Some think the church is a place of ritual and worship. Some think it is an institution of rules and morality. Some even suppose it is a scam to prey on weak people who need a “crutch” to get through daily life. No one who is in the church thinks any of these, for we know what and who we are, and who we serve.
The key verses in this two-month study say we are “no longer strangers and aliens, but are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God,” which puts us in God’s family. We know our Father and we know each other.
It also says we are “built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone.” That means we have a platform, but not one that we invented or wrote ourselves. It was given to the first believers, both Old Testament and New. The truth about God and His purpose for His people is our anchor, a sure and stabilizing Word in a world that has gone haywire.
Actually, the anchor is not the Bible or our creeds, as valuable as they are, but Jesus Christ “in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord.” (Ephesians 2:19–21) Apart from Jesus, there is no Gospel, no church, no family of God, no salvation from sin.
When Peter spoke his first sermon at Pentecost, he summed up his message with, “Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.” (Acts 2:36)
God made Jesus Lord of all, the Messiah Israel longed for; and He did it through His death and resurrection. “For to this end Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living.” (Romans 14:9)
Jesus conquered sin and death. He is Lord. “For although there may be so-called gods in heaven or on earth—as indeed there are many “gods” and many “lords”— yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist.” (1 Corinthians 8:5–6)
How can I say that? I am a sinful person who is so often bent on doing my own thing and going my own way. So many times my life is characterized by resistance to anyone’s lordship, yet I can say Jesus is Lord with absolute certainty. Paul answers this, “I want you to understand that no one speaking in the Spirit of God ever says “Jesus is accursed!” and no one can say “Jesus is Lord” except in the Holy Spirit.” (1 Corinthians 12:3)
Under His Lordship, I am in an ‘already but not yet’ position. I am totally saved from sin’s penalty, but not yet delivered from its presence. I am totally saved from sin’s power, but not always able to figure out how that works. I know who my Lord is, but often try to be my own boss. Yet He is patient and persistent. Day by day, more and more of my resistance and folly are brought under His dominion, just as He promised and just as it should be. He can say that because He is Lord.
The church is a mixture. Some are in it for the assurance of ritual and worship. Some want rules because they think their obedience will please God, and that He will even bless them with health, wealth, and power. (This is a false gospel.) Many more are weak and in need comfort and a sense of community. These have not submitted to His Lordship or even have genuine faith.
However, those who have understood the Gospel and have submitted to the Lord Jesus Christ are in the church. We know He is the way, the truth, the life, and that no one can come to the Father except through Him. There is no other. We have put our faith in Him because He is God almighty. There is no other. We submit to His lordship because He is the Lord. There is no other.