Most would agree that the Bible demonstrates the importance of the church. In Acts 2:47 Luke says, “And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.” Obviously to be saved is to be “in the church.” Likewise, to be in the church is to be “saved.” Paul wrote “For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the savior of the body” (5:23). Recently, however, the church concept has been minimized by many religious groups. No doubt this is simply another indication we live in a post-modern world where individualism is to be preferred over organized groups.
But the church is important! In fact it is absolutely mandatory in order to be saved. One cannot be in the body of Christ without being in the church. And the Lord’s church is more than a philosophical concept that requires no allegiance to a group of specific and localized believers. Certainly there is a “universal church” to which all Christians of every age and race have belonged, but there is also a more practical concept of the church which demands membership, attendance, worship, work, and fellowship.
In this article we want to look at just how important the church is. What we will see is the church is just as important, glorious, vibrant, and special today as it ever was. It is still the pillar and ground of the truth (1 Tim 3:15). It is as beautiful and necessary in the 21st century as it was in the first century. The church has never lost its luster. Paul called her “glorious” in Ephesians 5:27 and she is still glorious today.
The church is not glorious because of her wealth, fancy buildings, or material trappings. Neither is she glorious because her members are perfect. The church is a hospital, not a country club. We all are sinners and need Jesus. So why is the church glorious? Well the answer is multifaceted but what follows are four reasons we find in scripture:
The Church is Glorious because Christ is Her Builder
When Peter gave his wonderful confession in Matthew 16:16, Jesus said it was upon the truth that Peter spoke that he would build his church. Peter had confessed that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of the living God! In saying this Peter had hit upon the very reason Jesus had the authority to build a church. Jesus is deity. This fact gives him alone the right to build!
The Church is Glorious because Christ is Her Head
The apostle Paul reminds us in Colossians 1:18 and Ephesians 1:23 that Christ is the head of the church. This is logical. Jesus promised to build his church. He died for the church. His law directs the church. Thus we should not be surprised that Jesus is the head of the church. The ramifications of this, however, are worthy of special note. If Christ is the head of the church then it must be subject to him.
The Church is Glorious because Christ’s Word is its Sole Authority
Just as we have seen that Christ is the head of the church, so his Word is the sole authority for establishing direction and doctrine. Before Jesus ascended back to the Father he sent the Holy Spirit to guide the apostles into all truth. Their words, which in reality were the words of Christ, became the authority for faith and practice in the apostolic period. Acts 2:42 says, “And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine. Because Christ’s Word is the only authority for the church she has no other creed. The true church rejects all human rules, catechisms, creeds, and councils. It speaks where the bible speaks and is silent where the bible is silent.
The Church is Glorious because she Worships in Spirit and in Truth
Finally the church is glorious because she worships in spirit and in truth. To the Samaritan woman Jesus instructed that the time was coming when “true worshipers” would not worship according to the trappings and forms of the Old Covenant, but would worship in Spirit and in Truth. God’s word is truth (Jn 17:17) and so the church must worship according to scripture. We must prove all things we do in worship by the Word of God!
The church of our Lord Jesus Christ is a glorious institution. There never has been and never will be another like it to grace the face of the earth. Because the church is divine and because its founder died for our sins, it deserves our utmost respect.