‘Christ and the church’ Eph 5:32b
One of the sad realities of the present day Christendom is the gross neglect of Christ’s ownership and authority in His church. Many are ignorant of the basic church truths; at the same time, those who are aware of it neglect it for one reason or another. And the result is the utter misrepresentation of the church of Christ in this world. The world views church in different ways. Even in certain cases, we may have to doubt the very presence of the Lord Jesus Christ among certain congregations as in Laodicea, Rev 3:20.
We must always remember the Lord Jesus who said, “I will build my church” is definitely doing it, Matthew 16: 18. The inauguration of this building up of the church began on the day of Pentecost and will continue till the day of rapture when the Lord Himself will descend from heaven and take away His people to be with Him. Cf. Act 2:15, 47; 1 Cor 12:13; 1 Thess 4:16, 17.
According to Mark, the gospel writer, even after His ascension the Lord Jesus Christ continued to work with the apostles, Mark 16:20. Further, through the book of Revelation, the risen Lord Jesus unveils not only the facts of the future programmes but also of what He is doing for the church in this present age, Rev 1:11, 19.
Many approach the book of Revelation to know about the things to come. That is not bad, but we should not neglect the main topic given in the beginning of the book. Every local church should periodically go through the first three chapters to keep themselves familiar with the role of Christ in His churches today. The Lord specifically instructs John the apostle to write what he sees and send to the seven local churches. Those messages are very much relevant even today. Let us consider four general principles found in those letters.
1. Churches should know of the present glory of Christ. Rev 2:1, 8, 12, 18, etc.
One of the major themes of these chapters is the revelation of Christ’s glory. It was not accidental but well-intended. Apart from the words of Christ about Himself, John saw His greatness with his own eyes, Rev 1: 5, 8, 12–16. It was so magnificent that he fell at His feet as dead, Rev 1:17.
While introducing Himself to each local church, the Lord picks up one or two unique glories already presented in chapter 1. For example:
To the church at Smyrna: “These things says the First and the Last, who was dead, and came to life.”
To the church at Pergamos: “These things says He who has the sharp two-edged sword.”
To the church at Thyatira: “These things says the Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire, and His feet like fine brass.” etc
When we study these letters carefully we can observe, according to the condition of each church He introduces Himself.
- The suffering church should remember that He has already gone through it and there is nothing out His control.
-The compromising church should know the power of His word and the corrupt church should know of His penetrating insight and judgment.
Look at any weak or failed local church, one of the distinguishing marks is their poor understanding or appreciation of the Lord of the Church. That’s why repeatedly the writers call upon the saints to ‘be rooted and built up in Him’; ‘hold on to the Head’; and ‘look to the Author and Finisher of our faith’. Cf. Colo 2:7, 19; Heb 12:2, 3 etc.
2. We need to know of Christ’s role in the local churches today. Rev 1: 12, 13, 20; 2:1.
The Lord reveals Himself to John, and then tells the Ephesians also of how He walks among the local assemblies. That shows His concern and care for the congregations. He can never neglect or abandon the church that He bought by His precious blood. The Lord is carefully watching the activities of every church. That’s why to each of them He says, “I know”. He appreciates them for their good work, accuses them for the failure, and admonishes them even with a warning.
How important it is for us to notice that a local church gathering is not just some people coming together. We are constantly watched and evaluated by the Lord of the church. That realization should control our behavior and activities in the congregation of the Lord. Yes, He walks among us, knows the secrets and rewards us accordingly.
3. We also need to know of Christ’s hold on the leadership. Rev 1:16, 20.
Each letter is addressed to the messenger/angel of the church, 2:1, 8 etc. This messenger is the representative of the church. In the vision John saw, the Lord is holding these messengers, ch. 1. Here, we can learn two things in connection with the leadership.
a. Christ controls the leadership. It is He who appoints the leadership and uses them. And they are accountable too, Heb 13:17. He is the chief Shepherd; leaders are only under-shepherds, 1 Peter 5: 2–4.
b. Christ protects the leadership. Another reason why He holds them in His hands could be the vulnerability of the elders. Evil forces always focus on those who are in the front. Knowing this the Lord guards them in a special manner.
There is an urgent need for the churches to be aware of the Lord’s plan for church leadership and follow it. Sad to notice that in many places right understanding and practice of ‘biblical eldership’ is missing.
4. Each Christian should understand their individual role in the local church. Rev 2:7, 11, 17, 29, etc.
Each letter concludes with a catchphrase, “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” Even though the messages were addressed to the leadership, the Lord expects the application from individual members. So, the Lord is calling upon every member of the church to respond to His words.
No individual can ever think that he/she has no role in the church. The Lord Jesus wants each member to be aware of their respective role and fulfil it. No one should consider themselves as spectators as we come together.
Church is made of individual believers. The quality of the church depends upon each one of them. The poor spiritual life of one believer affects the whole church. In other words, even one faithful and obedient believer can bring a great difference to a local church. No wonder, throughout history, the Lord sought for one person! Cf. 2 Chron 16:9; Jer 5:1; Ezek 22:3 etc.
What is Church?
As a member of a local church, how do you view this? Are you aware of the fact that the Lord Jesus Christ is deeply concerned about His church and is carefully watching the affairs of it? Do we give Him pre-eminence in all things? As a leader of the church, are you aware that you are accountable to the Lord of the church? How do we view those who minister for us? What’s your contribution to the church as a member?
There is nothing else precious to the Lord Jesus as His church. Let us view and value the church as He does. Let us spend our time and energy to prepare the saints for the soon coming of Christ, John 21: 15–17.
The Present glory of Christ found in Reve ch. 1
‘Like a son of man’. V.13 – His humanity.
‘Clothed with a garment’. V. 13 - His priesthood
‘Golden band girded’ .v.13 – His kingship.
‘Head and hair white like wool’. V. 14 – His eternal existence.
‘Eyes like flame of fire’. V. 14 – His penetrating insight.
‘Feet like fine brass’. V. 15 – His strength in judgment.
‘Voice as of the sound of many waters’. V. 15 – Power & authority of His voice.
‘Right hand holds 7 stars. V. 16, 20 – His authority in the church.
‘Sword from the mouth’. V. 16 – Effectiveness of His word.
‘Shining countenance’. V. 16 – His glory / radiance.
The Lord also said, He is the Alpha and omega, beginning and the end, who is and who was and who is to come, Almighty. The living one, tasted death, having the keys of Hades. Vs. 8, 17, 18
John says in the beginning, He is the faithful witness, first born from the dead and the ruler over the kings. V. 5
- How great is our Lord!
Value of one Man
More than a century ago a young man over heard, “The world has yet to see what God can do with and for and through in a man who is fully and wholly consecrated o Him.” It seems one Mr. Henry Varley was talking to some body as they were walking. This statement touched heart of the young man; he sought a place to pray. He prayed, ‘Lord make me that man’.
That young man is D.L. Moody about whom someone said, he placed his one foot in America other in Europe and both the continents were shaken by his preaching.
Brief Article: -
'You must be born again'. John 3:7
"You must be born again". This is not the idea of any man. The Lord Jesus who loved us and came to die on our behalf emphatically declares this. Without this experience no amount of religious activities can help us once we leave this shore.
You may be born into a Christian family. You may even read the Bible and attend spiritual services. Yet, listen to what the Lord Jesus says—do not be deceived. All those things are good, but not enough to change you. You need life from above.
“The day we find the perfect church, it becomes imperfect the moment we join it.”
_____________________ C.H. Spurgeon.
"The Church exists for nothing else but to draw men into Christ, to make them little Christs”
_________ C. S. Lewis