Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Reforming the church means teaching believers to love the church the way Christ loves the Church

How should believers view the local church?

And of course as I have been saying over and over again, the church should want what the Bible wants. So again we must start with Sola Scriptura (Scripture alone), "conforming everything in our lives to the Word of God."

This is a crucial idea for our Christian walk...because ONLY as we conform our lives to His word, does He then conform us into the image of His Son.

2 Corinthians 10:5
We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God (His Word), and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ (to being His Word).

God has no greater desire for His children than to make them all look like Christ. That is what we were predestined for. (Romans 8:29).

So if we have an opinion about how we as believers should view the local church we should examine our opinions with Scripture. Let's ask what the Bible says our view of the local church should be.

So in asking this question it is best if we look at what Scripture says in light of what the world around us says or does. And because we as believers still live in the world, sometimes the world comes in and hurts the church by skewing our love for the Word.

If that was not a problem in the church then John would not have warned Christians to not love the world...
1 John 2:15
Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him

So in light of this, one place where the church has allowed the world to creep in is that they have begun to share the world's view of the church. The world has a low view of the church but many Christians have begun to feel the same way without even realizing it. And I am not forgetting the great possibility that many people who are members of local churches are not Christians at all.

So let me clarify for you how the Bible describes the church. It is nothing less than the ransomed bride of Christ. The Father chose a bride for His Son. He chose the bride. He chose her arms and her eyes and her legs and her feet and her hands. He chose everything about her. And He was very specific how He chose her because He was choosing her for His Son. And then He sent His Son to get her and to die for her and to cleanse her from all unrighteousness. And then to bring her back to Himself.

And then the Son looked at this filthy, sin filled, broken bride that His Father had chosen for Him and He gladly laid down His life for Her...why? So that she would be beautiful for His Father! He wanted to go and get her in her filth, completely and radically change her by His righteous blood and then turn back around and present her to His Father...

Ephesians 5:26-27
Christ laid down His life for the bride...So that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the Word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she would be holy and blameless.

To have a low view of the church is to have a low view of what God the Father and God the Son considered priceless. And you don't have to do much to have a low view of what God considers priceless. All you have to do is be uninterested or unpassionate, in her. All you have to do to develop a low view of the precious bride of Christ is to view her as optional for your life.

To view what Christ views as worthy of dying for as optional or uninteresting, or unworthy of giving your entire life for, is to have a low view of the church.

During my last blog post I mentioned that those who "have ears to hear the Word of God" are true believers and true believers learn to love everything their Savior loves and hate everything He hates. And there is nothing that Christ loves more than His church.

And if you love the universal church then you will also love the local church because it is a localized gathering of worshippers who not only love Christ but they love each other and they learn from one another. And they know that when they gather they grow from the Word and from the fellowship they receive in the body.

And these people who love the local church express their love by longing to be with the church as often as possible.

"Pastors don’t have to call them and look for them and knock on their doors wondering why they aren’t worshipping regularly with the body. These people are running to the church building every time the doors are open because they can’t wait to hear what they now have ears to hear with - the voice of their Savior through the Word of God!"

The Apostle Paul commanded us to do good to all people but then He went out of His way to specify that the first people we need to serve and do good to are our brothers and sisters in Christ in the local church.

Galatians 6:10
So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the  household of the faith. 

Then in Hebrews God takes this idea even further and says that we should not only do good to those within our local churches and serve them as we have opportunity, but that we should look for opportunities to be with them and serve them and speak truth into their lives. 

Hebrews 10:24-25
And let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.

So according to these verse of Scripture not only should we look for opportunities to serve them but we work to encourage them to start serving others. We should long for them to pour out their lives to serve the body along with us. According tot he word of God if our hearts don't long for that, if our hearts don't view the church in that way, then we have a low view of the church.

I you are involved in your community or in charity work or in sports activities or whatever it is, and those things begin to take precedence over attending and serving your local church, then you have an unbiblical view of the church. And because Scripture is our standard and not how we feel then it is a low view of the church to treat it any other way.

Ephesians 4:15-16
(In your local church) speak the truth in love, while you are growing up in all aspects into Him, who is the Head, Christ, from whom the whole body being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.

The Bible often compares the local church to a body with different working parts, well just like in the human body, if the leg is hurting or not functioning properly it does not just hurt the leg, it hurts the whole body. If one member is not serving he body with the enthusiasm and love that the other members are serving with then it hurts the whole body.

Do you have a low view of the local church? Are you going above and beyond to serve the members of your church with the Word of God and with your regular support and attendance? Are you supporting your pastor or elders with your prayers and encouragement?

How does Christ view the church? As His bride that He stepped down from His throne to serve and die for. Do you view the church like Christ?

Ephesians 5:25-27
Husbands love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of the water with the Word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would holy and blameless.

Jono Simms compared loving the local church to loving your local wife!

You say, ‘Well now preacher, I’m a member of the universal church.’ I don't have to attend the local church or be active in it. No, you're lazy. You don’t want accountability. You want to do your own thing, how you want to do it, where you want to do it, and you don’t want to be accountable. I tell you what you can do, sir. You go home today and tell your wife, ‘Baby, I’m just gonna start loving all the women. I’m just gonna love all the women and I’m gonna love her just like I love you, and her just like I love you. I’m gong to spend Thursday with Sally and I’m going to spend Friday with Jessie…and on Sunday I’ll come home, honey, and I’ll spend time with you.' You go see how that works. And likewise you go up to the Lord Jesus Christ and say ‘Lord, I sure do love you, but I have no interest in your local church. I’m not going to tithe, I’m not going to be faithful, I’m not going to sing, I’m not going to give, I’m not going to serve, I’m not going to involved in the benevolence ministry, but boy, Jesus, I sure do love you. You’re the only one for me.’ I’ll tell you what you are brother. You’re as one that beateth the air. That’s just hot air. That’s just pontification. All you’re doing is just blowing steam, because your actions speak louder than your words.”

My our aim be to love the local church with the same passion that Jesus Christ had when He laid down His life for her.

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