Summary: For many church has become irrelevant and insignificant. The church is anything but that. Why church? The question needs to be answered.
We are living in a time of change. With busy schedules filled with activities demanding our time and the ever expanding array of social media many feel that church has become irrelevant and insignificant. The comment is often heard, “I can be just as good a Christian without the church.” John Stott in his book “The Living Church: Convictions of a Lifelong Pastor,” refers to an unchurched Christian as a grotesque anomaly. He goes on to say, “The New Testament knows nothing of such a person for the church lies at the very center of the eternal purpose of God.” Why church? To answer that question we need to have an understanding of what the church is, how Christ sees the church, Christ’s expectation for the church as community, and the benefits of being actively involved in the local church.
I. The Church Defined.
A. The word "church" in the NT never refers to a building or a place. It always refers to people. The word "church" as used in the New Testament comes from the Greek term ecclesia which is formed from two Greek words meaning "an assembly" and "to call out" or "called out ones."
B. The New Testament church is a body of believers who have been called out from the world by God and have been assembled or united together to worship God; to live and serve Him as His body or people under the Lordship of Jesus Christ.
C. Ephesians 1:22-23 “And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.”
D. God sees the Church as a living organism and not as a building or place.
E. 1 Corinthians 12:12-14 “ For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free—and have all been made to drink into one Spirit. For in fact the body is not one member but many.”
F. “The church is a community of regenerated believers who confess Jesus Christ as Lord. In obedience to Scripture they organize under qualified leadership, gather regularly for preaching and worship, observe the biblical ordinances of baptism and the Lord’s Supper, are unified by the Spirit, are disciplined for holiness, and seek to reach out to fulfill the great commandment and the great commission as missionaries to the world for God’s glory and their joy” (adapted from Vintage Church by Mark Driscoll and Dr. Gerry Breshears).
II. Christ saw the Church as being vital for every believer..
A. He is both the Church’s Foundation and Head
1. Ephesians 5:23 states that Christ is head of the church; Acts 4:11 calls Him the church’s Chief Cornerstone; and 1 Corinthians 3:11 declares Him to be the only foundation upon which the church is built.
2. The Church's one foundation
Is Jesus Christ her Lord,
She is His new creation
By water and the Word.
From heaven He came and sought her
To be His holy bride;
With His own blood He bought her
And for her life He died. - Rev. Samuel John Stone
B. He loves the church with a jealous and passionate love
1. Ephesians 5:25 “Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her”
2. The Song of Solomon is an metaphorical picture of Christ and His bride the redeemed. It describes the mutual love of Christ and the Church.
a. Song of Solomon 7:10 “I am my beloved's, and his desire is toward me.
b. Song of Solomon 8:12 (LEB) “My own “vineyard” belongs to me…
3. We usually think of jealousy in a negative sense. You might have heard stories of a woman killed by a jealous husband, or something similar. But jealousy is not always bad. It means to “vigilantly guard your possessions.” In other words, jealousy is the desire to hold on to what is yours for your own personal use. In Greek, “jealousy” comes from the word zelos, which means jealousy, or zeal. Christ vigilantly guards you as His prized possession.
4. Exodus 34:14 “For you shall worship no other god: for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God”
5. Charles Haddon Spurgeon warned believers, “The Lord Jesus Christ, of whom I now speak, is very jealous of your love, O believer. Did he not choose you? He cannot bear that you should choose another. Did he not buy you with his own blood? He cannot endure that you should think you are your own, or that you belong to this world. He loved you with such a love that he could not stop in heaven without you; he would sooner die than that you should perish; he stripped himself to nakedness that he might clothe you with beauty; he bowed his face to shame and spitting that he might lift you up to honor and glory, and he cannot endure that you should love the world, and the things of the world. His love is strong as death towards you, and therefore will be cruel as the grave. He will be as a cruel one towards you if you do not love him with a perfect heart. He will take away that husband; he will smite that child; he will bring you from riches to poverty, from health to sickness, even to the gates of the grave, because he loves you so much that he cannot endure that anything should stand between your heart’s love and him. Be careful, Christians, you that are married to Christ; remember, you are married to a jealous husband."