What does commitment to the local church require?
Hanley Liu | May 3, 2019 | 2 MIN READ | 3 MIN WATCH
Note from SOLA: This video was recorded during The SOLA Conference 2019. Below is a transcript of the video. It has been lightly edited for readability.
There are so many things that can be said, but I’ll sum it up in three major categories.
The first commitment is a commitment to make the Gospel visible. So each time you're talking about conversions, you're talking about committing to reconciliation, committing to unity in the church, and committing to caring for the people. All of this makes the Gospel visible.
Let me give you one illustration. Tim Keller, in his book King’s Cross, says, “All real life-changing love is substitutionary sacrifice.” So when you think of a commitment to bear one another's burdens, you're talking about their problems becoming your problems.
Whether you give them your time, resources, money, your emotional energy, your physical energy — you are pouring out everything you have onto someone else, while they pour out all of their problems, their suffering, their burden, or their sin struggles upon you. What you see is an exchange, but what becomes displayed through that interaction is the Gospel. The Gospel is made visible, and the power of the Gospel is displayed.
The second is the commitment to stewardship. God has given every single genuine believer the power of the Holy Spirit and spiritual gifts. On top of special gifts, you have God-given skills, life experiences, and resources. (Some people call it, “Time, talents, and treasures.”) When you put that all together, the Holy Spirit has actually ordained for the spiritual gifts to be activated in a committed body of believers.
Someone might ask, “Well, why can't I just steward my gifts at a different church every single week or every single month or change churches every few years?”
The answer comes from 1 Corinthians 12. The Holy Spirit has gifted you to be a member of the body as we see through the illustration of the human body. So if you show up to church one week and you go somewhere else, then that particular church may not have you as the arm or the foot or the eye or however you serve. The church depends on your stewardship and that's why commitment to the local church is stewardship.
The third is a commitment to the ordinances: baptism and the Lord's supper or communion. Let me focus on communion. Every single time you take the bread and the cup, what you're saying is, “All of my relationships are reconciled.” You are saying to God, “God, my relationship with you is reconciled.” But then you're also saying that “I've made a commitment to these brothers and sisters that throughout life together and through sharing life together, all of our relationships are reconciled.”
So those are the three things I would say commitment in the local church requires. It first requires a commitment to make the Gospel visible. Second, a commitment to stewardship and stewarding your gifts for a specific group of people — the local church. And thirdly, it’s a commitment to prepare your heart for the ordinances.
Hanley Liu serves as the English Lead Pastor of First Chinese Baptist Church of Walnut, where his primary responsibilities include preaching, leading, shepherding, counseling, and other aspects related to the English congregation. He is happily married to his bride Meryl and the two have one daughter. Aside from family and ministry, Hanley’s greatest passions are running, reading, coffee, spicy foods, candy, Chargers football, Lakers basketball, and Dodgers baseball. He is a graduate of Biola University (B.A., 2003), Talbot School of Theology (M.Div, 2006), and the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (Doctor of Ministry, 2017).