WE HAVE TOO LOW A VIEW OF THE CHURCH

Two questions: What is the “pillar and support of the Truth” according to Scripture? I have asked many biblical scholars this question and I am amazed that they do not know the answer. Many will say, “Jesus” or “love” (after all those answers work to most questions Christians ask).

How about this one: When Jesus returns who is He going to redeem? Tough question and I suspect that many do not have a quick answer.

The answer to both questions is the Church. (see: 1 Tim 3:15 says, “. . . I write so that you will know how one ought to conduct himself in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and support of the truth.”)

Jesus and Paul had a very high view of the Church. Yet too many think they don’t need the Church. They only need Jesus.

Folks, you cannot have Jesus without the Church. The Church (and here I mean the people of God) is the temple of the living God. The Church is where Christ resides. “I am with you always” (Matt 28:20) refers to the Church. After all, Paul calls it the “household of God” (1 Tim 3:15). The Church is where God dwells.

I’ll say it again: you cannot leave the Church and have Jesus. (I am sure that there are plenty of “but what about . . .” at this moment. So, let me briefly respond to the general premise of many of them.)

Sure, if some person were to know Christ and end up on a deserted island, they would still have Jesus even though they weren’t part of a local community. But, that person is still a part of the Church. Their absence from a local community was not essentially their choice. I am referring to people who live in a community where churches are present and they refuse to fellowship with them, or they choose to start their own church by first leaving the Church. Sorry, can’t do it.

Indeed the Church has many problems. Unfortunately, many Christians in their attempt to find a solution are actually contributing to the problem.

The solution cannot be to leave the Church. Here are four brief thoughts on how we can begin to save the Church.

Solution 1: We must have the same high view of the Church that Jesus and the New Testament have. This doesn’t mean that we must advocate for high church or some old-fashioned definition of what a church must be. But, we must aim to preserve and protect the Church.

Granted, this is a much more difficult task than defending our local church, or even our own Christian life. Nonetheless, it is the Church for which Christ died! And it is the Church for which Christ will return!

Solution 2: We must learn to move away from our self-centeredness. Church is not for me. Christ didn’t call you or me for our own sakes alone. We were called for a mission: as 1 Peter 2:9 says: you were chosen “so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.”

Solution 3: We must leave our consumerist mentality behind. We are part of a church because that is what it means to be a Christian. The local church, however, is not for me. The local church is the gathering of God’s people in order that we might serve one another in love and doing so proclaim Christ.

Solution 4: We must understand that the unity of the Church is fundamental to the mission of Christ and the New Testament.

So no more of this: “I just don’t get anything out of it.” I understand that this is a real issue on some cases. But, the solution cannot be to leave the Church!

Now, I respect the fact that some local churches are just not cutting it. Maybe you need to find another local community in which you can best serve and be served so that you will be able to fulfill your mission as a proclaimer “of Him who called you out of darkness and into His marvelous light”! As you make such a move, my encouragement is that you find a local body that is focused on bringing unity to the Church.

The solution must be in our being a solution. We cannot make the problem worse. Maybe it is our job to make the Church better.

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Rob Dalrymple

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Rob has been a servant of Christ pastoring and teaching seminary, college, and high school in various forms of ministry for the past twenty-five years. His passion is to equip the Church around the world to serve His kingdom by preparing men and women for service in the Kingdom of God.

Beyond his studies in the New Testament and biblical Interpretation, Rob’s areas of specific interest include the book of Revelation, Apocalyptic, and Eschatology. His credentials:

  • Earned an MA in Philosophy from Liberty Baptist Seminary in 1996.
  • Earned a ThM in Biblical Interpretation from Westminster Seminary in 2003.
  • Earned a PhD in Biblical Interpretation and New Testament Studies from Westminster Theological Seminary in 2008.

Rob is happily married to his wife Toni and he enjoys their four children ranging from newly married to middle school age.

He is currently the Senior pastor of Northminster Presbyterian Church in Bakersfield, Ca.