Due to inclement weather, the 9 a.m. service for Sunday, Jan. 20 has been cancelled. We will have one morning service at 10:45 a.m. as road conditions improve.

What's the Big Deal?

by Tim Yates

Did you know the Church is a big deal to God? On the other hand, American Christianity has embraced the “pro-God” but “anti-church” mentality. Many profess to love God, but the Church not so much. Most can take it or leave it, and regrettably many are leaving the Church throughout America. But what does the Bible teach? Is there such a thing called “Churchless Christianity?” I want to take a few minutes and show you what the Bible says about the Church. Let me share with you five reasons the local Church is a big deal to God.

First, the Church is a big deal to God because Jesus died for the Church. In Acts 20 Paul was giving his farewell address to the Ephesian Elders (vv. 17-36). In v. 28 he said, “Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.” This one verse is jam-packed with great truth concerning the local Church. As we break it down, keep in mind Paul was talking to Elders/Pastors in the city of Ephesus.  

Truth #1: He told these Elders to “take heed to yourselves.” – First and foremost, Pastors need to pay attention to their own spiritual lives.

Truth #2: He told these Elders to take heed not only to themselves but also “to all the flock” – Pastors need to pay attention to the spiritual lives of the members of the Church. It is essential for the Pastor to keep his hand on the pulse of the church to diagnose the spiritual needs of the people.

Truth #3: He told these Elders, “the Holy Spirit has made you overseers.” – Pastors are appointed by the Holy Spirit to oversee a local church.

Truth #4: He told these Elders, “to shepherd the church of God.” – Pastors are to shepherd the sheep in the local Body. Spiritual guidance, counsel and leadership are extremely important.

Truth #5: He told these Elders that Jesus “purchased” the Church “with His own blood.” – The Church is a blood bought people and blood bought people are a big deal to God.

Furthermore, Paul told the local Church at Ephesus, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her” (Eph. 5:25). We conclude two things: First, Jesus loved the Church and second, He gave Himself for the Church. Since Jesus loves the Church and since Jesus died for the Church, the Church is a big deal to God.

Second, the Church is a big deal to God because Jesus is the Head of the Church. Paul explained to the Ephesian Church that “Christ is head of the Church; and He is the Savior of the body.” He further claimed, “the Church is subject to Christ” (Eph. 5:22-25). The words “subject” or “submission” are very unpopular concepts in American Christianity. To be “subject to Christ” (ὑποτάσσω hupotassō) means to come under rank.  The members of the local Church “come under” the rank/authority of Jesus Christ. Furthermore, Paul explained to the Church at Colossae, “He (Jesus) is the head of the body, the Church,” and since He functions as Head of the Church, then He should have “preeminence” (first place) in all things (Col. 1:18). Headship, rank, and preeminence all describe the position of Christ in the Church. The Church is a big deal to God because Jesus is the Head of the Church.    

Third, the Church is a big deal to God because Jesus promised to build His Church. In Matthew 16 Jesus asked the disciples, “Who do men say I am?” Some said, John the Baptist, others said Elijah or maybe one of the prophets. But Jesus was interested in what the disciples had to say. Peter boldly professed, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus was pleased with Peter’s response and therefore proclaimed, “on this rock I will build My church and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it” (Matt. 16:16-18). Jesus is building His Church. Furthermore, the personal pronoun “My church” shows ownership. The Church belongs to Jesus, and nothing can prevail (κατισχύω katischuō) or “overpower” the Church.  The Church is a big deal to God because Jesus is still building His Church today.

Fourth, the Church is a big deal to God because God designed the Church. Contrary to postmodernism, the Church is not a man-made enterprise invented by the ingenuity of man. The Apostle Paul claimed the Church is a mystery concealed (hidden) in ages past but revealed in the New Testament (Eph. 2-3:1-8). “Now” BOTH Jew and Gentile make up ONE body, the Church. Paul told the Jews and the Gentiles, He is “OUR PEACE” and has made “BOTH ONE.” He has abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, “so as to CREATE in Himself ONE new man from TWO, thus making peace, 16 and that He might reconcile them BOTH to God in ONE BODY through the cross” (Eph. 2:14-16). The Gentiles are no longer without Christ, or aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, or strangers from the Jewish covenant of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. “But NOW in Christ Jesus YOU (Gentiles), who once were far off, have been brought near by the blood of Christ” (Eph. 2:11-13). Thank God the Jew and Gentile are ONE body called the Church. You better believe it! The Church is a big deal to God. It’s His idea, His creation, and His invention.      

