
  4. The discipling and equipping of saints was entrusted to the local church.
  5. Providing accountability and discipline is entrusted to the church.

Membership In The Local Church

Definition of Church Membership:

“A formal relationship between a church and a Christian characterized by the church’s affirmation and oversight of a Christian’s discipleship and the Christian’s submission to living out his or her discipleship in the care of the church.”  – Leehman

Notice the elements that are present:

  1. A church body formally affirms an individual’s profession of faith and baptism as credible.
  2. It promises to give oversight to that individual’s discipleship.
  3. The individual formally submits his or her discipleship to the service and authority of this body and its leaders.

The church body says to the individual, “We recognize your profession of faith, baptism, and discipleship to Christ as valid. Therefore, we publicly affirm and acknowledge you as belonging to Christ and the oversight of our fellowship.” 

Principally, the individual says to the church body, “Insofar as I recognize you as a faithful, gospel-declaring church, I submit my presence and my discipleship to your love and oversight.” (pp. 64-65).

To not be a member of a church is like enjoying the benefits of a physical relationship without any of the commitments or responsibilities of marriage.  It is called adultery or prostitution.

Takers not givers – we are to be productive within the church giving our talents, skills, gifts so that the body will grow strong… too many people approach the church like a mosquito looking for something to take.

“When people ask, “Where is membership in the Bible?” the problem is they’re looking for something like a club to join, because the word membership is a club word. Clubs and political parties and labor unions have memberships. But you don’t often use the word membership in relation to governments and the citizens of nations. You don’t say, “So how’s the membership of the British nation doing? Aren’t you guys running, like, sixty million members these days?” 

The Church as an Embassy

Leeman suggests that the church can be viewed as an Embassy – you may go to the one in Lusaka or in South Africa but they each do the same thing – they affirm that you are a citizen of the USA.  I affirm the authority and responsibility to the one in Zambia and my friend might do the same with the one in RSA.  This is an example of my relationship with a member of the body of Christ who is joined to another church of life faith and practice.

Embassy represents one nation to another.  It represents the interests of it’s homeland to another nation and it affirms and protects its citizens living in that foreign land.

What the Church Does For A Christian:

We are pilgrims and sojourners on our way to Heaven.  Our identification is not national, ethnic or cultural, our identification is we are children of the King.  The church is the place where the world can see in microcosm what the Kingdom of God looks like – it is not that kingdom, but it represents and reveals it.  The citizens of Heaven live differently, look different and are passionately committed to spreading the good news about their loving Father King who will welcome all into His kingdom.

  1. The church affirms the citizens of Christ’s kingdom.
  2. The church protects the citizens of Christ’s kingdom.
  3. The church proclaims the laws of Christ’s kingdom.
  4. The church invites all peoples to come to bow and worship the king..

To be a church member is to be the church, at least a part of it. A church member, therefore, is someone who is formally recognized as a Christian and a part of Christ’s universal body. That’s not to say that churches always get it right, but it’s their job to identify and affirm who belongs to the kingdom and who does not.

A church member is a person who has been officially and publicly recognized as a Christian before the nations, as well as someone who shares in the same authority of officially affirming and overseeing other Christians in his or her church. (p. 29).

Conclusion

Christians don’t join churches; they submit to them. (p. 30).

Once you choose Christ, you must choose his people, too. It’s a package deal. Choose the Father and the Son and you have to choose the whole family—which you do through a local church.  (p. 31).

It’s true that a Christian must choose to join a church, but that does not make it a voluntary organization. We are, in fact, obligated to choose a local church just as we are obligated to choose Christ. Having chosen Christ, a Christian has no choice but to choose a church to join.  (p. 66).

————

1. This study is based upon the book: Church Membership: How the World Knows Who Represents Jesus Copyright © 2012 Jonathan Leeman Published by Crossway 1300 Crescent Street Wheaton, Illinois 60187.  Good News Publishers. Kindle Edition.

2. http://www.brainyquote.com/words/ch/church143947.html

One Philosophy – To Live Is Christ, To Die Is Gain


One Philosophy

What is your philosophy of life? To what in life would you respond with the words, “Man! This is Living!”?

Everyone lives by a set of values – things you believe are important. These beliefs form your philosophy of life. Your philosophy of life determines how you view the world.  They shape how you view your purpose for living.

