If our church was as submitted to the Lordship of Jesus Christ as you are, would that be a good thing?
What is our purpose?
How can we know if he is in charge of our church? By asking if his purpose is our purpose. He said, “I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.” Literally, they will not “withstand its assault.” We belong to Jesus to the degree that we obey Jesus. 1 John 5:3 says, “This is love for God: to obey his commands.”
His command to his church is clear: “go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:19-20). His last words before returning to heaven reinforced the point: “you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8).
We are called to bear “spiritual fruit,” to reproduce spiritually, to be Christians who make Christians and a church which makes churches.
John the Baptist warned us: “every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire” (Matthew 3:10).
Jesus repeated the point with his disciples shortly before his crucifixion: “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned” (John 15:1-6).
Bearing spiritual fruit through multiplication is crucial to reaching the world. I recently turned 49 years old. If I could win one a day until the age of 70, I would see 5,840 people come to Christ. That’s growth by addition. Growth by multiplication is something quite different: I win one today; the two of us win one tomorrow; the four of us win one the next day, and so on. In 34 days, the number is 8,589,934,592. By June 30, the entire planet would know Christ.
We are a church to the degree that we obey Jesus. We obey Jesus to the degree that we are disciples and make disciples, to the degree that we are reproducing followers of Jesus. The tree is healthy to the degree that it bears fruit. We are healthy to the degree that we bear spiritual fruit.
Nothing else matters–not the size of the tree or the beauty of its leaves. Only its fruit.
On this Memorial Day weekend, we pause as Americans to remember those who have given their lives in our nation’s service. We honor their sacrifice with our gratitude and commitment to our nation.
It is fitting on this weekend that we also pause to remember the sacrifice of the One who gave his life for us, that we might be the Church, the body of Christ. That we might have life everlasting. And that we honor his sacrifice with our gratitude and the commitment of our lives and service.
So, are we the church of Jesus Christ today? Do we belong to him? Are we passionate about his purpose for us?
As members of the body of Christ, do we seek his will and purpose in all things, first? Do we pray before we act? Do we submit our lives to him every morning at the start of each day? Do we seek his word and will before we make our decisions? Do we confess our sins as soon as we commit them and seek his cleansing grace? Do we seek to share our faith with those we can influence for our Savior? Do we give sacrificially of our time and money in the cause of his Kingdom? If the Church belonged to Jesus as much as we do, would that be a good thing?
Those of you who are leaders of this church: is your leadership surrendered to Jesus Christ? Do you pray first in all your decisions and actions? Are you seeking to share your faith and build the Kingdom? Are you seeking to lead the church to assault the gates of hell in all we do? Are you bearing fruit? Are you leading us to bear fruit?
Human words cannot change human hearts. Only the Spirit working through us can save souls and change lives. Only when we are submitted to Christ as Lord, his purpose ours, can he use us with significance and joy. We are the only body of Christ on earth, the only light of the world and the only salt of the earth. We are the only spiritual, eternal hope of the world. We must be his, so the world can be his.
Will we have the courage to be fully his? To surrender every day to his Lordship and will? To assault the gates of hell as reproducing followers of Jesus, whatever it takes, wherever he leads? This week I found an essay defining “courage,” and was impressed to learn it and share it with you.
“Why is it that most people’s lives are controlled by small and petty circumstances? I am saddened as I watch people lose the good and great things that are within their reach and could be theirs with ‘but a little act of courage!’