The Call for the Church from Colossians PII

…if you continue in your faith, established and firm, not moved from the hope held out in the gospel… Colossians 1:15-23

Christ is Supreme! That means He is also the Head of the Church! We tend to run our churches as if we were in control, basing our decisions on gathering needs and developing programs to fill those needs. Yet, as good as this may sound, the main thing in church leadership is left out. Where is Christ and where is His purpose and direction? We close the door to our Lord! He is the head; that means we must line ourselves up to Him and His Lordship, not our ideas, trivialities, and agendas. We are to seek Him as Lord over all—over our lives as well as our churches!

Remember the Dead Sea; if all we do is allow Him to flow into us and not out, we will stagnate. If we just try to go it alone without our Lord, we will fail. We cannot flow out if nothing flows in.

The responsibility is clear; we are to allow His Spirit to flow in and out, as we are His tools, His children, and His love. When our faith becomes strong, we will not be moved from it, and that means we will not be moved away from Christ. This is what steadfastness is all about: not being shaken from our beliefs and faith in our Lord. When we stray off our path, we tend to substitute steadfastness with stubbornness that takes us far from the purpose and responsibility of the Lord’s church. Being firmly rooted in Christ means keeping to the integrity of Scripture and His teachings, for when we stray from that path, our church will stray away from His opportunities and call. Christ gives us the hope and opportunities to grow, learn, and abide in Him; we are to respond to the call and opportunities He gives with hope and joy.

We must do this in all things—worship, relationships, our thought processes, how we make decisions, and how we institute and instigate the work of the church.

It all must flow and come from Christ our Lord, our Leader and God, and from nowhere else. When we stop experiencing Jesus as our Lord, and He becomes only a figure in the sanctuary, then we will not be a purposeful or called Church for Him. When we are singing praise choruses and hymns that point to His Holiness and Greatness and as Head of our lives and church, do we mean it? Or, is it merely rhetoric and repetition that has no meaning behind it?

The church exists as a response to the grace of our Lord. Because of what He did, we are to glorify, magnify, praise His name, and then respond further from our worship of Him to our works for Him. Remember that works have no saving construct; they are only the appreciation and response we are give to His majesty and redemption. Grace working in us will produce the work and will of our devotion and holiness to set us apart for His plan. Our response is to accept His teachings and love with joyful excitement, and replicate it in our lives, thoughts, and actions, and to grow and perfect the relationship and work He gives us.

The Call for the Church from Colossians PI

…He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy…. Colossians 1:15-23

The chief characteristic of who we are in Christ is the fact He is the living Supreme God who has existed for all time, who transcends space, time and thought, who knows us intimately, and who loves us. Christ is Lord; Christ is Supreme! Christ is the tangible aspect of God who is beyond sight and comprehension. He is the God who created the universe, who made all things. He made all that we see, and all that we do not see! He is the God who created the molecules of substance, formed the ground on which we stand and the wood on which He was crucified. In all of life, in whatever we will face and know, He has gone and still goes before and with us. This world was created by Christ and for Christ; He is indeed supreme. We need to learn to live our lives in Him for His glory. In so doing, we will be much better as stewards of His Church.

Church life is not about our ideas, presumptions, or expectations—it is about Him as LORD!

When we finally achieve this mindset, we begin our journey of growing in faith, maturity, character, and becoming more content in life and of better use to Christ and others around us. This is realized when we see the hope we have in Him, and allow that hope to be a foundation; He will carry is through all things.

What does this passage have to do with the responsibility of the church?

A lot! This passage is about reconciliation, and the church’s responsibility is to mirror the character of God who reconciled us to Him! Christ has and is revealing the invisible God to us, and we cannot and must not look for God anywhere else. If we look for God in ourselves or anywhere else in the world, we will fail as a church and as believers. This is because the church is the body of Christ, and as believers we are to believe. We are to follow and lead as examples, surrendering to His Lordship and not our own.

One of the big issues and problems is that most Christians just do not get this passage. Our Lord is the head of His Church, including our church, yet our churches are run as if we were in total control and we reign supreme.

As far as the responsibility of the church goes, what more can we say, other than Christ is the head and our lead, thus the vision and call can only come from Him and not of ourselves and our effort. If Christ is our “all in all” then we must respond to His teachings as marching orders and not a list of suggestions or ideas. We are to see and know Him as our Creator and Lord, as our Redeemer and Savior, as our God. Then we can respond as the church that our Lord died for.

