Ephesians 5:25-27 New King James Version (NKJV)
25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her,
26 that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word,
27 that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish.
Suppose Jesus came to town. Visited our churches.
--Which would He join? Have us join?
--What would He look for? Have us look for?
--Presence of God? His Spirit? Word? Godly people?
Church, and you, are very important - like salvation.
--You can't build, run, or spell church without 'U'.
--Each church needs 'U' and me .. to be a success.
In these verses from Ephesians 5, God speaks of husband and wife, and says, "Christ also loved the church, and gave Himself for her" (v 25). Loves ... how much?
--So much, "He gave Himself," on a cross, for her!
--Church is His "bride, body, His building," God says.
--Why did our Lord Jesus do all this for all of us?
--"That He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the Word." The Word cleanses us.
--What else? "To present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she (church) should be holy, wthout blemish."
--Friend, let's be in that glorious company!
"Is God in your church?" children asked as I changed an outdoor sign of my church in Philadelphia.
--They went across the street where Grace Kelly was wed.
--We watched many Hollywood celebrities come to that.
--Neighborhood kids, we often saw. So, I answered.
--"Yes," I explained, "God is in our church by His Holy Spirit, and the hearts of our born again believers."
--Well, do you have any statues of God?" "No."
--"God is Spirit," Jesus said, "we must worship HIm in Spirit, and in truth" (John 4:24.) Cute kids listened.
Some say there is only one, true church; it is theirs.
--Say that the church saves. No, no church saves.
--And, no church on earth is the "one, true church."
--Church doesn't save! It points us to Him Who does!
The one, true church is invisible. Universal. Eternal.
--Of "born again believers in Christ" of many denominations - not one special church, but saved persons.
--It is bigger than any, or all, denominations!
--It forms the world-wide body of believers in Jesus.
You ask, "How do we join this one, true, invisible church, if the local church does not save?" Very simple.
--Confess our sins. Accept Jesus as Savior and Lord.
--Trust and obey Him. His Word. Pray. Do your best.
So, what about the local church, then? We need it.
--We need its ministry. Worship. Fellowship. So on.
--Need to be with Biblically-based believers, to grow.
--One that has Scriptural order. Leaders. Faith family.
--One the Lord would have us attend. And unite with.
God's people have always worshiped Him, in holy places.
--The Tabernacle of old. Temple. Synagogue. Church.
--In so far as we are able to attend.
Thus, what would Jesus have us look for in a church?
I. WITH JESUS, LET US SEEK A SPIRITUAL CHURCH
--Not so much an ornate building. Rituals. Externals.
--But a loving gathering of God's people around Jesus!
--That teaches, and preaches, "the whole gospel for the whole world." And prepares us for life's trials.
--That is able to equip us for heaven! Against all evil!
Seek not a perfect church. Friend, none is perfect.
--Not on earth, will one find the perfect church. Why?
--There are no perfect people! We are all sinners.
--But sinners, "saved by grace." Followers of Jesus.
--People seeking to be like Christ, in His church.
The Bible speaks of spirit-filled churches as an ideal.
--They had them in Jerusalem. Antioch. Ephesus.
--Yet even these Spirit-filled ones were not perfect.
In Jerusalem the Spirit fell at Pentecost and "that day 3000 souls were saved" (Acts 2). O Lord, do it again!
--In Antioch, "The hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number believed and turned to the Lord" (Acts 11 and verse 21).
--This happens in spiritual churches, my friend.
--And in spiritual lives. And families.
What makes spirituality? Jesus and the Holy Spirit.
--Produces people like Stephen,"a good man, full of the Holy Spirit, and faith" (Acts 6:5), or Barnabas.
--Spiritual churches produce spiritual folk or families.
You ask,"Why must I attend, join church? The thief on a cross didn't, and he went to paradise, Jesus said."
--I ask you, "How could he? On a cross? He couldn't."
--Or one says, "Why attend? Isn't being saved enough?"
--That's like telling the girl you love her, get married; but never come around to be with her!
--To really love one, you want to please; be with them!
--The Bible is full of saved ones who gladly worshipped.
--I believe this saved thief, would have if he could.
Jesus said, "I will build My church .." (Matthew 16:18).Here are some reasons why church benefits us.
-To learn of God; His will.
-To enjoy fellowship.
-To find Jesus as Savior.
-To best please God.
-To grow in God's grace.
-For more of His Spirit.
-To partake of communion.
-Ideal place to pray.
-To best worship God.
-Join in His mission.
-It makes a better, safer, happier life!
Because we are able, Jesus would welcome us in Church.
--Jesus "as His custom was, went to the synagogue" (Luke 4:16). So He set the pattern for our worship.
--Hebrews 10:25 advises, "not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together" - to attend, if possible.
--God commands, "Remember the sabbath day" (Exodus 20:8).
--The more who worship, make a more spiritual church.
I BELIEVE JESUS SEEKS AN OUT-REACHING CHURCH
--One that seeks to win souls. Mission-minded.
--One strong in Bible Study. A program for all ages.
--One that gives an invitation. Emphasizes prayer.
--Where all are welcome. And all are loved.
John Wesley said, "The world is our parish." Ours too.
--We've been in Wesley's home; worshiped in his church in London and Bristol. Been to his burial place.
--The Wesley's and others have changed a world for God!
When God puts 'U' and me in a church it is to be a part of its out-reaching ministry, "as a witness to Him."
--Jesus' last command, "You shall be a witness to Me," in Acts 1. Who? Each believer! All who love Him! Where? "To the end of the earth." Where we are!
--The early church did! Why it spread so amazingly.
--They "went out." The church "sent out missionaries.
III. JESUS SEEKS A LOVING, HARMONIOUS CHURCH.
--The Book of Acts tells of these in several places.
--The Book of Ephesians provides such a guideline.
--What oneness. Love. For the Lord. One another.
--They were winsome, caring! What it takes to win some.
--I pray we may be such a one! Our church such a one.
I took on church as a spiritual family, of faith.
--People like brothers and sisters, whom we love.
--Got intends this in families. As well as churches.
--In our Scripture God says, "Husbands, love your wife as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her." (Ephesians 5:25). The way to happy, holy homes!
--God tells us what - "love of your wife and family."
--He tells us why - "as Christ oved the church."
--He tells us how - "and gave Himself for her."
--If we all did that, what a harmonious world!
Maybe you heard of the corny Tate family. Listen.
--There is Dick Tate - wants to be the big boss, dictator.
--There is Agi Tate - you know, he stirs up trouble.
--There is Hesi Tate - on the fence. Can't decide.
--Then, there's Poten Tate - and other little Tates.
--But there's sweet little Medi Tate - knows what to do .. and eager to get it done, together in harmony.
"How good and how pleasant it is for bretheren to dwell together in unity." (Psalm 133:1) And families too.
Satan loves to divide, destroy families and churches.
--The trouble is not with each other - but the devil.
--You and I need the help of church! A Savior!
I have seen a lot of life. Christ and church are best.
--For the happiest, harmonious, loving relationships.
Friend, do you have Jesus - the Life-Gver, Joy-Giver?
--He can put you in His church, sure of heaven, today!
--Bring heaven to your heart, and home!
--Avoid much violence, fear, hurts, and misery.
--Are you in church? Church can't succeed without 'U'.
--We are here to help people maximize life!
--Because the Lord Jesus has done it for each of us.
--He can do it for you.
Wilbert D. Gough, ThD. DD. 488