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Why I Love the Church

Grace To You / John MacArthur
The Truth Network Radio
June 3, 2022 4:00 am

Why I Love the Church

Grace To You / John MacArthur

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I love the church because the Lord is building it Himself.

It's His. The church is invincible. The purposes of God cannot be thwarted.

The end is already determined. I'm just privileged to be marching with the truth. Welcome to Grace to You with John MacArthur.

I'm your host, Phil Johnson. Perhaps you know a professing Christian who says, I'd go to church if it wasn't for all the hypocrites. Or maybe a member of a local church has mistreated or criticized you, even lied to you.

Sadly, that happens. People in churches don't always act like, well, Christians. So that raises the question, can you follow Christ and not be part of a church?

Is that an option? Or if you're a Christian, does God command you to love the church and commit yourself to one in your community? Today's lesson on Grace to You can help you answer those questions as John MacArthur explains why he loves the church and why you should too.

With a message, here's John. I love the church. I confess to that I am an inveterate and incurable lover of the church. It thrills me beyond anything and everything to serve the church. It is the supreme joy of my life to labor for the church, to spend my years on behalf of the church.

I wouldn't trade for anything. And there are some reasons why that is true, and I will share a few of those with you, and we'll look at some texts who undergird them. First of all, I love the church because the church is being built by the Lord Himself, the immutable, sovereign, faithful, omnipotent Lord of heaven, whose word can't return void, but always accomplishes what He says, whose purpose always comes to pass, whose will is always fulfilled ultimately, whose plan is invincible and unshakeable, has spoken about building the church in no less than extremely triumphant words. In Matthew chapter 16 and verse 18, He said, I will build My church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it. He who knows His sheep, whose names He wrote down before the foundation of the world, He will build His church. I love the church because the Lord is building it Himself.

It's His. And it's enough for me, frankly, to just be a part of it, small church, big church, medium-sized church, happy church, sad church. It's just enough to be a part of it.

I feel like Paul in 2 Corinthians 2, you know, where he was so sad in that letter, but he says, God always causes us to triumph in Christ. It's enough to march in the triumph, he says. It's enough to be in the parade, folks. I mean, it's enough to wear the uniform. That's all. I don't care.

And frankly, the end is already determined. I'm just privileged to be marching with the troops. It's enough.

What do I need beyond that? Well, a second reason that I love the church is because the church is the Lord's most precious reality on earth, the most precious reality on earth. So how do you know that? Because it demanded the highest price, right? For you are redeemed, not with corruptible things like silver and gold, but with the precious blood of Christ as a lamb without blemish and without spot, 1 Peter 1, 18 and 19. Acts 20, 28, purchased with His blood, 1 Corinthians 6, 19 and 20, bought with a price. How precious is the church? Well, precious, so precious that the Son was willing to come to die in obedience to the Father so the love gift could become a reality. One verse, really...well, two verses, really say it all. Go to 2 Corinthians.

We'll just comment on one and then I'll look at the other one more important. 2 Corinthians 8, 9, For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, what does that mean? It means He was rich as God is rich.

Not talking about earthly riches, not talking about material things. When it says He was rich, it means He was as rich as God is rich. He was rich in His pre-incarnate glory. Yet for your sake, He became poor. That does not mean earthly poverty any more than it meant earthly riches.

He went from sovereign, supernatural deity with all the richness to humbling Himself, becoming a man. It's the poverty of being human, not the idea of the fact that He was poor economically. You certainly do understand, don't you, that the economics of Jesus had nothing to do with redemption. It wouldn't have mattered whether He was the poorest man in town or the richest when it comes to redemption.

His economic status played no part. It was the poverty that He experienced in the sense that He was divested of all the prerogatives of deity that were set aside in His incarnation and went all the way to the agony of the cross and said, My God, My God, why have you forsaken Me? That's poverty. And that's the kind of poverty viewed here. So, when you talk about the fact that the church is precious, the value of the church is seen here in the price that was paid when the one who is as rich as God in fullness of glory is rich, who became as poor as poor can be when one is alienated from God.

My God, My God, why have you forsaken Me? And He did it that you through His poverty might become rich. How rich as rich as God is rich? Because you become a joint...what?

A joint heir. It's an absolutely incredible verse, an absolutely incredible verse. The gospel, the incarnation, the condescension of Christ for the purpose of redeeming the Father's elect, the Father's elect love gifts to Him had nothing to do with His economic condition and everything to do with the fact that He came all the way down to being alienated from the God He loved. Frankly, the gospel can be no more equated with the financial poverty of Jesus than it can be equated with His pain on the cross.

