Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Sully Notes 2 | Life Together: The Classic Exploration of Faith in Community Part 3 of 3

Sully Notes Part 3 Emmaus City Church Life Together Faith in Missional Community Worcester Massachusetts


Sully Notes 2: Books in 25 minutes or less

Sully Notes are meant to provide you with more than a book review. They include direct quotes from some books I've read in the last year, so you can get a taste of the overall theme of the book and then begin to chew on what your life might look like if you applied what you read.

Here is the link to the previous Sully Notes book:

And here is the link to the previous post in the Sully Notes | Life
Together series:

Life Together: The Classic Exploration of Faith in Community | Sully Notes 2: Part 3 of 3 

Chapter 4 | Ministry (Cont.)

The Ministry of Helpfulness: "We must be ready to allow ourselves to be interrupted by God. God will be constantly crossing our paths and canceling our plans by sending us people with claims and petitions. … it is part of the discipline of humility that we must not spare our hand where it can perform a service and that we do not assume that our schedule is our own to manage, but allow it to be arranged by God. … Only where hands are not too good for deeds of love and mercy in everyday helpfulness can the mouth joyfully and convincingly proclaim the message of God’s love and mercy." – pgs. 99-100

The Ministry of Bearing: "'Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ' (Galatians 6:2). Thus the law of Christ is a law of bearing. Bearing means forbearing and sustaining. The brother is a burden to the Christian, precisely because he is a Christian. For the pagan the other person never becomes a burden at all. He simply sidesteps every burden that others may impose upon him. … The Bible speaks with remarkable frequency of 'bearing.' It is capable of expressing the whole work of Jesus Christ in this one word. 'Surely he hath borne our grief’s, and carried our sorrows … the chastisement of our peace was upon him' (Isaiah 53:4-5). Therefore, the Bible can also characterize the whole life of the Christian as bearing the Cross. It is the fellowship of the Cross to experience the burden of the other. If one does not experience it, the fellowship he belongs to is not Christian. If any member refuses to bear that burden, he denies the law of Christ." – pgs. 100-101

The Ministry of Bearing: "To cherish no contempt for the sinner but rather to prize the privilege of bearing him means not to have to give him up as lost, to be able to accept him, to preserve fellowship with him through forgiveness. 'Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness' (Galatians 6:1). As Christ bore and received us as sinners so we in his fellowship may bear and receive sinners into the fellowship of Jesus Christ through the forgiving of sins. We may suffer the sins of our brother; we do not need to judge. This is a mercy for the Christian; for when does sin ever occur in the community that he must not examine and blame himself for his own unfaithfulness in prayer and intercession, his lack of brotherly service, of fraternal reproof and encouragement, indeed, for this own personal sin and spiritual laxity, by which he has done injury to himself, the fellowship, and the brethren? Since every sin of every member burdens and indicts the whole community, the congregation rejoices, in the midst of all the pain and the burden the brother’s sin inflicts, that it has the privilege of bearing and forgiving." – pgs. 102-103

The Ministry of Proclaiming: "The speaking of that Word is beset with infinite perils. If it is not accompanied by worthy listening, how can it really be the right word for the other person? If it is contradicted by one’s own lack of active helpfulness, how can it be a convincing and sincere word? If it issues, not from a spirit of bearing and forbearing, but from impatience and the desire to force its acceptance, how can it be the liberating and healing word? ... Is there anything more perilous than speaking God’s Word to excess? But, on the other hand, who wants to be accountable for having been silent when he should have spoken?" – pg. 104

The Ministry of Proclaiming: "The basis upon which Christians can speak to one another is that each knows the other as a sinner, who, with all his human dignity, is lonely and lost if he is not given help. This is not to make him contemptible nor to disparage him in any way. On the contrary, it is to accord him the one real dignity that man has, namely, that, though he is a sinner, he can share in God’s grace and glory and be God’s child. This recognition gives to our brotherly speech the freedom and candor that it needs. We speak to one another on the basis of the help we both need. We admonish one another to go the way that Christ bids us to go. We warn one another against the disobedience that is our common destruction. We are gentle and we are severe with one another, for we know both God’s kindness and God’s severity. Why should we be afraid of one another, since both of us have only God to fear? ... Nothing can be more cruel than the tenderness that consigns another to his sin. Nothing can be more compassionate than the severe rebuke that calls a brother back from the path of sin." – pgs. 105-107

