We will continue discovering the purpose and function of the Church by looking at God’s images and patterns found in Scripture.
To recap, the modern American church is at its fastest rate of decline, and largely measures its success in physical terms (buildings, budgets, and butts). However, God’s church is spiritual and eternal, universal and local.
Critically examine your faith and church experience. Are the things you agree to in scripture evident in your life? Are you experiencing your theology, or are you disconnected from it?
Jesus Christ is building His church and it is not the result of human effort
1. the only true foundation of the Church is the revelation of Jesus Christ as the Son of God.
2. All revelation is a work of the Spirit of God and not of man (1 Corinthians 2)
3. The Church of Jesus Christ is not the work of man but of God, therefore, the nature of the church should reflect this truth
We must check our goals and motivations. If the plan is to “plant a church”, what does that mean? Does it mean assembling a team, finding a building, etc? Or do you desire to be obedient to the Holy Spirit, preach the Gospel, and make disciples? The hard work required to “build the church” is of a spiritual nature, so it requires spiritual eyes and ears. It is costly work that requires love and sacrifice, and it is harder and more fruitful than crafting an event where you can invite people, believers and unbelievers alike, in the hopes they will like you. These physical approaches bypass the reality that there is a real spiritual war going on, that people are enslaved by satan in strongholds.
“Friendship evangelism” and related methods have all come into existance after the events and penning of Scripture. So we often find ourselves trying to implant that concept back into Scripture. When we assume our modern ways are good, best, or not modern at all, then we miss out on what we actually find in Scripture. We miss the disconnect between the ways of Jesus and the ways of modern man. We know three things for sure about what Jesus did:
- He did all things out of love (1 Corinthians 16:14; 1 John 4:16)
- He did what He saw the Father doing (John 5:19)
- He was obedient even unto death (Philippians 2:8)
Knowing these three things about Jesus’ actions should contextualize all He did. When He defended the woman caught in adultery and when He called people white-washed tombs, it was out of love, obedient, and reflected what the Father was doing. We should approach our own actions the same way. We should not find a methodology and try to fit Jesus into it.
What is the mystery of the Church? The mystery has to be revealed. Colossians 1:24-29 states that the mystery is Christ in you, the hope of Glory. Paul calls the Church “the fellowship of the mystery.” The church is not a building or organization, but people with Christ in them.
When Israel discovered they had “polluted the assembly” by marrying foreign wives, they mourned, they gathered, they took it seriously and made a plan, and they repented. What is your response to signs of polluting the assembly?
If you want to see your church the way God sees it, you have to first see His Church and the way He sees it. You must understand the real thing to recognize something that is off course. Let’s look at some of God’s patterns
- Creation and Marriage of Adam and Eve – This denotes intimate fellowship. When we fill our assemblies with people who are opposed to God (prideful, unbelievers, etc), it destroys the intimate fellowship. The directive given to Adam and Eve was to be fruitful, multiply, subdue, rule. When we focus on church structure, it keeps us inwardly focused, instead of outwardly focused to rule creation
- Tabernacle of Moses – This denotes God’s work in the sacrifice of Christ. When we are focused on self-preservation, then we are not a sacrificial presence on the earth.
- Tabernacle of David – This denotes that God’s grace is extended to everyone. This picture of grace is distorted into inviting believers and unbelievers into the worship gathering, and not extending grace to people outside the church building. This sometimes turns into misguided and self-centered political activism, looking for that route to be the solution to our problems
- Ezekiel’s Temple – This speaks of a spiritual priesthood. Two priesthoods are mentioned. Who are you ministering to?
We an also look at the New Testament pictures of the Church. These display the spiritual and organic nature of the Church; not referring to buildings, structures, events, programming, etc.
- Body of Christ
- Temple of God
- Spiritual House
- Mt. Zion
- General assembly
- Church of the Firstborn
- Bride of Christ
- Holy City
- New Jerusalem
Let’s examine the spiritual context of the Church.
- The Universal Church, displayed in pictures of the Kingdom found in 1 Chronicles 12, the Kingdom. This is also the Historical Church, found in Hebrews 11, which dislpays the foundation that has been laid. Also, Scripture declares the church throughout the world, which is birthed from the Greate Commission taking the Gospel to all the earth.
- The Kingdom of God is seen in God’s purpose from Genesis 1:26-28. We see it in the reproducing of seed in Genesis 12; the accomplishing of His pleasure in Genesis 24; and the seed being scattered and reproduced in Genesis 48.
- The Great Commission focuses on disciples and reaching the Nations with the Gospel
God’s redemptive purpose – The church coming against the enemy to set captives free. We have to get back to opposing satan and his strongholds on a spiritual level in our community on a regular basis instead of through politics or on social media.
This episode originally broadcast live on September 18, 2015 on KXEN 1010AM in St. Louis, MO
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