What is the church?

The gospel teaches us that the Church is the one and only foretaste of heaven now because she alone has a real participation in the life of God on earth…. This divine reality of foretaste and first fruits is the key to understanding the Church’s power and relevance.

Scot Sherman, “Why the Church?” in Looking Forward: Voices from Church Leaders on Our Global Mission. (MTW, 2003).

The kind of preaching needed today

“The kind of preaching, it must be remembered, which the Spirit is promised to bless for much spiritual good, is not the bare manifestation of the truth, but the truth made instinct with the life of Christian experience, quickened and intensified by feeling. It is the truth reflected from heart to heart from a soul already penetrated and imbued with its spirit, to other souls either wholly estranged from it, or less sensibly under its power. Let the same work which is done, or the same word which is spoken, by one from whom they pass lightly off, with little seeming apprehension of their importance, be done or spoken by another with the warmth and earnestness which bespeak a heart all on fire with the mighty interests involved, and that which in the one case falls on comparatively listless ears, will in the other awaken a response in every surrounding bosom. It is the action of the sanctified on the unsanctified soul, the expression of the truth from a conscience thoroughly alive to its teaching, which in the hands of the Spirit is the great means of conveying deep and salutary impressions of it to consciences that are still slumbering in ignorance or sin. And more especially for the purpose of maintaining such a living, spiritual agency has the preaching of the gospel been appointed to form a standing ordinance in the Church.”

Patrick Fairbairn, Pastoral Theology: A Treatise on the Office and Duties of the Christian Pastor (1875) pp.86-87.

Patrick Fairbairn was a teaching elder in the Free Church of Scotland and principal and professor of theology at the Free Church Theological College, Glasgow. He was moderator of the General Assembly of the Free Church of Scotland in 1864.