Who Needs The Church? #3
Updated: Aug 24, 2020
I hope you had a fine weekend and were able to get out and enjoy the nice weather.
As we continue to keep our ‘social distancing’ in place due to COVID-19, I believe we need to use this time productively at Grace Evangelical Church. We have been given a great opportunity to consider the focus and purpose of our church (for that matter anyone else who might be reading these devotionals via social media). Many churches like ours are asking questions like: (1) What will our church look like when we get to gather again in the future? (2) What will we need to change now, and in the future, to better meet the needs of our people and our community? (3) What will we need to continue focusing on if we are to fulfill the mission that God has called us to in this location? I’m most certainly asking these questions and a few more right now. So, to help us prepare … (OK, maybe I’m using these devotionals to personally process as well) … for the time when we can be back gathering together physically as a church body, I want us to contemplate the question, “Who needs the church?” for the next several weeks. To help me through this devotion, I will be enlisting some assistance from an old Radio Bible Class pamphlet.1
For Monday, I want to address the question, “What is the Church?” Scripture for today Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.- Matt 16:16-18 Jesus gave us this incredible promise that He would build His church and it would never fail. But what is this thing that we call church? To define the church, it’s important to understand how this term in used in the New Testament. In the first century the word ‘church’ never referred to a denominational franchise. Neither did it ever depict a certain type of religious architecture. The Church in those early days was actually made up of the Followers of Christ who were gathering together in a specific location or city. So, it was used to reference ‘the church at Ephesus’ (Eph 1:1), or ‘the church at Corinth’ (1 Cor 1:2), ‘the church that met in Philemon’s house’ (Philem 1). Each of these churches were defined by the people who made up the gatherings (Rom 16:5). Some of us, might be inclined to idealize those first century church gatherings. Yet, even a casual reading of the New Testament letters indicate that these early churches were just as imperfect as churches today. Those churches were made up of imperfect people who regularly came together because of their need for one another and their perfect Lord that we see in our churches today. There are at least three ways we need to understand the word ‘church’. In a universal and singular sense. In spite of what some denominations teach, The Church, in the universal sense, is made up of all people who have personally trusted Jesus as their Savior throughout the centuries (Acts 2:37-47). These people have been (1) placed in the body of Christ by the baptism of the Spirit (1 Cor 12:13) and (2) had their names placed in the registry of heaven (Heb 12:23). And one day, everyone in this universal church will be gather together to worship and serve the Lord forever (Rev 4:8-11). In a regional and plural sense. Local churches have always been comprised of people who share a common belief in Christ and the Bible with one another (1 Cor 1:2). They meet together regularly in a location (Heb 10:23-25) to encourage each other, to serve the Lord and serve one another, and to carry out the Great Commission together (Matt 28:19-20). In a functional sense. The biblical pattern for the function of church has always included (1) teaching of the Scriptures, (2) prayer, (3) breaking bread or communion to remember the Lord’s death, (4) water baptism to identify believers in Christ, (5) singing, (6) praising the Lord in worship, (7) sharing of resources, (8) correction and discipline, (9) comfort and encouragement, (10) helping the poor, and (11) reaching those who do not know Jesus as Savior. Prayer for today Thank you, Lord, for giving us the Church and our local church. Help me to remember the Church is Your creation and gift. Help me to see Your Church as bigger than a singular location. Help me to accept the imperfect people in my church as they accept me. Help me to join in on the functions of Your church. Help me begin by reaching out to others who are feeling isolated and alone, and be an encouragement to them. In Jesus’ name, amen Blessings, Pastor Tim
“Who Needs the Church?”, Radio Bible Class, 1990