The greatest things in my life have happened in church. So I get a little tired of some newspaper ads that say, "Are you tired of church?" or "Bored with church?" and so on, wanting people to try their new church.
Jesus is the founder (Matt:16:13-28).
The future is bright, but the foes are many outside the church and even some are inside the church....what a pity!
So allow me some of your time to praise the church.
Christ is ALWAYS to be FIRST in our lives, but I believe He won't stay first very long without the help of a good local church. In college, in the Army, teaching and coaching, plus over 50 years as pastor/preacher and raising 6 children would have been much more difficult without the help of good churches everywhere we lived.
The apostle Paul in the book of Ephesians gives us a great study on the church.
Please study Ephesians (along with this study) as space does not allow us to print all of the Scriptures.
The word for 'church' in the Greek New Testament is Eklesia. This word is used over 115 times and over 90 of these deal with the local church....while 20 or so refer to all believers. This is sometimes referred to as the Universal Church which is a good thought, but the majority of God's work can only be done by God's local churches. The apostle Paul knew this, so everywhere he and his helpers went, they would win people to Christ and leave them under the care of a local church. Paul wrote back to these churches to encourage them and in Ephesians, he emphasizes a different facet of the work of a church in each chapter.
1) THE CHURCH IS THE BODY OF CHRIST (Eph. 1:22-23)
The key here for us is SUBMISSION.
This chapter speaks of God the Father selects you, God the Son saves you, and God the Holy Spirit seals and secures you!
(of course, the Trinity is involved in ALL of your life)
In verse 4, "God has chosen us that we should be Holy and without blame before Him in love."
We can not be (and do) this without the help of a good local church.
In verse 7, "In Christ we have redemption through His blood"
and in verse 11, "In Christ we have obtained an inheritance"
Verse 22-23; "God has put all things under Christ's feet and given Him to be Head over all things in the church, which is the body, the fulness that fills all in all."
Colossians 1:18 also speaks of Christ as the Head of the Church.
A two headed anything is a monstrosity, but a two headed Church is an abomination to God!
Christ is our example of submission and we, as servants, are not above our Master!
So, how are you treating the church and especially the Head of the church?
2) THE CHURCH IS THE TEMPLE OF CHRIST (Eph. 2:21-23)
The key here is WORSHIP.
Yes, your body is the Temple of the Holy Spirit, but the church is the place of worship.
However you need both public and private worship.
Donald Ackland wrote:
"Worship is the engagement of the entire person in:
Contemplation of God's glory....
Praise for His goodness....
Responsive giving for His bounty...
Enjoyment of His fellowship....
Attentiveness to His voice....
Submission to His will....and
Dedication to His purpose.
Thus, Worship is not only FIRST in life, it is ALL of life!"
(Of course, worship can not be confined to limited periods nor restricted locations.
It is 'attitude' as well as 'activity'....it is home or work, as well as at church!)
Be sure and treat your church well.....read Mark 11:15-18 about the day that Jesus got angry at those who were desecrating the Temple of Worship.
3) THE CHURCH IS THE FAMILY OF CHRIST (Eph. 3:14-21)
This key here is LOVE.
Verse 17: "That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith, and that you may be rooted and grounded in love."
A suicide note was found which read:
'You have to have love to live'.
Too many in their quest for money (things and stuff) forget LOVE.
They may 'exist', but don't really 'live'.
It's interesting in Revelation 2-3 that the churches of Asia are listed and one of these is the church at Ephesus.
John the Revelator said, "They had left their first love" and he called for repentance and a return to their first love.
A good question is:
"If everyone in your church were like you, what kind of church would you have?"
I'm talking here not about 'clones', but spirit-filled Christians who are living the Christ-life of Love.
This kind of love is not 'I, my and me'....but 'we, our, and us'.
A person can be selfish within the church by thinking.....
'What can I get?'....instead of 'What can I give'.
"And to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge and that we might be filled with all the fulness of God."
You can NOT have too many members like this, for as the old song says,
"The world is dying for the want of a little bit of love."
4) THE CHURCH IS THE SCHOOL-HOUSE OF CHRIST (Eph. 4:11-15)
The key here is GROWTH.
Verse 11 says that some are called specifically to help others grow....
or 'perfecting of the saints' which means 'maturing' and 'becoming complete in Christ'.
Verse 12 emphasizes that we are ALL to minister, so that people can be edified and built up in Christ (with Christ being the measure of our growth).
Paul refers to Christians as 'Saints' (set aside by the Holy Spirit to become more like Jesus)
Verse 14: "We are no more children tossed about by every wind of doctrine, but under Christ the Head, we speak the truth in Love."
Verses 24-25 speak of 'putting off some things (that is the old person) and putting on the new person.
Verses 25-32 lists many things that we are to let God rid us of....and if we don't, we grieve the Holy Spirit! (vs 30)
We can not do the above in the weakness of the flesh, but in the power of the Holy Spirit!
For further study on this, read Galatians 2: 20-21 and Colossians 1:27.
I read about a church that posted this unusual message on it's sign board:
Ministers = All church members
Assistant to the Ministers = the Pastor
Once we are saved, we are to serve as ministers of Grace.
We are ALL to be 'Ministers of Grace'.
5) THE CHURCH IS THE BRIDE OF CHRIST (Eph. 5:25-33)
The key here is RESPECT.
Verse 25 says:
"Husbands, love your wives even as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for it."
If a husband loves his wife, he will have great respect for her and if we love Christ's church, we will have great respect for her!
I love my wife more today than I did the day we were married 52 years ago!
Likewise, we must grow in our love and respect for the church that Christ founded....and for which He died.
You ask, 'Do I have to be a member of a church?'
The Christian life is 'want to'....and not 'have to'.
I read an article in Daily Read that likened the Christian without a church to:
A student who won't go to school
A soldier without an army
A citizen who won't vote
A seaman without a ship
A child without a family
A drummer without a band
A ballplayer without a team
A honeybee without a hive
A scientist who does not share his findings with his colleagues
6) THE CHURCH IS THE ARMY OF CHRIST (Eph. 6:10-18)
The key here is COMMIT.
a) There is a warfare (vs. 10-12) In the Army, I was involved in 'mock' warfare drills.
These prepared us for the real battle. The battle for the souls of people is NOT 'mock' warfare, but 'real' warfare!
b) There is a wardrobe: (vs. 12-13) You can tell that someone is in the military by their uniform. We are to put on Christ (Paul calls it "put off the old life and put on the new")
You should not have to 'guess' if a person is a Christian or not.
One person was asked 'why' he went to church and he answered,
"So that the world will know which side I am on!"
You do not go to church for 'show'....but for 'know'!
c) There are weapons: (vs. 14-18)
Shield of Faith
Helmet of Salvation
The Sword of the Spirit (which is the Word of God)
Two Scriptures that will help here are:
"No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper"
II Corinthians 10:4-5:
"The weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds; casting down imaginations and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ."
If you are incapacitated and can not attend a local church, you are STILL a part of the world-wide body of Christ's Believers.
You have a Prayer Ministry and the modern conveniences of communication need to be used for the Lord's work and not the devil.
A little girl saw the cross on top of the church and asked her mother,
"Who put that 'plus sign' up there?"
The church has always been a 'plus' in our family's life and we pray that it has been in your life, as well.
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