The Church is a beautiful entity. There is nothing in this world quite like the church of the Living God! The church, Jesus said, would be built on a rock and even the forces of Hell would never prevail against it! With that being said, how do we determine the validity of a church? Is it validated by membership? Perhaps by age, history, or creed? What makes a church THE church? I’m not talking about denominational accuracy or doctrinal creeds, that’s another blog for another time. What determines if an organization is a church or simply a social club? What determines if your Pastor is really a Shepherd or a motivational speaker?
First of all I’d like to explain this is not a pro-denomination blog. It is neither my goal nor my aim to convince you I’m right and you’re wrong. My desire with this blog is to simply bring to light principles from the word of God.
First of we need to understand that the “church” must be built on 2 principles. Hebrews 11:3 tells us that the world was framed by the word of God. The first thing we need is structure. In Genesis chapter 1 we see the Word of God at work as God begins to speak into the dark abyss of nothingness. The Bible tells us that the world was without form and it was void, but the spoken word of God brought structure to a formless world. Do you ever wonder why our world is so backwards? Why it seems like there is no form of morality or form of godliness? It’s because we’ve removed God’s word from this world, and anytime you remove God’s word you remove structure! A true church will be defined by it’s adherence to God’s word! We don’t structure our lives or our churches after our ideologies, we allow the Word of God to bring structure and straighten every crooked path! I can’t do that with my intellect, but God can with His word!
Secondly, in Genesis the Bible also tells us of creation, “…and the Spirit of God moved…” Though the spoken word brought structure, the moving of the Spirit brought life! It’s not enough to have structure alone, we need to add to our structure the life of the Spirit of God!
In Ezekiel 37, the prophet Ezekiel is carried out into a valley of dry bones and the Lord asked a very unique question, “can these bones live?” The prophet answered wisely, “Lord, thou knowest” So God commands this prophet to begin to prophesy (preach) to these bones. As the Word of God was spoken, the scattered bones began to realign themselves. Suddenly, the bones began to take form as structure was restored to these dead, dry bones. Notice, after God empowered Ezekiel with the word, the valley was full of structure. If you look around your church and all you see are the fragments of defeated saints, maybe you need to consider moving to a church empowered with the word! Because the word can bring form to the fragments of your past!
Although the valley had replaced the mess with structure, there was still no life! Structure alone will not save us! We need the influence of the spirit as well! So God commanded his prophet once again, this time telling him to prophesy to the wind (symbolic of the spirit). As he did the wind began to blow, as it would again in Acts 2, and life was restored to the body!
Is it any coincidence that Jesus told the Samaritan woman at the well, “true worshipers worship the father in spirit and in truth.” In word and spirit! I don’t want to be out of balance with God’s plan, we need preaching and spirit, spirit and preaching! We can’t have one without the other!
Samson had the spirit, but he had no structure! Spirit without structure leads to compromise! If Samson had structure in his life he would’ve never fell for Delilah! We need structure! I can’t make decisions for myself, the Bible says there is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof is death! God let your word speak to my spirit, let your word bring structure to my life!
The Pharisees had structure, but they desperately needed the spirit! Structure without spirit leads to legalism! That is why the Apostle Paul told the church at Corinth, “the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.” Word alone will develop a self-righteous attitude, you will become judgmental and condescending. God don’t let me become Pharisaical because I have all word and no spirit! Let your spirit balance the word and bring life to my soul!
So what makes a church a church? It’s not programs, people or pedigree. A true church will be a church built around the word and the spirit!