 

What We Need to Learn for Today’s Church

In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I will not be afraid. What can mortal man do to me? Psalm 56:4  

Now we need to learn why we should strive to be our best for His glory, He is the answer so we can start to build an effectual church of faith. Why? Because, people can be elusive and intolerant of Christians being stupid, we must strive to always be our best. Not judgmental, not prideful, not condescending; rather, listening with real faith, respect and the power of the Holy Spirit flowing Fruit of the Spirit in and through and out of us for His Glory. Then we can do church right!  

We cannot just jump in and grab; we need a way, and that way is His Way. We need a pan from God’s Word in which to be contagious with and for the faith, pointing others to Christ. We are not catch by force or manipulation, but show others why the Christ is better, why He is the answer. That is why we accepted Him, because He first came to us. When we have real capable faith a exhibited in Galatians 5:22-23 and know how to use His Word, we are better able to be used by the Spirit to explain Jesus to others.  

Most people are afraid to share their faith because they do not know what to say or how to say it. What to say is determined from the building of our faith and just live it out, be the product demonstrator of Christianity; the character gained will help make us ready to say it with love and care.  

Do you realize it is purely by Christ’s acceptance of us that we are saved in the first place?  

The Disciples were directly called and empowered by Jesus, just as we are today. We are given such incredible gifts and opportunities, which are not of our doing or earning. There is nothing that we can add to our salvation, such as good works or clean living, but we can and should respond to it. Justification means that God’s righteousness is covering us, protecting us from His wrath and punishment much like a blanket. It is like getting a speeding ticket, going to court, and having the judge declare you innocent, even though you were speeding. To God, you are clean, covered by what Christ has done for you. This creates our reconciliation to God. We were in perfect relationship to Him before the Fall, and now we are again in harmony. Because of justification, we can take great comfort and assurance in Christ. But, our response to what He has given does not happen overnight.  

Our faith has grace attached to it, but we also have responsibility with it. We will make mistakes and have setbacks, but He is there for us, carrying us through. Allow Him to do so. Do not have presumption; rather, pursue your decision.

 

Moving Away From the Cornerstone

 

The problem is that many churches have fallen so far, they are apostate and others are on the verge of the same betrayal against our Holy Cornerstone. Understanding that He is our Cornerstone gives us a navigational rendering on how to lead and manage our church in a healthy, biblical way. Understanding that He is our chief cornerstone means

Jesus is the Chief, the Head of the corner. It means our Lord is our All in All—we can trust in Him (1 Cor. 15:20-28)! How wonderful and comforting to be able to allow Him to be our haven of rest, our continual comfort.

At the same time, a warning is given in Scripture to those who reject the Living Stone in the Bible. They will stumble and fall. Stumble, meaning disobedient, refers to condemnation and judgment because a person is so “self willed” and prideful, he or she is not willing to acknowledge God as his or her Lord (Mal. 2:8; John 11:9; Rom. 9:33; 14:20; 1 Cor. 10:32; James 3:2; 2 Peter 2:8).

Fall in Romans and Matthew refers to Isaiah (Matt. 21: 33-46; Isa. 8:13-15; 28:16). Peter and Paul both used this image (Rom. 9:33; 11:11; 14: 4, 21; Heb. 4:11; 1 Pet. 2:6-8), that those who reject Jesus as the Messiah will be judged. God’s Kingdom is portrayed as a rock, and we will be cursed by it if we fight against it (Dan. 2: 34-44; Matt. 16:27; Rom. 2:6; Rev 20:12-13; 22:12).

He still gives us His grace—until it is too late and we are called to account. God gives us ample prevision and time to turn from our evil and wayward ways to His True Word, His best Way (Jer. 23:22-23).

He patiently accommodates us (to a point) to give us the time to realize our disobedient conduct, gives us the room to make mistakes, and still calls us back into His arms of love and care. Do not be the one who rejects the Living Stone and causes your church to run askew and away from His call and purpose! We are called to allow our faith to empower our obedience because obedience is what pleases God. Disobedience, from a lack of faith, is detestable to Him and causes us to be lost over dangerous ground. This comes down to “apostasy,” which is the abandonment of one’s religious faith, or skewing it far away from its core precepts.

We are falling away from the Truth and are rebelling against Him when we continue to do this without repentance. We are betraying our Lord and deceiving the ones we are supposed to be leading further into His depths!

