Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Where Do We Find Christ?

As you can see under "Recent Reading" I am reading De Young and Kluck's book about the institution of the church and why it is biblical and necessary.  They made a great point on the first page.  No one would build a basement and be content to live in it and not finish the rest of the house; you don't drive by a cement foundation in the dirt and say, "Look, it is ready to be lived in.  The foundation exists to be built upon.  Yet those who say they love Christ but not the church do a similar thing.  In the same vein, if you love me you love my wife. ( It might be better for me to say that if you love my wife you will love me.)  Either way, if you love Christ, you love his people and the institution of the church is how we express and live in the love we have for each other.  In the book they are referring to the institution of the church, not Christians in general.

I think this book is important especially in our day and age because of the all the misinformation concerning the institution of the local church.  It is not unusual today to hear of someone saying that they have grown more spiritual or are better off spiritually since they left the church.  There are some fundamental flaws with such a scenario and I look forward to the rest of the book in the hopes it will deal with some of them.  But let me mention a couple.

No doubt there are a lot of churches that have so departed from the faith or so deemphasized the teaching of the Word of God that they do more harm than good.  If you are in one of these then get out.  But this has nothing to do with the institution that God has ordained anymore than because you have an unloving spouse or a bad marriage it is to be taken that God's institution of marriage is flawed and should be abandoned.

The second thing I would say to the above person is that while you might be better off spiritually by leaving that church you can be sure you are worse off spiritual by not joining a doctrinally sound church somewhere.  When Christ said that where two or three are gathered in my name, there I am in the midst of them, he was speaking of the institution of the church.  One in which saints have gathered to practice the preaching of the Word and corporate prayer and fellowship under the authority of ordained elders.  In other words, he was not saying that if you get together with some friends over coffee and talk about spiritual things you are basically "having church" and I will be there to bless your efforts. 

Jesus is to be found in the local church in a way he will not be found outside of it.  Yes, he indwells all believers but he commissioned churches to operate in an organized way by the rules of the New Testament as a place to systematically teach the Word and be a place of fellowship and encouragement and practice of the things taught. 1Ti 3:15  if I delay, you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, a pillar and buttress of the truth.  The immediate context of this verse is Paul explaining how things operate in the local church, not in Christians and Christianity in general.  He was speaking of the qualification of elders, deacons, the role of women in the church, etc. 

My point is that Christ by his Spirit meets with us as we gather as a body to feed on his Word and fellowship and love the brethren in a way that transcends our "quiet time" at home.  I have on several occasions had someone say to me that they can learn at home just as well as at church.  They can read the Bible at home and worship God elsewhere.  My answer is no, not really.  If you forsake the assembly of the church which God tells us not to, then why would you assume that he is going to bless your private reading, prayers and worship when you rebel against his plain revelation? 

Your pastor might not be the most gifted and your church no doubt is full of flaws, but this is where Jesus has promised to reveal himself to you.  Yes, he will be found at home or at work or in nature as you read his Word and pray there, but only in conjunction with obedience in the attendance and commitment to his ordained means of the local church. 

I look forward to reading this book and perhaps will share some of their insight as I go along. 

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