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The Positive View of Church

March 10th, 2014

And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.

Ephesians 1:22-23

Notice the amazing description of the church – “the fullness of him.” Throughout this short book of Ephesians the Apostle repeatedly made the most amazing statements about the redeemed of the Lord and of the church of Christ.

The Apostle Paul never succumbed to a negative view of the church, or even of individual churches. Regardless of what problems they had he maintained the highest expectations for them. The secret of this attitude was his understanding of the work of God in lives of Christians. Since God had promised to complete what He had begun in our lives – see Philippians 1:6 and 1 Thessalonians 5:24 – the apostle believed in the future of the church.

We should, I believe, do the same toward one another. It is easy to give up hope, to succumb to negativism, to criticize someone’s hypocrisy, to note the many failings of people. We all have our weaknesses – our fallen sinful nature guarantees that – but if that is all we see in one another, what real use are we to the work of God? Even the world knows that none of us is perfect, and is quite willing to share its knowledge.

No. The remarkable thing about a follower of Christ is his constant belief in the grace of God and the power of God in the lives of believers. Even rebuke and reproof are never given except in a positive manner – expecting the believer to repent and return to Christ and continue the journey of discipleship. This leads us to encourage one another. God has not changed His opinion on this matter – the church of today remains “the fullness of him!” Our goal as His people is always His fullness experienced in us and expressed through us to the world.

I feel some obligation to clarify that I do not mean to suggest that any group of people who decide to call themselves a “church” – and by whatever other further words they choose to add to clarify what type of “church” they are – is the church that I or the Apostle Paul is referring to. A.W. Tozer once wrote: “One hundred religious persons knit into a unity by careful organization do not constitute a church any more than eleven dead men make a football team. The first requisite is life, always.” But once God has called people, and they have responded in genuine repentance and faith, then our view must change. They are a divine institution and must be understood first and last as such. “From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh [or from the worldly point of view] … Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation” (2 Cor. 5:16-17).

Have you failed at some point in your Christian walk? Of course, you have. We all have. But do not let that failure define you. Your definition as a follower of Christ, and your destiny in Him, is “the fullness of Him” in and through your life. The fact that He is at work in your life today – cleansing you, perfecting you, preparing you for eternity – should call out to you, not to despair because of your failings but to put your confidence in the cleansing power of His grace. Confess your faults and failures and accept His grace and forgiveness, and follow Him.

Keep the reality of the grace and power of God in the foreground of your thoughts about yourself as His child. Where sin abounds, grace super-abounds (Romans 5:20-21)! You are part of the church of Christ, the body that is recognized in the scripture as “the fullness of him!” Live in His fullness.

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