Such matters may tug at the heart of human emotion and elicit sympathy, but they have nothing to do with salvation. He became poor not by giving up earth's riches, but by giving up heaven's so that you might gain them. In 2 Corinthians 5 21, it is stated as explicitly as it can be stated what the work of Christ was. 2 Corinthians 5 21, you ask how poor? What is this poverty that He endured, this poverty that He endured, this terrible, terrible condescension? He made him who knew no sin. Now there's only one person who qualifies there, Jesus, so that's not hard to interpret. God made Jesus, the sinless one, the one who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. That's how poor He became. God, to fulfill the plan, took the one who knew no sin and made Him sin on our behalf that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. This is so powerful. This is the doctrine of imputation.

Let me see if I can't tell you ever so briefly what it's saying here. In what way did God make Jesus sin? Well, some modern charismatic false teachers say that on the cross Jesus became a sinner and He had to go to hell for three days to pay the penalty for his sins.

That is blasphemy. On the cross, Jesus did not become a sinner. He was not guilty of any sin ever, not even when He was dying on the cross. He committed no sin ever. When He hung on the cross, He was absolutely innocent. No sin could be put to His account. He had no capacity to commit any sin. He did not become a sinner.

You say, what happened? Very simply, God treated Him as if He had committed personally every sin ever committed by every person who ever believed. Can you grasp that thought? God treated Jesus Christ on the cross as if He had committed every sin ever committed by every person who ever believed. And God heaped the full fury of a just wrath on Him as if He were guilty of all of it, when the fact is He was guilty of none of it. But God poured out His fury so that all that sin was sufficiently expiated and could never be held against those who believe. Now, that's the first half of imputation.

But there's a second half. He treated Jesus as if He had committed every sin ever committed by every person who would ever believe. And He did it for us in order that we might become what? The righteousness of God. Are you ready for this? Jesus was not a sinner on the cross.

And I'll tell you something else. You're not righteous. You're not righteous. You're not any more righteous than Jesus was sinful. God treated Jesus as if He was a sinner and He treats you as if you are righteous. He wasn't and you're not and neither am I.

That's imputation. I'm not righteous. I'm still sinful.

I have to say with Paul, O wretched man that I am. Don't I? Who is going to deliver me from the body of this death? The things I want to do, I don't do. The things I don't want to do, I do. I'm not righteous.

Are you ready for this? But God treats me as if I possessed the perfect righteousness of Jesus Christ. Is that astonishing? Well, it is if you know me. Certainly it is if God knows me.

You see, that's the doctrine of imputation. That's what we're talking about here. God treats Jesus as if He'd committed all our sins and treats us as if we had only done all His righteousness.

That's the price. To fulfill the Father's plan, it had to be so. The sin had to be paid for and the righteousness had to be given. One who was not a sinner had to be treated as if he were and those who are not righteous can be treated as if they are. Why did Jesus come down and endure this horrible humiliation, separation?

Why? It had to be so, to fulfill the Father's plan. I know we think that He did it just for us.

No. No, He did it for God. Some time ago I preached a message entitled, Christ Died for God.

We're just the gift gets passed back and forth. Is the church precious? Sure, because it bears the very righteousness of Jesus Christ imputed to it since its sins have been imputed to Him.

It's an incredible reality. That is why Matthew 18 warns us to be careful how we treat each other, doesn't it? Because how you treat another believer, Jesus says, is how you treat Me. I love the church. I love the church because the Lord is building it Himself.

I love it because it's the most precious thing on earth. Jesus paid the price for His church. This is a precious church. That's why Matthew 18 says, if you cause another Christian to stumble, you'd be better off with a millstone put around your neck and be drowned in the sea, right? Better be careful how you treat these precious people.

Better be careful not to despise the least of these little ones. You better be careful not to cause another believer to stumble. You're touching Christ. He that is joined to the Lord is one spirit, 1 Corinthians 6 17.

Well, let me give you a third. I love the church because the church is the only earthly expression of heaven. It is the only earthly expression of heaven.

You know, if you base it on some people's church experience, they would think that heaven was some kind of a shallow, flippant place for entertainment, superficial, clever, indifferent, and man-centered. Boy, that sounds blasphemous, doesn't it? We pray this prayer all the time. Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name.

Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Where's that going to happen? In the United States Congress? I don't think so. In the White House? I don't think so. In the Supreme Court? No. In the university? No. City Hall?

No. Where is God's will done on earth as it is in heaven? Only one place.

