Things People Do Not Know About the Church
One should never minimize the importance of the church, the church Jesus built. I am not speaking about manmade denominational churches. They are not one and the same. However, many people do not understand that and have grown unhappy with the old main line denominations and as a consequence have cast them aside and decided they will take Jesus alone and forget about the church. Years ago this sentiment was popularized by the saying, “Jesus yes, the church no.”
Certainly, one can do without the church if one is talking about a denominational church (those in them will generally admit it does not matter whether or not you are a member of their particular denomination for they say you can be saved without being a member of their group). But, with all that being said it is a whole different story when it comes to the Lord’s church. Here is a list of 12 things many people do not know or understand about the Lord’s church – things that make all the difference in the world.
(1) The same process that makes you a Christian adds you to the church. There is no such thing as a Christian who is not a part of the Lord’s church. “And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.” (Acts 2:47 NKJV) Who is saved? Is it the Christian or the non-Christian? If God has not added you to the church there is a good reason – you are not yet one of those who are being saved.
(2) Jesus is the Savior of the body (Eph. 5:23) which is the church (Eph. 1:22-23, Col. 1:18, 24). There is no passage to be found in the Bible where Jesus ever said he would save anyone outside his body, outside the church. Paul speaking to the Christians at Corinth said, “Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually.” (1 Cor. 12:27 NKJV)
(3) Jesus purchased the church with his own blood (Acts 20:28). It is by his blood that we will be saved. “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins.” (Eph. 1:7 NKJV) One is either in the church purchased with Christ’s own blood or he is outside it where the blood has purchased nothing. “The Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.” (Acts 2:27 NKJV) Saved how? By the blood of Jesus. The saved are in the church not outside it.
(4) You cannot join the church or be added by man. The Lord adds you to the church (Acts 2:47) once you have obeyed the gospel and been cleansed by the blood of Jesus in doing so. I heard a man make an excellent point the other day. He said you cannot join the church because God adopts you into it, the church being God’s family. God “predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ.” (Eph. 1:5 NKJV) If you are a child of God it is because God chose to add you to his family. He willingly does so when we make our desire to be a part of the family known by gospel obedience that is sincere and from the heart (Rom. 6:17).
(5) “Christ also loved the church and gave himself for it.” (Eph. 5:25 NKJV) Will we say Christ loved the church and still say it is worthless and does not matter? If he loved the church should we not also love it? The church is, after all, just brothers and sisters in Christ. What has Christ said about loving one another? Speaking through John the apostle he said, “He who does not love his brother abides in death.” (1 John 3:14 NKJV)
(6) When one persecutes, or belittles, or makes fun of the church (Christians are the church) he is doing it to Christ. Saul who later became the apostle Paul was a great persecutor of the church as you are well aware. When Christ confronted Saul on the road to Damascus he says to Saul, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” (Acts 9:4 NKJV)
[Please note I said “the church” not denominations for it would have to be first proven that a denomination is the church. Since they all deny they are the church and say you can be saved outside their denomination then surely they are right and their denomination is not the church for you cannot be saved outside Christ’s church.]
(7) God receives glory in the church. “To him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.” (Eph. 3:21 NKJV)
(8) It is through the church that the manifold wisdom of God is made known. “To the intent that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the church.” (Eph. 3:9 NKJV) Do not ever expect to learn about God or the gospel or salvation by those outside the church.
(9) The church is the household of God (Eph. 2:19), a spiritual building built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets with Jesus as the chief cornerstone (Eph. 2:20), a holy temple in the Lord (Eph. 2:21), “built together for a habitation of God in the Spirit” (Eph. 2:22 NKJV). One either desires to a living stone in that building or he does not. “You also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” (1 Peter 2:5 NKJV)
Paul told Timothy, “I write so that you may know how you ought to conduct yourself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God.” (1 Tim. 3:15 NKJV) One is either a living stone in that building of God or else he is no part of it at all. Can one be saved outside it? To ask is to answer.
(10) The church is where God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit are. Jesus said, “I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in me through their word; that they all may be one, as you, Father, are in me, and I in you; that they also may be one in us, that the world may believe that you sent me.” (John 17:20-21 NKJV) Christians are the church. Christians have the Holy Spirit.
This is not to say God is unaware of those outside the church but it is to say he abides within the church in a way he will never abide in those outside the church. If you want to be where Jesus is, where the Father is, where the Holy Spirit is you cannot remain out in the world away from the church.
(11) There is only one way into the church – through Jesus. “Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’” (John 14:6 NKJV) Elsewhere he said, “I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved.” (John 10:9 NKJV) The saved are in the church (Acts 2:47, Eph. 5:23, Col. 1:24).
To enter into Christ is to be baptized into his spiritual body (based upon a genuine faith, repentance of sins, and a willingness to confess him with the mouth) – “For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body.” (1 Cor. 12:13) Baptism is into Christ (Rom. 6:3, Gal. 3:27). “He who believes and is baptized will be saved.” (the words of Jesus – Mark 16:16 NKJV)
“But, why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do the things which I say?” (Luke 6:46 NKJV)
(12) The church is the place where prayers to God will be heard. “The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.” (James 5:16 NKJV) No one is righteous who has not been cleansed by the blood of Jesus and who thus is not a member of the church Jesus built. All the righteous are in the church, there are none who are righteous outside it who are of accountable age and mentally competent. “The prayer of the upright is his delight.” (Pro. 15:8 NKJV) “He hears the prayer of the righteous.” (Pro. 15:29 NKJV)
If it be said that God heard the prayer of Cornelius, a man at the time outside the church, the answer is yes he did. He will hear your prayer also outside the church “if” you are willing to hear and obey his word. Those who are willing have become Christians (or will do so immediately as soon as they hear the word). Cornelius was a true seeker after God. How many can say that today that are outside the church?
Cornelius had a heart immediately ready to receive God’s word and obey it. God knew that and thus it was not long until Cornelius was given the opportunity to do so and thus soon became a Christian, a member of the church. But the scripture says, “One who turns away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer shall be an abomination.” (Pro. 28:9 NKJV) Want God to hear your prayers? In the church is the place you need to be for that. “And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of his son into your hearts, crying out ‘Abba, Father!’” (Gal. 4:6 NKJV)
Much more could be said concerning the church and things most people are unaware of as it relates to the church. However, this article is long enough and so must come to an end. Let us all become students of that which Jesus loved and died for, the church (Eph. 5:25), and love it as Jesus does.
Visit dennysmith.net to read more of Denny’s articles and listen to over 100 audio sermons by Waymon Swain. While preaching the gospel for over 50 years Waymon has also preached and lived in Africa having made 20 trips there in his life time. You will also find on site links to some of the better resource materials available online today related to Bible study.