Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Whose Church

Whos Church Is It Anyway?
It is common to hear people speak of "my church" or "your church" as they speak of a particular religious group. Such terminology suggests to many that the church is just an organization which man devised for his own needs. Thus, if society and custom change man can alter the church to fit those needs. From this kind of thinking comes a "justification" for "many churches" so that the needs of various people will be met. Then we are urged to join the church of your choice," with the implication that all churches are equal in the sight of God and only personal preference should govern your decision about choosing a church.

But whose church is it, anyway? Did God say nothing in His word about the church? Did Jesus never address the subject? Did the apostles refuse to teach on the subject? Anyone who has even casually read the Scriptures knows that the Bible has much to say about the church. If we are to learn the value (or lack of it) of the church, we must go to the Bible to find it.

When Peter confessed to Jesus, "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God," the Lord replied, "Upon this rock I will build my church " (Matt. 16:16-18). Founders of this nation made America a great nation, a founder of a business often determines the value of the business. So it is with the church of which we read in the Bible. Jesus Christ is the builder of it, He founded the church. Man has since built many churches, and we can easily agree that these are not really important. But that church which Jesus built is important, simply because it is built by God's "only begotten Son."

The word "church" literally means, "called out" Peter writes, "But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light" (1 Pet. 2:9). Christ has called us "by the gospel" (Jno. 6:44-45; 2 Thes. 2:13-14), out of sin and into righteousness (Rom. 1:16-17; 2 Cor. 5:21). Those who respond to His call through the gospel (Mk. 16:15-16) are "the called out" or "the church." That means the value of the church is determined by the value of the call, and the One who calls is Lord of those who are called.

The churches which have been begun by men are usually governed by synods, councils, conventions or some other such organization in which men determine the course of that church. But when He gave the "great commission" to the apostles, Christ said, " All authority hath been given unto me in heaven and on earth " (Matt. 28:18). Jesus doesn't share His headship over the church with man. Notice again, "He is the head of the body, the church. ..that in all things he might have the pre-eminence" (Col. 1:18). Paul wrote that God has 'put all things in subjection under his feet, and gave him to be head over all things to the church, which is his body" (Eph. 1:22-23). Man might govern his own church, if he had the right to have one. But it is not up to a man, nor to a group of men, to govern the 'church of Christ, for only Christ is head of it and only Christ has authority over it.