Wednesday, July 08, 2015

THE CHURCH IS VITAL TO THE CHRISTIAN

Is the church vital to your life? If the church is not vital to your life, then you are far away from God.
Tonight we are studying from Ephesians to see the importance of the church which Jesus rules over.
The church was in God's mind from before the foundation of the world that His people would be "holy and blameless" in it, Eph 1:4; 4:27. The purity and glory, and no spot or wrinkle of the church, is God's design from the beginning. If a brother or sister in Christ is far from the church, he or she is far from the rule of Christ and is in danger of becoming defiled by the world.
The Holy Spirit dwells in the church. Paul says to the Ephesians that the Jewish and Gentile Christian is part of the one body of Christ. This is what Paul says that "in one body" (Eph 2:16ff) all the redeemed are brought together into a habitation of God, a building, the household of God, through the Holy Spirit who indwells is. When a Christian separates and removes himself from the body of Christ to no longer have anything to do with it, he can be sure that the Spirit he received when he first believed will be removed and separated from him.
God wants there to be unity among His people which is why Paul says to preserve the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace and has united us under these 7: one Father, one Lord, one Holy Spirit, one hope, one faith, one baptism, and also one body, Eph 4:4-6. There is only one head of the church, who is Jesus Christ, and thus there is only one body and not many. If Christ meant for there to be many bodies and many faiths and many hopes for salvation, He would never have called for unity for unity is not possible under the myriad of faiths, hopes, and "bodies" that we see today. Oneness is designed by God to be achieved under His rule and in His one body.
It is in the church where Christians submit to the rule of Christ, Eph 1:21-23. Paul says Jesus is seated in heaven at the right hand of the Father to be the head and ruler over the body, which is the church of Christ. Jesus is the benevolent and loving monarch over the church so that as we formerly submitted to the forces of darkness and wherein we also walked in the trespasses and sins (Eph 2:1-3), but now in Christ we have all been brought together into the one body of Christ and have freely submitted to His rule.
The Christian life revolves around the church. This must be our understanding or else we do not understand God's plan. Paul says that we are created anew in Christ Jesus, by grace and faith, to do good works, Eph 2:10. And the "good works" is incorporated into the proper functioning of the entire body of Christ. Paul says later that the teaching function of the church is for "the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith (notice that this is the "one faith" mentioned earlier in vs 4:4), and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fulness of Christ", Eph 4:12,13. This working church is always doing the work of Christ. With the growing up of the body, each part of the body doing his or her part, is always picturing Christ and growing "into the fulness of Christ". The "measure of the stature which belongs to the fulness of Christ" means that the church, comprised of many members, each created for good works in Christ, is growing to be like Christ on earth. What Christ would be doing in His earthly ministry is what the church is doing. When a member of the body removes himself from the work of God, this man has lost his way and is in danger of being removed from God's body. The sick, sleeping, and dead member of the body must wake up what remains before God does what He does to any dead branch with cutting off and tossing it into the fire, John 15:2.
Sometimes the members allow the worldliness, wherein they used to live "according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience", think they can pull back and do the minimum service to Christ. God's plan is for the church to work together to further the "administration of the mystery" which is spiritual labor for expanding the kingdom rule of Christ into the lives of men. Those who pull back and give only a measure of themselves to Christ because they still love the world are compromising. And their compromise will overtake them so that they see in themselves the duplicity and hypocrisy and eventually will cut themselves off from the church. To Christ, He wants all or nothing for we cannot serve two masters. If our life does not revolve around the church of Christ, then we are a hindrance to Christ and such a person does not remove himself, God will remove him.
The church is the bride of Christ. Jesus loves the church and someday will return to save the church, Eph 5:23. In the context of speaking of the mystery of the church, Paul tells us something very interesting that the relationship of Christ to the church is like the relationship of the husband and wife. As in the marriage there is respect and love for each other, so in the church there is respect and love between the church and Christ. A godly marriage is a picture, designed by God to be, of the beautiful union of Jesus and His Bride, the church. She is pure and holy as a bride. He lovingly sacrificed Himself for her. To understand God's plan is to desire to live and work and walk within the church. The church is a wonderful thing comprised of many members.
Does your life revolve around the church? Is your life and your work intertwined and indistinguishable from the church. The church is you and you are the church. Do you love the church and cherish it? Do you love the saints and is it your life to serve each other? Be sure that you do not live in a way that is contrary to the function or work of the body. God dwells in you and so live for Him in His church. Submit to the rule of Christ in His body, the church.

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