Why Church?

Why Church?

On April 19, 2019 the entire world was shocked by the burning of the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris, France. It was very sad to see the sudden destruction of all of the architecture, artworks and religious relics that were inside the iconic structure. Although buildings for places of worship are important, the Lord’s command is about people and not marble and wood. So what is the Church?

Jesus said “I will build my church…”  Mathew 16:18. It is the church of Jesus the Messiah and we are co-laborers together with him. Among the last instructions that Jesus gave to his disciples was for the church to go and make disciples. Jesus has given his followers the blueprint for accomplishing this task, a pattern clearly described out in the book of Acts of the Apostles.

A basic definition of church is “A committed community of Christians that gather together on a regular basis under the care and authority of pastoral leadership. Their purpose is to worship God, pray, care for one another, share the Lord’s supper and baptism and to see disciples raised that will go out into the wider community to share God’s love in word and deed.”

Nearly all of the Apostle Paul’s epistles are written to local first century churches or the pastors/elders of those churches. The Book of Revelation is addressed to seven churches in Asia Minor, modern day Turkey.

In the New Testament we see that the local church is referred to as a flock, a human body, a family or a temple, where the individual believer was a vital member of a larger entity.

For a Christian not to be committed to a local assembly is to put himself out of the protection and blessing that are promised in the Scriptures for all believers. For an unrepentant Christian to be disciplined by the local church because of moral or doctrinal issues while having some negative implications was actually the path to restoration of that individual and a method of keeping heresy (beliefs contrary to Biblical truths) out of the church. (Mathew 18:15-17, 1 Corinthians 5:1-7, 2 Thessalonians 3:14-15)

To be a member of the local Church is a tremendous privilege and responsibility. We know that it takes a family to raise a child to mature adulthood. In the same way, it takes the local church to raise a convert to a mature disciple! In fact, the family and the church are God’s two principle building blocks for creating a loving, stable and redeemed society. That is why the church is important!

What is the Rock that the Church is built upon?

What is the Rock that the Church is built upon?

Jesus said, ”And I tell you that you are Peter and upon this rock I will build my church.” (Matthew 16:18) So, was Jesus referring to Peter or to something much greater? Perhaps the right question is not what is the rock but “who is the rock?” He is Peter, one of the 12 disciples of Jesus. For over two years Jesus has been teaching these men the heart and mind of God the Father. Now it was time for their final exam. It consisted of only one question, “Who do you say that I am?” Peter, the spokesperson of the 12 said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God!” Jesus replied, “You are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church.”

Peter’s name meant rock which Jesus actually used as a play-on-words. The rock was not Peter alone but Peter’s confession that Jesus is the Christ, God’s Son, and the Savior. This is the rock on which Christ is still building his church today. The Christian church began with Peter and was carried on to the then known world primarily by the apostle Paul on his missionary journeys. So we can say that Peter and the other disciples were the first members of the church.

All who like Peter confess Jesus as God’s Son and Savior and put their trust in that affirmation are the living rocks of which the church is being built. The church is not a building or denomination or an organization but a gathering of believers who like Peter can confess by faith that Jesus is the Son of God and Lord and Savior. There is a wonderful hymn that proclaims the message, “On Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand.” Jesus Christ is the sure foundation of the church and he is the cornerstone of that foundation and the forces of evil will never prevail against it! (Matthew 16:18)

What does it mean that Jesus is our Advocate?

What does it mean that Jesus is our Advocate?

Webster’s Dictionary defines advocate as “one who argues or pleads for a cause or proposal.” A picture of an advocate is a lawyer pleading a case before a judge for a favorable verdict for a client. This is what Jesus is for us, our advocate with God the Father. We find the word advocate in the Bible in John 2:1-2, “if anyone sins we have an Advocate who speaks to the Father in our defense – Jesus Christ, the Righteous One.”

Our basic problem as human beings is that we are all sinners. Sin separates us from being in a right relationship with God the Father. The guilt of our sins carries with it the sentence of death, both spiritual death in this life and eternal death in the life to come. That is the bad news, but the good news is that we have an advocate in Jesus Christ. Jesus, who is without sin, pleads our case by having offered his own earthly life as a sacrifice, which freed us from the guilt of our sin. The truth is that all who receive by faith Jesus as their Advocate will be set free from the guilt and the power of sin and into a new relationship with God, a relationship that brings salvation to life that is both abundant and eternal.

