The Face of the Church

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Every church has a face.

Mention First Baptist Church of Atlanta, GA, and immediately Dr. Charles Stanley comes to mind.  Reference Thomas Road Baptist Church of Lynchburg, VA, and you think of Dr. Jerry Falwell.  Of course, many other examples could be given.

Perhaps, if I could mention the churches you have attended in your past, what face would come to mind?  The face of a pastor, deacon, Sunday School teacher, worship leader, youth leader, etc.?  When you think of that face, it probably brings joy or sorrow, contentment or criticism, or a variety of other emotions.

Truth is, the face of every true, biblical church is Jesus Christ.  The church is the Body of Christ.  1 Corinthians 12:27 states, Now you are Christ’s body, and individually members of it.

A church is to grow into Christ in such a way that it fulfills the provision and mandate of Ephesians 4:11-16, And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.

I totally understand that when you look at a church you see people.  But in reality, you should see Christ . . .

  • Saving depraved, darkened, desperate, repentive sinners (Luke 13:5; 19:10; Romans 3:10-23; Colossians 1:12-14).
  • Transforming His children into Christlikeness as they look into the mirror of God’s Word (2 Corinthians 3:18) and humble themselves under mighty hand of God (1 Peter 5:6b-7).
  • Interceding for His children as they pour out their hearts to God in prayer (Romans 8:34; Hebrews 7:25; 1 John 2:1).
  • Carrying on His ministry through His servants (Acts 1:1-2 and following) albeit they are weak and needful of His daily, sufficient, sustaining grace (1 Corinthians 1:26-31; 3:5-9; 2 Corinthians 9:8).
  • Nourishing and cherishing His church as the body submits to the Chief Shepherd and to one another (Ephesians 5:23-30).
  • Gathering His people together for the purpose of fulfilling the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20), discipleship (Ephesians 4:11-16), and the numerous “one another’s” (Romans 12:9-16; 15:7, 14; Galatians 6:2; Hebrews 10:25; 1 Peter 4:9; to name a few).
  • Restoring broken homes and marriages (Romans 5:1-21; Ephesians 5:18-33).
  • Being the life of the church (Galatians 2:20; Philippians 3:14; Colossians 3:4).
  • Chastening, cleansing, and identifying those He loves (Hebrews 12:5-15).

There is so much more that could be said, so much more that Christ wants to do in His Church.  Even when we mess up, act like little immature children, make wrong choices, complain, criticize, get angry, etc., in the church, the sovereignty of God and the gospel can work through the sin and selfishness to accomplish His redemptive plan for His glory and our good.

The face of the church is Christ; the Christ who transforms, transcends, and triumphs over all sin and man (Romans 5:20; 2 Corinthians 2:14). Look for His face not man’s.

That Church . . .

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  • Just doesn’t feel right; is not the right fit.
  • Hurt my family years ago, and I will never forgive them!
  • Is so unfriendly.
  • Is too big.
  • Is too small.
  • Doesn’t meet my (our) needs.
  • Is too contemporary.
  • Is too conservative.
  • Doesn’t have a kid’s ministry.
  • Is full of hypocrites.
  • Comes across as being full of perfect people.
  • Will judge what I wear.
  • Sings music that’s too loud and too worldly!
  • Sings only the old songs.
  • Just wants your money.

And I have just covered a few of the gazillion statements I have heard over the years in reference to church.

My dad pastored ten churches over the course of his fifty year ministry.  I personally trusted Christ as my Lord and Savior at the age of five in Marietta, Ohio.  Church has been my life for fifty-nine years.

Oh the stories I could tell about church, good and bad! Perhaps as I continue to write about this subject, I’ll share some of them.

Today, my heart is simply to say this, our perspective on church is totally skewed if we look at the church through the lens of finite, temporal man alone.  Furthermore, the only correct view for all of life, including the church, must come from absolute Truth, the Word of God.

Consider the following:

The Church is God’s idea, not man’s.

I am writing these things to you, hoping to come to you before long; but in case I am delayed, I write so that you will know how one ought to conduct himself in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and support of the truth. (1 Timothy 3:14-15).

Jesus Christ is the “Master Builder” of His Church, not man.

Jesus said He would build His church and that no power of hell could destroy it.  Jesus Christ’s definitive statement recorded in Matthew 16:18 says, I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

The Church belongs to Jesus Christ alone, not man.

I will build my church (Matthew 16:18).

Jesus Christ is the head of the Church, not man.

And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent (Colossians 1:18).

The Church is Christ’s body, not man’s.

And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all (Ephesians 1:22-23).

The Church is to be built upon Christ, not man.

Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God; And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; In whom all the building fitly framed together grows unto an holy temple in the Lord: In whom ye also are built together for an habitation of God through the Spirit (Ephesians 2:19-22).

Therefore, in EVERY discussion, attitude, action, response, and thought about church, you must begin with Christ, not man. To come to the right conclusion, you must end with Christ in mind, not man; His Word and not man’s perspective.

Tomorrow, I will continue these thoughts.  In the meantime, look back at the list statements mentioned at the beginning of this blog.  Where is the consideration, counsel, and wisdom of Christ seen in any of them?

Principle:  You cannot have a high view of Christ and a low view of His church at the same time.

Blogging in 2015

As I mentioned yesterday, a special thanks to everyone for reading this blog.  My heart is to simply use this medium of the internet to share things that I love about life and ministry.  Hence, I am refining this blog to cover certain topics each day of the week that I hope will edify and encourage; that will lead to biblical change; that glorify God; and that will show that life is worth living because of Christ.

So, be looking next week for the following:

To the People in the Pews (Mondays) This will be a follow-up to the messages I preach on Sundays with the purpose of helping my congregation make the needed application and taking the next right step in wisdom.

The Making of a Man (Tuesdays) I have such a burden to see men be the spiritual leaders at home, church, work and recreation; to win over sin; to be men of the Word; to be gospel-centered and gospel-communicators.

Marriage Matters (Wednesdays) Being married for over 33 years does not make me an expert on this subject.  I simply love being married, believe it to be the best thing next to my own personal salvation, and am very concerned about the lack of strong marriages in our world today.  Hence, I’ll be sharing all kinds of tips to make marriage a blessing instead of a dread.  Marriage matters to God; He created it.  He has an awesome plan to make it work for His glory and our good . . . and to be fun!

This-N-That (Thursdays) Here’s a day to share various things on my heart about life in general.

Friday’s Findings (Fridays)  I’ll continue to share links to good articles, tell you about a good book or resource, share music, and various other things that I trust will be of interest to you.

Looking forward to 2015 and all that the Lord has in store for us of which may be the year of His return in the clouds (John 14:1-6; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18).  Therefore moving forward, let not your heart be troubled (14:1) and comfort one another with these words (4:18).

Friday’s Findings

7 Things Your Church Needs From YouTim Challies writes one of those, “Man, I wish I had written this one!” blog posts. This is spot on.

Practical Evangelism HelpWhat if faithful evangelism didn’t involve anything extra but simply intentionally doing what you already do?

Making Time for Romance When Life Is Too BusyThis is one of my favorite marriage blogs. Here’s some practical tips that will help you add what is often missing in so many marriages today!

The Importance of Family Mealtime“Our family table can never be replaced by a restaurant table!” This was a good follow up comment to this blog post written by my precious wife who went to great lengths to provide wonderful food and great memories around the table! Thanks, Hon!

It’s All in the Presentation – One of my favorite moments from the Cosby Show.