THE CHURCH. I was listening to a podcast the other day, and this so-called progressive pastor said, “the church is a dive bar”. Huh? We must be in a Twilight Zone episode. The church is not a dive bar where the pastor is a bartender serving you up your favorite drink. He continued to say that everyone wants to belong and it’s a place where everyone can belong.
We must have moved on to a “Cheers” episode. This is an important teaching, for false teachers are distorting the true church. Concerning the church:“Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief corner stone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.” Eph 2:19-22 The Greek word ekklesia refers to an assembly of people summoned together. In the NT, it designates the congregation of God’s people in Christ, who are called together as citizen’s of God’s kingdom for the purpose of worshiping God.
Church can refer to a local church or the universal church. “Coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious, you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” I Peter 2:4-5 The church is presented as the people of God, the company of redeemed believers made possible by Christ’s death. It is a pilgrim people no longer belonging to this world, whose first function is to stand as a community in a living, personal relationship with the Lord. “To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all who in every place call on the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours:” I Cor 1:2
The church is a people called out (Gk ekkalee) of the world and into God’s kingdom. Separation from the world is inherit to the church’s nature and is rewarded by having the Lord as one’s God and Father. “Therefore “Come out from among them And be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, And I will receive you.” “I will be a Father to you, And you shall be My sons and daughters, Says the LORD Almighty.”” II Cor 6:17-18 The church is the temple of God and the Holy Spirit. This truth demands separation from unrighteousness and worldly immorality. “Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are.” I Cor 3:16-17
The church is the body of Christ. This image indicates that no true church exists apart from vital union of the members with Christ. The head of the body is Christ. “And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.” Eph 1:22-23 The church is the bride of Christ. This marriage image emphasizes the devotion and faithfulness of the church to Christ, as well as Christ’s love for and intimacy with His church. “For I am jealous for you with godly jealousy. For I have betrothed you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.” II Cor 11:2
The church is a spiritual fellowship (Gk koinēnia) with God and one another. This involves the indwelling Spirit, the unity of the Spirit and the baptism in the Spirit. This fellowship of the saints is to demonstrate observable love and care for one another (the brethren of His church)“By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”” John 13:35 “Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.” Phil 2:1-2
The church is a spiritual ministry (Gk diakonia). It serves through the use of gifts bestowed by the Holy Spirit. “For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another. Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith; or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.”Romans 12:4-8
The church is an army involved in spiritual conflict. It fights by the sword and power of the Spirit. The church is in a spiritual struggle against Satan and sin. “And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints—”Ephesians 6:17-18
The church is the pillar and ground of truth, supporting the truth as a foundation supports a building. It must uphold the truth and keep it safe, defending it against distorters and false teachers. “but if I am delayed, I write so that you may know how you ought to conduct yourself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.”I Timothy 3:15
The church is a people with a future hope. This hope centers in Christ’s return for His own. “In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.”John 14:2-3 “that you keep this commandment without spot, blameless until our Lord Jesus Christ’s appearing,”I Timothy 6:14
The church is both invisible and visible. The church invisible is the body of true believers united by their living faith in Christ. The visible church consists of local congregations containing faithful overcomers. ““He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes shall not be hurt by the second death.” “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give some of the hidden manna to eat. And I will give him a white stone, and on the stone a new name written which no one knows except him who receives it. ”And he who overcomes, and keeps My works until the end, to him I will give power over the nations—”Revelation 2:11, 17, 26 NKJV“He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life; but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels
.He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall go out no more. I will write on him the name of My God and the name of the city of My God, the New Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God. And I will write on him My new name.To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.” Revelation 3:5, 12, 21
The church is NOT a dive bar. You do not belong if you are not born again of the Holy Spirit, turn from sin and separate from the world, love God with all your heart, love the brethren and overcome this world. You are invited to come as you are, but refusing to change and be conformed to Christ will see you standing outside the church and His kingdom. #runyourrace
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