by Steven Chan
The church is important. Unfortunately some have been erroneously led to believe that personal relationship with Jesus is much more important than being a member of the church. Given that erroneous belief, support for the work of the church is viewed as unimportant. As a consequence, the anti-establishment feeling or sentiment prevails among some. But let’s study what the Bible says about the church.
On the day of Pentecost in Jerusalem, when those who obeyed the gospel and were saved, the Lord added them to the church (Acts 2:41, 47). The church was what Jesus died to purchase with His own blood (Acts 20:28). It is His body (Eph 1:22-23) and He is the Saviour of the Body (Eph 5:23), the household of God (1 Tim 3:15). This is in accordance with the eternal purpose of God in Christ (Eph 3:10,11). Paul wrote in 1 Tim 3:15: “I write so that you may know how you ought to conduct yourself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.” He wrote so that we know how we ought to conduct ourselves in the local church. It is not a laissez faire approach whereby we do as we please.
By inspiration the apostle Paul wrote that we need to know how we ought to conduct ourselves as members of the local congregation of the Lord. He wrote about many matters pertaining to conduct in the church such as:-
- “teach no other doctrine (1:3) – contrary to ‘sound doctrine’ (1:10),
- need to ‘wage the good warfare’ of “the faith” – the body of teaching from Jesus and the apostles (1:18-20; 6:12),
- the need to “lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence” (2:2),
- the salvation of men through Jesus Christ (2:4),
- proper conduct during assemblies – men to pray, women to dress modestly with godliness and not to exercise authority over men (2:8-15),
- the appointment of qualified men as elders and deacons in the local church (3:1-13),
- warning against some falling away from “the faith” as they pay attention to teachers who teach erroneously (4:1-3),
- the need to “instruct” “the words of faith and of the good doctrine which you have carefully followed” (4:6),
- the exhortation to “command and teach” and be exemplary in conduct (4:11-12), to “give attention to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine, to meditate (think/reflect continually; not just spasmodically) on the word of God and take heed to yourself and to the doctrine” (4:13-16),
- how to correct older brethren (5:1),
- how to help the needy (5:3-16),
- the need for “the elders to rule well especially in the word and doctrine.”(5:17), proper conduct of employees (6:1-2),
- to reject those who “teach otherwise and does not consent to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which accords with godliness”(6:2-3),
- the danger of the love of money causing some to stray from the faith (6:3-10),
- to “pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness”(1 Tim 6:11) and ending with
- an exhortation to “guard what was committed to your trust, avoiding the profane and idle babble and contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge– by professing it some have strayed concerning the faith.”(6:20-21).
There’s so much to be done in the local congregation. Consistent with what Paul wrote in his epistle on how one ought to conduct oneself in the local church, some of the work that needs to be done are:-
- Training brethren to be ‘fishers of men’ (Mark 1:17) so that we can carry out the Great Commission of our Lord (Matt 28:18-20)
- Training of faithful men so that they can pass on what they have been taught to others who may be able to teach others also (2 Tim 2:2)
- Encouraging brethren to help each other by attending the regular services of the church and truly edifying and stimulating each other unto love and good works (Heb 10:24-25)
- Feeding the brethren with the ‘whole counsel of God’ (Acts 20:27-28) so that they can understand the will of God and grow spiritually, be able to walk by faith which comes from hearing the word of God and so walk in love, in the Spirit and in unity (Matt 4:4; Rom 10:17; 2 Tim 2:15; Eph 4 &5)
- Watching out for the souls of brethren so that they may not fall into sin and lose their souls (Heb 3:12-13); that they may not be deceived by false teachings and thereby lose their souls (Eph 4:11-16).
- Helping other congregations so that they may also be strengthened – as Paul puts it: “besides the other things, what comes upon me daily: my deep concern for all the churches.” (2 Cor 11:28)
The above list is not the sole responsibility of the elders or the exclusive work of the elders. God expects each and every member of the local church “to do its part” to “cause growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love” (Eph 4:16). Let’s ask ourselves: what are we doing to cause growth in the body of Christ? Am I doing my best for my Master? Am I doing the work that God has entrusted to me? Am I really seeking to serve and glorify Him? God has placed every member in the body of Christ so that each can do its part (! Cor 12:18); each one is important for the effective functioning of the local church and for its growth (1 Cor 12:12-27). When are we going to “rise up and build” (Neh 2:18)?