Look at only one place. It's the church. Now you have to ask the question, what goes on in heaven? If we're heaven come down, what goes on in heaven? Well, worship, would you agree? Praise, adoration, and it all flows to God.

It is all directed at God. Read in Revelation chapter 4, chapter 5, chapter 19, all around the throne is worship, worship, worship, worship, worship of God. Secondly, another thing goes on in heaven and that's the exaltation of Christ, the exaltation of Christ. He is the adored Son in glory.

He sits at the Father's right hand. You see the Lamb right in the throne, don't you, in Revelation? He is exalted and adored in an unabashed wonder. A third thing that is true about heaven is the presence of absolute purity, absolute purity. It is a holy place. You come to the end of the book of Revelation, for example, and it becomes crystal clear that nobody is going to get in there who isn't holy. No unclean thing, no one who practices abomination and lying shall ever come into it. The end of chapter 21. Chapter 22, outside, verse 15, are dogs and sorcerers and immoral persons and murderers and idolaters and everyone who loves and practices lying.

You don't get in there. It's the place of purity. Now, if we want to bring heaven down, what are we all about? I think we're all about the worship of God, the exaltation of Jesus Christ, and the pursuit of holiness. That's what we're all about.

And we're so utterly unlike anything on this earth as to be absolutely distinct. Look at Matthew 18, just one illustration of this. Matthew 18, 15 talks about dealing with sin on the issue of holiness, and we'll just look at this and close with one other comment. In Matthew 18, 15, if your brother sins, you go reprove him in private. If he listens to you, you've won your brother.

If he doesn't listen to you, take two or more with you. If he still doesn't listen, verse 17, tell the church if he still doesn't listen, put him out. Then verse 18, truly I say to you, whatever you shall bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven.

What is that? Well, binding and loosing was an old rabbinical expression which was used with regard to dealing with people on the matter of sin and repentance. And when a person was confronted about their sin and they wouldn't repent of their sin and they refused to turn from their sin, then the rabbi would say to them, You're bound in sin.

It was simply a declaration of the fact. But if they repented and had remorse, confessed that sin and turned from it, he would say, You were loosed from your sin. And in a disciplined situation, that's what you're doing. Those who repent, you can say, You're loosed from your sin. And those who will not repent, you say, You're bound in your sin. And when the church says that on earth, it is simply saying here what heaven has already said. Heaven has already rendered that verdict. We bring heaven down. Never is the church more heavenly than when it is confronting sin.

Never. You can't minimize sin in the church and at the same time say, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. We literally act in perfect harmony with heaven. When we deal with sin, heaven's already rendering those verdicts. The church then is the only earthly expression of heaven. People ought to walk in here and say, I have never experienced anything like this. They shouldn't walk in and say, I feel comfortable here. This sounds familiar. It's a pretty groovy deal here.

What? So unlike anything they've ever experienced has to be shockingly different. This is the closest we get to heaven. Another thing about heaven is fellowship with the saints, right?

That's what we're all about. Heaven is a place of worship toward God, exaltation of Christ, pursuit of holiness, sweet, perfect, harmonious fellowship. Let the world see that so they can really see the reality of the power of God.

One last comment. Fourthly, the church is the source of truth. The church is the source of truth. We're the voice of God in the world. I love what Paul said to Timothy. The church, 1 Timothy 3.15, which is the pillar and foundation of the truth. If we do anything, we hold up the truth.

It ought to be said, when people walk into church, they hear the truth. The impressive temple of Diana, one of the seven wonders of the world was in Ephesus. One of its features was its pillars. It had 127 of them. Each one was a gift from a different king. Every one was marble, all was studded with jewels, overlaid with gold. Every pillar was a tribute to the king who gave it, and they held up an immense roof, this massive roof was upheld by these pillars. And as the pillars of the temple of Diana were testimony to the gross errors of false religion, the church is to be the pillar that holds up the truth. It is the solemn responsibility of every church to lift up the truth and hold it high, and really with it to smash the ideological fortresses of Satan's lies. We have a stewardship of truth, not to be tampered with, not to be depreciated, not to be misrepresented, not to be abandoned, and not to be altered. It is the sacred saving treasure given to us so that the unfolding redemptive plan of God may come to pass. Psalm 119, the psalmist said, My heart stands in awe of Thy Word, so it should be. Well, let's pray. Lord, it's enough for us just to be in the army, just to wear the uniform, just to be so privileged, to march in the triumph, in the victory of an invincible church.

