by Lee Taylor
For some while there has been discussion about the irrelevancy of the church. Some think the church has outlived its usefulness. Sad to say, often this observation is true. In reaction to this attitude, others have relegated the church to the position of a mere social agency. They have fashioned the church to meet social needs. This is happening at an alarming rate, even in churches that once stood firm for the cause of Christ. The reason for this diversion is because many, including religious leaders, do not understand the Bible teaching about the church.
The Bible has much to say about the church. The word translated “church” appears in the New Testament 116 times in 113 verses. Of those 116 appearances, it is translated church or churches 113 times, and assembly three times, all in Acts 19. The word, ekklesia, is a compound word formed from the verb meaning “to call,” and the preposition meaning “out.” The church is a select group that God has “called out” of the world by redemption through the blood of Jesus Christ. Jesus’s said to his disciples “ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world.”
The Lord Jesus Christ established the church and He is its foundation (Matthew 16:18). Paul said in 1 Corinthians 3:11, “For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” With Jesus Christ Himself as the foundation, we can rest assured that the true church will not become irrelevant, regardless of the social conditions of the day. We also can be confident that none of man’s attempts to destroy the church will succeed. Jesus said about the church, “and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”
The cost of establishing the church was great, and Christ desires it to be well cared for. Paul tells pastors to “feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.” Pastors and deacons are to be diligent in their care for the people of the church, “as they that must give account.” The Lord Jesus will give a crown of glory to those pastors who are good shepherds to Christ’s church (1 Peter 5:4).
The church is under the direct leadership of Jesus Christ. Speaking of Christ, Colossians 1:18 says, “And he is the head of the body, the church.” In Ephesians 1:22, Paul tells us that God “hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church.” In Ephesians chapter 5, the relationship of Christ to His Church is compared to that of a loving Husband to his bride. He loves her, sacrifices for her, provides for her, and guides her.
In Ephesians chapter 2, several vivid terms are used to illustrate the nature of the church of Jesus Christ. The church is described as a body, as fellow citizens, as a household, and as a building. As a body, the church is made up of many systems and parts that must function together. Injuries and ailments can occur, and each body part must function for there to be full health. As fellowcitizens, the church is an embassy in a foreign land. As a household, the church is a family offering love and support to each member. As a building, the church is beautifully “builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.”
In 1 Timothy 3:15, Paul tells us that the church is “the pillar and ground of the truth.” The church holds up and supports the truth. What a responsibility we have! The truth is found in the Word of God and in the person of Jesus Christ. Jesus said, “Thy word is truth,” and, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” If the world is going to know absolute truth today, it must learn it from the church of Jesus Christ.
It is important to recognize that most of what the New Testament says about the church, it says not of the church in a general sense, but of a specific church or group of churches. All saved people since Pentecost have been baptized in the Holy Spirit and are members of the body of Christ. However, the Bible emphasizes the necessity of every believer to be physically baptized (by immersion) and become a member of the local church. It is the local church that evangelizes and is the result of evangelism. It is the local church that has the Biblical officers of pastor and deacon. It is the local church that keeps the ordinances of believer’s baptism and communion. It is the local church that is Christ’s representative on earth. It is the local church that assembles on earth. It is the local church that is responsible for nurturing and disciplining its members.
If it ever appears that the church has outlived its usefulness or is irrelevant, it is because God’s instruction about the church has been neglected or violated. Parachurch organizations can never fill the gap left by a disobedient church, nor can they fulfill God’s mission on earth. It is essential that God’s people know God’s will concerning the church, put into practice the Biblical principles of the church, and serve Him through the local church.
by Lee Taylor
Original article can be found at http://www.fbcwhitmorelake.org/2012/10/the-importance-of-the-church/