The Ministry of Authority: "Genuine authority realizes that it can exist only in the service of Him who alone has authority. Genuine authority knows that it is bound in the strictest sense by the saying of Jesus: 'One is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren' (Mattew 23:8). The Church does not need brilliant personalities but faithful servants of Jesus and the brethren. … Pastoral authority can be attained only by the servant of Jesus who seeks no power of his own, who himself is a brother among brothers submitted to the authority of the Word." – pg. 109

Chapter 5 | Confession and Communion 

"'Confess your faults to one another' (James 5:16). He who is alone with his sin is utterly alone. It may be that Christians, notwithstanding corporate worship, common prayer, and all their fellowship in service, may still be left to their loneliness. The final break-through to fellowship does not occur, because, though they have fellowship with one another as believers and as devout people, they do not have fellowship as the undevout, as sinners. The pious fellowship permits no one to be a sinner. So everybody must conceal his sin from himself and from the fellowship. We dare not be sinners. Many Christians are unthinkably horrified when a real sinner is suddenly discovered among the righteous. So we remain alone with our sin, living in lies and hypocrisy. The fact is that we are sinners! ... God has come to you to save the sinner. Be glad! This message is liberation through truth. You can hide nothing from God. The mask you wear before men will do you no good before Him. He wants to see you as you are. He wants to be gracious to you. You do not have to go on lying to yourself and your brothers, as if you were without sin; you can dare to be a sinner. Thank God for that…" – pgs. 110-111

"As the first disciples left all and followed when Jesus called, so in confession the Christian gives up all and follows. Confession is discipleship. Life with Jesus Christ and the community has begun. 'He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy' (Proverbs 28:13). In confession the Christian begins to forsake his sins. Their dominion is broken. From now on the Christian wins victory after victory." – pg. 115

"Who can give us the certainty that, in the confession and the forgiveness of our sins, we are not dealing with ourselves but with the living God? God gives us this certainty through our brother. Our brother breaks the circle of self-deception. A man who confesses his sins in the presence of a brother knows that he is no longer alone with himself; he experiences the presence of God in the reality of the other person. ... Our brother has been given me that even here and now I may be made certain through him of the reality of God in His judgment and His grace. As the open confession of my sins to a brother insures me against self-deception, so, too, the assurance of forgiveness becomes fully certain to me only when it is spoken by a brother in the name of God. … Does all this mean that confession to a brother is a divine law? No, confession is not a law, it is an offer of divine help for the sinner." – pgs. 115-116

"To whom shall we make confession? According to Jesus’ promise, every Christian brother can hear the confession of another. But will he understand? May he not be so far above us in his Christian life that he would only turn away from us with no understanding of our personal sins? Anybody who lives beneath the Cross and who has discerned in the Cross of Jesus the utter wickedness of all men and of his own heart will find there is no sin that can ever be alien to him. Anybody who has once been horrified by the dreadfulness of his own sin that nailed Jesus to the Cross will no longer be horrified by even the rankest sins of a brother. Looking at the Cross of Jesus, he knows the human heart. He knows how utterly lost it is in sin and weakness, how it goes astray in the ways of sin, and he also knows that it is accepted in grace and mercy. Only the brother under the Cross can hear a confession. It is not experience of life but experience of the Cross that makes one a worthy hearer of confessions." – pg. 118

" … every person should refrain from listening to confession who does not himself practice it. Only the person who has so humbled himself can hear a brother’s confession without harm. … The forgiveness of sins is the sole ground and goal of confession." – pg. 120

"The day before the Lord’s Supper is administered will find the brethren of a Christian fellowship together and each will beg the forgiveness of the others for the wrongs committed. Nobody who avoids this approach to his brother can go rightly prepared to the table of the Lord. All anger, strife, envy, evil gossip, and unbrotherly conduct must have been settled and finished if the brethren wish to receive the grace of God together in the sacrament." – pg. 121

"As the members of the congregation are united in body and blood at the table of the Lord so will they be together in eternity. Here the community has reached its goal. Here joy in Christ and his community is complete. The life of Christians together under the Word has reached its perfection in the sacrament." – pg. 122

Next post: A Meal with Jesus: Discovering Grace, Community and Mission Around the Table | Sully Notes 3: Part 1 of 3

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