START INTO LIFE

LESSON 14 - NO ONE LIVES FOR HIMSELF

 

NO ONE LIVES FOR HIMSELF

When we deal with authorities the question so often arises: Which church do we belong to? It is far less a question of what we believe than whether we are members of a particular organization, as if it were a question of allegiance to a political club or a society. The 'community' of followers of Jesus Christ transcends organizational structures. It is simply a fellowship of Christians who have Jesus Christ as their focal point. In the Bible the church is compared to a body. Jesus Christ is the head, the converted men and women form the body as members of the church (Ephesians 4:15,16). Just as part of the body can only live provided it is not separated from the rest of the organism, so can a Christian only live in the church. The individual members are 'joined together' (Ephesians 4:16). They are brothers and sisters (James 2:15).

CHRISTIANS ACCOMPANY JESUS CHRIST

In the New Testament the church is depicted as a group of people who have been called together, that is, a convocation. Their point of departure is Jesus Christ who challenges people to walk by His side, as occurred in the case of Levi Matthew the tax collector.

'After this, Jesus went out and saw a tax collector by the name of Levi sitting at his tax booth. "Follow me," Jesus said to him, and Levi got up, left everything and followed him.' Luke 5:27,28.

In this way Jesus gathered around Him a community of followers or disciples, travelled with them through Palestine, preached about God and healed the sick. After a certain period of 'apprenticeship' Jesus sent these men as His agents to other people to win more followers (Matthew 10:1-15).

BUT HOW MANY JOINED THE COMMUNITY?

They asked how they might find God, and Peter answered as follows:

'"Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ so that your sins may be forgiven. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit."' Acts 2:38.

The reaction was rapid (Acts 2:41,42).

The Church of Christ is formed:

UNITED, NOT UNIFORM

The church consists of people who have their own peculiar traits of character. Therefore the church can never be 'uniform'. It lives from out of the diversity of its members. The basic foundation that everyone has in common allows us to feel at home whether we are taking part in a church service in Europe, Africa, Asia or America. Where the church is really functioning properly no one feels that they have been left out.

JOINED TOGETHER

Christians meet to talk about God, to thank Him and to pray together. An important sign of their union with Jesus Christ is the communion service (Matthew 26:17-30; 1 Corinthians 11:23-26). Yet worship means more than simply meeting God. Worship is also being aware of and accepting our fellow human beings. 1 am responsible to God for the way I treat other people, both those in my home, and those I meet from day to day.

'Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise
to God.'
Romans 15:7.

YOU CAN CHOOSE . . .

In its 2,000-year history Christianity has split up again and again into various groups which, right up to the present day, are to some extent ill-disposed to each other. Which Church should today's Christian choose?

ON TRIAL

When we choose a particular church, its size or well-formulated confession of faith should not be decisive. The central question is: What is its attitude to Christ and the Bible? Perhaps the following considerations will help you to make the right choice:

Is Jesus Christ the focal point?

Is the Bible accepted without reservation or addition?

Do the Christians comply with the challenge to tell other people about God?

Are the Christians convinced that Jesus Christ is coming again soon and will join all His followers together in one church?

Do I find in this church that love which gives me a feeling of security?

A CHURCH WITH A FUTURE

In the Revelation of John we find numerous descriptions of the persecution of the true followers of Jesus by a false religio-political force. In the main the writer is concerned with two things:

Whoever reads the Revelation will receive help to make a decision completely for God and the living church of Christ.

The reader should also be conscious that God protects the Christian and stands by his side. He guarantees this.

'"Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last."' Revelation 1:17.

DISTINGUISHING MARKS

The last book of the Bible speaks of the three essential characteristics of the church with a future:

'Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.'
Revelation 14:12, KJV.

If we want to have a future we must be able to endure, be guided by God's standards and trust in Jesus.

COUNT ME IN

A Christian cannot live without fellowship. He is not a loner, buried in a world of private holiness. Christians reach out to their fellow beings.

Thank God that He doesn't only want to have really pious people by Him, but that He invites everybody, including me, to walk by His side. Thank God that He places me alongside people with whom I can experience genuine fellowship.

 

Quiz Form

  1. Tick the true answers to show whether the following statements are true or false:

    The Church is a club or association
    Jesus Christ in the Head of the Church
    The Church is a purely human establishment
    Jesus Christ founded the Christian Church
    Jesus wants the Church to grow
    A Characteristic of the Church is unity not uniformity
    The Church offers everyone a home

  2. How do you recognise the Church of Jesus Christ?
    (tick the correct answers)

    By its size
    By the maintenance of tradition
    When Jesus Christ stands in its midst
    It will be following the Holy Scriptures without addition or deletion
    By the age of the organisation
    By the maintenance of the values of God
    By its love and affection

  3. What do you think about belonging to a Church?


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