Per Fidem Intrepidus means "Fearless Through Faith". My courage isn't my own, it comes from the Holy Spirit, it's my faith in God and my personal savior Christ Jesus that calms my fears and allows me to move forward in this fallen world. Personally I'm afraid of a lot of stuff, but having the faith that Jesus adopted me as his little, sin filled, brother keeps me going.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Love The Church

In 1991 John MacArthur gave a sermon about why he loved the Church. He was asked why he didn't go into a sports career (he was a star football player in college) or go on to be a radio preacher, or the president of a seminary instead of remaining a preacher. He went on to explain why he loved the Church and being part of a church and his reasoning is as sound as it is wonderful. He put into words the same reasons why I love the Church but couldn't articulate.

The first reason, and the best as far as I'm concerned, is the fact that the Church is the only thing Jesus built. He didn't build a seminary or a radio ministry, He built a church:
I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it. (Matthew 16:18)

"I will build My church" - what a wonderful statement, and it's something that we keep in mind at the the Congregational Church of the Bereans. At one point we on the church board were thinking of doing things to increase our membership when Pastor Paratus reminded us that it was Jesus who built the church, and He will send us the folks he wants to join us. And of course Pastor P was right, not in a rush but in ones and twos folks are entering our little bible centered church, and we love each and every one. God even sent us someone who's not afraid to stand up and sing in front of his friends! (For a small church that's a huge plus)

Christ Jesus built his Church with those words upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it and has been building it ever since. He's been building his Church out of us, the living stones:
4 And coming to Him as to a living stone which has been rejected by men, but is choice and precious in the sight of God, 5 you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 6 For this is contained in Scripture: “Behold, I lay in Zion a choice stone, a precious corner stone, And he who believes in Him will not be disappointed.” (1 peter 2:4-6)
Another reason why to love the Church as Pastor MacArthur points out is that the Church is going to last forever. The term "the gates of Hades" is a Jewish metaphor for death, Jesus is stating that He was going to build His church and even death is not going to destroy what He builds. Death is a powerful tool that Satan uses, however it didn't work when he used it on Christ, Jesus rose again to Satan's chagrin. Even now in Heaven, twenty four elders, our church elders, sit in God's presence worshiping at His feet;
“Worthy are You, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and because of Your will they existed, and were created.” (Revelation 4:11)
We are part of something eternal, all other institutions will end, associations will collapse, but the church will continue on into heaven. Someday we will be reunited with Christ, all of us, and what a glorious day that will be!

The third reason to love the Church is that the church is the most precious  possession God has on earth. In Acts 20:28 God tells the elders at the church in Ephesus:
“Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.
I get upset when people badmouth the church, badmouthing religion is one thing, religion is man made, but the Church was built by Christ, paid for with his blood to show just how much he loves us
25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, 26 so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless. (Ephesians 5:25)
When you're badmouthing the Church with nonsensical bumpersticker philosophy like "I love Jesus, it's the church I can't stand" (I've seen that out there) you're saying "I love you Jesus, but I hate your wife" You just badmouthed the bride that Jesus allowed Himself to be tortured and executed to save. Sam Storms at Enjoying God Blog says it best:
I’m thoroughly convinced that people who declare their affection for Jesus but not the Church know little if anything about the Jesus they profess to admire. These people probably ignore the fact that this Jesus spoke more about hell and eternal condemnation than all the other NT authors combined.
They probably ignore the fact that this Jesus demanded undivided loyalty to himself and declared that only through faith in him alone could one experience a saving relationship with God the Father. This Jesus whom they say they like, perhaps even love, is also the Jesus who said that he would build his Church and that the powers of death would never prevail against it (Matt. 16).
This is the same Jesus who sent the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost to inaugurate the life of the local church. This Jesus, says the apostle Paul, is himself the head of the church, which is his body.
This Jesus, whom these folk profess to like and perhaps even claim to worship, is the same Jesus who, according to Ephesians 5, “loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor.”
This Jesus is the chief shepherd of the church (to use Peter’s language here in 1 Peter 5:4), the Lord of the church, the lover of the church, the savior of the church; he is the one who has such unrelenting passion for and commitment to the church that at the consummation of history he will eventually wed the church in what the Bible calls the marriage supper of the Lamb!
So, let me come straight to the point. Don’t give me any of this silly, high-minded claptrap and spiritual bologna about liking Jesus but not his church. Jesus himself simply will not let you get away with it. It’s not an option that he permits. The church is his body. The church is his bride. If you truly love him, you must love her.
The Church is the most precious thing to God, which means we are the most precious things to God - so love your brothers, correct them with love if needed, but love them all the same. Forgive their foibles and ask forgiveness for not loving their proclivities. When Emily is belting out "The Old Rugged Cross" two keys flat and pulling the entire congregation off key it's hard to remember this is a Joyful Noise to the Lord, and he loves it. And she's probably already forgiven you for sitting in the 'wrong pew' again this Sunday :-)

No comments:

Post a Comment