What the church is not. Matthew 16
THE CHURCH IS NOT A PHYSICAL BUILDING. (1 Corinthians 3). It is made up of people who became Christians and hence, it is a living, active organism. In 1 Corinthians 3 Paul stated that “You are the temple of God.” A physical building could not have read Paul’s words and applied it to itself. It is the people. That is why each person in the church is important.
THE CHURCH IS NOT AN AFTERTHOUGHT OR A MISTAKE. Some believe that Jesus came to set up the eternal kingdom while on earth, but because of the opposition of the Jews, he was unable to do so. So, instead, he set up the church. If this is the case, then we should have no faith in Jesus at all, because he did not do what he claimed he did. In John 19:30, while on the cross, he stated “IT IS FINISHED. Beloved, Jesus did not fail. In Ephesians 1:3-6 Paul wrote, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.” In John 17:1-5 Jesus prayed before his death on the cross, and Jesus stated, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do. And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.” The church, the plan of salvation, the relationship we have with Christ and one another in the body of Christ was planned before the world was created. The church is not an afterthought!
THE CHURCH IS NOT A SOCIAL CLUB. It is a place where Christians come to worship God with one another, who are striving to do the Master’s will because he commanded it. Our main mission is to share the gospel of Jesus with the world (Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:15-16; Acts 2; Acts 8:4). In the course of doing this we should be the most benevolent and helpful people in the world. The adage, “People do not care how much you know unless they see how much you care.” Galatians 6:10 still states, “So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith”
THE CHURCH IS NOT IN NEED OF MODERNIZATION. Hebrews 13:8 states that Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever. If the founder and builder of the church is the same, then what was commanded in Scripture is also the same. Many people try to please themselves rather than God, and hence, we have a plethora of ideas and result in denominations. God’s word is still true. It will not and does not change.
Some, in an effort to change the church, have compromised the faith as stated in Scripture. Some congregations now have female elders (1 Timothy 3 – (if a man desire the office of an elder, he desires a good work). Instrumental music has been added, praise bands, . . is this what the Lord wants? Desires? Is it about pleasing us or God? Are we striving to be palatable to the masses but not to God? Mark 7:1-13 records the thoughts of Jesus, “Now when the Pharisees gathered to him, with some of the scribes who had come from Jerusalem, they saw that some of his disciples ate with hands that were defiled, that is, unwashed. (For the Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they wash their hands properly, holding to the tradition of the elders, and when they come from the marketplace, they do not eat unless they wash. And there are many other traditions that they observe, such as the washing of cups and pots and copper vessels and dining couches.) And the Pharisees and the scribes asked him, “Why do your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat with defiled hands?” And he said to them, “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written,
“‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me;
in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’
You leave the commandment of God and hold to the tradition of men.”
And he said to them, “You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to establish your tradition! For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; and, ‘Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die.’ But you say, ‘If a man tells his father or his mother, “Whatever you would have gained from me is Corban” (that is, given to God)— then you no longer permit him to do anything for his father or mother, thus making void the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And many such things you do.”
FINALLY, THE CHURCH IS NOT A PLACE OF SEPARATION. Paul states that we are all sons and daughters of God in Christ Jesus (Galatians 3:29). Families sometimes fight and squabble, and this is often the case with the church. We are all one in Christ Jesus. We cannot and should not divide over race. Many of our brothers and sisters are without hope for they see division, anger, frustration and marginalization. Jesus didn’t die just for whites, or blacks, or the Jews, or the Gentiles, or the rich or the poor . . . He died for all, slaves, females, or free.
One church for one humanity, all dedicated to the glory of God and the praise of salvation found only in his son!
Adapted from a sermon by James Gentry, Central Church of Christ,