What Is Your View of the Church?
We live in a time when many have a negative view of the church. People claim they follow Jesus, but they see no need to be a member of the church, or at least see little need to sacrifice their time and efforts in regular support of the church. This is often due to the fact that some have little understanding of the church you can read about in the Bible, and others have misconceived ideas about the church. Our view and appreciation of the church should be governed by what the Scriptures teach about the church that Jesus has established.
The Church Reveals the Wisdom of God
The apostle Paul was preaching the good news of salvation…
“to make all people see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the ages has been hidden in God who created all things through Jesus Christ; to the intent that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the church to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places, according to the eternal purpose which He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord…” (Ephesians 3:9-11)
God’s wisdom is seen in His creation of heaven and earth, and His creation of the angelic world and man. But God’s “intent” (purpose; design) in the creation of the universe was to reveal to the spiritual realm the great variety and aspects of His wisdom in His new creation, the church. “By the church” is revealed God’s wisdom: in planning man’s salvation; in His selection of the Savior of the church; in His guidance for the organization, worship and work of the church; in His cleansing and ultimate glorification of the church.
Jesus Invested His Energies in Building His Church
Jesus said: “…I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18). The Gospels, recording some three and a half years of Jesus’ teaching and activities on earth, contain some of His teaching to His apostles about the church. After His departure from earth He sent the Holy Spirit to remind the apostles and inspired writers of what He had taught them about the establishment, organization, worship and work of His church.
From the book of Acts to the book of Revelation we have record of the results of Jesus’ efforts to build His church. In Acts 2:47 we read that “the Lord (Jesus) added to the church daily those who were being saved.” In the book of Revelation we see Jesus walking in the midst of His churches (in intimate fellowship with them), and we see He is continually teaching His churches through the Holy Spirit’s revelation (the Scriptures). Jesus’ concerns for and efforts to build and maintain His church is continual.
Jesus Nourishes and Cherishes the Church
Further evidence of Jesus’ concern for His church, and thus helping us to have a proper view of the church, is seen in the teaching that the church is the body of Christ. “Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body…Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for it…,” and He “nourishes and cherishes…the church” (Ephesians 5:23,25,29). “Nourish” means “to rear up to maturity…to take care of” (Strong’s); Webster’s defines it: “to promote the growth of.” “Cherish” literally means “to warm” indicating the “warm” feelings Jesus has for His body, the church; Webster’s defines it: “to hold dear.”
This caring, intimate relationship that Jesus has with His church was something that God had planned to happen from the time man was placed on this earth, which is seen from Paul’s reference to Genesis 2:24:
“For we are members of His body, of His flesh and His bones. ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church” (Ephesians 5:30-32)
The creation and union of Adam and Eve were intended, in the design of God for the marriage relationship, to point to the union of Christ and His church. It takes sustained effort on our part to nourish our marriage relationship, but we are willing to expend the effort because we cherish our spouse. If it is our view of the church that it is the spiritual body of Christ that we should cherish as Jesus does, then nourishing (promoting the growth of) the church as Jesus does becomes a willing and pleasurable endeavor.
Jesus Died to Purchase the Church
People are willing to pay extreme prices for things they view as being extremely valuable. People will labor for thirty or more years, and sacrifice many things in their life, for a home that they view as valuable for their well-being in life. Jesus loved the church so much that He “gave Himself for it” (Ephesians 5:25). Jesus expended His life, living for and dying for, the church.
“Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood” (Acts 20:28)
Jesus considered the church worth dying for; and the apostles and early disciples were willing to die for, and did die for, the church.
God Will Receive Eternal Glory in the Church
God expects to receive glory in the church through all eternity: “…to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end” (Ephesians 3:21). While God is to receive glory in the church now, the church’s greatest presentation of God’s glory will be in the future. What we do here and now in the church is preparing us for the eternal ages when we shall glorify Christ forever for our salvation in His body, the church.
What is your view of the church? Do you view the church as a manifestation of the eternal wisdom of God and established to bring eternal glory to God? Do you appreciate and honor God’s eternal plan for your salvation in the church by showing your faithful support for the church? Is the church a spiritual blessing you cherish and thus view as worth spending your effort to build and nourish? Is it your view that the church is so valuable that you are willing to die for it? If so, then any sacrifice you would make for the church short of dying should be easy.