The Bible is clear on the composition and role of the church (body of believers – John 3:16 &17). A simple look at the earlier church in Acts of the Apostle through the evangelical missions and letters of the disciples to the churches in the news testament we can learn a lot. The prophets in the old testament also predicted all these, long before they unfolded.
The main challenges given to the church ( pastors and members collectively) are:
1. To preach the word of God, the power of the cross to deliver man from the sin and its consequences and make converts.
1 Corinthians 1:17 – For Christ did not send me to baptise, but to preach the gospel, not in cleverness of speech, that the cross of christ should not be made void.
Galatians 2:20; John 3:16; Galatians 3:26-29
2. Encourage one another in several ways such as spiritually,financially, physically, psychologically and so on.
We as believers have absolute responsibility to make sure we know who we are in Christ Jesus and live as he lived. To do these, we need to:
1. Study the word of God.
Romans 8:14-19; 1 Timothy 4:12-13; Ephesians 4:14-15;
Image from: http://www.bowerpower.net/grading.htm
2. Be transformed to the image of God
We are a royal priesthood, a peculiar people empowered by the holy spirit to demonstrate the goodness of God in this wicked and perverse generation. Christians need to live a life that makes us credible representatives of God. when our ways is pleasing to God he makes even our enemies to be at peace with us.
Romans 12:1-2; 2 Corinthians 6:3-10
The 21st Century Church
What do we have today, christians and pastors who would rather use any means to attract people to their churches and care much less about their spiritual progress as long as physical appearance in church and finances can support their sometimes extravagant life style. Methods used include performing miracles, sorcery, giving out material goods and privileges to secure church memberships. Churches are now business ventures with pastors as CEOs. Business activities range from selling spiritual materials like holy water or oil ,books, blessed handkerchiefs to running high tuition public schools. A lot of christians are now being paid for giving motivational speeches or counselling services. Unfortunately our churches are now filled with people described in the book of Jude;
Jude 4: For certain persons have crept in unnoticed, those who have long before-hand marked out for this condemnation,ungodly persons who turn the grace of God into licentiousness and deny our Master and Lord Jesus Christ.
We need to review how we preach the word of God and worship him, we must do this in spirit and in truth because God judges the motive rather than what is done. We are told in 2 Timothy 4:3-4 ” for the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires; and will turn away their ears from the truth, and will turn aside to myths.”
The Repercussion of Adulterating/Misinterpreting the Word of God
God’s response is contained in Jeremiah 23:30-32 – “Therefore behold,I am against the prophets,”declares the Lord, “who steal my words from each other. 31 ” Behold I am against the prophets” declares the Lord, ” who use their tongues and declare, ‘ The Lord declares.’ 32 “Behold I am against those who have prophesied false dreams,” declares the Lord, ” and related them, and led my people astray by their falsehood and reckless boasting; yet I did not send them or command them, nor did they furnish this people the slightest benefit,” declares the Lord. 34 ” Then as for the prophet or the priest or the people who say,” the oracle of the Lord,’ I shall bring punishment upon that man and his house-hold.
Jeremiah 7:1-7,23:16-17,30, 33
Bible quotations from New American Standard Version (NASV), 1971, the lockman Foundation