"The Glorious Church"
...Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish (Eph. 5:25-27).
In contrast to the babel of voices in the religious world today, the voice of inspired revelation presents the church as God would have it to be. How awful it would be to be searching for a religious affiliation today, with no knowledge of the word of God. How confusing it would be to seek a church without any concept of what that church should be like.
Shopping for a church home today is like going through a buffet line, with a smorgasbord from which to choose. In fact, shopping for a church today is very much like a testimony for the me generation: What is in it for me? Which church has the most to offer?
Some churches offer mega-ministries with everything from day care to funeral services; marriage counseling and life after divorce; bowling alleys and tennis courts; dating services and birth control clinics; kindergarten and college classes; arts, crafts and yoga exercises; teen activities and senior citizen bus trips; soup kitchens and banquet halls; prayer gardens and diet classes; social services and estate planning.
One may satisfy ones curiosity about New Age Vibrations, Transcendental meditation, the god within you, reincarnation, Channeling, Oriental mysticism, Buddhism, Islam, locate your mantra, exorcise evil spirits, have a psychic reading, or have your ticket validated for a rendezvous with a space ship just behind the next comet! Of course, many cults await the unsuspecting and naive, ready to enroll one in a mind-control seminar (for a fee, of course!), learn about engrams (instead of sin), bow before a self-anointed Jesus who is on the verge of opening the seven seals or who speaks of hearing voices that no one else can hear. Most of these, along with multitudes of TV-evangelists await your membership and your check-book with instructions of how much one should give to God (albeit the address for your contributions is that of the evangelist). If you dont want to join a church, they will sell you books which give their divine insight for a price. All this has created a wealthy hierarchy of evangelists who live in mansions, fly private jets, travel the world, wear designer clothes and raise questions about comparing them with the lowly Nazarene whose only home was a rugged cross. Indeed, would Jesus wear a Rolex?
Quite frankly, if I had to go to the Yellow Pages to find a church home, I would probably stay home. And, more than likely, that is what thousands are doing. Jaded by the jangle of religious division and turned off to the crass commercialism of pop psycho-religion, some have just about given up on God. In fact, where is God in all this maze? Is God a multi-faced schizophrenic, allowing charlatans to represent Him on every street corner in chapels, cathedrals, synagogues, mosques and on television with electronic gadgets? It is nearly enough to make one an atheist!
No, Im not ready to become an atheist just yet. You see, I dont believe that everyone who claims to represent God really does. As in the first century, there were false Christs, false prophets, hucksters and magicians, their counterparts are still around today. If you have been struggling to find God, maybe you have been looking in the wrong place. Have you read the Bible lately?
Actually, the situation today is not far removed from that of the first century in which the apostles of Christ lived. There were idols and temples built to honor idols on every street corner. Men and women gave themselves over to licentious living as they invented their own deities who approved of their wickednesses. One could locate his own personal deity out of the phalanx of gods, practice black magic and all the divining arts, follow strolling teachers of philosophy and mysteries or bury oneself in demonology. The more the world changes, the more it stays the same. We could be talking about the streets of any modern city in America when we mention the history of Rome, Athens, Corinth or Alexandria.
Now while Paul waited for them at Athens, his spirit was provoked within him when he saw that the city was given over to idols. Therefore, he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and with the Gentile worshipers, and in the marketplace daily with those who happened to be there. Then certain Epicurean and Stoic philosophers encountered him. And some said, What does this babbler want to say? Others said, He seems to be a proclaimer of foreign gods, because he preached to them Jesus and the resurrection. And they took him and brought him to the Areopagus, saying, May we know what this new doctrine is of which you speak? For you are bringing some strange things to our ears. Therefore we want to know what these things mean. For all the Athenians and the foreigners who were there spent their time in nothing else but either to tell or to hear some new thing (Acts 17:16-21).
Then Paul stood in the midst of the Areopagus and said: Men of Athens, I perceive that in all things you are very religious; for as I was passing through and considering the objects of your worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Therefore, the One whom you worship without knowing, Him I proclaim to you (vs. 22-23).
Jesus promised to build His church: Upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it (Mt. 16:18). The church that belongs to Jesus was built upon the bedrock truth (not upon Peter) that Thou are the Christ, the Son of the Living God (v. 16). Only Jesus is divine and has the authority to speak for God, proven by the resurrection from the dead (Mt. 28:1-9).
That church which Jesus promised to build was established by the power of the Holy Spirit on the Pentecost after His resurrection in the city of Jerusalem (Acts 2). Begun in 33 A.D., it has never gone out of existence but remains in the world today wherever men and women obey the Great Commission gospel: All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. Amen (Mt. 28:18-20).
The church that Jesus built is a glorious church, reflecting the Divine Builder. As Jesus is God in the flesh (Jn. 1:1-14), so the church is his spiritual body (Eph. 1:22-23; Col. 1:18). The particulars of the church that belongs to Christ can be found in the New Testament, even as prophecies of its beginning can be found in the Old Testament (Isaiah 2, Daniel 2, Joel 2, fulfilled in Acts 2).
The Glorious Church reflects the glory of God and of Jesus Christ in various ways. The theme of Watchman Magazine this month is to provide insight into understanding why the church that Jesus built is superior in every way to the machinations and imaginations of men. Standing alone in beauty and holiness, the Lords church is without equal. Unique in its creation, divine in its purchase price, holy in its calling, and universal in its fellowship, the church of Christ is the pillar and ground of truth (1 Tim. 3:15).
If you are turned off by the commercialism, hypocrisy, division and contradictions of modern religions, come and learn about the church that is the body of Christ. Find in Christ and His church that spiritual fellowship that is a fulfillment of the hungering and thirsting (Mt. 5:6) within us as we seek to find salvation and a personal relationship with God.
Our writers this month include:
Mike Willis, of Danville, IN, gospel preacher and editor of Truth Magazine, explaining the Manifold Wisdom of God in bringing salvation to man through Christ and the church.
Scott Finley, of Kilgore, TX investigates The Promised Messiah as the long-awaited Savior who redeems us from sin. The Messiah is the One promised by God who would save His people. Jesus, as the promised Messiah, fulfills all the prophecies from the Old Testament and ties the Covenants together in His suffering for sin.
Jerry Fite, of Pasadena, TX, explains The Mystery of the Gospel. While the gospel was, in times past, a mystery because it was hidden from the mind of man, through Christ and the apostles, this mystery has now been explained and is a mystery no longer.
Dan Melhus, of Gladewater, TX helps us to see The Fullness of Salvation. Since God is not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance (2 Pt. 3:9), the promise is to Jew and Gentile alike (Acts 2 and Acts 10). Salvation in Christ is abundant and free to every man and woman.
Olen Holderby, of Alameda, CA, sums up our study by the theme: The Glorious Church. No man-made church can be as glorious as the church which was purchased by the blood of Christ and which takes its characteristics from its Builder, Jesus Christ.
Have you read your Bible lately? In it you will find Jesus Christ, the Son of God, laying down His life for the sins of the world. Those who respond in obedient faith (He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved Mk. 16:16) are saved and added to His church (Acts 2:47). In the church, each one finds a place of service and builds a faith which directs the saved to Heaven. You need look no further. Jesus and His church are as near as your New Testaments.
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