|Vol. 14 No. 6 June 2012||
“Therefore, to you who believe, He is precious; but to those who are disobedient, ‘The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone’” (1 Peter 2:7). The precious Son of God loved man so much he came to die on the cross in order to win our redemption. He showed compassion to the crippled (John 9:6-7), care toward the unsociable (Luke 15:1-2) and love toward the lost (John 4:35). Even though Christ lived life without sin and taught God’s Word as it should be taught, He still had enemies. The Jewish leaders did not hate Jesus because He hurt them or because He was out to get them; they hated Jesus because He did not fit their preconceived vision of the Messiah. The Jews longed for political freedom from Rome, but Jesus instead gave freedom from sin. The Jews longed for the wealth and prestige of Solomon’s day, but Jesus instead offered heavenly wealth and hope. The Jews focused on their interpretation of the Law and traditions of the elders, but Jesus only taught a simple religion of truth and spirit. Because Jesus did not fit their ideal image of the Savior, the Jews persecuted, ridiculed and ultimately crucified the Son of God on the cross.
It is sad today to see how Christ is still so misunderstood. The televangelist preaches of a Christ who will take away our problems and make us rich if we will just send the check in the mail. Instead, the true Christ offers a life of suffering here on earth to prepare our home in heaven (1 Timothy 6:7-11). The denominationalist preaches of a Christ who believes in unity in diversity (never hurt anyone’s feelings). The true Christ offers a sword that will sometimes divide (Matthew 10:34). The worldly Christian believes that we can have the same possessions, hobbies and entertainment as those who do not put Christ first. The true Christ teaches that salt that loses its saltiness will be thrown out and trampled (Matthew 5:13).
Are you like the Jews in the New Testament? Do you try to force Christ to fit into the mold that you think He should fit? Do you try to force Him into following your beliefs? If we are to truly be faithful, we must conform ourselves to His pattern and not vice versa (Romans 12:1-2). Decide today to obey the pure, pristine Gospel of Christ!
In God’s Word, we learn of the kingdom, the church, which is the greatest institution ever known to man. Those who make up the kingdom are described as being “in Christ” (Galatians 3:26-27). In Christ is where all spiritual blessings are found (Ephesians 1:3). It is the greatest privilege to be a part of the blood-bought church of Christ (cf. Acts 20:28).
Many years ago, the late L.L. Brigance wrote a letter of love to some fellow Christians. Among other things, brother Brigance wrote of the church, “this institution is divine in origin and nature. In it are wrapped up the greatest interests, the holiest desires, and the highest hopes of mankind…. All that makes life good and lovely… comes to us… through the religion of Christ [the church].”
This sounds to me like the church is the greatest! We enjoy not only the spiritual blessings in Christ now, but if we live faithfully, we will be able to enjoy eternal blessings in Christ. In order to enjoy the great blessings in the greatest of institutions known to man, we must first be in the church and in Christ. How does one gain entrance into the church, the body of Christ? The Bible says we are baptized into the one body (1 Corinthians 12:13; cf. Ephesians 1:22-23, 4:4).
Brother Brigance also said in his letter that once one becomes a Christian, “in order to enjoy its greatest blessings here and to enter joys eternal bye and bye, we must be true and faithful to all its requirements.” I could not agree more. We must live according to the will of God. We must seek the kingdom first. We must live righteous and holy lives. Does the church have first place in your life? Do you attend all her services? Do you set the proper example of a Christian in your daily life? As Brother Brigance put it, “are you striving day to day to live as ‘becometh the gospel of Christ’ and ‘to make your calling and election sure’? The success of the church and the salvation of the church depend upon the loyalty and devotion of its members.”
Our love for the church of our Lord is measured in many ways, especially by how often we gather with the saints, how liberally and consistently we give to God in worship, how heartily we participate in Bible studies and worship periods of the church, and by our obedience to all else that God has asked of his children.
There can be no doubt that the church is the greatest because it was in God’s eternal plan and is the body that Jesus will save and deliver up to God at the end of time (Ephesians 3:10-11, 5:23; 1 Corinthians 15:24).