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Jesus, YES!  The Church, YES!

A man named Johnny Zezas is credited with this statement about the church: "Many people have nothing but praise for the church, especially when the collection plate is handed around." Some don't even have that. Opinions about the church of our Lord vary greatly. A survey of any group of people will almost certainly yield a number of different opinions as to the relevance and role and importance of the church in the lives of people. One opinion (and I say as bluntly as I can a very wrong one) is that one can be in a personal and saved relationship with Christ without having connection with His church. Lennie Bruce betrayed this misguided understanding of the church when he said, "Everyday people are straying from the church and going back to God" (The Essential Lennie Bruce, 1972). Bruce's statement betrays a philosophy that used to be summed up in a popular, pithy sentence: "Jesus Yes, The Church No!" But this thinking contradicts everything Scripture says about the church. On the day the New Testament church came into being, about 3,000 people were baptized into Christ for forgiveness of their sins (Acts 2:38-41), and a few short sentences later the writer of the sacred record tells us those early Christians were "praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved" (2:47). This statement dovetails perfectly with Ephesians 5:23 which states that Christ is "the Savior of the body," the body clearly being the church, the body of Christ (see Ephesians 5:23; 1:22-23). People who responded to the Gospel in the New Testament were never seen as straying away from the church and going back to God. Quite the contrary, they were seen as coming back to God when baptized into Christ, the church being, according to Ephesians 2:16, the place where Jew and Gentile were reconciled "to God in one body, through the cross." No inspired preacher in the New Testament ever taught anyone they could be forgiven of sins without being baptized into Christ or that they could be a Christian without being added to and functioning faithfully in the church Jesus died to save. The same process that saved them – that is, hearing and believing the Gospel, repenting of sin, confessing Christ, and being buried into His death in the watery grave of baptism (Romans 6:3-4; Colossians 2:12) — also resulted in them being added to the church, added not by man but by the Lord (1 Corinthians 12:13; Acts 2:47).

The truth is that, according to the New Testament, the church is incomparable and irreplaceable! Ephesians 1:3 tells us God has placed every spiritual blessing in a very specific and exact spiritual sphere — "in the heavenly places in Christ." That's New Testament parlance for the church! Do yourself a favor and scan Ephesians 1:3-14 for a "sampler" of the spiritual blessings given to us by and in Christ! They include being chosen, adopted, accepted, redeemed and forgiven of all our sins — all made possible through God's rich and amazing grace! Survey men and they may say, "Jesus, yes — the church, no." Survey God in the New Testament and He still says, "Jesus, yes — the church, yes!" What do you say?

Dan Gulley
Smithville church of Christ