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How Should The Church


Neil Armstrong B.A., M.Div.

When asked how the church functions, many people would probably say it is a hierarchical organization run by religious leaders who have great authority. Why would they respond this way? Because they are reflecting what they observe. But is this really how the Church is suppose to function? In order to answer this question we need to take another look at the Christian faith.

As we consider the Church within the larger context of the Christian faith, there are several very important teachings which must be understood. These teachings are essential to the Christian faith and directly impact the Church. These teachings are the New Covenant and the Kingdom of God. The New Covenant establishes the way in which individuals enter into a relationship with God. Hebrews 9:14-15 The Kingdom of God explains how a relationship with God works on a more practical level in the life of a believer. These two doctrines form an important theological basis for the Church.

The first of these doctrines is the New Covenant. Without the New Covenant it would be impossible for anyone to become a Christian. Salvation, grace and the hope of eternal life would not exist! The spiritual basis for the Church is founded on the New Covenant. 2 Corinthians 3:6 Jesus gives an indication of this when he celebrates communion at the Last Supper. Luke 22:20 The New Covenant is revealed to the Christian by the Spirit which is given to anyone who receives Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. Receiving the Spirit is so important to the Christian faith that anyone who does not have the Spirit does not belong to Christ. Romans 8:9 Those who have the Spirit belong to Jesus Christ and have entered into the New Covenant.

When discussing the spiritual basis of the Church we must understand how the New Covenant is revealed in the life of the Christian. The Lord says, "I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds." Hebrews 10:16-17 This law is the new law of love. John 13:34-35; 2 John 1:5-6 The importance of God writing His law in the heart is that now the motivation of the Christian is changed. With a new heart the priorities, motivations, aspirations all change to reflect the heart of God. Ephesians 1:18-19; Colossians 3:23-24 Likewise the importance of the law being written on the mind is that the Christian now thinks differently. 1 Corinthians 2:16 This is reflected in what one believes and how one loves God. In the Church this new way of thinking is apparent in how a believer seeks the Lord's will and desires to love others in the Body of Christ. The spiritual basis for this is the New Covenant.

The second most important element in understanding how the Church functions is the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom of God is not of this world. John 18:36-37 However, the Church is an earthly expression of the Kingdom of God as it is comprised of all who have entered the Kingdom. At the moment someone repents and believes on the Lord Jesus Christ they are born again and enter the Kingdom. John 3:3 Once someone enters the Kingdom they come under the "reign and rule" of the King, Jesus Christ.

The Spirit and the Kingdom form the basis for how the Church is to function. This relationship is reflected in the confession of the believer which is, "Jesus is Lord". Romans 10:9-10 As the believer lives by the Spirit there is desire to please God by carrying out His will. Romans 12:2 This is the practical application of how the Church functions.

As we look at how the Church is suppose to function we see that there is a very powerful spiritual dimension. This spiritual dimension comes from the fact that Jesus Christ, by His Spirit, gives direction to the Church. He is the Head of the Church. Colossians 1:18-20 Human leadership, although important, is not for the purpose of giving spiritual direction to the Body. This role belongs exclusively to Jesus Christ. When a Church is functioning properly it is seeking God's will and following the leading of the Spirit.

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