The church occupies a place of tremendous importance in the mind of Christ, and it should be extremely important in our estimation as well.
We sense its importance by the prominent space it occupies in the New Testament. Also it claimed a significant place in the ministry of the apostles. Paul, for instance, spoke of his twofold ministry - to preach the Gospel and to declare the truth of the church (Ephesians 3:8-9). The apostles spoke of the church with an enthusiasm that is strangely missing today. Everywhere they went they planted churches, whereas the tendency today is to start Christian organizations.
The truth of the church formed the capstone of scriptural revelation (Colossians 1:25-26). It was the last major doctrine to be revealed.
The church is an object lesson to angelic beings (Ephesians 3:10). They learn lessons from it about the multifaceted wisdom of God.
The church is the unit on earth through which God has chosen to propagate and defend the faith (1 Timothy 3:15). He speaks of it as the pillar and ground of the truth. We are thankful for para-church organizations that are devoted to the spread of the Gospel and the instruction of believers, but it is a mistake when they take the place of the local church in their members' lives. God promised that the gates of Hades would not prevail against the church (Matthew 16:18), but He never gave that promise to Christian organizations.
Paul speaks of the church as the fullness of Him who fills all in all (Ephesians 1:20-23). In marvelous grace, the Head does not consider Himself complete without His members.
The church is not only the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:12-13); it is His bride as well (Ephesians 5:25-27; Ephesians 5:31-32). As the body it is the vehicle through which He chooses to express Himself to the world in this era. As the bride, it is the special object of His affection which He is preparing to share His reign and His glory.
From all the above, we are forced to conclude that the weakest assembly of believers means more to Christ than the greatest empire in the world. He speaks of the church in terms of tender endearment and unique dignity. We also conclude that an elder in a local assembly means more to God than a president or a king. Few instructions are found in the New Testament on how to be a good ruler, but considerable space is devoted to the work of an elder.
If we once see the church as the Lord sees it, it will revolutionize our life and ministry.
Bible Verses: Ephesians 5:25Ephesians 3:8-9Colossians 1:25-26Ephesians 3:101 Timothy 3:15Matthew 16:18Ephesians 1:20-231 Corinthians 12:12-13Ephesians 5:25-27Ephesians 5:31-32
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