By Kenneth Allan Clark.
What is the Church? Or more importantly (for now), what is the local church? Some people say that the local church is a building that people come to for the purpose of fellowshipping together and worshiping God. But the church is not the building it is the people.
A church is a group of people who meet together because they have a common interest. As a group of Christians, the people who make up the local Christian church have common interests. They are interested in serving and worshiping God, obeying the teachings of Jesus Christ and becoming more Christ like, and loving and supporting one another. The church can meet in someone’s home, in the park or even on the street. The church is not the building it is the people.
Although the local Christian church is not a building made out of stones, steel or timber, nevertheless it is a building; a spiritual building made up of people. The apostle Peter writes; that when we come to Jesus Christ, we come “to a living stone, rejected by men, but chosen by God and precious” whom “has become the chief cornerstone.” And we “also, as living stones, are being built up into a spiritual house.” (I Peter 2:4 –5 & 8).
When Peter wrote this letter to the Church (nearly 2,000 years ago) many of the local churches met in buildings made of stone. In order to understand what Peter is talking about, when he says that we are living stones being built into a spiritual house; it would help if we first took a look at one of these old stone buildings.
When this building was built, first the stone foundation was laid. This also doubled has the floor of the building. Then the pillars would have been erected. Only once the pillars had been erected would work begin on gathering the many stones that would be used to build the walls. Each individual stone had to be cut into shape, and any rough edges smoothed before they could be fitted and bound together with mortar to make a strong wall.
Then on top of corner, where two walls meet, would be placed a stone known as the capstone, or the corner stone. The corner capstone was the most important stone of the building, for it’s purpose was to hold the walls together. Without the corner capstone, to hold the walls together, they would quickly part from each other.
Once the walls are locked in place, the roof is then placed upon the pillars.
You could say that the number one enemy of these stone buildings was earthquakes. It was not unusual during one of the many smaller earthquakes for the mortar around one or two of the stones to let go, and for these loosened stones to be ejected from the building. If these stones were not quickly restored and bound back into the wall, they could be stolen away, and with every stone missing the wall would become weaker and weaker.
With the walls becoming forever weaker, it would only be a matter of time before they would pull away from the corner capstone, and with the next earthquake (even a small one) whole walls would fall away from the building. Then enemies of the building would come and steal away the stones and use them to build other buildings.
Today many people looking at these old buildings are saying, “We can rebuild these old stone buildings. The foundation is still there and it is good. The pillars are still there, standing strong and faithful, all we need are new stones for the walls. Stones to be fitted bound together with mortar. Then the building will be as good as new.
The Church, be it the worldwide Church, a national church or a local church is a spiritual building, a building that also has a foundation, pillars, capstone, walls made of living stones and mortar that holds the stones together. Therefore what I am sharing with you today applies equally to all levels of the Church, be it worldwide, national or local. But for today our main focus is the local church.
The foundation of the local church is the teachings of the apostles and prophets. Which is another way of saying, the Bible, the written word of God (which includes the teachings of Jesus Christ) is the foundation on which the local church is built (Ephesians 2:20). Jesus Christ taught,
Matthew 7:24 “Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken to a wise man that built his house on the rock: 25 And the rains descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall because it was founded on the rock. 26 But everyone who hears these saying of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: 27 and when the rains descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell.” Great was its fall.”
There is only one sure foundation upon which any local church can be built, and that is the teachings of Jesus Christ. For any church not built on the teachings of Jesus will not stand against storms of life and the attacks of the enemy.
When we say the teaching of Jesus Christ, we also include the teachings of the apostles and prophets (Both Old and New Testament), for through their writings they teach us the teachings of Jesus Christ.
The pillars of the local church are the elders of the church. They stand firmly on the teachings of Jesus Christ, with their hands out stretched into the very presents of God in prayer, praise and worship. These elders have learnt to overcome the enemy by the word of their testimony and the blood of the Lamb; and they are not appointed by men but by God, and who has made them to be supernatural pillars in the Church. Pillars that (no matter how much the Devil shakes the church) will not fall or run away, but will faithfully stand upon the solid foundation of the teachings of Jesus Christ, while they also continue to faithfully stretched out their hands into the very presents of God.
Revelation 3:12 “He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall go out no more.”
When you find one of these old stone buildings, usually the only stones still standing are the pillars. It seems, no matter how often or bad the earthquakes become, the pillars will still stand firm upon the solid foundation.
Although in the natural, when the church gathers together for fellowship and to worship God, this gathering may include non-believers, the spiritual the church is only made up of born again believers in Christ. 2,000 years ago when a stone building was built, each individual stone had to be cut, shaped and fitted into the building. So it is in the spiritual, each believer needs to allow his or her life to be cut and shaped into the image of Jesus Christ. For this to be achieved, the believer must first submit their self to the teachings of the apostles and prophets, and to the leadership of the local church elders. Otherwise they will not fit into the walls of the church.
