To Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever.
Why do Christians, especially Christian leaders, feel at liberty to discard and replace what God created at the expense of the death of His own Son? The centrality of the local church in fulfilling God’s purpose is seen throughout Scripture. In Ephesians 3:21 Paul concludes that section by saying, “To Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever.” How is it that God is going to be glorified in this world? It is through the church.
The Greek word for “church” is used 105 times in the New Testament. Ninety-five of those times it does not refer to all Christians everywhere but to local congregations. God’s plan to fulfill His mission is through local congregations. The church is the visible representation of the body of Christ. Well, what is the purpose of the church? Certainly the spiritual development of individuals and groups, but it goes beyond that as well. God has another purpose for the church. Just as God formed the nation of Israel to be His representatives on earth under the old covenant, God has created the church to proclaim His truth and reflect His holiness in the world today.
Peter said, “You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9). Now, God could have created a massive organization called The Church with one pastor. But that was not His plan. Instead God’s plan was to blanket the landscape throughout the world with local, individual communities of believers we call the church. After all, most of the books of the New Testament were written to individual congregations: Corinth, Ephesus, Colossae. Each had its own unique opportunities, problems, and challenges. Yet in spite of all of their flaws God said these churches were like lampstands in the darkness of the world. And that is what the church is—the church is a light in a dark world.
As Christians, our role, Jesus said, is to be salt and light. But to be an effective preservative, as salt was in Jesus’ day, what is more effective: one grain of salt or a whole clump of salt? What about a light? If you’re in the darkness would it be better to have one little 10-watt lamp or a whole cluster of lights? It’s the same way with us. Yes, individually we each have an assignment, but salt and light are much more effective en masse rather than as individuals. And that’s why the church is so effective. We can more effectively be salt and light in this world together in local communities of believers than we can individually on our own. And that’s why God created the church.
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “America’s Last Hope” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2011.
Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.