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Christ: The Head of the Church

In Touch / Charles Stanley
The Truth Network Radio
March 23, 2024 12:00 am

Christ: The Head of the Church

In Touch / Charles Stanley

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March 23, 2024 12:00 am

Start fulfilling your role in the body of Christ and maintain your zeal for serving the Lord.

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Welcome to this weekend's In Touch Podcast with Charles Stanley. Are you a member of the church?

Let's learn how to accurately answer that question on today's podcast. Now the word church, ekklesia, is made up of two words. Ekk means out of, kaleo, which means call, to call. So when we say, speaking of the church, we're talking about a group of people who've been called out of the world into a particular assembly. Now the Greeks use that same word, ekklesia, not to refer to a church, but to refer to any called assembly of people. For example, if they had what you and I would consider a town meeting, they called it an ekklesia.

People called out to make a decision or for some particular reason. But when the New Testament Christians picked up on that term, ekklesia, or church, meant to them a group or a body, an assembly of people who had expressed their faith in the atoning death of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of their sins and in His resurrection, in His resurrection power as their life and with a mission to share to the world the gospel of Jesus Christ. They were unique in their formation, unique in their fellowship, unique in their relationship, unique in their mission in life.

So the word ekklesia to them meant something far more than it meant to those Greeks who originated the use of that term. Now today to many people the church means one thing, to others it means something else. It is surely more than an assembly.

It is more than a meeting place where people get together. Now I want you to listen very carefully to what I want to share with you about the church. If you'll notice in this verse, verse 18, he says that Jesus is also head of the body. Now the term body refers to all the believers of all ages, that is all people who have been saved by the grace of God through His atoning sacrifice at Calvary. Every person who has been saved by His grace is a part of what he calls His body. Now we'll explain the body in just a moment. But he says a part of the body. So the body refers to what may be termed the universal church. Some folks want to call it invisible but a better term may be universal which simply means all believers everywhere belong to what Jesus calls His body, the body of Christ. Now it's very important you understand this if your relationship to your local church is what it ought to be and your understanding of why certain things are necessary before you join an organization. So we're not talking about a building now. We're talking about believers.

We're talking about people. So when he said he is also the head, the body, the church, he is the beginning. That is Jesus Christ is of course the founder of the church. Now what does Paul mean in this when he says that Jesus Christ is the head of the body, he is the beginning and he is the firstborn. He is also head of the body. What does he mean when he speaks here of body and of head? Well let's talk about body first. The reason Paul and the reason Jesus mentions the term body, that's the most prevalent term referring to the church, is because of the nature of the church.

The church is not an organization. The church is an organism. It is a thing of life. One life permeates and saturates the whole body.

For example, let's take the human body. There is not one life in the head, a second life in the chest area and a third life in the lower limbs. There is one life in your body.

It runs from the top of your head to the bottom of your feet. One life. Many limbs with different assigned functions but a developing body. The church of the Lord Jesus Christ has taken on organization. It is not an organization. The church of the Lord Jesus Christ has segmented itself, fragmented itself and divided itself up into denominations which was never ultimately God's plan. We have been divided by doctrinal differences.

We have been divided by differences in our church polity, the way we organize or the way we govern churches. But God never intended his body to be divided up into Baptists, Methodists, Presbyterians, Episcopalians, Roman Catholics, Lutherans or any of the rest. He intended for his body to be what he originated it when he, who is the founder, said, This is my body. And he says, You are my body. That is, we are all part of the body of Christ. He is the head. We are the body.

And we're to function in that way. Now there are churches, for example, and groups who call themselves churches who deny the deity of Christ. If Jesus Christ is the head of the church, how can you have a church with no head?

If he's not the head, they are not the body. If they refuse to acknowledge the deity of Christ, the lordship of Jesus Christ over that body, they are no longer a church no matter how many names and how many titles they put on it. Jesus is the founder of the church. He is the beginning of the church. He's the one who began the church.

He instituted the church. So when Paul said here that Jesus Christ is the head of the body, what he's saying is this all through this book of Galatians. Jesus is supreme. Jesus is Lord. Jesus is the only perfect reflection of God the Father. He is the creator of all things that have ever been created and he holds in preeminence the position in the church.

Now notice what he says here. He says he is the head of the body. That means he is the sovereign Lord. There is only one head in the church. No pastor is the head of the church. No religious leader, no matter what his title may be, no matter what he may wear, no matter where he may live, there is only one head of the true church which is made up of those who trusted Jesus Christ as their personal Savior. There's only one head and that is the person of Jesus Christ he has under shepherds according to the scripture and many of those positions that men have made and placed over churches are nowhere to be found in the scripture.

