Pleasing God, Making Disciples of Jesus Christ

The Church and What God Expects

1 TIMOTHY3:14–15  – I hope to come to you soon, but I am writing these things to you so that, if I delay, you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, a pillar and buttress of the truth.”

Imagine if, right now, we were transported back to the book of Acts and placed in the early church where they “met continually in the Word, fellowship, breaking of bread, and prayer” (Acts 2:42). These early believers would not neglect or miss these gatherings. They even greatly delighted in these gatherings as they sought the Lord and shared the things of the Lord together (Hebrews 10:25). Based on our current spiritual walks with the Lord and our faithfulness to His people in our churches, would we comfortably fit in the early church model or feel quite out of place among them because we are so much not like them in practice?

God designed the Christian life to be a life of togetherness, not privatized experience or individualized Christianity. He also mandates we don’t remain on the fringe of spiritual life with other believers. That means we cannot be spiritually satisfied with an hour or so on a Sunday morning sitting in a pew. And worse, we cannot drift into thinking we are spiritually alright living a Christian life at a distance from other Christians. When we read the book of Acts, and throughout the New Testament letters, we find the theme and emphasis of togetherness with Christians everywhere. The church is not a building, an institution, and it certainly is not an option in Christian living. We cannot say, “I love Jesus but not so much the church.” We also cannot say, “I am committed to Jesus but being in church isn’t necessary for my walk with Him.” Oh, one more thing we must not think or say, “I got my Bible, my little fellowship group that meets regularly, and I really don’t see the need or importance of a local church and my involvement. I am good.” Here is why that is dangerous and wrong.

God created the church. It is the body of His Son, and yes, it is universal and invisible, but it is also visible and local. If one studies the New Testament and the word “church” (the Greek word is ecclesia), we will encounter 114 occurrences with 109 of them referring to local, visible, gatherings of believers. God makes His church a big deal, a real big deal, and expects His children to do likewise. He also expects His church to be formed and operate according to His Word which means under spiritual leadership in the offices of Elders and Deacons, and with everyone using their spiritual gifts for its growth, health, and be on the mission of the Gospel to the world.

So, back to the opening picture. If we were placed in the first century church, would we fit in “like a glove” because we are living out our God’s expectations for us with one another in a local church? Or might we be uncomfortable because our “church life” isn’t matching their “church life?” Think about it. A lot is at stake by our answer and response.

PRAYER: “Father, help me see Your desire, even command, for me to invest in spiritual relationships of depth with others.”

QUOTE: “Are we in close spiritual relationships with other believers in Word and prayer? If not, why not? It is God’s plan.”

Because of Him,

Pastor Jim