C O M M U N I T Y     C h u r c h

New Christians:  (this is lesson 2)

In the last letter/lesson I wrote to you about who you are or more correctly how you are put together. I wrote a little bit about your body, that you live in your body but that your body is not who you are. The body (or earth suit) that you live in now is subject to illness, injury, pain and suffering. It will one day die and be buried and decompose in the ground. You, however, will continue to live apart from your body until God raises your dead body from the grave and gives it new life in the resurrection. This new body is not corruptible, and will not suffer illness or aging. This new body will be your "heaven suit" ("hell suit" for a lost person) that is made to experience heaven (or hell) to its fullest. We can get only a little glimpse of what that new body will be like as we find in scripture where Jesus appeared to people after His resurrection. The resurrection body of Jesus is just like the body that we will have some day.

When Jesus was raised from the grave, He spent many days meeting with His disciples (not just the 12 disciples, but all the disciples.) He encouraged them, reminded them what He had taught them earlier, and prepared them for His leaving to go to heaven. At His ascension, those present saw His body lifted up into the sky and disappear into the clouds. The Bible tells us that Jesus is now seated at the right hand of the throne of God the Father praying for each of us. While God the Father is present everywhere all the time and God's Spirit is everywhere in creation always, God the Son has a physical body that limits His presence just like we cannot be more than one place at a time. Sometimes we get careless and say something like Jesus lives in my heart or that Jesus is right here with me. It is the Holy Spirit of God that dwells in a Christian's heart (more correctly, in the Christian's spirit) and it is the Spirit of Christ (again the Holy Spirit) who is always with us. Jesus, Himself, is seated next to the throne praying for us.

But God has determined that the human presence of Jesus in the world is an important part of His plans. So God has provided a way for Jesus to have another body. That body is each local church congregation. The Bible teaches us that God has appointed each new Christian to a special place in a local church congregation that God has especially prepared for that person. No one else can fill that place or do the ministry that God has appointed to you. Jesus is the head of that body and we each are various parts of the body with special abilities given to us through the working of God's Spirit within us. Each local church congregation grows and is more effective in it's God assigned work as new Christians are added to the church and take their place, working with and in cooperation with the others in that congregation. Each local congregation is crippled and ineffective if Christians do not take their place and work in the ways that God has assigned us.

Imagine what each church could accomplish if every member was really obeying their new master as Jesus guided us to accomplish His ministry work on earth. Consider what an honor God has given us by assigning us as partners with His Son to do His work while we are still on earth. Also consider what a risk God has taken by giving the work to us instead of God doing it all Himself. This is part of God's purpose. God does not exist for the purpose of rescuing human beings from their own messes. God has created all that is in order that God and God's greatness might be known. God chooses to partner with us in God's work because we get to know God better as we work for Him and work with Him. By functioning properly in our assigned place in the local church congregation, we will know God better than through any other way.

Our priorities in the church are: first and greatest is that we worship God and that we bless (honor) Him by living obedient lives; second is that we learn and teach others about God, His purposes, His plans and His promises and to live according to what He teaches us; thirdly we share the Good News about our relationship with God through serving other people and helping to meet people's needs. Neither you nor I can even begin to accomplish these things by ourselves. We need God's help but we also need one another. The church is a great gift that God has given us. It surely makes God sad to see how many people despise His gift to us. Occasionally I hear people say that they love Jesus but they can't stand the church. The Bible says that the church is the body of Christ. Can you imagine a person saying that they love their spouse but they never want to be around them? We both know that is foolishness. One way we show God that we love Him and His Son is that we love one another and we love His church. Fall in love with Jesus. Fall in love with His church. Take your place and get ready to be amazed at what God has in store for you.

Pastor Eliot

If you have questions, e-mail Bro. Eliot Roberts, pastor

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