Philosophy = core beliefs (values) that guide your decisions and actions.  The world offers many philosophies of life:

1. Life is pleasure – Epicurian View – Person who takes pleasure in fine food and drink. Followers of Epicurius (341-270BC) a Greek Philosopher who promoted the theory of a material universe composed of indestructible atoms moving in a void, unregulated by Divine Providence.

This philosophy of life centers on living rather than life. Life to these people means one round of pleasures after another. They pursue entertainment and pleasure at huge cost and in it seek satisfaction. MTV/Hollywood, recreation, amusement park and holiday. Like a lady I heard of who who wanted to go on a cruise but did not have the money, so she sold her body to science.  After she dies the company gets her remains.  She takes the money she got for the sale of her body and went on a cruise!

This is the successful farmer in Luke 12:19 who after a successful harvest said, “And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry.”  What he didn’t know was, that very night would be his last!

2. Life is pain – Stoic View – Life is something that has to be endured. Living means hard endurance in the midst of harshness, suffering and pain. In the midst of it all the stoic is determined to hold on till the end. These people find it hard to smile, no joy in life, they are bitter and cold. They have never learned that the joy of the Lord is strength.

There was an elderly lady I knew as a teenager, her name was Mrs. Morgan.  The thing you learned never to do at church was to say to Mrs. Morgan “how are you today?” because she would hold onto your hand and tell you! Before she launched into her list of aches, and difficulties she would say, “I’m doing pretty good under the circumstances.”

3. Life is hopeless – Cynics View – What is the use of anything? Nothing I do will make a difference anyway. What will be will be, so why try. They believe anyone is motivated by self-interests.

4. Life is people – Humanist View – Man is intrinsically good but in a bad environment. Humanist believes in the potential good in everyone and seeks human means to solve the problems of mankind. Ignorance, prejudice, social injustice, government policies are the evils that must be corrected through education, social programs, and pressure groups.  Christians ought to quickly realize that this is the exact opposite of that God says to be true.  We are depraved.

5. Life is religion – Religious View – Life is the performing religious duties, traditions. Mindlessly going through the motions.

6. Life is family – Average-Man’s View – Life is our family, our home, work, and the activities of life. These things are important but they often become the most important things in life and when they are taken away our life collapses.

The book of Philippians reveals the true Christian mind. In every chapter and every division in the book this word is found.(1.7,2.2,2.3,2.5,3.15,3.19,4.2,4.10.) Paul is literally saying through the Book of Philippians: “Here is how a Christian should think about these various matters.”

So how did Paul think about life and ministry? What were the guiding principles for Paul’s behavior? Paul made many statements throughout his life that offer insights into his thinking:

  1. Necessity is laid upon me, yea, woe to me if I do not preach the gospel. (1Cor. 9:16)
  2. I made it my aim not to preach where Christ was named (Ro. 15.20)
  3. I have become all things to all men that I might by all means save some. (I Cor. 9.22)
  4. Who are we but bond-servants through whom you believed (I Cor 3.5)
  5. Neither count I my life dear to myself. (Acts 20.24)

Today we are looking at Philippians 1:19-26. In our text we discover the foundational theme of Paul’s philosophy of life and ministry : “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” (21)

I fear that if we are not intentional the philosophy statement of many Christians is the reverse of Paul’s; it goes something like this: “For to me, to live is gain, to die is Christ.”  We live for all that we can get out of this life, but we still have Christ as our heavenly insurance policy in the end.

I. THE VALUES THAT SHAPE HIS PHILOSOPHY (20-21a)

Paul what do you mean, “For to me to live is Christ”?

1. My highest affection, my deepest passion, my overriding ambition is Jesus Christ and Him alone. In Him alone I find fulfillment, happiness and joy unspeakable. My worth both personally and in ministry is found in Him alone – in His approval, His smile, His nod. (21a)

What are your priorities in life?

  • How do you spend your leisure time?
  • What do you read?
  • What do you think about?
  • Where do you spend your money?

