How many of you have heard people say, “You don’t have to go to church to be a Christian” as an attempt to justify their lack of church attendance? If you’re like me, you’ve heard that too many times that you care to remember. In a very limited sense, however, it’s true. Obviously we know regeneration and justification don’t require church attendance. But church identification, attendance and participation is one tangible and visible fruit of genuine conversion.
“You’re right. We don’t have to go to church to be Christians. We, Christians, are the church! We are the called out ones; the body of Christ. The church building (lifeless infrastructure) only exists as a result of the true church, God’s redeemed (a living organism), who are called to collectively demonstrate His glory in a very unique way.”
The church, God’s redeemed people, is a glorious entity! Many theologians, I believe, have correctly assessed that America’s spirit of independence feeds the flesh and has warped the minds of many Christians producing a low, joyless and non-committal attitude toward the church. It is imperative that we understand what the church truly is from God’s perspective, which I know by God’s grace will correct and transform negative thoughts about the church. Consider some of the biblical descriptives of the church. The church…
was an eternal plan of God (Eph. 3:1-6)
was purchased by the blood of Christ (Acts 20:28, Col. 1:20, Rev. 5:9)
is sealed by the Holy Spirit (Eph. 1:14, 4:30)
is the body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:27, Eph. 4:12, Col. 1:18, 3:15)
is the pillar and foundation of truth (1 Tim. 3:15)
is a royal priesthood and a holy nation (1 Pet. 2:9)
Perhaps, one of the most humbling realities of the church is that it is meant to display the wisdom of God to the angelic realm. How glorious is this?!?! Listen to the inspired words of the Apostle Paul.
6This mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel. 7 Of this gospel I was made a minister according to the gift of God’s grace, which was given me by the working of his power. 8To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, 9and to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things, 10so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. 11This was according to the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord,… (Ephesians 3:6-11)
The church is a living & eternal apologetic of the multifaceted redemptive grace of God!! The visible church is the fruit of the gospel! The angelic realm is being taught more about God through the redemption of rebels. The heavenly angels, experientially, know nothing about redeeming grace. The fallen angels are reminded of their defeat. Remember, the angels longed to look into these things. (1 Peter 1:12) When the church is functioning as it should, we are displaying the wisdom and glory of God and that Jesus didn’t die in vain.
May we consider our calling!
Coming June 8, 2010 – The Church: Called & Collected from Lampmode Recordings. Check out the promo video featuring Mark Dever of Capitol Hill Baptist Church & IX Marks Ministries.