THE IMPORTANCE OF THE CHURCH #1
How many churches does God Have? What saith the scriptures?
I believe the scriptures we have considered in the recent few articles say: God since the year A.D. 33, has not had, does not now have, nor never will have, more than one.
Then too, I believe the scriptures teach that our being members of the one church is essential unto salvation. Please do not misunderstand me. I am not saying the scriptures teach the church saves us. I know that Christ and not the church, is our saviour. No, all I am saying is that the scriptures, in many different ways, leach only the faithful members of this church will dwell with God in the life which is to come.
My readers, if the church Jesus build is so insignificant that we may take it or leave it, and choose to be, or not to be a member of it, then I cannot understand why God, Christ, their friends and even their enemies considered it to be so important.
God must think of the church as being a very important institution. He appointed this church unto his Son (Luke 22:29). He made him the head of it (Eph. 1:22-23). By him, all saved people are added unto it (Acts 2:47). He wants it built up (Eph. 4:11-12). He has demanded that its members be taught (Acts 2:47). He wants it built up (Eph. 4:11-12). He has demanded that its members be taught (Acts 20:28, Matt. 28:18-19). He has instructed his ordained elders to tend or take care of it (I Pet. 5:1-2,1 Tim. 3:5). His promise to those who defile the church, is that he will destroy them (I Cor. 3:16-17).
There are many scriptural facts which also bear record, that Christ does not think of the church God gave him, as being just a ho-hum institution. He loves the church; and gave himself for it (Eph. 5:25). A great price he paid for it, yea, the price of his own blood (Acts 20:28). Christ loves his church so much, that he shares with it all the afflictions of its persecutors (I Cor. 15:9, Acts 9:4). When the congregations of his church comes together, he in spirit, is in their midst; and with them eats the Lord's Supper and sings (Matt. 18:20, Matt. 26:29, Rom. 15:9, Heb. 2:12).
According to Acts 26:9, Acts 8 and many other scriptures, Paul as an enemy of Jesus, did all he could to destroy his church. So evidently, the enemies of Christ thought they could destroy his cause, by destroying his church.
Now finally, according to Col. 1:21-24, Paul as a friend considered his friend's church important enough to suffer much for its sake. My readers, in view of all these scriptural facts, does it even seem reasonable to think the church, Jesus died for, is so insignificant that we may take it or leave it? I don't see how. No, it appears to me that what is declared by those scriptures should be enough to convince us that such an attitude could not possibly be pleasing in God's sight. However, in addition to all this, there are many more scriptural facts which sets forth its importance.
According to Matt. 5:14-16, we by good works, are to bring glorification unto God; but God is to be glorified in the church (Eph. 3:20-21), All right, since God is to be glorified in his church, well how can I glorify him unless I am a member of it?
Again, if we are to be saved, we must do the will of God (Matt. 7:21). That I have a part in the teaching of God's word, is the will of God (Matt. 28:18-19, Heb. 5:12, II Tim. 2:2); but God's word is to be taught to the world by the church (Eph. 3:20-21, Eph. 4:11-12). So tell me, how could I be saved without being a member of the Lord's church?
The Apostle Paul, in Col. 1:13, teaches that we are either in the world or in the church. Then, in Eph. 2:11-13 he states that those in the world are without God and have no hope. So how I ask, can we be saved without becoming a member of God's church?
In a recent article, we found that the church of Christ with Christ as its head, is equivalent to the kingdom of Christ with Christ as its king. however, we know that only subjects of the king are eligible to receive his blessings. Therefore, it necessarily follows that only the citizens of his kingdom or members of his church, are in a position to receive his blessing of salvation.
According to Matt. 20, the church may be thought of as being the vineyard of Christ. Who, I ask, receives wages from the master of a vineyard? Only those who labor in his vineyard. So it must follow that if we want to receive wages of the Lord, we must become laborers in his vineyard or church.
The inspired Apostle Paul, in I Tim. 3:14-15, says one's house is his family. Since this is true, then God's house is composed of his children. So, if we can be saved without being a member of God's (church) house, then we can be saved without being one of God's children. However, this cannot be true because Paul, in Rom. 8:16-17, declares that only the children of God are heirs. All right, since the church is composed of the children of God and since only his children are heirs, it must follow that those outside the (church) family of God are not beneficiaries of his great blessing of salvation.
Again, the scriptures say that the body of Christ and the church of Christ are one and the same institution (Eph. 1:20-23, Col. 1:24). They also say that the members of the church are the members of the body, which Christ is the head (I Cor. 12:27). Then Paul, in Eph. 5:23, proclaimed that Jesus is the saviour of the (church) body. Now, what is the meaning of this proclamation? Does it mean that the church was lost and Jesus, through his death on the cross, saved it? No, oh no, Jesus while here never said anything about saving a lost church. What he did say was, "I will build my church." Therefore, 1 again ask, what did Paul mean when he said Jesus is the saviour of the church? Inasmuch as we know God wants all people to be saved (II Pet. 3:9), but they will not (Matt. 25:31-46), then we know our salvation is conditional. Then too, since we know God speaks to us through Christ (Heb. 1:1-2), we also know that those who do what Jesus says will be saved. Therefore, Paul's declaration that Christ is the saviour of the body, must mean that he had saved those who were the members of the body. So, since those who are the members of the body or the church, are those who have been saved by complying with the God given conditions through Christ, then it must follow that Jesus has not saved those who are not members of his body.
My dear readers, I believe the scriptural facts presented in this article, prove that the church for which Christ died, is not an institution which is so unimportant in God's sight, that it makes no difference to him whether we do or do not become a member of it.
By: Tommy Hodge
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