I’ve used this space before to sing the praises of the church. Here is the notes from a recent sermon where I challenged people to love the church too!“Love the Church?”
How important is the church? Well, I would like you to consider the following realities, all taken from the pages of scriptures.
a. The Bible said that Christ would build his church
b. The Bible say Christ died for the church
c. The Bible says that the Church is promised to Christ as her bride
d. The Bible says that the Church is Christ’s body
e. The Bible says the Church is the pillar and ground of the truth
The next truth that should dawn on you is that if the church is this important to Christ, and you call yourself a Christian, then the church should be important to you! Yet, some of you attend sporadically, and others of you attend, but have not yet become official members! At this point we should pause and ask the question, if the church is so important to Christ, why shouldn’t you belong to it?
a. The church is the primary place in which God accomplishes his work in you.
The community of believers is like a family (Eph.3:15 see v.21). And although there are a fair share of hurts among family members, families stick together, help each other, support each other, correct each other, encourage each other and grow together! God uses the work of the Spirit through the church to accomplish your sanctification. You will never be the kind of Christian God wants you to be without a connection to the local church!
b. The church is the primary means God uses to show his glory in the earth
In Eph.3:21 Paul says that glory is ascribed to God by the church. The church is a place where God’s glory and goodness shines through. People should walk into church and although they may see the challenges the church has, they should also see a community of love, of grace, of mercy, and of commitment to do what God says. In short, they should see who God is through the church! How can you do that if you have only a passing interest in the church, how can you do that if you would gladly trade in your church time for some down time?
c. You need to be involved in service
It’s a popular thing nowadays to donate your time to some parachurch ministry, at the expense of the local church. People today want to help at the soup kitchen, they want to build homes for the poor, they want to be involved in some broad based evangelistic campaign. But it seems fewer and fewer people are interested in helping aid the church! I believe it would be a mistake to think that the church is here to pleasure you. The church is not here to make you happy, provide you with the music you want, the perfect feel holy experience every week so that you can feel well balanced. The church is here as a vehicle to spur you on in your personal growth. That means the stresses, the strains, the teaching, the challenges, the conversations, the fellowship, all of this is designed to help mature you in your walk with God – and it won’t happen if you are not prepared to sign up. Some of you won’t join because you are struggling with personal sin issues. Some of you have habits that you can’t control. Has it occurred to you that if you would join the church, you might find in the church the kind of relationships that help you grow in your walk with Christ and say no to ungodly habits??
d. Membership is biblical
Most people today feel like church membership was invented to keep people from leaving. But, church membership was not invented for some nefarious purpose.
i. Joining an assembly is the pattern of NT saints (ACTS 11:26; 13:1-2)
ii. The # of believers is known and new converts are added to it (ACTS 2:41)
iii. Selection of leaders was done in the context of an assembly (ACTS 6:3-5)
iv. The practice of writing letters of commendation (ACTS 18:27)
v. Pastoral obligations presuppose church membership (ACTS 20:28)
vi. There were lists and special rolls of people (I TIM. 5:9)
vii. Church discipline presupposes a formal assembly. (1 Cor. 5:13)
viii. The biblical concept of people is in or out of the church (1 Cor. 5:12-13)
e. You need accountability
Let’s be honest here, each of us should not trust ourselves (Jer.17:9)! We wander from obedience too often. This proneness to wander away from God is held in check by accountability within a church. So, if you are struggling in your marriage, there is help in the church! If you are struggling in your walk with God, there is help in the church! If you begin to wander away a good church hunts you down and makes you own up! There is a necessary accountability in the church!
The church – it is near and dear to the heart of God. Is it near and dear to you?