Friday, September 10, 2010

Introduction to the Restoration Ideal #3

Any true church is first and foremost Christ's church.  The apostle Paul wrote:
For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And he put all things 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 1:15-23; ESV)
Jesus is the head and we who make up the Church are His body.  This is the point that Marshall Leggett makes in chapter two of Introduction to the Restoration Ideal. Leggett writes:
One cannot have an understanding of the New Testament and not be impressed with the importance of the church to Christ.  He loved it, gave himself for it, and purchased it with His own blood.  It was to be His body, the agency of salvation whereby peole would be reached with His gospel.

Christianity cannot be separated from the church.  This is seen in Acts 2:47, which says, "And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved." One who accepts Christ is given no option to membership in His church.  He cannot become a Christian and then decide whether he wants to become a church member.  To the contrary, he is automatically added to that body of believers, that fellowship that seeks to serve Christ as its Lord.  It is his responsibility to become a supportive member of the priesthood of believers in the local congregation of the church (p. 17).

Why is Jesus the Lord, or the Head, of the Church?

The first reason Jesus is the Head of the Church is because it is upon faith in Him that the Church is built.  We don't believe that Jesus was simply a good man or an insightful teacher of spiritual truths, instead we believe that Jesus is the unique Son of God sent into this world to save us from Satan, sin, and death.  This belief manifests itself in obedience and action as we surrender to His authority.  Jesus is the Head of the Church on the basis of who He is.

The second reason Jeus is the Lord of the Church is because of His love for the Church.  The apostle Paul wrote; Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her (Ephesians 5:25; ESV). Jesus, by His sacrificial death demonstrated to us that He is willing to do whatever it takes to have a relationship with us.  Jeus loves the Church and wants what is best for us, and therefore we can trust Him to lead us with wisdom and with love.

This is important to remember because it reminds us that if we will surrender our agendas and expectations then Jesus will guide us to where He wants us to be.  Will we trust Jesus to guide our church families?  Unfortunately all too often individual Christians, and even whole church families, have responded with a no, and their agendas and their plans have torn Christ's Church apart.  May we  pray daily for unity to be restored to the Church, as we surrender to the Lordship of Christ Jesus.

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