CHAPTER 17-THE IDEAL CHURCH
Webster: "An ideal is a standard of perfection; a perfect type, whether a reality or a conception only." "There will always be a wide interval between practical and ideal excellence." But for church and individual Christians this interval need not be as wide as it too often is. The ideal is a goal to be striven for-something every member should make the largest contribution possible towards.
What are the characteristics of the ideal church? What are its leading features? What will be the outstanding things about it?
1. It will be a church of the open Book. The Bible will be its law book and guide book. If I might choose a symbol for our church it will be the open Bible. The church of the open Book will be a place where the wicked will be warned; the lost may find salvation; the new born child of God may find food; the student of the word may get lessons in the deep things of God; the sorrowing may find comfort.
2. It will be a church of the opened heart. It will be a church of brotherly love. Love may be defined as a sort of instinct planted by God in the new birth. "Beloved, let us love another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God" (#1Joh 4:7); "Ye yourselves are taught of God to love one another" (#1Th 4:9). Brotherly love will be manifested,
2a) In hospitality;
It used to be said of Christians by men of the world; "Behold, how they love one another."
The church of the opened heart will be a praying church. Prayer is another spiritual instinct planted in regeneration. When Ananias was told to go to the house of Judas on Straight Street and call for Saul of Tarsus, erstwhile enemy of the saints, it was said to Ananias "For behold, he prayeth" (#Ac 9:11). No need to fear a praying man.
3. It will be a church of the opened purse. The church of Jesus Christ has been greatly cheapened in the eyes of the world by lack of a spirit of giving on the part of its members. The church has the biggest task of any other institution on earth; it is a globe encircling task and a time long task.
There is more in the Bible about giving than any other subject. Nearly all our Lord's parables are related to money. The tithe did not originate with Moses, but it was incorporated in the laws given by Moses to redeem Israel.
In the Old Testament "Honor the Lord with thy substance, and with the first fruits of all thine increase" (#Pr 3:9). In the New Testament, "Let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him" (#1Co 16:2).
In #Heb 7:8, we read that under the Levitical economy that the priests who die received tithes, but that now the priest who ever liveth receives them.
Paul tells us, "I have shewed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive" (#Ac 20:35). This is called the commandment nobody believes. A man once said: "giving is good enough for me."
I'm not a gold digger, but I do mean to do my best to cultivate a spirit of giving in this church. My method will be to give you the word of God and pray that it might develop you in the grace of giving.