There is a saying; “God accepts us as we are, but then He changes us, little by little, from what we were into the image and glory of Jesus Christ.” As a believer, my job is to allow the teachings of Jesus to change my image more and more into a mirror image of Jesus Christ.
2 Corinthians 3:18 But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just has by the Spirit of the Lord.
The mortar, the glue that holds and binds the local church together is a God given love and acceptance for each other.
The stones in the walls of these old building, having been first shaped and fitted together, were then bound and held together with mortar. If the walls were not bound and held together, even a small earthquake could cause stones to fall out of the walls. If too many stones fall out of the walls, the walls become weak and pull away from the corner capstone. Once the stone walls have pulled away from the corner capstone, the next earthquake, even a small one, would cause the walls to fall out. Then the enemies of the building would quickly steal away the stones.
The living stones that make up the local church are bound and held together with a God given love and acceptance for each other. It is our love, our support and our acceptance for each other that welcomes new members into the church and binds and holds them into the walls. If the church does not embrace their newfound brothers and sisters in Christ with love and acceptance, they will soon fall out of the church and become easy prey for the devil.
Regardless of whether we are talking of the Church of Jesus Christ worldwide or just the local church: loving and accepting new believers into the Church is not an option, God expects it of us.
John chapter 13:34 Jesus said; “A new commandment I give you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.
Ephesians 1:6 to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved.
Love your elders, the pillars of the church.
Psalm 133:1 Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! 2 It is like the precious oil upon the head, running down on the beard, the beard of Aaron, running down on the edge of his garments. 3 It is like the dew of Hermon, descending upon the mountains of Zion; For there the Lord commanded the blessing – Life forevermore.
Aaron here represents church leadership, his garments are the believers in Christ, and the oil is the anointing of the Holy Spirit that flows down from the local leaders of the church and over the local members of the church. If we want our local church, our national church, and even the Church world wide to be blessed, we need to embrace our leaders with love and acceptance. In the spiritual realm when we lovingly wrap ourselves around our leaders like a garment, we allow the anointing of the Holy Spirit that has been poured out upon our leaders, to flow down over us.
The capstone of the local church is Jesus Christ, who holds the church together, by holding the solid walls in place.
As long as we, the living stones of the church remain bound together with love an acceptance, the walls of the church will remain solid, with Jesus Christ the corner capstone holding the walls in place. But when we let little things to get between us, we not only push away from each other, we also push ourselves away from the loving arms of Jesus Christ. Then all it takes is one little earthquake and the walls will fall out of the church, allowing the devil to come and steal away the stones.
The rebuilding of national churches.
But as long as the pillars remain standing on the solid foundation and holding up the presence of God in prayer, praise and worship, the church can be quickly rebuilt with new living stones. What we saw in Eastern Europe during the 20th Century was a testimony to this truth. In 1920’s and 1940’s the Eastern European churches where shaken, the walls fell out and the living stones were stolen away. But the pillars remained faithful through years of persecution. They did not leave the Church but remained standing faithfully on the solid foundation and holding up the presence of God. Then with the fall of Communism, new living stones were quickly gathered into the Church and the walls rebuilt.
The Greek word ekklesia, which is translated into our English Bibles as The Church, means that which is called out. The Church consists of people who have been called out of the dominion of darkness and delivered into the kingdom of heaven (Col. 1:13).
God has called us out of a world full of hatred, rejection, uncleanness and sexual perversion into the family of God, where we will find love, acceptance and cleansing.
II Corinthians 6:17 Therefore “Come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord, do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you.” 18 “I will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.”
Today God is calling you out of the kingdom of darkness, with all its hatred, rejection and uncleanness, and inviting you into the kingdom of His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ; A kingdom where you will find love, acceptance, joy, happiness and cleansing from all unrighteousness.
Find a local church that believes there is only One God, that Jesus Christ is God come to earth in the flesh, and believes not only that Jesus died on the cross for your sins, but He also rose from the grave on the third day, thus setting us free from the law of sin and death, so that all who believe in Him will not die, but will enjoy eternal life, life forevermore.
God bless you and keep you.
From God’s servant and yours.
WHAT IS THE CHURCH?
By Kenneth Allan Clark.
Copyright 2006 by Kenneth Allan Clark. Printed and published by
VICTORIOUS CHRISTIAN MINISTRIES INTERNATIONAL.
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form by any means, without the prior permission of the author. Scripture taken from the New King James Version, copyright 1979, 1980, 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.Used by permission. All rights reserved. Further copies of "The Only Begotten Son of God" are available from Victorious Christian Ministries International.
Written by Kenneth Allan Clark and printed and published by
VICTORIOUS CHRISTIAN MINISTRIES INTERNATIONAL. P.O. BOX 144 WYNNUM QLD 4178 AUSTRALIA.
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Copyright © 2000 & 2011, all rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form by any means without the prior permission of the author Kenneth Allan Clark.
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