Sunday, March 14, 2010

...strengthening our commitment to the household of faith

"The church is the community of all true believers for all time. This definition understands the church to be made of all those who are truly saved. Paul says, "Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her" (Eph 2:25). Here the term "the church" is used to apply to all those whom Christ died to redeem, all those who are saved by the death of Christ. But that must include all true believers for all time, both believers in the New Testament age and believers in the Old Testament age as well"  -Wayne Grudem

The Apostle John tells us, that one of the most visible and convincing evidences that we have passed from death until life, is "... because we love the brethren..." (1 John 3:14). Jesus said, "By this shall all men know that you are My disciples; that you love one another" (John 13:35). We are also "not to forsake the assembling of ourselves together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more, as you see the day drawing near." (Hebrews 10:25).

The closest fellowship, as Christians, that we can ever enjoy on earth is within the body of Christ. "Brethren" is an endearing word for the intimacy of our union with Christ and, therefore, with each other. It was used by our Lord immediately following His bodily resurrection from the dead to portray His deep affection and love for those He came to save (John 20:17; cp, Heb. 2:11).

There are close to fifty "one anothers" in the New Testament that describe in wonderful detail how our lives are to be woven and lived together within the body of Christ. The world may not know of Paul, Stephen, Luke, Peter, even Moses or David, etc.; but they do know you and me and they are watching. What a joy to give up all rights to self and serve without reservation each other in the body of Christ as a witness and testimony of His life-changing grace. We should not come to church seeking what we can get, but more importantly, asking how we can give (1 Peter 4:10).

I have defined ministry as:
service to God and His creatures as we employ our Spirit-given giftedness, according to the instruction of Scripture as good stewards of the manifold grace of God for the advancement of His kingdom; that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. (cp, 1 Peter 4:10-12)
God has designed genuine ministry to be inseparable from the life, fellowship, and leadership of the local church. Any ministry that does not strengthen one's commitment to the local church is inconsistent with the purposes of Christ (Acts 2:42-47; Hebrews 10:23-25).

Five Biblical Reasons 
Why We Should Love and Serve the Church: 

Committed to the Lord of the Church
Firstly, Jesus Christ promised to build the Church-therefore, my commitment should be to it (Matthew 16:18; Acts 2:39-47).

Committed to Love the Church
Secondly, He purchased the Church with His own precious blood-therefore, I love those for whom He died (1 Peter 1:19; 1 John 3:14-16).

Committed to Labor and Serve with the Church
Thirdly, the Church is the predominate agency through which God's will is manifested on earth-therefore, it is the community with whom I labor (Ephesians 1:9-10; Colossians 1:28-29).

Committed to the Life of One Another in the Church
Fourthly, the Church is the only earthly expression of heaven-therefore, we must daily grow together in conformity to the fullness of Christ (2 Peter 3:10-14; Revelation 4:4-11; Ephesians 4:12-13).

Committed to Lasting Victory for the Church
Fifthly, the gates of Hades will not prevail against the Church-therefore, in light of the assured victory through our Lord Jesus Christ, our worship and toil is not in vain (Matthew 16:18; 1 Corinthians 15:54-58).

For further study, see Ligon Duncan's excellent article on 


donsands said...

Very well done.
I agree that the Church is both believers in the NT & OT. Mordecai and Esther; Simon Peter and Mary Magdalene are all brothers and sisters in Christ with us.

Andrew Jones said...

refreshing to hear this - to go beyond programs and methods to the real thing

much thanks

andrew jones

Anonymous said...

Read this over at GalatiansC4V16. I really liked this, and just wanted to say so.


~Mark said...

Thank you! The arguments over who is the "true" church and who isn't and which church salvation comes through have just about given me an ulcer. I am so tired of the church divided and the foolishness it makes of God's Holy Word before an unsaved world.

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure I follow the distinction between "labor with the church" and "life in the church".

I assume that "labor" refers to our service within the body of Christ / the local church?

What are some ways that an individual can get plugged into a church versus just attending on Sunday mornings and Wednesday evenings? I'm looking for some real practical suggestions.

SJ Camp said...

Good question:

The laboring is with other brothers and sisters in the Lord in the church in ministry. The tendency today is to partner with unbelievers in a spiritual ministry or enterprise (2 Cor. 6:14-7:1).

The life in the church is more referring to our daily life in the body of Christ we are to enjoy with each other. Close fellowship iow.

Lastly, a good way to get plugged into a church is by serving. See what areas of need exist and ask to use your gifts in those areas. Sunday School teacher; men's ministries; outreach opportunities; music ministry; missions; mercy ministries to hurting people in your church or community. AND join a community life group or home fellowship group too. Those usually meet bi-weekly or monthly in someone's home and are no more than 10-15 people. More intimate setting for prayer, bible study, and building friendships within the church body.

Hope this helps a bit...
Grace and peace

Anonymous said...

sj -- thanks for the clarification. Yes, it did help. I recently inquired where some needs exist, so I'm relying on church leadership to assist with the search. Your examples highlighted a couple of areas I had not considered...

SJ Camp said...

That's a great praise report!

May the Lord continue to open up doors for you to use your spiritual gifts in all that you do for His glory in the service of His church.

Grace and peace
Eph. 5:11-16

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Thanks sj.

SJ Camp said...

My joy...

Detoured By Travel said...

Well said.

Here's a thought - I also love the Church because those fellow believers who truly love God (as defined in 1 John 2:9-10) love one another. Jesus himself said that this love is how all men would know that we are His disciples. The love therefore that believers have and openly display for one another makes the Church a self-sacrificing, self-perpetuating ministry.

And the question that leaves for our personal self-examination and consideration obedient have we each been in following this command?

Thanks Steve for this.

Heb 13:6

Anonymous said...

Steve -
I enjoyed reading this blog entry. Thank you! My husband and I were challenged by it and thought we should summarize in our own words our five reasons for being committed to the church in love and service as well. They are as follows:

Committed to Portrayal
Firstly, the Church is the portrayal of the body of Christ – therefore, we should be committed to it (1 Corinthians 12:27)

Committed to Parenthood
Secondly, the Church is responsible to establish a web of relationships that correspond to family relationships (i.e. spiritual parenthood) – therefore, we should be committed to it (Matthew 12:49-50)

Committed to Purification
Thirdly, the Church is a means of endurance, holiness and purification without which we will not reach heaven – therefore, we should be committed to it (Hebrews 3:12-13, 12:14).

Committed to Pleasure
Fourthly, the Church is a setting in which the pleasure of giving to one another can be prominently displayed – therefore, we should be committed to it (Acts 20:35)

Committed to Partnership
Fifthly, the Church is to partner together in the spreading of the gospel of Christ to the lost – therefore, we should be committed to it (1 Timothy 3:15)

Thanks again - Elizabeth

SJ Camp said...

Thank you Elizabeth. I appreciate your encouraging comment.

The Pilgrim said...

I know it is off topic, but I'd like to warn your readers against facilitator-led church groups.

Unknown said...

Congrats My Dear! I know how much goes into that! My Christian tv has 'favorited' your Christian tv (that would be the soon to be not-so-dormant Kindred Kollections!)Christian tv