To a small group last Saturday, before afternoon tea, with several visitors who had never heard the true gospel nor encountered the kingdom of God, I had the privilege of sharing, by request of the organizers, some Bible teaching about the church.
I spoke of five things, just five, among so many blessings and treasures, that the church of Christ possesses, according to God’s original project.
Here they are for your appreciation and peals of gratitude to the Lord:
#1. The church has an owner, Jesus Christ.
Christ is king, sovereign, and Lord. He said he would build the church that belonged to him: “my church” (Matthew 16:18). He gave his life for it, cleaned it up with his blood, invested it with his presence. No afterthought this church, but the culmination of centuries of guiding world history to fulfill an eternal plan. This owner retains all authority (Matthew 28.18), brooks no rivals, deposes usurpers, removes the unfaithful (Revelation 2:5).
#2. The church has a life of fellowship as family.
Nobody gets special billing or pedestal position, because “all of you are equal as brothers and sisters” (Matthew 23:8 CEB). God is father, who alone deserves the title (v. 9). The church lives for “one another.” Its main identifying mark is mutual love: “Everyone will know by this that you are my disciples — if you have love for one another” (John 13:35).
#3. The church has rules of conduct.
Not the Old Testament, but the New now guides the church in its faith and practice, because it teaches and insists upon every commandment of Christ, just as he ordered: “teach them to obey every command which I have given you” (Matthew 28:20 NET). His commands come in the New, through the apostles’ writings, “to let you know how people ought to conduct themselves in the household of God” (1 Timothy 3:15). From the Old Testament we learn much, but what applies today is what Christ says: “You have heard that it was said to an older generation, … But I say to you” (see Matthew 5). And who dares update, add to, or remove from what the Lord Jesus Christ orders?
#4. The church has truths for which it stands and proclaims.
It is “the backbone and support of the truth” (1 Timothy 3:15 CEB). It knows that God’s truth frees once it is known — and it can be known! (John 8:32). To a world of relativity, it holds forth absolutes. To the lost in the midst of gusty winds and tossing waves, the church casts anchors of heaven that hold fast in the fiercest storms. Its truths are sweet, nourishing the soul and steeling the resolve to remain faithful to the end.
#5. The church has a single mission, to save people for God eternally.
Mission means sending, and the sending implies going. The mission is wrapped up in a message, simple but powerful: “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. The one who believes and is baptized will be saved, but the one who does not believe will be condemned” (Mark 16:15-16 NET). The church doesn’t let the world define good works, refuses to fall for glib promises of prosperity, manipulative offers of health, or the deathly draw of politics. The church’s great work from God is the rescue of souls.
There is one thing the church doesn’t have. A name. Like the moon, which has no name because there is only one moon, the church needs no official name because, in God’s plan, there is only one church. Descriptions abound: church of God, churches of Christ, church of the firstborn. Figures to describe it surface constantly: flock, vineyard, kingdom, house (temple), pearl. In sales a no-name means cheap: in the spiritual realm, no-name means unique!
The church has been blessed with all this and more. Many are giving away to the devil its most precious and prized possessions. But we will hold these close to our hearts, for as the church of Christ is today the manifestation of the kingdom of God on earth, on the last day it will morph into the eternal kingdom for whom heaven now awaits.