And finally, the local Church is a big deal to God because He gave gifted leaders to the Church. Thank God for gifted Pastors/Elders/Shepherds who devote their lives to the ministry of the Word of God and prayer (Acts 6:4). Many well intended people ask, “Do churches really need Pastors?” Paul left Titus in Crete and commanded him to “set in order the things that are lacking and appoint (ordain) elders in every city” (Titus 1:5). “Every city?” Yes! Every city in that area. Why? Because every Church needs a Pastor/Elder/Shepherd. Someone to lead, guide, teach and hold them accountable. The writer of Hebrews reminded us to “Remember those who rule over you, who have spoken the word of God to you, whose faith follow, considering the outcome of their conduct” (Heb. 13:7). He also said in the same chapter, “Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you” (Heb. 13:17). A godly Pastor is a gift to the local Church (Eph. 4:11) and we need to treat him as a gift from God. Paul urged the Church at Thessalonica, “to recognize those who labor among you, and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, 13 and to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake. Be at peace among yourselves” (1 Thess. 5:12-13). God wants you to have a good relationship with your Pastor. Recognize him and esteem him and always be at peace “among yourselves.” Do you have a good relationship with your Pastor? He is a gift from God to you and the local Church. The Church is a big deal to God because He gave gifted leaders to the Church.  

Is the Church a big deal to God? YES! Absolutely! While it may be popular to bash the Church on social media, we need to realize every mature follower of Jesus will love their Church and faithfully support their Church family. Why? Because Jesus died for the Church. Furthermore, Jesus is the Head of the Church. Additionally, Jesus promised to build His Church and He’s still building His Church today. The Church was created by God (Eph. 2:15), designed by Jesus, and gifted by the Holy Spirit. Biblically speaking, the Church is plan A and there is NO plan B.  There’s no such thing as a “Churchless Christianity.” In closing, how can I make the Church a big deal in my life?

First, gather with your local Church on the Lord’s Day (Heb. 10:25). When the doors are open make sure you’re present. Let Church be your excuse to miss everything else. Why? Because Church is a big deal to God.  
 
Second, use your spiritual gift to build up the local body (1 Cor. 12:12, 13, 14, 18-26; Eph. 4:11-16) because when “every part does its share, it causes growth of the body for edifying of itself in love” (Eph. 4:16). Don’t be a spectator! Serve! Think about it! We get to serve as co-laborers with God (1 Cor. 3:9). Side by side with Jesus. And building His Church is going to outlast everything else I do. Hey friend, that’s a pretty BIG deal.

Third, when you enter the building on Sunday morning look for one person of value and encourage him/her (Heb. 10:24-25). Crucify self and focus on others. Don’t just gather in a “holy huddle” and talk to all your friends. Focus on guests. GIVE your attention, GIVE your encouragement, GIVE your love, GIVE your value, GIVE your kindness, GIVE your cheer, GIVE compassion, GIVE sympathy, and GIVE assistance. Give and give some more. Demonstrate the Church is a big deal in your life because the Church is big deal with God.

Finally, you need to be active in body life. Mutual care for other believers in the local Church is a big deal with God. Pull your head out of the sand and look for the needs of others. Open your eyes and see. Paul reminded the Corinthian Church, “Members should have the same care for one another.    26 And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it. 27 Now you are the body of Christ and members individually” (1 Cor. 12:25-27). Ask God to help you to “weep with those who weep” and to “rejoice with those who rejoice” (Rom. 12:15). Why? Because caring for people in the local Church is a BIG deal with God. Make Christ and His Church a big deal in your life. I promise you won’t regret it. Better yet, God promises you won’t regret it.
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