A favorite hymn of the Church is, “My Faith Has Found a Resting Place.” The refrain catches the essence of Jesus as an advocate. It goes, “I need no other argument, I need no other plea; it is enough that Jesus died, and that he died for me.”

So remember this, when Satan tries to lay a guilt trip on a Christian, Jesus steps in as advocate and says, “this believer is mine and is forgiven and is free from any condemnation.” That fact of blessed assurance is what gives a Christian peace that passes all human understanding. That’s really good news.

Image by Godsgirl_madi from Pixabay  

What’s the meaning of “The Fruit of the Spirit is Love”?

What’s the meaning of “The Fruit of the Spirit is Love”?

When a person decides to enter into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ he or she receives the gift of the Holy Spirit. This is a new life that one finds only in Jesus. In other words, a person is ‘born again’ and becomes a new creation in Christ. The Bible clearly states in Galatians 5:22 that “the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” These virtues are among the fruits that grow within a believer by the power of the Holy Spirit. This means that the seeds of truth have fallen on receptive hearts. The Christian’s purpose is to provide these marvelous virtues or fruits to the world in which one lives.

It is important to notice that love is the first in the list of fruits of the Spirit. This is because all of the others are expressions of love. Without love, the others are not produced and are worthless. So, where can one get this love? This love, God’s love, comes from a relationship with Jesus Christ. A person is able to love like this because God first loved him or her. The best expression of this love is seen at the foot of Jesus’ cross. The Scriptures remind us, “greater love has no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.”

Love is like a window through which we can see God. His love comes to us as a gift. Believers are like the tree waiting for its Question – What is the meaning of “The Fruit of the Spirit is Love”?

When a person decides to enter into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ he or she receives the gift of the Holy Spirit. This is a new life that one finds only in Jesus. In other words, a person is ‘born again’ and becomes a new creation in Christ. The Bible clearly states in Galatians 5:22 that “the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” These virtues are among the fruits that grow within a believer by the power of the Holy Spirit. This means that the seeds of truth have fallen on receptive hearts. The Christian’s purpose is to provide these marvelous virtues or fruits to the world in which one lives.

It is important to notice that love is the first in the list of fruits of the Spirit. This is because all of the others are expressions of love. Without love, the others are not produced and are worthless. So, where can one get this love? This love, God’s love, comes from a relationship with Jesus Christ. A person is able to love like this because God loved them first. The best expression of this love is seen at the cross where Jesus died. The Scriptures remind us, “greater love has no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.”

Love is like a window through which we can see God. His love comes to us as a gift. Believers are like the tree waiting for its fruits to ripen. Each one must make sure that they are planted by streams of living water. In a way, Christians are like a sailboat waiting to catch the winds of the Spirit. God’s marching orders for each of us is to make love our aim so that the world will know we are Christians by our love.

What is a Moral compass?

What is a Moral compass?

A magnetic compass is a tool that helps find your way to a destination and back home again. However, it points to a changing magnetic north, not to the unchanging ‘true north,’ where map lines of longitude converge at the pole. Mariners of old used celestial navigation to locate their position. Their tool was a nautical sextant. Their guiding light was most often the North Star although other celestial bodies were also used. Today, satellites and GPS help travelers navigate on air, land or sea to find their final destination.

A moral compass—a set of core values and beliefs—on the other hand is an important tool that guides a person through the challenges, dangers, and temptations of modern life and toward a godly, satisfying future. God has provided that moral compass, the Bible. It is God’s inspired unchanging Word, full of truth and wisdom, interpreted for you by the Holy Spirit. It becomes a person’s moral compass when it is read, studied and internalized and so that in school, the workplace and in relationships it will help you decide right from wrong, truth from lies and lead to the true north, Jesus Christ.

Men and women are created in God’s image with a purpose that gives meaning to life and glory to God. That purpose is to honor God with your life and your work, love your neighbor as yourself and to accomplish the good works God has planned for every follower of Jesus Christ. That means God has a plan to give each believer hope and a fantastic future. The greatest adventure in life is to discover God’s plan and live it to the fullest. God’s moral compass is a tool that will guide the way. Remember, it is only Jesus Christ who can assure that at the end of life you will reach heaven as your final destination.

 

Photo by Brian Regrut