The Bible speaks of men who are pastors who are the under shepherds of the great shepherd who is the Lord, the sovereign over the church over the whole body of the Lord Jesus Christ. If Jesus Christ is the head of the church and you are part of the church, that makes Jesus Christ your head, your Lord, your master. We just read in the early part of this chapter that Jesus Christ is the perfect image of God the Father. That Jesus Christ is the creator of all things including us. That he holds preeminence over all persons.

That's what his whole truth is and the fact that he is the image of the invisible God. Supreme over all mankind. Supreme over all creation.

Supreme over all the church. And every single one of us who is a member of God's church is subject to and must live in submission to and honor and pay our allegiance and loyalty and obey the head who is Christ. Now, with that in mind, how in the world could anybody join the body of Christ and sit on the periphery of our local body, oftentimes refuse to be baptized, oftentimes most of the time neglect attendance of the Lord's Supper, and just sort of sit on the periphery of the church, never get involved, give a little bit here and there, and acknowledge that Jesus Christ is their Lord. I'm gonna tell you, my friend, a lot of mixed up people confuse people who think that because they're members of a church, they're pleasing to God. I'm gonna tell you, you can be a member of every church and die and go to hell. He is the life of the church and if the life of Jesus Christ is not in you by receiving his son through faith, my friends, you're lost. Unless his life is your life, unless you have received him, you're not part of the body of Christ. Now, listen to what Jesus said. I am the way, the truth and the life. No man comes to the Father but by me.

At Pentecost, when the gospel was preached, it was those who believed in the resurrected Christ, who placed their faith in the resurrected Christ, who yielded themselves to the resurrected Christ, whom they baptized into that local body of believers because once you receive the Lord Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, the Bible says the Holy Spirit baptizes you into the body, you belong to the body of Christ. There's no other way to get in. And for somebody to tell you that all you've got to do is just believe, believe what? Well, you don't have to believe anything particularly as long as you're religious. My friend Jesus said, this is how narrow it is.

It is a narrow way and few there be that find it. He says it's so narrow, it's all narrowed down to one single person, no Jesus, no part of the body, no Jesus, no resurrection life, no Jesus, no salvation, no Jesus, no heaven, no Jesus, no real church. I don't care what you believe, where you believe, what you belong to, no Christ, no hope, no heaven. And the world says that's bigotry. It's narrow-minded and we say, amen, the preeminent one above all who is the Lord Jesus Christ, creator of heavens and earth, all men everywhere whose head of the church said there's one door, there is one door and one door alone and his name is Jesus.

That's what God said. Anybody who changes the Scripture, lowers the standards, make it easy for somebody to join an organization. Listen, friend, a man can lower the standard and get you an organization. Nobody can lower the standard and get you into heaven.

And that's the difference. And a lot of people are going to be shocked in the judgment when they say, well, I belong to so-and-so church for years and years and years. Now let me say this and I say this reverently with great respect. I want to say to many of you who are up in years and you have belonged to a church in your hometown and your city since you were a kid. And that's the only church you ever belonged to, only church you ever want to belong to. In fact, the truth is to you, that's church. That's where you've always been.

I want to say this lovingly, but I want to say it strongly. My friend, because you belong to that church since you were six, eight, 12, 14, 16, because you were put on sprinkle or because you were baptized by immersion or because you were christened there does not mean that you're fitted for the kingdom of God. And the multitudes of Americans sitting in church pews week after week who have joined organizations but are not a part of the body of Christ, they're still dead in their trespasses and sins and the life of Christ is not within them and they think they're going to heaven. And my friend, I do not preach that critically, but lovingly concerned because I want to ask you, can you look back at some point in your life and say, there, I placed my faith in the Lord Jesus Christ as my personal savior on the basis of his death at the cross.

And at that moment I received Jesus Christ as my savior. There's only one way to get into the body and that's through Christ. He's the head. He's it. He's the door. He said, I'm the door. I'm the bread. I'm the water of life. I am life.

He says, I'm the light of life. In fact, Jesus is it preeminent above all things. How in the world people say, well, well, surely God isn't going to let anybody die and go to hell who's good just because they don't receive Jesus Christ. Who's going to heaven? The body of Christ. How do you get that through Jesus? Do you belong to an organization or do you belong to the body of Christ? Have you ever placed your faith in the shed blood of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sin and ask Jesus Christ to save you and acknowledged him as the Lord of your life or did you join an organization?

