Devotional: May 7th
Sometimes people come into the local church who have never come into the universal church. People join a church who have never been born into the true church. Some churches actually throw the doors open and say, "Now we'll sing the closing hymn for those who want to unite with the church. Come to the front." Al Capone could come in and join. Nobody asks any questions; they just take in anybody. I do not believe in that at all, and I know you do not either. I believe that if you are going to get into a local church, you should first be in the universal church, which Jesus purchased with His own blood. You should get into the church with rebirth, the Holy Spirit and regeneration. Then you should join a local assembly. It is impossible to receive Christ and reject His people. How do you find the Shepherd" Go where the sheep are! If you do not know where the Shepherd is, then go where the sheep are. All else being equal, that is where you will find the Shepherd. Whoever receives Christ must receive His people too. Jesus said, "He who receives you receives me" (Matthew 10:40a). Whoever rejects the bride rejects the Bridegroom, and whoever rejects the flock rejects the Shepherd. I think that is clear enough.
The Church's mightiest influence is felt when she is different from the world in which she lives. Her power lies in her being different, rises with the degree in which she differs and sinks as the difference diminishes. This is so fully and clearly taught in the Scriptures and so well illustrated in Church history that it is hard to see how we can miss it. But miss it we do, for we hear constantly that the Church must try to be as much like the world as possible, excepting, of course, where the world is too, too sinful; and we are told to get adjusted to the world and be all things to all men. (This use of the passage, incidentally, points up Peter's saying that Our beloved brother Paul wrote some things which the unlearned and the unstable wrest to their own destruction.) One sure mark of the Church's heavenly character is that she is different from the rest of mankind; similarity is a mark of her fall. The sons of God and the sons of men are morally and spiritually separated, and between them there is a great gulf fixed. When religious persons try to bridge that gulf by compromise they violate the very principles of the kingdom of God.
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