There is nothing like the true church of the Bible anywhere. It is unique. The church is the ark of the New Testament, where saved people are held apart from the wrath of God. There are no saved persons today outside of the church for God places those whom he saves into it (Acts 2:41, 47; Colossians 1:13, 14).
Jesus bought it with his blood (1 Corinthians 6:20; 1 Corinthians 7:23; Acts 20:28; Hebrews 13:12). It is precious to Jesus and therefore, precious to his people, Christians.
But as we move on to a more mature place in our faith, we must understand and teach correctly about the church.
1. Convert People to Jesus; Not the Church
How many times have you heard or said something like this: “I want to teach someone and baptize them into the church.” Or, “We need to talk with him and convert him to the church.” Maybe you have said, “He became a member of the church.” I think I know what you mean, but others might not.
Jesus died for you, the church did not. It is the righteousness of Christ that covers your sins. It is Christ alone.
“…there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12)
The Lord will place a man into the church after his conversion to Jesus. Jesus is first.
2. Teach Jesus Before You Teach Church
Those who know me personally know that I highly value the church. But all things must be in their place and in the proper order. The original church began on Pentecost in Acts 2. A careful review of Peter’s sermon reveals that he preached Jesus first.
People must respond to Jesus before they respond to the church.
When Paul visited Athens, where there was no church, he proclaimed the Creator and his Son (Acts 17:22-34). The church came later. In 1 Corinthians, Paul declared the primacy of the Gospel; that is, the message of salvation in Jesus (1 Corinthians 1:17; 1 Corinthians 2:2). They learned of the church, but only after they learned of Jesus.
Jesus always comes first in all ways (Colossians 1:18).
3. The Church Is Not Optional
It’s hard to escape the screeching of the crowds today. People long for silence. Time alone is highly valued. So, it is understandable that some try to opt out of church assemblies in favor of a faith of quiet solitude.
Cary Nieuwhof, a community church leader, writes:
“…rarely does decreased church attendance produce increased devotion…have a conversation with many people who used to go to church that don’t anymore, and you’ll meet a lot of people whose faith hasn’t grown.”
He is right. He’s really right. Separating from church assemblies, worship, and activities is deadly to the spirit.
[bctt tweet=”Jesus thought enough of the #church to die for it. Shouldn’t we think enough of it to attend?” username=”Preachers_Study”]
4. Church is Much More Than Fellowship
I love my brothers and sisters in Christ. I’d rather be with them than anyone else. The common fellowship of the church is one reason I am thankful for the church. But there is something bigger.
The church first exists to glorify God.
Paul proclaims God’s glory in the church (Ephesians 3:21). The church, not to be flippant, is a spiritual trophy case of the saved. Herein are found those plucked from Satan’s grasp and moved into Christ’s kingdom.
The church reflects God’s brilliant glory because it reveals his wisdom and devotion to salvaging a world stained by sin.
Many organizations have fellowship. None have the saved except the church.
5. It’s Not My Church. It is Christ’s Church.
This is big. We think of the church we attend as being “my church.” We say, “Joe and Mary go to my church.” That’s not a malevolent statement. It is a common way of expressing a relationship. But often there is an unspoken, even unthought of consequence. It’s not my church. It doesn’t belong to me. I don’t decide what is right, good, required, bad, or prohibited. That’s Jesus’ job.
When the people in Corinth turned communion to chaos, Paul replied this way: “For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you…” (1 Corinthians 11:23). Note that the corrective teaching did not originate in Corinth, nor did it begin with Paul. Instead, it was Jesus’ word that was given to correct their errors.
In church matters, let us always ask, “Is there any word from the Lord?” Respecting the Lordship of Jesus over his people draws us closer to him and closer to one another.
Like Josiah and Hilkiah of ancient Judah, let us rejoice in searching God’s word and apply what we find in it (2 Kings 22:8ff).
The church is an incredible gift from God. Let us view it through his eyes and always remember that Jesus comes first!