Part 1. The Church

Chapter 1. God's Glorious Church

Part 1

The Church

Chapter 1

God's Glorious Church

Before the world was formed, God planned the church to be His instrument of redemption in the world. The word church is the Greek word ecclesia, meaning "called out ones." The idea is a town hall meeting where issues were discussed and announcements made.

Jesus referenced Himself, when He said in Matthew 16:18, "On this rock I will build My church." Jesus is saying the church is "My called out-ones, My town hall meeting" and is the only institution He established on earth.

The word church in the New Testament is used in two different ways. The first is the universal or invisible church. When you become a Christian, the Holy Spirit baptizes you into oneness, not only with Jesus but with all other believers everywhere. It is a church that exists beyond buildings, denominational lines, and international borders. It is the body of Christ, the family of God on earth.

Ninety percent of the time, however, the New Testament use of the word church refers to a visible, locally assembled body of baptized believers, honoring Him, worshipping together, edifying one another, and winning the lost.

The church is less than perfect. Naysayers and charlatans, like Simon the sorcerer, would buy the power of the Holy Spirit and use the church for their own selfish ends and financial gain. Let them be accursed.

Perhaps it is a just commentary on the failure of some of us within the church that so many extracurricular and parachurch organizations have developed in the kingdom. Most call themselves extensions of the church, or arms of the church, and I am grateful for each. But far too often, parachurch organizations give only lip service to their commitment to the local church.

When Christ came, He established the church. He died for the church. He loved the church. Today He continues to indwell the church, and one day He will come to receive His church. She is His bride, and He is her groom. The old spiritual song, "Let the Church Roll On," says it well:

There's a woman in the church,

and she talks too much.

Tell me, what we gonna do?

Let the church roll on.

There's a singer in the church,

and he won't sing right.

Tell me, what we gonna do?

Let the church roll on.

There's a deacon in the church,

and he won't "deac" right.

Tell me, what we gonna do?

Let the church roll on.

God's church has grown and flourished and will do so until Jesus comes to take her to heaven. Let the church roll on.

Throughout your ministry you will be confronted with many avenues of service. Some may indeed be God's perfect purpose for your life. You will seek His heart, hear His voice, and do His will. As you do, consider this: that which is not truly birthed of the church, emanates therein, extends there from, and culminates therein, is doomed to make little lasting impression for God and for good in this world.

Well over a century ago, the YMCA was born, a soul-winning organization to win young men to Christ and train them in the Word of God. Is that the purpose of the YMCA today?

The church is flawed, imperfect, wrinkled, and blemished, but her end is not yet. He is her unfailing strength, and you will do well to commit your life to serve through her.

Today God is greatly expanding His church. In spite of persecution from the Middle East to China, God is at work. The rate of the growth of the church in Brazil is three times faster than the birth rate. At the present rate of kingdom growth, the entire continent of Africa may be Christian by 2020. On a recent Sunday afternoon, 18,250 new believers were baptized in Red Square in Moscow.

For nearly sixty years I have loved Christ and His precious church. My ministry was always centered in His church. I'm so happy I did it that way and would do so again in a minute.

Missionary C. T. Studd said it well:

Only one life, 'twill soon be past,

only what's done for Christ will last.

Let me say it a bit differently:

Only one ministry, 'twill soon be past,

only what's done through Christ's church will last.

When Flight 92 went down in Pennsylvania on 9/11, Todd Beamer called his wife, Lisa, from the bathroom of the plane. Together they prayed the Lord's Prayer. His last words to Lisa were, "Let's roll." Sounds good to me.

"Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for her to make her holy, cleansing her with the washing of water by the word. He did this to present the church to Himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or anything like that, but holy and blameless." (Eph. 5:25-27)

"To Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen." (Eph. 3:21)