In this post I want us to look at three reasons why a proper understanding the biblical concept of a church is important. The three reasons are: It is built by Christ, Christ gave Himself for it, it is the pillar and ground of the truth of Christ.
I. The church was built by Christ
According to the Scriptures, the New Testament church is a local assembly (see my post on what the church is). Matthew 16:18 tells us that Christ will build His church. Not only is He the builder, He is the Chief Cornerstone (Ephesians 2:20). We need to understand what He build and be part of the kind of church He built.
Constantine and Augustine built a universal, visible church for political power. The Protestants built a universal, invisible church to remain catholic without being part of the Catholic Church.
Our Lord built a local, visible church in Jerusalem that is an example for all churches throughout the church age. It already existed on the day of Pentecost. It assembled, which is the definition of a church (Acts 1:4). It had prayer meetings (Acts 1:14) It had a business meeting (Acts 1:15-26). It had members (Acts 1:15).
Jesus only spoke of a local church. He used the word “church” more than twenty time. In Matthew 16:18 He used it in the institutional sense and every other time He used it He was speaking of a local, visible, organized assembly or assemblies.
Since Christ builds the church it belongs to Him, not to the pastor or the members. It should be what He designed it to be.
II. Christ gave Himself for the church
God’s love moved Him to send His only begotten Son to pay the price of the sins of the world so those who trust Him might receive eternal life (Romans 5:8, John 3:16). Those who are saved are expected to follow the Lord in baptism and unite with a local body of Christians in a New Testament church. This is as much a part of the Great Commission as bringing the lost to Christ.
In Ephesians 5:25 the love of Christ for the church is used as an example of the husband’s love for his wife. It is a self-sacrificing love that puts the needs of the wife first. This type of love is shown in Christ’s willingness to die the horrible death of the cross.
If Christ so loved the church, shouldn’t we love it with the same love? To love it we must understand what it is. This kind of love implies loyalty to the church where God places us.
The church is the pillar and the ground of the truth
I Timothy 3:15 gives a lot of insight into the New Testament church. The church is called the house of God. We often say that the church is not the building. While this is true, it is the house where God’s people meet as a church. This passage tells us there is proper conduct in the house of God.
As members of this church we reflect what it is. If we live worldly lives we say God cannot changed us and the world sees no need of what we have. If we live holy lives we show the world God’s life-changing power and the world sees a need for what we have. We need to remember that we are members of this church at all times. Our conduct both in the church house and outside is important if we are to reach the lost.
The church is the pillar and ground of the truth.
A pillar has two purposes, 1) to give support for that which is placed on it, 2)to show what is placed on it in the best light. A church is to uphold the truth of God and show it in the best light.
As the ground of the truth, the church is the foundation upon which observers judge truth. What people see in the church is the ground upon which God and His Word are judged. If God’s power cannot change professing Christians, how do we expect the world to think we have what they need?
When we understand that a church belongs to Christ because He is its builder we understand that we are but tools in the architect’s hand. We will then follow His instructions in the building of His church. If we love Christ we will love what He loves. He loved and gave Himself for His church and if we love Him we will do the same because it will be a reflection of our love for Him. The church is what displays the truth of God to the world. When the world sees a church that is like the world it sees no need for what it offers. When the world sees a church full of people whose lives have been changed it is brought under conviction. They will either try to destroy that church (all who will live godly shall suffer persecution) or they will turn to Christ for His life-changing power. Which kind of church do we want to be?
Copyright 2017 Pierre Coovert, All rights reserved