In Church I Belong
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by Grace Bellingham.
How do you measure your life? Thinking back on our lives can be somewhat unsettling. The funny thing about the past is just that: it’s past. There is no going back, no fixing what was broken and no experiencing again the victory of achievement. I believe this is what Jesus had in mind when He said, “No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” Ours is a forward-moving destiny; hindsight is always 20/20, but that is an unfair view on our decision-making processes. I heard someone say once, “Learn the lesson but forget the experience.” This is good advice. I have diplomas and certificates to prove my educational achievements, but I must confess to you that I do not remember one of the tests that I took to receive them. The knowledge I gained is mine, but the experiences throughout my sojourn are gone forever. This is how it should be.
A song that we sang on Sunday night had a line that went like this: “The blood of Jesus is a scarlet cord that ties the beginning to the end.” “What can wash away my sin? Nothing but the blood of Jesus. What can make me whole again? Nothing but the blood of Jesus.” As I was singing with the congregation I realized that truly this cord ties my life from the beginning to the end, and woven within the scarlet one is a silver cord of the revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ. Truly I can look back over my life and see that scarlet cord of the blood of Christ tying my entire life together, and through it all, every lesson learned, every test taken, and every year passing, the silver cord of revelation has been there all along the way.
In Proverbs 29:17 the Bible tells us, “Where there is no revelation, the people cast off restraint.” Without revelation we have no boundaries, and without boundaries we have no lasting direction or purpose. The revelation of Jesus Christ is the significant and lasting value of a person’s life. The wisest man that ever lived said, “Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom. And in all your getting, get understanding.”
The prophet Elijah cried out to God in his despair; he believed that he was the only one left who was living for the righteous cause of the great Jehovah God. But the divine response to him was, “I have reserved for Myself seven thousand men who have not bowed the knee to Baal.” God will always reserve for Himself a remnant of believers in the revelation of God that has been poured out through His prophets. Paul says, “Even so then, at this present time there is a remnant according to the election of grace….” God has preserved us by His grace for such a time as this.
The revelation of Jesus Christ is the significant measure for anyone’s life. What has He taught you? What foundation is laid under you? What truths, revealed to you by the Holy Spirit, have shaped who you are as a child of God? The Bible tells us that God has exalted His Word above His great name, that even though the world as we know it will pass away, His Word will remain. Let me say it again, the significant measure for anyone’s life is the revelation of Jesus Christ. Satan is not interested in stopping you, really. What kind of threat are you anyway? What he wants to stop is the flow of revelation that you have received from God. He desperately wants to stop you from sharing the wisdom and revelation of His revealed Word to you and the experiential knowledge that you have gained about God.
Early on in my life God began to reveal to me the substantial place of the church of the Lord Jesus Christ in a believer’s life. Without the church there is no context for the life of a Christian. Being born-again without belonging to the church of God’s choosing would be like giving birth to a baby and leaving it in the street to fend for itsself. God is a good Father; He would never treat any of His children in such a careless or irresponsible manner. The church is the “pillar and ground of the truth;” it is only within the context of the church that God can and will reveal to us His revelation and will for our lives.
I realize that this is no longer a popular theme in our post-modern Christianity; however, God is the same yesterday, today and forever. He hasn’t changed His Word to suit any society, and every society must transform to be conformed to His Word. Jesus said that He would build His church and that even the ‘gates’ (authorities) of hell themselves would not prevail against it. He said this of no other institution. He laid the foundation of His churches during His earthly ministry, and in heaven today He is directing them and guiding them to accomplish the will of His Father.
Every epistle written in the New Testament was written to church members and church leaders. Without the church there is no context for any of the instructions given by God. It is within the local, New Testament church that we learn to walk with one another in love, how to respond to offense with one another, how to bear one another’s burdens, and how to forgive and exhort one another on a daily basis. Within the context of the church that God adds us to we learn what marriage is all about, how to treat our husbands/wives, how to parent our children, how to treat authority, and how to use the various gifts that were given to us by God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ for the growth of that same body.
Within the context of your local church you have a trowel in one hand to build that church under the guidance and leadership of the Holy Spirit, and a sword in the other to fight the principalities and powers that want to stop you from building. Satan is not interested in fighting you; he is only interested in fighting the flow of the revelation of God through His churches on earth. This revelation knowledge of God is the true threat to his existence and he has done everything in his power to stop it. However, may I repeat what Jesus said, “I will build My church and the gates of Hell will not prevail against it.” Thank God for the power of God that is working through every local, New Testament church of the Lord Jesus Christ. Through the church we have the power of God and His authority to see souls saved and lives transformed by His Word.
Throughout the early experiences of my life, the church was the anchor that kept me from drowning in the storms that blew through. Every experience, no matter how traumatic or life altering, by my remaining in the ‘ship,’ God brought me through and gave me greater understanding of His love for me and His power to keep me through it all. Without the sure foundation of the church my little, isolated ‘lifeboat’ would have been set adrift through uncharted oceans all alone with no purpose or direction. I would surely have suffered shipwreck.
Surrounded by loving church members that have as much invested in me as I have in them is what church life is all about. We are to bear one another’s burdens and learn to walk in the love of God for others and ourselves. Other than the local church congregation, where could such a thing happen? During those first formative years in my Christian experience the revelation of the church of Jesus Christ was lovingly taught and has remained with me throughout my lifetime, and that silver cord is woven through every experience since.
God took us as a congregation through years of teaching and training in the significance of His church and the power and authority He has given to it on earth to accomplish His will. Jesus said to Peter, “Upon this rock (of revelation), I will build My church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it.”