How the churches shape discipleship

THE CHURCH: Intro to 3 Essays

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Kelvin Smith, 2014

The purpose of this introductory paper is to simply answer the title. Many have lost hope in churches to achieve anything of significant value within our 21st century networked global community. Resistance is usually the first, second and third response to the suggestion that the churches still have a central contribution to make. My argument – which is primarily a string of sample passages – is that God has not and will not, give up on the churches, but rather they sit at the heart of His agenda for today and tomorrow’s world – just as they sat at the heart of His agenda in the first century. This paper is the intro to a series of 2 page essays that aim to rally the reader to reconsider how the churches are at the core of God’s agenda and His salvation plan.

1. The Church is His family

I am giving you these instructions for... the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth. 1 Tim 3:14-15

2. The Church is His body

For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function,so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Rom 12:4-5

God ...appointed him to be head over everything for the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way. Eph 1:22-23

3. The Church is His Bride

Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church ...In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. ... For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, 30 because we are members of his body. 31 “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” 32 This mystery is profound, but I am talking about Christ and the church. Eph 5:25-32

4. The Church is being built together for Christ

...you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. 21 In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. 22 And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit. Eph 2:19-21

5. The Church is Christ’s rich and glorious inheritance

I pray that you will understand ...the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints... 22 And God placed all things under his [Christ’s] feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church... Eph 1:18, 22

I don’t think these scriptures need to be unpacked as they speak for themselves1. I am all about the church because Jesus is. Heavenly inheritance, His body, His Bride, His family, a dwelling place for God – these are hardly light hearted, secondary or supplementary topics. An astute believer will quickly identify that the Church has and will always sit at the heart of God’s agenda for this age.

Unfortunately many believers only have a basic view of the church and often only know the traditional week by week routines of the churches – after-all, who wants to learn about a dying institution whose contribution to the western world is as a stalwart symbol of years best forgotten. To them, light entertainment for 1 hr a week is a bearable sacrifice for something that someone once said was important. And so, with little learning about the church, and hesitant adherence to it, no wonder some learned believers suggest that the future of the churches may already be written on the wall – I firmly believe differently.

Christ will not stop loving His bride – His very body, but washes it with the water of the word to cleanse her and make her pure and holy2. Christ will not give up on His family. Christ will not give up on His inheritance - who would even dare to suggest such a thing? Christ will never give up on the Churches and we only give up on them to our peril.

Consider the weight of this passage from Ephesians. “There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call”3 The clear implication is that my hope in Christ is not separate from you. Your hope in Christ is not separate from me. Our hope in Christ is within His body, His Bride, His Inheritance; intrinsically, inextricably - completely inseparably linked to the church. And in view of the passages above – what glorious hope we have! This is why I still believe in the Church - Christ most certainly does.

01.

How the churches give shape to my identity

02.

How the churches shape discipleship

03.

How Christ shapes the churches

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There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call

EPH 4:4

1 By saying they do not need to be unpacked I do not mean that these passages are understood by most. It seems that the literal meaning in these verses, which is staring us in the face, goes, on the whole, unnoticed.

2 Eph 5.25-32

3 Eph 4.4

 

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