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Is It Possible to Be Dedicated to the Work of the Church, but Not Christ?

Is it possible to confuse the work of the church with Christ? Would it really make any difference if we did? Would Jesus care, because after all the church is the body of Christ?

The church at Ephesus focused on Christ by turning away from outdated teaching about John's baptism, turning away from the society which worshipped the goddess Diana ( Acts 19), and even burnt books about magic valued at fifty thousand pieces of silver. Later when Paul wrote the book of Ephesians his writings address a healthy, sound and mature church. Did the church at Ephesus ever change? Yes. The change is addressed by the Lord Himself in Revelation 2. First notice the areas of the church's life He praised.

2 I know your works, your labor, your patience, and that you cannot bear those who are evil. And you have tested those who say they are apostles and are not, and have found them liars; 3 "and you have persevered and have patience, and have labored for My name's sake and have not become weary.

Their work in the name of the Lord was faithful. The labor was praiseworthy. Their intolerance for false teaching was tenacious. What could possibly be wrong with this church? Perhaps we would describe the church of Ephesus as a faithful congregation involved in many good works served by diligent members. What could possible be wrong? Jesus address a change that must be made at Ephesus:
Revelation 2:4 Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love. 5 Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place -- unless you repent.

The first love of any Christian or congregation must be God. Meditate on this - the church at Ephesus focused so much on church work, addressing false teachings and fortitude that they lost their love for Christ. Why do we serve might better be answered by asking, who do we serve? Ephesus had to repent of their lost love for Christ. It might be harder than you first think.

Remember 2 Corinthians 5:7 "For we walk by faith, not by sight." Our flesh tends to migrate toward things we can see. Our spiritual life is dependent upon faith -a life of belief formed on what we cannot see. We can't see Jesus, but we can see the church. I can't see anointment, but I can see programs or ministries. I can't see the final reward, but I can see fellow Christians who encourage me to continue. The church at Ephesus seemed to be very faithful in the things they could see - they struggled in what required faith - a love for Jesus. Part 2 next week.

The above article appeared in the Mt. Juliet Messenger on September 30, 2007




Part 2


We sing, revive us again. Revival means to be made alive. Too often well meaning Christians focus so much on the work of the church they lose sight of the head of the church - the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. It seems the tendency is to do this later in our Christian life (individually or as congregations) rather than earlier. In part one of this article we considered the example of the church of Ephesus. They faithfully carried out the work of the church, but left their first love which would have been Jesus ( Revelation 2:2-4). We cannot have revival without Jesus!
We sing, revive us again. Do we realize that ministries, labor, and combating false teaching will NOT revive us? Only Jesus can make us alive. We reach a dangerous place spiritually when we begin to focus on the church while losing sight of the Lord. Members that love the Lord will always be active in the work of the church. Their motive will be their love for the Lord. This helps us to understand 1 Corinthians 13:1-3, which demands that great works of the church in the absence of love is worthless. We cannot have revival without love for Jesus!
We sing, revive us again. The only way to be made alive is through God ( Psalm 85:6; 51:12). No one else removes the guilt of sin which produces spiritual death other than God's son - Jesus ( Acts 4:10-12). Those who are faithful to Christ will become involved in the work of His Kingdom - the church. In 1 Corinthians 15:58 it is called "the work of the Lord." Notice, the first 57 verses were about the crucified and resurrected Lord which will allow us to be resurrected. Then the chapter closes by pleading for revived people to work for the Lord. We cannot have true revival unless it produces living servants of Jesus.

In part one we mentioned the following paragraph. Remember 2 Corinthians 5:7 "For we walk by faith, not by sight." Our flesh tends to migrate toward things we can see. Our spiritual life is dependent upon faith - a life of belief formed on what we cannot see. We can't see Jesus, but we can see the church. I can't see anointment, but I can see programs or ministries. I can't see the final reward, but I can see fellow Christians who encourage me to continue. The church at Ephesus seemed to be very faithful in the things they could see - they struggled in what required faith - a love for Jesus." Today congregations in this same condition boast of their success and glory in their numbers, responses, and contributions, instead of giving Jesus the glory for His fruit" ( Philippians 1:11). We cannot have revival without Jesus receiving all the glory!

On the other side: Paul reminded the Ephesians not to make the same mistake with the fact they can't see Satan. Ephesians 6:12 "For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places." We can see flesh and blood, but people are not our enemy. It is so easy for us to focus on who is before our eyes. In so doing we stir up division and strife, while drawing closer to the real enemy - Satan! Find revival through Jesus. Watch and pray for Jesus' help to defeat Satan. Then what you see will take care of itself -but only then!


October 7, 2007

Mt. Juliet Church of Christ
1940 N. Mt. Juliet Road
P.O.Box 248
Mt.Juliet, TN 37122-0248
(615)758-2274
Fax:615-754-2351
Email

Worship Services:
Sunday Early Worship: 8AM
Sunday Bible Study: 9:15AM
Sunday Late Worship: 10:15AM
Night Worship: 6PM
Wednesday Bible Study: 7PM