It's enough. Why should we ever ask for more? Lord, give us a love for Your church, this wonderful love gift that You're giving to the Son who in turn will give it back to You. May we love it because it's Yours. May we love it because of the price paid by our dear Savior who was treated as if He'd committed every sin committed by every person who would ever believe in order that we might be treated as if we committed every righteous deed Christ Himself has ever done. Such condescension for such unworthy sinners is beyond our understanding, but we rejoice in the preciousness of the church that You would do this for us. And then, Lord, we thank You so much that we can be a taste of heaven on earth, that we can be the only heaven people will see here. Oh, may it be so.

May it be that the distinction is so clear that people feel like they've walked into a place the likes of which they've never known and wonder what transforming reality could create this. May we be committed to the things heaven is committed to, worshiping You, exalting Christ unashamedly, pursuing holiness, and sweetly fellowshipping. To that end, we pray, Lord, that You might be glorified in Your church, of which You are so worthy. And we pray in Jesus' precious and wonderful name. Amen.

You're listening to John MacArthur. Today's message here on Grace to You was titled, Why I Love the Church. Well, John, you've been emphasizing all week that the church is at the center of God's plan for the world and that, as His children, we should make the church the center of our lives as well.

And so, with that in mind, I have a simple question that we like to answer from time to time here on the broadcast, because lots of people write and ask us this. Is Grace to You a church or a substitute for the church? No, Grace to You is not a church, and it's certainly not a substitute for the church. Do you know the Bible is explicit in Hebrews, forsake, not the assembling of yourselves together as the manner of some is? In other words, don't do what some people do. Fail to assemble together as a church, and much the more as you see the day approaching. Why?

Why? So that you may stimulate one another to love and good works. You have to be together. You have to be interacting with other believers, stimulating one another to love and good works. You don't want to be like those people who avoid the church, who aren't a part of the church. That's a very dangerous kind of isolation, and Grace to You will never be a substitute for a church. People might say, well, I get better teaching from Grace to You than I do in my church.

That could be true, and I know that's true in many, many places. That still doesn't relieve you of the responsibility to be a part of the church. You need to be a part of the church.

If the church isn't everything it should be, because it isn't everything it should be, because you know what it should be, and you need to be an influence there for what is right. Think about it if you were in Asia Minor when our Lord sent the seven letters to the seven churches, and let's say you were in one of those churches that basically were coming under judgment. There was only one church in town. I mean, if you were in Laodicea, there was one church. If you were in Pergamum, there was one church. If you were in Thyatira, there was one church.

If you were in Ephesus, there was one church. And even though those churches were under judgment, you were a part of those churches, and you were those in those churches, the Lord says, who haven't soiled their garments, who still walk in white. So the Lord recognizes that there will be churches that are troubled, sinful places, but he sees there his faithful people, and I think you need to be in the best church available to you. Grace To You just wants to be a supplement, and why has God raised up something like Grace To You with such immediate access to all kinds of Bible teaching?

Because we live in a world where immediate access to so much bad material is having such a deleterious effect on our culture. We need to have good material constantly available because we're being barraged by that which is evil. Be a part of a church. The best church you can find, use that opportunity to build spiritual relationships and be a blessing to the people around you, no matter what the shortcomings might be in that church. That will honor the Lord. And Grace To You will come alongside. We'll be here to help support you and feed you the Word of God and provide resources for you every way we can in every way you would like us to.

Yes, friend, we plan to be here for a long time, helping people become more like Christ, and we'll do that as long as listeners benefit and give to support this ministry. With your help, we can provide thousands of free resources and take God's truth to believers around the globe. To make a donation, get in touch with us today. You can express your support by mail, write to Grace To You, Box 4000, Panorama City, California 91412, or call us at 800-55-GRACE. You can also donate online at Now, giving to your local church comes first.

We affirm that, but we are grateful for anything you can give beyond that. So again, to partner with us, call 800-55-GRACE or go to And when you get in touch, we would also love to hear how John's verse-by-verse teaching has encouraged you. Perhaps one of John's lessons has shown you how to best serve your local church, or maybe the Lord has used this ministry to bring you or someone you know to faith in Christ.

It's easy to get ahold of us. Just send your email to letters at Once more, that's letters at Or you can also mail your story to Box 4000, Panorama City, California 91412. Now for John MacArthur and the entire Grace To You staff. I'm Phil Johnson reminding you to watch Grace To You television on Sundays, check your local listings for Channel and Times, and then be here next week for another 30 minutes of unleashing God's truth, one verse at a time, on Grace To You.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-04-09 10:35:58 / 2023-04-09 10:46:04 / 10

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