Why I Love the Church and I Hope You Will Too - Reason 2

Reason #2: The Church Is the Current Expression of an Eternal Plan
In Titus 1:2, the apostle Paul writes of the “eternal life which God, who cannot lie, promised before time began” (New King James Version, emphasis added). In this context, the apostle Paul was describing his ministry, a ministry of evangelism and salvation.
And as Paul describes his ministry, he outlines God’s redemptive purpose, from election (”those chosen of God,” v. 1), to salvation (”the knowledge of the truth,” v. 1), to sanctification (”which is according to godliness,” v.1), to final glory (”in the hope of eternal life,” v. 2). 
To look at Romans 8:29-30 we see that before time began God determined to begin and to finish His redemptive plan.  Redemption from sin could not be purchased by animal sacrifices or any other means. (see Hebrews 10:4-9) Therefore the Son came to earth for the express purpose of dying for sin.
All of this means that the church is something so monumental, so vast, so transcendent, that our poor minds can scarcely begin to appreciate its significance in the eternal plan of God. Our salvation as individuals is almost incidental. The real aim of God’s plan is not merely to get us to heaven, but the drama of our salvation has a purpose far more grand.
Our salvation builds God's church and God's church depicts God's love.  In the one-another-ness of Christian relationship we may reflect the supreme unity of the Trinity.  In the ministry of gospel living, we may reflect the limitless love of God.  In the corporate worship of saints gathered in the name of Christ we may reflect Heaven on Earth - a pre-quil to the New Jerusalem, and redemption's consummation.
How can we not rejoice in the prospect of that? How can Christians possibly be apathetic about the church?  How can we, having been given the keys to supernatural living, ignore the opportunity to participate in the supernatural activity of God known as "the church?"
There is a fascinating conclusion to all this. Paul describes it in 1 Corinthians 15:24-28:
Then comes the end, when He hands over the kingdom to the God and Father, when He has abolished all rule and all authority and power. For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet. The last enemy that will be abolished is death. For He has put all things in subjection under His feet. But when He says, “All things are put in subjection,” it is evident that He is excepted who put all things in subjection to Him. When all things are subjected to Him, then the Son Himself also will be subjected to the One who subjected all things to Him, so that God may be all in all.
Picture the scene. All Christ’s enemies are destroyed and defeated. All things are placed in subjection to the Son. The Father has given Him the great love-gift, the church, to be his bride and to be subject to Him. Christ is on the throne. All things are now subject to Him—except the Father, who put all things in subjection to His Son. “Then the Son Himself also will be subjected to the One who subjected all things to Him, so that God may be all in all” (v. 28).
And yet, to live a New Testament lifestyle means that the supernatural final chapter can be both witnessed (by non-believers) and experienced (by Christ-followers) now.
Oh, I love the church.  I love it because in all of its activity is the promise of eternity both now and yet to come.


Why I Love the Church and I Hope You Will Too - Reason 1

I love being a part of God’s continuous supernatural activity.

I’m not talking about a church building, but about the spiritual collective of God’s people.  
It is a spiritual building (1 Pet. 2:5), the dwelling-place of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 3:16-17; 2 Cor. 6:16), the way that the earth sees the glory of God, and the true center of spiritual life for the redeemed ones.

God is the architect and the builder. In Ephesians 2:19-22, Paul writes,

So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit.

I cannot overstate the importance of the church in the plan of God. The church is His building (1 Cor. 3:9). He is the unchangeable, sovereign, omnipotent Lord of heaven. His Word cannot return void but always accomplishes what He says (Isa. 55:11). He is always faithful and cannot deny himself (2 Tim. 2:13). His sovereign purposes always come to pass, and His will is always ultimately fulfilled (Isa. 46:10). 

For example, in Matthew 16:18 Christ said, “I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it.” How about those unchangeable words!  Christ knows His sheep by name (John 10:3), and He wrote their names down before the foundation of the world (Rev. 13:8)—He personally guarantees that the gates of Hades will not prevail against the church He is building.

“The gates of Hades” was a Jewish expression for death. Hades is the place of the dead, and the gates of Hades represent the portal into that place—death itself. Hades is also the domain of the devil. Hebrews 2:14 refers to Satan as the one “who had the power of death,” and verse 15 says he used that power to keep people in fear and bondage all their lives. But now Christ has broken that power, and liberated His people from Satan’s dominion—in essence, he has broken down the gates of Hades. And therefore even the power of death—the strongest weapon Satan wields—cannot prevent the progress and victory of the church.

There’s still more significance to the imagery of “the gates of Hades.” Gates are a walled city’s most vital defensive safeguards. Christ’s words therefore portray the church militant, storming the very gates of hell, victoriously delivering people from the power of death. So, Christ also assures the triumph of the church’s evangelistic mission. through the church, He is at work spiritually accomplishing a mission that cannot be defeated!  “Winning.”

Christ’s promise in this passage should not be misconstrued. He is not saying that any particular local church is incapable of failure or abuse.  No, He is saying that no such failure can prevent His mission from being accomplished by the whole church.

Please notice that the church is a work in progress. Christ is still building His church. We are still being joined together (Eph. 2:21). The church is still under construction (v. 22). God is not finished yet. The imperfections and blemishes in the visible church are still being refined by the Master Builder.

So yes, I love the church.  It is the current work of the savior of the world and I like being right in the middle of His activity!  I hope you will love it too!


I Love the Church, and I Hope You Will Too

     I love the church. I am inveterate and incurable lover of the church. It thrills me beyond expression to serve the church. 

     Although I am also involved in some parachurch ministries, I wouldn’t trade my ministry in the church for all of them combined. The church takes first place in my ministry priorities, and all the parachurch ministries I serve are subordinate to, and grow out of, my ministry in the church.

     In fact, my whole life has been lived in the church. I  was born into a family who found their cultural identity as church-going Christians.  Our primary social interactions - in the church.  Our primary community service - through the church.  Our primary interpretation of culture and news of the day - with the church.

     We were those “every time the church doors open” kind people.  There was no guilting us into it.  There was no need for enticements.  We didn’t go to be entertained.  We just didn’t see the world working for us any other way.  Loving God and being His church was like breathing.

     In a short series of upcoming posts, I’m going to outline some biblical reasons that I love the church.  They have surfaced over a lifetime of thinking deeply about who I am and why God made me this way.

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