2. My motive is for His will (20) – nothing more, nothing less, nothing else. Christ is my life and nothing else. His will is my chief concern (Ro. 12.1-2). My great concern is that His eternal purposes might be fulfilled in me and through me in the world. His goals are my goals, His desires are my desires. (20c)

3. My single aim in life is to glorify Christ. Christ lives in me and lives his life through me, thus God is glorified in my body which belongs to Him. (Gal 2.20, I Cor 6.19)

4. My singleness of purpose boils down to this central philosophy of life – To me to live is Christ!

  • • To know as much about Christ as is possible to know.
  • • To imitate Christ, to make Him the model of my life.
  • • To make the gospel of Christ known as far as possible and to as many people as possible in my lifetime.
  • To enjoy Him – to be comforted in trouble, to find my happiness in communion with Him!

5. For me to live is Christ simply means that Christ is the love of my life

Love is always thinking about the object of its love (Mt. 6.21). With Paul his love was Christ,

  • Love expresses the emotion and gives release to the desires within us. Paul’s desire was to know Christ better. (3.10)
  • Love translates into action – A reckless abandon to the object of his love. Paul has spent his time preaching Christ and he was not concerned what might happen to him because Christ was in control. (20b) Whether by life or by death.

2 Cor. 11:22 Are they Hebrews? so am I. Are they Israelites? so am I. Are they the seed of Abraham? so am I. 23 Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am more; in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft. 24 Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. 25 Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; 26 In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; 27 In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness. 28 Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches.
Acts 20:24 But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.

Paul, what do you mean, “To Die Is Gain”?

1. Death is gain (21b). To attain something greater, more profitable!

Heb. 11:9-10 By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise: For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.

2. Death is desirable (23)

  • To depart and be with Christ is far better than living on here.
  • I will however remain and fulfill my ministry because that is what is best for you (24-25)
  • My ultimate joy will be to see him face to face. To be in His physical presence never to depart.

II. THE MEANING OF THIS PHILOSOPHY IN MY LIFE

What will it mean to my life to live by this philosophy “to me to live is Christ”?

1. It means I will make all decisions in my life based upon God’s priorities. It means I will demonstrate my priorities consistently in such a way that it impacts my children. If you wish to see the priorities of Christian parents watch their offspring over time

  • For some, education is the highest priority – all else is willingly sacrificed at her altar. We teach our children it is fine to miss church, neglect godly responsibilities, ignore the call of God to service for the sake of education.
  • For some, the attainment of a good job, the securing of a career is all-important. “Of course I would be happy for your to serve God in ministry, but first you need to have a career to fall back on in case it does not work out.”
  • For some, it is the pursuing of worldly comfort and pleasure. We need the latest fashion, the newest upgrade, the surrounding of our lives with every comfort and ease we can find.
  • Little of the conversation in our Christian homes centers around the character of God, a Christian world-view. Is it any wonder that we are producing a self-centered, self-serving generation of young people who have no interest in serving God with their lives?

2. It means I will gladly sacrifice my all and even my life if required in order to glorify God’s great name!

“People who do not know the Lord ask why in the world we waste our lives as missionaries. They forget that they too are expending their lives … and when the bubble has burst, they will have nothing of eternal significance to show for the years they have wasted.” — Nate Saint, missionary martyr, 1956

What will it mean to my life to live by this philosophy “to die is gain”?

1. It means I must develop an eternal perspective. This life is not the end but merely the path to the greater. To die is gain! (21)

2Cor. 4:18 While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.

2. It means I unwaveringly press toward the mark (20) – earnest expectation = intense desire, anticipation! We have a goal and continually evaluate to determine if what we are doing moves us toward that mark. We must focus on “this one thing.” Shed off the many good things that hinder us from achieving that ‘one thing’. I count all things as dung – in comparison to Christ all the things that can be achieved or acquired are refuse. (Phil 3.7-8)

3. It means I “become all things to all men.” – Willing to step outside our comfort zone for the sake of His name among the lost of the world. (I Co. 9.22)

4. It means I am willing to take risks for God. “Neither count I my life dear.” (Acts 20.24)

5. It means I desire that Christ be magnified above all else at all costs. This means that I am willing for Christ to be magnified at my own expense – by life which is Christ’s or by death only that Christ is glorified. The choice rests with Him. (20). I am willing for God to build His kingdom at my expense?

  • “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church” – Tertullian of Carthage
  • According to “Christians in Crisis” there have been 43 million Christians martyred in the last 2000 years – 50% of those in the last century.

