The church – built to the Master’s plan?

by John MacArthur

 

In many respects, the contemporary church in America looks more like a large corporation than like anything described in the New Testament.

Even church leaders sometimes bear a closer resemblance to CEOs and corporate executives than to humble, tender shepherds. Sadly, the good news — that a sinner can find forgiveness for sins before a holy God by placing his trust in and committing his whole life to Jesus Christ — is often eclipsed by “success”-oriented programs and an interest in the bottom line.

As a result, many churches have become nothing more than entertainment centers, employing tactics that effectively draw people into the church, but are incapable of truly ministering to them once they come.

God never intended the church to be like that. In Matthew 16:18 Jesus says, “I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not overpower it.” Notice the Lord’s one condition to that great promise: “I will build Mychurch” (emphasis added). Christ’s guarantee is valid only when He builds the church His way. When you follow His blueprint, you can be sure that He is doing the work through you and that nothing, not even the gates of hell, can stop Him.

So, what’s the blueprint? A logical place to start is at the beginning with the first church-the church at Jerusalem. It began on the Day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit filled 120 believers who had gathered for a prayer meeting. The Lord added 3,000 souls later that same day (Acts 2:41). Those fledgling believers didn’t know anything about building a church. They had no precedent; they didn’t have a book on the church; they didn’t even have the New Testament. Yet it was built Jesus’ way, and as such it’s the model for the church today…

The central focus of the early church’s fellowship was the breaking of bread-the Lord’s Table. It was the most fitting symbol of their fellowship since it reminded them of the basis for their unity-salvation in Christ and adherence to apostolic doctrine. If you share those things as common ground with other believers, then the Lord’s table-communion-is the most appropriate symbol of your fellowship too.

We eat and drink in remembrance of Christ’s self-sacrificing love that took Him to the cross. In your fellowship, make it your habit to practice the same kind of love Christ demonstrated toward you. Practically speaking, you can always give your life to those God brings across your path. Do you habitually pray for fellow believers? Are you encouraging them, edifying them, meeting their physical needs? Do you love them enough to confront them when they are sinning? Those are the marks of true Christian fellowship. (Online source)


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