Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her (Ephesians 5:25, NKJV)
How incredible would your marriage be if you loved you wife as Christ loved the church? Wonderful, you say? Hopefully so. Yet, what if your wife becomes “lukewarm” toward your love, just as the church of the Laodiceans became lukewarm toward Jesus Christ (Rev. 3:14-16)? Even that must not deter and diminish your love for your wife. You see, husbands are to love their wives as Christ loved the church. Christ continued to love the Laodicean church when it was less than loving, using words of rebuke and chastening to urge her repentance (Rev. 3:19). Christ’s utter and complete sacrifice of himself for His church is the model for every husband’s treatment of his wife. Loving your wife is not about getting something from her in return. It is not about always doing everything she wants. It is about always looking out for what is in her best interest, especially when that means making a sacrifice on your part. Hopefully, she will see your love and honor you for it. But, if she fails to see and value this sort of love, do not stop sacrificially loving her. You must remain true to the Lord, and that includes being a righteous, loving husband at all times.
And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. (Matthew 16:18, NKJV)
The rock upon which Jesus built His church is not Peter; it is the confession Peter had just made: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matt. 16:16). Without this great truth, there would be no church, no “called out” body of redeemed souls who are purchased by the blood of the Son of God (Acts 20:28; Eph. 1:22-23; 25-27; Rev. 5:9-10). It is an obvious, yet neglected truth, that the church belongs to Christ. The church does not belong to you or me, or any other person. Therefore, no one has the right to alter it, abuse it, disrespect it, discount it or corrupt it with the “commandments and doctrines of men” (Col. 2:22; Matt. 15:7-9). The death of Jesus did not prevent the building of His church. Indeed, His death and resurrection declares His great power over sin and death. The church is the result of Christ’s great victory over sin and death. So, rather than minimizing the church as an afterthought, or as a non-essential, personal choice, let us praise God for the church of Christ and the heavenly blessings Christians have in Christ (Eph. 3:10-11; 1:3). There is only one church, and that is the church we must choose; the church which Christ built. The churches of men are not, and never will be, the church of Christ.
For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free—and have all been made to drink into one Spirit. (1 Corinthians 12:13, NKJV)
There is much disagreement and misunderstanding about the work of the Holy Spirit in salvation. This verse will remove some of that misunderstanding – if we will allow it. The Holy Spirit guided the apostles into “all truth” (the gospel), which they preached to the world (Jno. 16:13; Mk. 16:15). This Spirit-given truth calls upon every sinner to believe, repent and be baptized to be saved (Mk. 16:16; Acts 2:38, 41). Thus, by the direction of the Holy Spirit, all Christians have been baptized into “one body” (the church, Acts 2:41, 47). Based upon this truth, Paul makes a plea for all the members of the church to work together in unity. He notes that one Spirit has directed our baptism in water (by the gospel He revealed), and by doing so, every Christian is a member of the body (church) of Christ. We have all drunk of the spiritual blessings given us by “one Spirit.” The Holy Spirit gives a wonderful gift to all who have been saved – spiritual refreshing and “an inheritance among all those who are sanctified by faith” (Acts 2:38; 3:19; 26:18). Because there is “one body” (the church) and “one baptism” (water), Christians must keep the unity of the Spirit, and not be divided (Eph. 4:3-5).
Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. (2 Peter 3:13, NKJV)
The basic meaning of the expression “heavens and the earth” is that of a dwelling place, a habitation. In Genesis 1:1, God created the physical world – “the heavens and the earth” – for humanity to inhabit (Gen. 1:26-28). We later find a similar expression used with a spiritual meaning (Isa. 65:17; 66:22). Isaiah spoke of God creating “new heavens and a new earth” in which people would come to worship before Him (Isa. 65:17; 66:23). Isaiah was speaking of the church – the habitation or dwelling place of God’s people (Isa. 2:1-4). God dwells with His people (the church), and they with Him (2 Cor. 6:16-18). Christians are raised out of the death of sin to sit “in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Eph. 2:5-6). We become citizens of a new kingdom when we are saved in Christ (Col. 1:13). Christians inhabit a new and spiritual realm, the church (Acts 2:47). Our citizenship is in heaven (Phil. 3:20). When Peter used the expression “new heavens and a new earth” in 2 Peter 3:13, he was looking forward to yet another dwelling place of God’s people – the eternal kingdom, our heavenly home (2 Pet. 1:11). In visionary form, John saw this “new heaven and a new earth” where righteousness dwells (Rev. 21:1). Entrance into it will be abundantly given to faithful Christians (2 Pet. 1:10-11).
2 “Thus speaks the Lord of hosts, saying: ‘This people says, “The time has not come, the time that the Lord’s house should be built.” ’ ” 3 Then the word of the Lord came by Haggai the prophet, saying, 4 “Is it time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, and this temple to lie in ruins?” 5 Now therefore, thus says the Lord of hosts: “Consider your ways!” (Haggai 1:2–5, NKJV)
The remnant of Israel had returned to Jerusalem from Babylonian exile more than fifteen years earlier. As the people settled in and refurbished their own houses, the temple of God was still in shambles. Instead of hastening to rebuild God’s house, the people made excuses as they ran to finish their own houses (Hag. 1:7-9). God’s prophet rebuked their negligence, prompting them to action (Hag. 1:14). Even now, there are Christians who are more concerned with their personal affairs than they are with the house of God, His church. They do not faithfully worship God nor put His business above their own. Consequently, God’s house (the church) lies in the ruin of neglect. If this describes you, then it is time to “consider your ways,” repent, and put the Lord’s will first, before your own interests.
