What is the Church (3 of 3)

This is a guest post by Doug Roberts. Learn more about Doug at timewithdoug.com and check out the book he and I co-authored with Ben Pasley, Back to Basics.

Another way the Bible talks about God’s people is as Christ’s building, a spiritual building.

Ephesians 2:19-22 says, “So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself, being the corner stone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you are being built together into a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.”

Where does God dwell? In the church! Where is the church? You are looking at it, baby!

The body of Christ—the temple of the Holy Ghost—dwells in me. Life is in me. Life is not in the building. Jesus lives within you. You are the expression of God on the earth, too. You are the expression of Jesus Christ on the earth. The facility you worship in isn’t the expression of Jesus on the earth. You are.

I mean, my goodness, the world drives by and they see all these buildings that say, this is the first holy church, this is the second holy church, this is the full gospel and fire and brimstone church, this is the first apostolic church, this is the what-whoever-knows church. And the world looks at all these divisions and says, “Wow, you all are dysfunctional.” And unfortunately, they also say that the church is especially dysfunctional if they have the Holy Ghost because then they have the power and they use that power to discriminate against one another, to hurt one another, to pray soulish prayers over one another. (That is why it is good to pray in tongues; you are praying the Father’s perfect plan for those you are interceding for.)

And I Peter 2:5 says, “You also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up sacrifices acceptable to God through Christ Jesus.”

Each stone is an important part to the whole structure. What happens if a stone is missing in a wall? There is a hole there. Think about it this way: If you look at a brick wall you can see that each brick has a personal relationship with usually six other bricks. If you start removing bricks, then all the bricks around it are going to be weakened.

Just like bricks or building stones that come in every shape and size and color, living stones—the people of God—are also very different from one another. They have different gifts and different personalities. Aren’t you glad that everyone is not like you?

A man told me one time that if everyone was exactly alike or if even two people were exactly alike then one of them is not needed. It would be a scary place if everyone was like me. So why do we try to bring everyone to be like us instead of to bring them into being complete in Christ? Just like every part of the physical body has a function to perform, every part of the spiritual body has a function to perform. Each member has a role, a duty, that is critical to the life of the body of Christ, the church. Each member must contribute his part. Each member is needed. Each member is unique. We need to supply our part to the body of Christ.

Romans 12:6-8 says, “Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly: if prophecy, according to the proportion of his faith; if service, in his serving; or he who teaches, in his teaching; or he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who show mercy, with cheerfulness.“

So the question is: What is your part?

What is the grace that God has given you?

What has God predestined you to be in Christ before the beginning of the earth?

What has he called you to be?

Here is an example. If you are the toilet cleaner, have the best toilets in town. I know I appreciate it when there is toilet paper and the bathroom smells good. If I go in the bathroom and it is clean and the floor is dry and there is paper in it, I think, “Praise God! Lord bless whoever cleaned this bathroom.” It ought to be a salvation experience for the lost when they go into a bathroom because you did your job. It is your ministry to be the toilet man because you are going to clean that toilet as unto the Lord, with all your might and with all your strength. It is going to be the “righteousest” toilet in the county. When people go in there, they’ll come face to face with a loving God because you are praying over that toilet, “Lord, I pray that everyone that comes into this bathroom will be confronted by your love and your goodness and your mercy. Lord, everyone that washes their hands in this sink, let them be cleansed with the blood of your Son and the love that you have.” Anoint that bathroom with prayer because that is your portion.

I know what you are saying: “You mean I just have bathroom ministry?”

Well, praise God! If that is what you have grace for, then do it.

“Well,” you say, “I want to be in front.”

No, you don’t want to be in front. You don’t want to pay the price to be in a place you don’t have grace for. You can only do what God has given you grace to do. You can only be where God has placed you. The word says that God places the members of the body where HE sees fit. You don’t even have a right to what you want to be.

Look. I Corinthians 12:4 says, “There are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are varieties of ministries, and the same Lord. There are varieties of effects, but the same God who works all things in all persons. But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. For to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, and to another the word of knowledge according to the same Spirit; to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, and to another the effecting of miracles, and to another prophecy, to another the distinguishing of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, and to another the interpretation of tongues. But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as He wills.”

Ephesians 4:1-3 says, “Therefore, I, the prisoner for the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”

How many parts of the body are there? Many.

How many bodies are there? One.

How many heads does the body have? One.

The natural body can understand that. If we could get the simplicity of the natural body and translate that to the spiritual body, we will quit devouring one another. We will quit being jealous of one another. We will quit envying and striving with one another. We will get our minds off of the temporal things as the measure of our success and onto the eternal purpose that God has created us for, which is to bring glory and honor unto him, and to establish and make disciples that growth might come.

If the world sees the church judging one another, they will know that God sent his Son. Is that what the word says? Oh, when the world sees the church killing one another, they will know that God sent his Son? No, it says that when the world sees the church loving one another, they will know that God sent his son (John 17:21).

The devil knows. When the body becomes the body and the church becomes the church and it begins to walk in relationship and accountability and begins seeing the head (Christ) glorified, the devil will know his days are numbered because the world will know that God sent his Son because they see us loving one another. They see us working together, not as a dysfunctional body but as one body with one purpose: to fulfill the head’s call.

Are we going to get there? I believe we are. Is it going to be in my generation? I don’t know. Am I going to be able to see it? I don’t know. I am praying that I will see it. I know it is the heart of God, but what is it going to take? It is going to take us dying to ourselves and abiding in him, abiding in the branch. Unless we abide in him, we can’t be the expression of him (John 15).

So church, be the church. If you have heard anything from me, be joined to one another. Have a vision larger than yourself. Have the heart of the Father for your area and begin to work together.

Is everyone going to meet in the same building? No.

Is everybody going to have the same doctrine? No.

Is everybody going to be in agreement? No.

But can everybody can walk in fellowship in the Lord Jesus Christ? Yes!

If we have to back up to only knowing Jesus Christ and him crucified, we can fellowship there together. If that is where we have our point of relationship, I am willing. Am I going to put you down because you don’t do what I do? No! You can’t walk in things until God gives you the grace to do them.

You can’t be what someone else is. You can only be who you are. Quit expecting people to come to your level when you don’t live up to it yourself. Quit expecting people to believe in your doctrine when you don’t even know what it is. There is only one way to the Father, and that is through Jesus. There is only one way for forgiveness of sin, and that is with the shedding of his blood. If that is all you can fellowship in, that is enough because it is eternal. Let’s see how we can begin to relate to one another instead of being divided from one another. Let’s begin to see how we can join with one another instead of being separated from one another. Let’s begin to see what the heart of Father is for our cities.

I pray that the amazing grace of the master, Jesus Christ, the extravagant love of God the Father, the intimate friendship of the Holy Spirit, be with all of you.

June 12, 2013