A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…. God thought of the word “Church”. The angels and heavenly beings had no clue what it meant but His Son Jesus and the Holy Spirit knew, and fully embraced God’s plan and so should we because it was something created for our benefit from start to finish!
So what is church? And what does it have to do with me? Those are good questions as we prepare to welcome the year 2016! Especially since one day we will all meet God and He will wonder what we did about His Church. Jesus, as He walked on earth, was God in the flesh so what did he have to say about the church? Let’s take a look.
The first mention of the word “church” in the Bible was from Jesus own lips when in the book of Matthew chapter 16:18 He is recorded as saying, “I will build my church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it.” Some pretty strong words! So Jesus is the builder which means it is a VERY important thing He is building and we should take The Church seriously. At the end of His ministry on earth he commissioned His disciples to go to the ends of the earth and preach His Good News so that His Church would be formed and all people would have an opportunity to be saved.
So let’s be clear, nowhere in the Bible will you find Jesus telling His disciples to gather together the bricks and mortar for a building project because the Church was people! We can see this in Romans 16:5 where the Apostle Paul sends a greeting, “Likewise greet the church that is in their house”. The Church Jesus was creating was not a building but was a group of believers joined together by the Holy Spirit to do His will. The mistake that has been made down through the ages is when we treat the building as the Church. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with a church building, and in fact they began to be built and were a convenient place for the believers to meet once they outgrew the home churches that quickly sprang up after Pentecost.
So what is the Church supposed to do? We see the work of the Church summarized in the book of Acts which is the book in which we find the most references to the church. The below verses give a checklist of the activities of the church. (One aside, the Temple was not the church. There was only ONE Temple and the Body of Christ’s actions would quickly supersede all the activities that once went on in the Temple.) Here is how it came about and what they did after Peter’s Spirit filled preaching at Pentecost.
“Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them. And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers. So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.” (Acts 2:41,42,46,47).
So the church is the Body of Christ on earth and that body has a purpose. In fact, it has multiple purposes among which are meeting together to hear from God, worshiping God & acting for God. These believers gathered to worship, hear the teachings from God’s Word, have fellowship, pray for one another, meet the needs of the poor, the widows & orphans, and spread the message of Jesus. They were a people in whom God chose to manifest Himself so the world could see Him and hear of His message of righteousness and salvation.
But many people today say that they don’t need church. They say it’s a place full of hypocrites, or they just want my money! Or they say they can worship God in the mountains, in creation, on the golf course or on a lake fishing, and so they can! But God’s Word specifically says to “not forsake the assembling of yourselves together as the manner of some is, but exhorting one another so much the more as we see the Day (of His return) approaching” (Hebrews 10:25).
Jesus fulfilled His Father’s will by dying on the cross and then proclaiming He would build His Church and the gates of Hell would not be able to withstand the onslaught of the Good News of the Gospel being proclaimed by His church! That is, people who are being held captive by the devil and his fallen angels can be rescued by the Church when they share the Good News of the Gospel!
So then my question is, what are you doing in regards to this mission? First of all, are you a called out one? Meaning, have you trusted Christ as your savior and joined His spiritual body the church? See my blog “Guaranteed Reservation in Heaven” for more on this.
Secondly, are you hearing from God through your personal actions of seeking Him and then from attending the gathering of His Church (in a local church building) where His Word is preached? Thirdly, are you worshipping God by confessing your sins, forgiving others and offering your life as an offering of praise to Him? Lastly, are you acting for God by serving Him within your community and circle of influence?
Jesus needs you to be an integral part of His Church. He needs you to do your part in His body the Church. We all have a role to fulfill and unless we do, the Church will not be the Church God intended it to be. May the Force be with you!