III. THE MANIFESTATION OF THIS PHILOSOPHY IN MY LIFE

Great courage – Boldness, confidence before God and man.

On 12/28/1852 David Livingstone wrote: “Am I on my way to die in Sibituane’s country? Have I seen the last of my wife and children? The breaking up of all my connections with earth, leaving this fair and beautiful world and yet knowing so little of it? O Jesus, fill me with Thy love now, and I beseech Thee accept me and use me a little for Thy glory. I have done nothing for Thee yet, and I would like to do something. O do, do I beseech Thee, accept me and my service and take Thou all the glory…”

On 4/4/1853: “If God has accepted my service then my life is charmed till my work is done. And though I pass through many dangers unscathed while working the work given me to do… Death is a glorious event to one going to Jesus… There is something sublime in passing into the second stage of our immortal lives if washed from our sins.”

Magnification of Christ (20c)

1. Chief purpose of man is to glorify God and worship Him forever

Jer. 9: 23 Thus says the LORD: “Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, Let not the mighty man glory in his might, Nor let the rich man glory in his riches; 24 But let him who glories glory in this, That he understands and knows Me, That I am the LORD, exercising loving-kindness, judgment, and righteousness in the earth. For in these I delight,” says the LORD.

2. Suffering and even death become the verification that we believe what we proclaim.

Mal. 1:11 For from the rising of the sun even unto the going down of the same my name shall be great among the Gentiles; and in every place incense shall be offered unto my name, and a pure offering: for my name shall be great among the heathen, saith the LORD of hosts.

On December 6, 1943, John Stam wrote: “Dear Brethren, My wife, baby and myself are today in the hands of the Communists, in the city of Tsingteh. Their demand is twenty thousand dollars for our release. All our possessions and stores are in their hands, but we praise God for peace in our hearts and a meal tonight. God grant you wisdom in what you do, and us fortitude, courage and peace of heart. He is able – and a wonderful friend in such a time… The Lord bless and guide you, and as for us, May God be glorified whether by life or by death.”

The next day John and Betty Stam were marched to another city stripped of their clothes and paraded through the streets before being shot. Their three-month old baby, Helen, was found in an abandoned in a house thirty hours after the execution. A Chinese evangelist delivered her in a rice basket to a missionary family hundreds of miles away.

Desire to be with Him – To die is gain! (23)

To depart is something desirable, something far better  To die is gain because we depart to receive the full inheritance and eternal reward of heaven. Yet we are willing to stay and faithfully serve God’s people while longing to depart and be with Christ.

When death comes we can say: (II Tim. 4.6-8)

  • I have fought a good fight
  • I have finished my race
  • I have kept the faith.

What is your philosophy of life?

For to me to live is gain and to die is Christ?

Or can you say like the Apostle Paul:

“For to me to live is Christ, to die is gain!”

Note: I am indebted to Martyn Lloyd-Jones for his insights into this text.

Why Join A Church


In his excellent book, Nine Marks of a Healthy Church, Pastor Mark Dever gives the following reasons why every Christian Should join a local church:

  1. To assure ourselves. We do not join a local church so that we can be saved. Salvation is by grace through faith alone in Jesus Christ. You may however want to join the church to make certain that you are saved. God intends us as his disciples to join together with other Christians to worship and serve God.
  2. To evangelize the world. Together with other Christians we reach out to our world with the gospel of Jesus Christ. We promote the gospel by taking it to those who have not heard it and also by living lives together in community that reflect the gospel of Jesus Christ.
  3. To expose false Gospels. As we join together in a local church community we revealed to the world what true Christianity really is. We come to church because we need help, because we know that we are dependent upon God loon for our eternal solution and our every day living.
  4. To edify the church. Our responsibility is to build up others in the body of Christ. It is also their responsibility to hold us accountable for our decisions and our actions. Together we help one another grow in the likeness of Jesus Christ before watching world.
  5. To glorify God. Driving purpose for our existence is that we glorify and exalt are glorious God. Peter wrote in 1 Peter 2:12 “live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.” God receives glory through his children as the obey his commands to love one another fervently with a pure heart.

We are very excited at Kitwe Church to move towards chartering our church, and excepting the first registered members. 

(p150-159)