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September 26, 2010
How many times have we heardor even used the phrase, “going to church”? Perhaps you have heard disparaging remarks about the use of this or similar phrases from those who are Christians. There is something to be said against the misuse, or least the poor judgement of context, in the phrase’s use.
The concept, if not the actual verbalization, of “church” to many in the world is that “church” is some sort of social club to which they belong. It is a club that makes people feel good about themselves. Radio advertisements on many local stations for a “religious” group invite everyone “grab a cup of coffee as you come in to enjoy our comfortable and uplifting worship.”
An objection sometimes arises that “church” is not something you “go to,” but something you are a “part of.” In the most technical sense, however, the use of this phrase is entirely proper. The word “church” in our English language, simply means “Lord’s House” — literally a building, metaphorically, an assembly. The word we find translated in our New Testaments as “church” has nothing to do with a physical building, but is a Greek compound word for those assembling — “out of + to call.” This word is used to describe gatherings of people; is the word for those in the wilderness (Acts 7:38); it is the word for the near riotous mob who gathered in Ephesus (Acts 19:32,41) and the lawful assembly mentioned by the Town Clerk during the same episode (Acts 19:39). Indeed, Christians are “part of” a called out group, but also can “go to” an assembly.
Seeing the use of the word “church” is one thing, but actually understanding the context of what it means in regard to our relationship to God is another. Looking in God’s word, it becomes apparent that there are very specific things God has shown us and told us about a very specific “house of God” — a very special group “called out” for His purposes (Hebrews 10:19-25; 1Peter 2:9).
Look at the spelling of our English word: C-H-U-R-C-H. We can use the spelling as a simple mnemonic device to help us remember what “church” is and our goals and relationships.
C— Christ — My Head
Founder(Matthew 16:18) — “I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it.”
Foundation (1Corinthians 3:11) — “For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.”
Head of the church (Ephesians 1:22; 5:22-24) — “And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church.”
H— Humility — My Attitude
Those in the church, that the Lord has added (Acts 2:47), must have and manifest humbleness in the Lord’s service: “You younger men, likewise, be subject to your elders; and all of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, for GOD IS OPPOSED TO THE PROUD, BUT GIVES GRACE TO THE HUMBLE” (1Peter 5:5,6). Those in God’s service must deem others better than self: “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves” (Philippians 2:3).
U— Unity — My Relationship with Christians
Be of one accord to bear fruit(Philippians 2:2) — “make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose.”
Be diligent in keeping unity (Ephesians 4:1-3) — “Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”
R— Redeemed — My State
The church is composed of those individuals who have obeyed God’s plan of salvation and have been redeemed from their sins. Through faith, repentance, confession and baptism the Lord has added us to his church. Which he purchased with his blood (Acts 20:28), by which he also redeemed us: “knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ” (1Peter 1:18,19).
C— Christian — My Name
This is the name given to one cleansed of sins through obedience and intent on “belonging to” Christ: “… And for an entire year they met with the church and taught considerable numbers; and the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch” (Acts 11:26). It is the name of which Peter states, “let him not be ashamed” (1Peter 4:16). It is the “new name” promised by God Himself: “The nations will see your righteousness, And all kings your glory; And you will be called by a new name Which the mouth of the LORD will designate” (Isaiah 62:2).
H— Heaven — My Eternity
The prize(Philippians 3:14) “I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”
The inheritance (1Peter 1:3-5) “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.”
The presence of God (Revelation 21:4-7) “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away. And He who sits on the throne said, ‘Behold, I am making all things new.’ And He said, ‘Write, for these words are faithful and true.’ Then He said to me, ‘It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give to the one who thirsts from the spring of the water of life without cost. He who overcomes will inherit these things, and I will be his God and he will be My son.’”
—S. Scott Richardson Sr.