Vol. 4, No. 9
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With so many churches, denominations and religions in this world it is easy to become confused and even skeptical. How would a person ever know if he was doing the "right" thing religiously and how would he know if the church he goes to is the one God approves? We know that two opposing conclusions cannot be correct. If person "A" is doing one thing to please the God of the Bible and person "B" is doing something totally opposite to please God, then either one or both of them is wrong. Isn't it important for us to search the Scriptures to find out what, if anything, we must do and which, if any church, we should attend? Isn't it sensible to find the correct way that pleases God?
Let us notice a few things about Matthew 16:13-19. These verses are actually a record of Jesus' words regarding the establishment of "his" church or kingdom.
Notice to whom the church belongs. Christ says it would be "my" church. He makes the statement that he was going to build a church and nothing, including his own death, would stop him from doing just that.
In other places, we see that Christ bought the church (Acts 20:28). The apostle Paul called it the "church of Christ" (Romans 16:16). Elsewhere, Paul says that Christ is the "Head" of the church (Ephesians 1:21). There is no doubt that Christ intended to build "his" church. God planned for the establishment of the church in purpose "before the foundation of the world" (Ephesians 1:4-12). God counseled or sketched out exactly how the church would come about. God even knew that it would be purchased through the "death" and the "blood" of Christ. Peter reminds us that Christ died just as God determined it (Acts 2:23). Christ purchased the church at the point that he gave up his "spirit" (Luke 23:46) as its purchase price.
If Christ owns the church then he has the right to determine its entrance requirements.
It is interesting that Christ taught through inference that the apostles would preach and teach doctrine that included the entrance requirements to his church. He says, "Whatever you bind here on earth will be what is bound in heaven. Whatever you loose on earth will be what is loosed in heaven."
How can that be? How would the apostles know what is loosed and bound in heaven in order to teach it? Earlier when Jesus was preparing the apostles for his death he told them about the coming "comforter" who "would guide them into all truth" (John 14:26 cf.). On Pentecost just after his death, Christ poured out the Holy Spirit that told the apostles what to preach (Acts 2:1-4). The Holy Spirit continued teaching and supplying things necessary for men to know how to enter the kingdom (1 Peter 4:11).
The New Testament is the collection of teaching supplied by the apostles through the Holy Spirit. Christians who lived in the time of the apostles were careful to keep on practicing the commands the apostles delivered (Acts 2:42). Paul sternly warned that anyone who changed the "Gospel" in teaching or practice would be cut off from the rewards offered to the faithful (Galatians 1:6-9). John warned, "try the spirits" (1 John 4:1). He was cautioning people to make certain that the teaching they believed was truly the teaching of God. At that time as well as today, preachers and teachers perverted, wrested and changed the Word of God to their own destruction (2 Peter 3:16). The "Gospel" contains God's saving power (Romans 1:16). When it is mixed with false doctrine the Gospel loses its saving power. Jude and Peter both enjoined Christians to beware of false teachers and their doctrines (Jude18; 2 Peter 2:1). Many passages carry warnings of counterfeit, faulty doctrines and teachers. Times certainly haven't changed have they? We live in a time when there are more teachers teaching opposing principles, policies and precepts than any other time in the history of mankind.
Before you say no when asked to take a job in the church, think about some reasons why you should say yes. There are at least three good reasons why every Christian ought to serve in the church.
1. Your Christian life needs a service outlet. Nothing helps you to grow as a Christian like putting your faith into practice by using your talents (Ephesians 2:10).
2. You have a talent to share with others. The reason why you are asked to serve is that your brethren have confidence in you and your ability. Your Christian service will be a good influence in the lives of those whom you lead and serve.
3. Your church family needs you. There is no way for our congregation to get its work done unless members volunteer their time to teach and lead. When you accept a place of responsibility, you help the church move forward in the name of Christ.