The Banner Of Truth 2014
Thou hast given a banner to them that fear thee, that it may be displayed because of the truth. (Psalm 60:4 )

"Thou hast given a banner to them that fear Thee, that it may be displayed because of the truth" (Ps. 60:4).
The Church, an Environment of Exhortation
By Al Stoner

The church of the living God is to be an environment of exhortation while it is yet in this world.    When brothers and sisters in Christ come together in the weekly gatherings, prophets are to preach, exhorters are to exhort, teachers are to teach, and minsters of various spiritual gifts are all to minister them according to the measure of the gift of Christ, so that all may be edified and all may be profited.  As Paul declared, “Let the prophets speak two or three, and let the other judge.  If any thing be revealed to another that sitteth by, let the first hold his peace.  For ye may all prophesy one by one, that all may learn, and all may be comforted.  And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets” (I Cor. 14:28-30).
In his epistle to the Romans Paul expressed it this way: “So we, by our union [with and] in Christ, many though we are, form but one body, and individually we are related one to another as its parts.  Since our gifts differ in accordance with the particular charge entrusted to us, if our gift is to preach, let our preaching correspond to our faith; If it is to minister to others, let us devote ourselves to our ministry; the teacher to his teaching, The speaker to his exhortation. Let the man who gives in charity do so with a generous heart; let him who is in authority exercise due diligence; let him who shows kindness do so in a cheerful spirit.  Let your love be sincere. Hate the wrong; cling to the right” (Rom. 12:5-9, TCNT).
In this environment all the benefits are flowing to the individual members from the Head, even Jesus, “from Whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love” (Eph. 4:16).  
The benefits proceeding from our exalted Head are wonderfully substantive in nature (cf. Heb. 11:1) and when received, they are perceived to be desperately necessary unto life and godliness, and unto gaining the prize of life eternal.  These benefits are also greatly utilitarian, making for increase unto edification.  This is an increase, on the part of every member, both in the ability and capacity to edify the church, which is Christ’s body.  These gifts are beneficial by virtue of their making for ever-increasing familiarity with, and knowledge of, both the Father and the Son.  And in all these things God is glorified through Jesus Christ.
In light of these considerations, it ought to be a matter of wonder, marvel, and even alarm, that the greater part of that which calls itself the church today is a total stranger to this environment of exhortation! It should be evident that something very strange and very grievous has transpired in “the church”. The so-called “clergy-laity” system has essentially usurped and displaced the operation of the Spirit of God among men and women who are making a profession of faith in Christ. Fulfilling an obligation and now taken the place of edification.  There now exists a great chasm between what “is written” about the church in the Word of God, and what actually is.  “An enemy hath done this,” is certainly an accurate way that one can summarize the state of affairs that has now come upon the professed church today: yea, the enemy of God and of men’s souls. Under this usurpation God is not receiving glory and men’s souls are being further enslaved. --Editor


"Let your loins be girded about, and your lights burning;  and ye yourselves like unto men that wait for their lord, when he will return from the wedding; that when he cometh and knocketh, they may open unto him immediately" (Lk. 12:35-36).