Tag Archives: church

The Kingdom is not Defined by Riches #1434

23 Then Jesus said to His disciples, “Assuredly, I say to you that it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. 24 And again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” 25 When His disciples heard it, they were greatly astonished, saying, “Who then can be saved?” 26 But Jesus looked at them and said to them, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:23–26)

The kingdom of Christ is a spiritual realm (John 18:36). It is not defined and evaluated by worldly metrics. The kingdom (the church, Matthew 16:18-19) is not entered based on one’s wealth (verses 23-24). Gold and silver do not give a person ready access through Zion’s gates. Nor is God’s approval manifested by the wealth of a church, although that is the conclusion many draw. This is what men expect, but the kingdom of God is not defined by human expectations (verse 25). Rich people often expect to be given places of honor due to their wealth. That’s how it is in the kingdoms of men. But, only when the rich person humbles himself is he fit for the kingdom of God (Matthew 19:20-22).

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The Whole Building – One Temple, One Church #1429

19 Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, 21 in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, 22 in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit. (Ephesians 2:19–22, NKJV)

Zealously justifying division into hundreds and hundreds of different churches with opposing doctrines, worship practices and polity, Protestant denominationalism says the church is comprised of many churches (denominations). Today’s passage shows the Scriptural futility and error of this rationale. The household of God (the church) is the “whole building” that is “fitted together” to form “a holy temple of the Lord” (v. 19-21). God has one temple, one church. God’s temple is not a collection of many temples (different denominations), it is built of “living stones” (Christians, 1 Peter 2:5). Christians, not denominations, constitute the temple in which God dwells. Instead of defending unity in moral and doctrinal diversity (which is the essence of denominationalism), we urge our religious friends to choose the divine wisdom of unity in truth (John 17:20-21). Just as God has one temple, even so there is one church that belongs to Christ to which the saved are added (Matthew 16:18; Acts 2:47). Additional churches are of men, not of God.

Your are God’s Special People #1418

But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; (1 Peter 2:9, NKJV)

All the earth and all who dwell on it belong to the Lord God, but Christians are God’s own special people (Psalm 24:1). The word “special” conveys an idea of acquisition and possession. We have been acquired by God, purchased or redeemed “with the precious blood of Christ” (1 Peter 1:18-19). We belong to Him and not ourselves (1 Corinthians 6:20). Here again we see the value of the church from heaven’s point of view since Christ purchased the church with His own blood (Acts 20:28). The church, God’s purchased possession, will be redeemed eternally when Christ delivers it up to God on resurrection day (Ephesians 1:14; 1 Corinthians 15:23-24). Having been purchased by Christ’s blood, we are purified to accomplish God’s purposes. As “His own special people” we are redeemed from sin to be “zealous of good works” (Titus 2:14). Therefore, we bear a great responsibility to represent God faithfully and honorably in this world (1 Peter 2:11-12). Belonging to God means we arm ourselves with the mind of Christ and live for the will of God, not for the lusts of men (1 Peter 4:1-2). We belong to God. Let us live for His will, not our own.

You are a Royal Priesthood #1416

But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; (1 Peter 2:9, NKJV)

Peter has developed the point that Christians are “a holy priesthood” because Christ is the chief cornerstone of the house of God, the church (1 Peter 2:4-6). In this summary passage, he says our priesthood is royal or regal. Because we are citizens of the kingdom of God, we share in the blessings granted by the King (Jesus), who has “made us kings (a kingdom) and priests to His God and Father” (Revelation 1:6). Just as priests serve in a temple, Christians compose the temple of God – the church – and serve God in it (Ephesians 2:19-22). (This shows the importance and value God places on the church.) We are privileged to offer up spiritual sacrifices to God which are acceptable through Jesus Christ (1 Peter 2:5). Therefore, our sacrifices and service to God must agree with His will since we are “priests to our God” (Revelation 5:10). The church does not decide what is acceptable service to God. God has done that, and revealed it to us in His word. It is up to us to offer Him the priestly service He expects and deserves (Romans 12:1-2).

The Church is not a Business #1414

1 Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given orders to the churches of Galatia, so you must do also: 2 On the first day of the week let each one of you lay something aside, storing up as he may prosper, that there be no collections when I come. (1 Corinthians 16:1–2, NKJV)

The church is not a business. Yet, most churches around the world are organized and operated as if they are. Businesses exist to make money. Churches exist to do the God-given work of evangelism, spiritual edification, and to address benevolent needs of the saints (Acts 2:42-46; 5:12-14; 11:27-30). Churches are given one Scriptural way to gather funds to accomplish their work: Voluntary giving on the first day of the week. This is the one passage in the New Testament that teaches the churches when, who, and how to gather funds, and also why to do so this way. When do we give? (The first day of the week.) Who gives? (Each one of you.) How do we give? (According to our prosperity.) Why give this way? (So that the collection is in readiness for use.) There is no business and investment revenue, no board of directors, and no chief financial officer in the Scriptures. May we add our own ways? No. Does this matter? Yes, because the church belongs to Christ, it is the house of God, not our business to arrange and control according to the latest business model. God’s word, not man’s wisdom, must direct the organization and work of the local church.

The Church and God’s Eternal Purpose #1397

10 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, 11 according to the eternal purpose which He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord, (Ephesians 3:10–11, NKJV)

Paul acknowledges the great grace he was given to preach to the nations the “unsearchable riches of Christ” (Ephesians 3:8). By preaching the gospel everyone can see how God dispenses the riches of human redemption (Ephesians 3:9). What had previously been a mystery (hidden) is now revealed to all. God’s eternal purpose to redeem sinners is accomplished in Christ Jesus (v. 11). The church (the redeemed) manifests the immeasurable wisdom of God to all who are in places of spiritual rule and power (v. 10). It is futile to view the church as nonessential and disposable. If the church is not essential, then neither is making known God’s manifold wisdom. If the church is not essential, then neither is its part in God’s eternal purpose of redemption. Yes, the church is essential. By definition, it is the saved ones who belong to Christ (Matthew 16:18). The church is central to God’s eternal purpose and makes known His wisdom. Instead of minimizing the church, we must exalt it. Instead of saying the church is optional, we must honor it as a vital part of God’s eternal purpose.

Preach Christ and His Church #1365

1 Then He called His twelve disciples together and gave them power and authority over all demons, and to cure diseases. 2 He sent them to preach the kingdom of God and to heal the sick. (Luke 9:1–2, NKJV)

Jesus gave His apostles power (capacity) and authority (the freedom to act) over demons and diseases. He sent them to preach the kingdom of God and to work miracles which confirmed the divine nature of their message. The New Testament identifies the kingdom of God as the church of Christ (Matthew 16:18-19; Colossians 1:13). Preaching the kingdom of God is central to preaching Christ. When the evangelist Philip preached Christ, he preached “things concerning the kingdom of God” (Acts 8:5, 12). We fail to preach Christ if our preaching minimizes His church (His kingdom). There is rich irony in one thinking he can preach Christ to sinners (so they can be saved and added to the church, His kingdom, Acts 2:47) by not preaching the church (the kingdom) to them! Such is the feeble and futile attempt to preach Christ but not His church. We cannot preach Christ (the Anointed One, the King) without preaching His kingdom, His church. Truly, the gospel of Christ is the gospel of the kingdom (Luke 4:18, 43-44). Jesus preached the gospel of the kingdom, and so did His apostles. When early Christians preached Christ, they preached His kingdom (the church). When we preach Christ, we must preach His kingdom, His church.