Nearly fifty years ago, I responded in obedience to the invitation of Christ. I can still remember how scared I was as I walked up that "ten-mile-long" aisle to the waiting C. W. Rock. I can still remember his saying to me as I came down from the baptistery, "Let me be the first to call you brother."
In the years that have evaporated since then, I have tried, sometimes feebly, never to bring any reproach upon the church to which the Lord added me. It is a sacred institution, and I would not want to cause any "spot, wrinkle, or any such thing" (Ephesians 5:27). I love the church and have spent the biggest part of my life trying to build her up rather than tear her down.
I have been presented a wonderful opportunity to speak on the West Virginia Christian Lectures in Seth, WV, on The Church of the Bible. It shall be my goal to help others come to a greater appreciation for that precious bride of Christ. How could anyone not appreciate her? I want, just now, to give you a few reasons why you should have a heart overflowing with love and appreciation.
You should be grateful for the church because of her builder. When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi (Matthew 16:13-20), He asked his disciples, "Who do men say that I, the son of man, am?" They said there were a variety of opinions on that. They were identifying Him as John the Baptist, Elijah, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets. Wow! I would not mind being confused with any of those folks. Jesus turned the question upon them, and Peter confessed that, "You are the Christ, the son of the living God." It was then that Jesus announced His plans to build His church. From Mark 9:1, we learn that this was to be accomplished in the lifetime of some of those of that generation. How grateful I am to be a member of the church our Lord established.
You should be grateful for the church because of the price it took to purchase her. It was an emotion packed setting when Paul and the Ephesian elders said their farewells (Acts 20:17-38). This is only natural because people who work together closely in the Lord's work will grow quite attached to one another. Among other things, Paul warned them that they must be very watchful for the well-being of the church. This warning was due to what Paul said would happen in the future: Savage wolves would come in, not sparing the flock. He even warned that some would arise who would be interested in a personal following. In that context, Paul reminded them that the price paid for the church was nothing less than the blood of Christ. When you look at the price tag of something you wish to purchase, you are faced with a decision. You must decide whether the price is too high, too low, or about right. The owner has control in that he/she has the right to put whatever price on that tag he or she wants. What I am saying is that you might not agree with their assessment. If they are too high, you will pass on the item. If you think they are too low, you purchase thinking you got a bargain. If you think they are about right, you purchase thinking you got a fair deal. God is the owner of the church. He has the right to set its value. He places that value very high: the blood of His son. How dare anyone think the church to be unimportant in light of the price paid for it.
You should be grateful for the church because it is the object of Christ's love (Ephesians 5:25). There is no Biblical statement making any denomination the object of His love. This love is exclusive in nature; it is reserved for His bride. If He loves the church, so must we. If He gave himself for the church, we need to give ourselves in unselfish service in order to uphold and expand her cause here upon earth.
Conclusion. There are many reasons in addition to these why we should be grateful for the church of the Bible. I encourage you to spend and be spent in the work God has given us in the church. In that way we will be playing a role in glorifying Him world without end in the very institution He designed for that purpose (Ephesians 3:21). 90 Waverly Court, Martinsburg, WV 25401
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