As it is natural for water to run down hill, so it is natural for a Christian to grow in Christlikeness through the institution of the church, and the habit of Christian fellowship. However, the believer who fails to avail himself of the manifold benefits of the church, and the communion of saints will naturally begin to decline spiritually. In Octavius Winslow’s book Personal Declension and Revival of Religion in the Soul, Winslow repeatedly reminded his readers that failure to love, adhere, and participate in these benefits manifested an existing spiritual declension, and furthered spiritual declension.
My aim is first of all to examine Winslow’s warnings and show that both the church and the communion of the saints are essential to Christian growth. Secondly to give practical applications as to how a minster and session can help the soul struggling with this issue. The format will follow the nine specific topics discussed in Winslow.
The article is by Rev. Henry Bartsch, minister of the Trinity Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church in Chatham Ontario, Canada. He is currently pursuing an M.Th. degree at Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary, Grand Rapids, Michigan. He is husband to Tammy and father of six children.
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 Octavius Winslow, Personal Declension and Revival of Religion in the Soul. (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth Trust, 1993).