DOES THE CHURCH REALLY MATTER?

 

How many times have you heard someone say: "the church doesnít really matter."

This is a popular belief today because more and more people have convinced themselves that spirituality is the only requirement for salvation. We often hear people say that they donít need to be a member of the church to be close to God, but can a Christian really have this attitude? Absolutely not! To help to see how important the church really is, I would to share with several points about this matter.

 

First, the church is important to us because it is important to God. The church has always been part of Godís eternal purpose. Notice what Paul writes in:

 

Ephesians 3:8 To me, who am less than the least of all the saints, this grace was given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ,9 and to make all see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the ages has been hidden in God who created all things through Jesus Christ;10 to the intent that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the church to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places,11 according to the eternal purpose which He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord,12 in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through faith in Him.

 

From the very foundation of the world, God has planned for the church and for Jesus to be its head. It took a great deal of preparation to bring the church into existence. For example, consider the four empires that Daniel spoke of as he interpreted the king Nebuchadnezzarís dream:

 

Daniel 2:37 "You, O king, are a king of kings. For the God of heaven has given you a kingdom, power, strength, and glory;38 "and wherever the children of men dwell, or the beasts of the field and the birds of the heaven, He has given them into your hand, and has made you ruler over them all -- you are this head of gold.39 "But after you shall arise another kingdom inferior to yours; then another, a third kingdom of bronze, which shall rule over all the earth.40 "And the fourth kingdom shall be as strong as iron, inasmuch as iron breaks in pieces and shatters everything; and like iron that crushes, that kingdom will break in pieces and crush all the others.41 "Whereas you saw the feet and toes, partly of potter's clay and partly of iron, the kingdom shall be divided; yet the strength of the iron shall be in it, just as you saw the iron mixed with ceramic clay.42 "And as the toes of the feet were partly of iron and partly of clay, so the kingdom shall be partly strong and partly fragile.43 "As you saw iron mixed with ceramic clay, they will mingle with the seed of men; but they will not adhere to one another, just as iron does not mix with clay.44 "And in the days of these kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed; and the kingdom shall not be left to other people; it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever.

 

 

 

Daniel let the king know that there will be 4 great empires, the first being his, and that in the fourth empire this great kingdom will be setup and established that can never be destroyed, which is referring to the church, which technically had its beginning as Jesusí death on the cross, but did not get proclaimed and get started until the day of Pentecost as recorded in Acts 2.

 

Have you ever stopped to realize that each of the four great world empires contributed something to the spread of the church?

 

The Babylonian empire contributed to synagogue being built where the Jews worshipped. These synagogues were one of the main places that Jesus and His apostles would go to teach the Jews. Of course Jesus taught them about the coming of the kingdom/church, but His disciples taught them about how the kingdom/church was here and that Jesus was the Messiah. Many Jews were converted in these synagogues when they heart the good news of Jesus.

 

The Medo-Persian Empire contributed a strong sense of law. The law of the Medes could never be broken; not even by the king. We see examples of this in Book of Esther and by the King Darius in Daniel 6 who had no choice but throw Daniel into the lionís den. What we can learn from this is that Godís law cannot be changed either. While some want to think the church/kingdom is nothing more than something built on love with no law, completely miss the simple principle that Godís kingdom/church is built on laws as well that we are to follow and not break

The Grecian empire contributed a universal language; Koine Greek. This was certainly helpful because most people spoke this language, which it much easier for people to communicate with each other no matter where they were from.

Finally, the Roman Empire contributed many roads which made travel easier. Also, during their rule, there was a near universal peace. All of these preparations by God made the first century the best for the church/kingdom of God to begin and grow. There are many other details that God put in place to make this best time as well. So, can anyone honestly say that the church is not important when God put so much effort into making it happen in the first place?

 

We also learn that the church was important to Jesus because that was one of the reasons He left heaven was to establish the church so that all willing people could be saved. In fact, the church was so important to Jesus that He was willing to purchase it with His own blood:

 

Acts 20:28 "Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.

 

I really want you to think about this one. How can anyone say that the church is not really that important after reading a verse like this? It is like saying that Jesusí shed blood is not really that important. When I think about what Jesus went through for leading up to the cross and His experience on the cross itself it makes me sad that a person could even mouth the words that the church is not that all that important. Also consider the following verses:

 

Ephesians 1:22 And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church,23 which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.

 

I have to ask, how can someone say the church is not really that important when Jesus our Savior is its head and Paul says the church is the body of Christ? To say that it not important is to say that the body of Jesus is not important.

 

Ephesians 5: 24 Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything.25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her,26 that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word,27 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.28 So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself.29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church.30 For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones.

 

Paul is showing us how a husband should love their wives like Jesus loves the church. I ask you, if Jesus loves the church and only saves those that are in the church, how can one ever say that it church really not that important? That is like someone saying that a wife or husband is not really that important.