11 “This is the ‘stone which was rejected by you builders, which has become the chief cornerstone.’ 12 Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:11–12, NKJV)
The rejected stone of which Peter speaks is none other than Jesus Christ. Prophesied by David in Psalm 118:22, the apostle signals its fulfillment in the death and resurrection of Jesus. He is now the “chief cornerstone” of God’s temple, the church (Eph. 2:19-22). It is worth noting (for those who believe one can be saved without the church) that salvation is inextricably connected to the chief cornerstone of God’s church. Since salvation is in Christ, and He is the chief cornerstone of the church, one cannot be saved and not be a “living stone” in the spiritual house of God (1 Pet. 2:5). There is no “join the church of your choice” here. Instead, there is only salvation in Christ, who is the head of the church and its chief cornerstone. Without Christ there is no salvation. And, without the church, there is no assembly of saved souls. This helps explain why the Lord adds to the church those who are being saved (Acts 2:47). Salvation and the church of Christ cannot be separated.
46 So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. 47 And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved. (Acts 2:46–47, NKJV)
The unity of the church in Jerusalem was marked by the daily faithfulness of its members. These early saints did not agree to disagree and call it unity in diversity; they agreed in faith and in practice. Their unity was obvious. From their daily assemblies in Solomon’s Porch to their individual lives from house to house, the Christians expressed joy from genuine hearts of devoted faith (Acts 2:42; 5:12). Their unity had a favorable influence on those who observed them, and they were held in favor by the citizens of Jerusalem. The Lord Himself continued to increase their size by adding to their number the new converts who were being saved by the gospel. Without question, a local church flourishes when saints are united in Christ. The Jerusalem church remains a worthy example for us to follow.
16 Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” 17 Jesus answered and said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. 18 And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.” (Matthew 16:16–18, NKJV)
The church belongs to Christ, not to me, or you, or any other person. Jesus built the church, purchasing it with His own blood (Acts 20:28; Eph. 5:25). The Father revelation (confessed by Peter) that Jesus is “the Christ, the Son of the living God” forms the foundation upon which His church is built. Yet, 1.2 billion Roman Catholics believe this heavenly assembly of the saved (the “called out” ones, the church) is built upon the fleshly foundation of Peter. They have misunderstood the “rock” upon the church is built (v. 18). The name Peter (petros) is defined as “a (piece of) rock” (Strong) or a “stone” (Liddell-Scott), while the word “rock” (petra) upon which the church is built is used “of ledges…a mass of rock” (Liddell-Scott). Jesus did not build His church upon the man, Peter (a stone). He built His church upon the bedrock truth that He is the Christ, the Son of the living God. “For no other foundation can anyone lay that that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 3:11).
Blessed is the man You choose, and cause to approach You, that he may dwell in Your courts. We shall be satisfied with the goodness of Your house, of Your holy temple. (Psalm 65:4, NKJV)
God chose David, a man after God’s own heart, to rule over His people Israel. David praised God for this rich blessing and the ability to come into God’s presence. David and his people were content, filled up with the blessings of approaching and serving God. Today, the church of Christ is the temple of God (Eph. 2:19-22). Like David, we ought to be satisfied by our spiritual blessings in Christ, which bring us into God’s presence and sustain us in His fellowship (1 Cor. 1:9; Eph. 1:3-4). Truly, God is good. And so, we do not complain about the church as Christ built it. Its worship, its organization, its work, its ethics and morality elicits our praise and honor of the Lord. Instead of attempting to innovate and improve upon God’s holy temple, be satisfied to be a living stone in His temple and offer God acceptable, spiritual sacrifices (1 Pet. 2:5).
to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen. (Ephesians 3:21, NKJV)
A review of Paul’s prayer in Ephesians 3:14-21 reveals the glory God is due. God is to be held in honor because He is our Progenitor and our source of spiritual strength (v. 15-16), because of His great love with which He fills us (v. 17-19), and because of His amazing power to exceed the expectations of our requests and thoughts (v. 20). In today’s verse, Paul calls attention to his summary point: God is glorified in the church by Christ throughout the ages (v. 21). Far too many who profess to be Christians do not value Christ’s church. Doctrines that make the church an afterthought in God’s mind have contributed to this devalued view of the church. Corrupt teaching, living, organization, worship and work all add to the wrong notion that says, “Christ is important, not the church.” We cannot separate Christ from His church without nullifying the glory it gives God. Jesus purchased the church with His blood (Acts 20:28; Eph. 5:25). The church was built by Christ (Matt. 16:18). The church is the result of God’s eternal, redemptive purpose in Christ (Eph. 3:10-11). These reasons, and more, compel the called out ones (the church) to give glory to God. We do so as we live by faith and Christ dwells in each heart (v. 17).