Jesus claims the church to be his Church, we see this perhaps most clearly when Peter made his great confession of who Jesus,
13 Now when* Jesus came to the region of Caesarea ⌊Philippi⌋, he began asking* his disciples, saying, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” 14 And they said, ⌊Some⌋ say John the Baptist, but others Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” 15 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” 16 And Simon Peter answered and* said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God!” 17 And Jesus answered and* said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, because flesh and blood did not reveal this* to you, but my Father who is in heaven. 18 And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overpower it! 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you release on earth will be released in heaven.” 20 Then he commanded the disciples that they should tell no one that he was the Christ. Matthew 16
Jesus said he would build his church, not a Baptist,Anglican, Catholic or Charismatic church but his church. We so often refer to the church as our church, I am convinced that this is a great mistake. The Church was redeemed with the precious blood of Jesus Christ and is therefore his, it is also part of his eternal plan. The church of Christ is not some plan b in God’s purposes but right at the centre of his covenant purposes. Many years ago as a young pastor I used to pray for our church, the Lord showed me that I should be praying using the term, your church. As soon as you start praying for the Lord’s church it starts to challenge our self-centered mentality. We begin to realize that Jesus really is the Lord and we must submit to his purposes. I believe this conscious act of submitting to Christ will help us to discern his will in all areas of our church life. For instance how does the Lord want to use the finances that the church receives? We should be seeking his will in this area as well as in the areas of mission and the vision of the local church.
The Great Commission: The words of Jesus as he gave the great commission are familiar to us,but do we really hear them? Lets look at them again,
18 And Jesus approached and* spoke to them, saying, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore, go* and* make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you, and behold, I am with you all the days until the end of the age.” Matthew 28
We tend to focus on the things we are called to do but we often miss what Jesus is saying. Notice firstly, we are to go because Jesus has all authority in heaven and on earth. In other words we don’t carry out the mission of the church in our own authority but in HIS. This is fundamental to our understanding of our mission as the church because we are called to step out in his authority. We also need to notice that the great commission closes with a promise of the presence of the Lord. If we really grasp these two facts then we will realize that we need to consciously submit to the Lord as he calls us to mission. to try to accomplish the mission of the church without this perspective is bound to lead to failure and frustration.
The Lordship of Christ and the work of the Holy Spirit: Jesus promised in several places that he would send the Holy Spirit to empower,teach and lead his church. We see this in John’s gospel chapters 14-16 and in his promise to the disciples at the beginning of the book of Acts. In Acts Jesus say this,
“Do not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for what was promised by the Father, which you heard about from me. 5 For John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit ⌊not many days from now⌋.”
The promised baptism of the Spirit was vital to the beginning of the churches existence and we need that seem empowering for mission today. this means that we need to be open to what the Holy Spirit is doing. We tend to shackle the Holy spirit by our traditions and this grieves him, we need to see that when the spirit works he will always glorify Jesus. We need to be open to all the diverse gifts of the Spirit because he has given these gifts to us to enable us to accomplish his purposes. The gifts of the Holy Spirit are to be used in love to build the church (see Romans 12 and ! Corinthians 12-14). As we manifest the gifts of the spirit in love, we will also be growing in the fruit of the Holy Spirit.
Worship: Worship is at the heart of the life of the Church, the Scriptures in their entirety call us to worship God. Our worship sometimes will be full of exuberant praise, at other times it will be more gentle as we kneel before our saviour with awe filled hearts. I do not want to say a lot about worship as I have already posted articles on this subject. But none of the above can be accomplished if we do not have worshiping hearts.
Fellowship: As we submit to our king, we will also seek to share with our brothers and sisters with open hearts. We are called to love our fellow Christians and to help them carry their burdens A church without loving fellowship is a church that is barren and unproductive. A church filled with love will be a dynamic witness to the world, it was said of the early church “behold how they love one another”. The world needs to see that within the church there is real love being demonstrated.
Discipleship:We all need to become life long disciples of Christ growing in our knowledge of him and his word. None of us will ever get to the situation that we have nothing us to learn, after all the riches of Christ are inexhaustible. Of course we need to make sure that new Christians are discipled, we need to teach them the basics of the Christian faith, this includes teaching fundamental doctrine but it must also include practical instruction about the Christian life.
Ministry: Every Christian has been given gifts of the Holy Spirit to be used for the benefit of the church. We need to encourage one another to discover the unique ministry that Christ has given us to exercise within the local church. There are such a diversity of needs and the Lord has called us to minister in these areas and he has given us the gifts to enable us minister in his power.
Evangelism: The church of Jesus must be an evangelizing church if it is to be obedient to its Lord and Saviour. There can be no doubt that as we look at our communities that so many need the love and grace of Jesus to transform their lives.
Conclusion: In every area of our Church life Jesus must have the supremacy, listen to the Apostle Paul as he writes to the Colossians,
18 And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy.(Col 1:18)
Surely this sums it all up, we need to bow before our gracious,sovereign Lord and give him his rightful place in his Church