My friend, are you sure you're saved? What is the message of the church? The message of the church is that Jesus saves. He's the only one who saves and once he saves you, he will enable you, listen, by the indwelling presence of the resurrection power of Jesus, he will enable you to become the total person God wants you to be. That means that every single believer, no matter what your background may be, you have the potential of becoming the godly man and woman God has created you to be.

Don't settle for anything less than God's best in your life as a believer because you're a part of the body. Resurrection power living, permeating, saturating you. The same life that is in Christ is now in you. The life and the Holy Spirit is in you.

You have him dwelling within you as a person. Now since, Nadia, since all this is true and Jesus Christ is the preeminent head of the church, what should be our attitude? First of all, we should be grateful indeed that God has loved us enough to reach down and save us and the places in the body where we shall be eternally and forever secured as he is. Secondly, we ought to systematically, not when it's convenient, not when it's not raining, not when it's not hot, not when I got somewhere else to go, systematically assembling ourselves together on the Lord's day in worship and praise and music and the proclamation of the word of God. Thirdly, we should be giving of ourselves willingly in service to God. We should be giving of our finances generously to the work of God. We should be sharing the message boldly about who Jesus Christ is. Now I want you to listen carefully and I say with all of my heart lovingly but I want to sit strongly and firmly. If you belong to a local body of believers and you claim that Jesus Christ is your Savior and he's your Lord and you're not involved in ministry, you're not serving the living God, you are living in rebellion, you are living in sin and you are denying Christ Jesus, the preeminent Lord of his body, your rightful service to him.

And you cannot excuse it, you cannot deny it and you cannot escape it. My friend, you are a rebellious member of the body of Christ and you cannot say that Jesus Christ is my Lord truthfully. You have to say I am playing God over my life at this point and certain areas of my life I give to God, certain areas I reserve for myself. I intend to play God until it is convenient. Now you know why most churches are in trouble?

Because those kind of members. Now you don't like to hear this but I'm going to tell you because I love you. That's the reason I'm telling you. You are rebellious toward God. You are sinning against God, sinning in church pews week after week and keeping God's money and God's service and God's life and God's testimony to yourself.

You're living in rebellion toward God. What I want you to see is we don't take the church seriously enough. Man, this is not an organization.

This is not some civic club. This is the body of Christ. And in this local body of which you and I are a member, we are responsible and accountable to Almighty God to give our best. He's our Lord. And I simply want to ask you, can Jesus count on you to praise Him? Can Jesus count on you to bear witness for Him in your business? Can Jesus count on you for the finances to carry on His ministry? Can Jesus count on you to serve Him? We're His body. He's the head. He's operating but we are the limbs of the body of Jesus here on earth carrying out His work in His Holy Spirit's power which is resurrection life.

Some of you, for example, and some of you are listening. You just go from church to church. You want to find a popular preacher, one that sort of tickles your fancy.

You want one where you don't feel too convicted, doesn't keep you up to 12 o'clock. You want to get to the cafeteria on time and so you've got some stipulations where you join. Don't you know that really impresses the Lord Jesus?

He's not impressed by that. I think about some other countries in the world where they meet at 9 o'clock in the morning or 10 o'clock in the morning. They get home before 4.

They think something's happened. Worshiping and praising the living God and preaching and proclaiming the gospel and hearing the Word of God and studying the Scriptures and boldly they go out to share their faith. And we in America, we want it one hour, no longer, or we don't like to preach it. You see, that's organization. That's not the church.

That's organization. That's not the church. The truth is the body ought to meet until Jesus is finished with us.

That's how long we ought to stay. Now friend, are you a member of a local body of believers? Because we function together. That's why they had house churches.

That's why they had assemblies of churches in Thessalonica and Ephesus and Laodicea and all the rest. We function together as the body of Christ. And I simply want to ask you a question. First of all, do you know that you're saved by the grace of God and you're in the body? Secondly, have you joined a local group, a local assembly of believers where your testimony and your tithe and where your gifts and your talents are being employed as the limbs of the body of Christ in that area? That's all I can do.

I can't make you do a thing. But you've heard the truth and now you're going to have to respond and all I want you to do is ask yourself in reality, by my conduct is Jesus Christ the Lord of my life. Thank you for listening to Christ the Head of the Church. For more inspirational messages like this, visit our online 24-7 station. And if you'd like to know more about Charles Stanley or In Touch Ministries, stop by intouch.org. This podcast is a presentation of In Touch Ministries, Atlanta, Georgia.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-03-23 03:06:01 / 2024-03-23 03:13:35 / 8

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