 

We can also see Jesusí concern for the church from His conversation with Saul on the road to Damascus:

 

Acts 22:6 "Now it happened, as I journeyed and came near Damascus at about noon, suddenly a great light from heaven shone around me.7 "And I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to me, 'Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?'8 "So I answered, 'Who are You, Lord?' And He said to me, 'I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom you are persecuting.'

 

Paul had not personally persecuted Christ because he had never met Him until that day. However, Paul had persecuted Christís church and the Lord took that personally. The Lord still takes it personally today when people say the church doesnít matter. Jesus express this same thought about His people in:

 

Matthew 25:31 " When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory.32 "All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats.33 "And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left.34 "Then the King will say to those on His right hand, 'Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:35 'for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in;36 'I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.'37 "Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, 'Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink?38 'When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You?39 'Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?'40 "And the King will answer and say to them, 'Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.'41 "Then He will also say to those on the left hand, 'Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels:42 'for I was hungry and you gave Me no food; I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink;43 'I was a stranger and you did not take Me in, naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.'44 "Then they also will answer Him, saying, 'Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You?'45 "Then He will answer them, saying, 'Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.'46 "And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life."

 

Every Christian is part of the body/church of Christ and Jesus cares for His people and take notice when we are treated wrong and is happy when He sees us treated right. There is no way for us separate Jesus and His body because they go together just like your own head goes with your own body. So, when someone says that the church really is not that important, whether they realize it or not they are saying that Jesus and that all Christians are really not that important.

 

The church is also important to the Holy Spirit. Were it not for the work of the Holy Spirit, we would not even have a church today. For, without the Holy Spirit we would not have Godís Word. The Apostles needed the Holy Spirit to guide them into all truth:

 

John 16:13 "However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come.14 "He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you.15 "All things that the Father has are Mine. Therefore I said that He will take of Mine and declare it to you.

 

The outpouring the Holy Spirit on day of Pentecost was crucial to prove the Jesus was at the right of God and that kingdom Jesus had said was coming was now present. On the day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit spoke through Peter and the other apostles, in which they proclaimed the life saving message of Jesus. We read about this in Acts 2:

 

Acts 2:1 When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.2 And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting.3 Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them.4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.5 ∂ And there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men, from every nation under heaven.6 And when this sound occurred, the multitude came together, and were confused, because everyone heard them speak in his own language.7 Then they were all amazed and marveled, saying to one another, "Look, are not all these who speak Galileans?8 "And how is it that we hear, each in our own language in which we were born?9 "Parthians and Medes and Elamites, those dwelling in Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia,10 "Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya adjoining Cyrene, visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes,11 "Cretans and Arabs -- we hear them speaking in our own tongues the wonderful works of God."12 So they were all amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, "Whatever could this mean?"13 Others mocking said, "They are full of new wine."14 ∂ But Peter, standing up with the eleven, raised his voice and said to them, "Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and heed my words.15 "For these are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day.16 "But this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel:17 'And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, That I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, Your young men shall see visions, Your old men shall dream dreams.18 And on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days; And they shall prophesy.

 

We can see what part the Holy Spirit played in the redemption of man and making sure that Godís Word about Jesus and His church were proclaimed. As you continue reading in Acts 2 you learn that the message being proclaimed that day pricked the heart of around 3000 souls and they were added that day to the church by God when they were baptized into Christ for the forgiveness of their sins (Acts 2:38ff).

 

If the message of the church wasimportant enough to the Holy Spirit to reveal through men it should certainly be important to us.

 

The church is also very important because you must be in it to be saved:

 

Acts 2:47Ö And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.

 

Ephesians 5:23 For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body.

 

Again, I have to ask, how can anyone say that the church is not really that important when we are added to by God and we must be in it order to be saved? Many do not like it when you teach things like this because they say you are being legalistic or that you are playing God, but this simply is not true. We can say that one must be in the body of Christ to be saved because that is that Bible teaches. We can either accept that truth or deny that truth, but we cannot change that truth.

 

The way that one becomes a Child of God so they can be added to the church/kingdom of God is as follows:

 

They must believe that Jesus is the Son of God:

 

John 8:24 "Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for if you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins."

 

We must repent:

 

Luke 13:3 "I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish.

 

We must confess Jesus as our Lord:

 

Romans 10:10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

 

We must be baptized in the name of Jesus for the forgiveness of sins:

 

Acts 2:38 Then Peter said to them, "Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

 

Baptism is the point that we are added to the church by God:

 

John 3:5 Jesus answered, "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.

 

If you not obeyed Godís plan of salvation and have not been added to the church purchased by Jesusí blood then you are lost because no one can be saved outside the body of Christ. If you are one that says that the church really does not matter, I hope this lesson has changed your mind. For those who understand the importance of the church, I hope something I have said has given you some ideas on what to say to those who have the attitude the church really does not matter, because we have learned in this it does matter.

 

Much more could be said about the importance of the church, but what I shared with you should be enough for honest soul to never even think that the church really is not that important. Adapted in part from Ralph Price.