The problem with this situation is that most of the leadership in these churches who are failing do not realize that they are, nor do they comprehend that their decisions and the things they chase are moving them away from the Cornerstone and into apostasy. The plumb line from which to gauge where we are is His Word. I am not just talking about moving away from essential Christian doctrine, although this applies. Rather, I am pointing to our not communicating doctrine in love and care and not discipling others so they can know Him more. It is just as bad to have good doctrine and not communicate it as it is to reject good doctrine. The end result is the same玆a Church of Perfidy. Then the person in such a church will not know truth, His will, His call, or recognize opportunities and precepts so he can then act upon them. We become the church of the “pew-sitter” who not only does nothing in a church, but also gets nothing from the church.

Is Christ Your Church’s Living Stone?

 

The idea is that the cornerstone represents Christ as the Chosen Stone (Acts 4:11; Rom. 9:33; 1 Pet. 2:6-8). The idea that Jesus Christ is our Living Stone has significant ramifications of His Lordship over our lives and church. These themes refer to Him as our temple, the One who gives us grace, reconciliation, empowerment, and comfort, and He does not disappoint. Living stone means the foundation, the source of something, such as of a building or a family (Psalm 118:22; Isa. 8:14; 28:16; 2 Peter 2:4-10).

This means Jesus is the Spiritual Temple, not just in theory or in liturgy, but in actual practice, living in our day-to-day leadership and management. He is the place and focus of worship and counsel.

The church or temple is no longer a building; it is a community in relationship to Christ. Think of these images from the reality that Jesus was a carpenter in His human occupation, and perhaps frequently worked with stonemasons or did masonry himself. He was personally familiar with building both in practice and in Lordship, and we must submit to His Lordship in order to be a healthy, vibrant church. Make no mistake. This image from the Gospels is not a mere tale or metaphor; He is to be Christ the Stone, our Giver of life, our Source and Foundation. We must manage His Church from the mindset and practice that He is our LORD for all we are and do (Matt. 21:42; John 1:4; 1 Cor. 3:1-3; 15:45)!  

Living stones in 2 Peter 2:5 is plural, denoting that they are the people of the Church. In the context of our spiritual house, it means a living organism, a sacred temple empowered by God to worship God. This idea implies that our union in Him is our dependence on Christ, as He is the One who supports us, lifts us up, and houses us in His presence (Ex. 19:6; Mark 12:10-11).

This should cause us to think and be in the wonders and fears of “awe!” This means Christian community and fellowship is a “spiritual house,” established, organized, and led in Him. We are all one in Christ and we derive our life from Him. Our identity in Him must affect us personally and publicly, synergizing us as a community so our church is managed in His “reckoning” (Matt. 16:18; 1 Cor. 15:45) that is formed, indwelt, and empowered by the Spirit (Acts 2:33).

We are all precious, important, and have a job to do as a moving, living temple, reflecting His love and holiness (John 2:19; Ro 12:1; 1 Cor. 3:16; Eph. 2:19-22; Heb 7:26; 10:10).  The fact of what our Lord has done for us shows us that we are to be as a corporate collaboration of people in Him. The call is to come to Christ because He is the Living Stone, as He called in Matthew 11:28-30. This is an image of how our Lord is our direction and foundation in all we do, personally and in church, and how we, as a church, should function, as we are all interlocked and plumbed with purpose to one another by our calls, gifts, and abilities—all in Him (Eph. 4). Christ is constructing a building of faith and eminence to be His Church, made up of the stones of “us” lain upon the foundation of Him. Thus, our faith needs to grow from us personally and then move into our community so we can interlock with one another, fastened by the mortar of the Holy Spirit (Eph. 2:19-22).  

In Second Peter 2, Peter tells of the incredible transition from the Temple and the priesthood to the Church—foretold, but still inconceivable to the Jewish mindset. The actuality is that Christ is our stone bridge. He gives us continuity and purpose. Jesus is the Foundation, Pillar, and the Purpose of the Church, which means our church, even your church. To facilitate worship, we as His people as gathered are the Church no matter when and where we are at. We are not cold stones that are stationary and that decay; rather, we are living and movable, cemented together as a corporate identity in Him. 

Yet, as perfect and precious as our Living Stone is, we, the people leading His Church, tend not to want to understand Him and therefore refuse to follow His principles out of fear of losing people, not being culturally relevant, or perhaps a fear of conviction, too. His way gets in the way of their way (my way) of leadership, because they have a skewed understanding of the Cornerstone as LORD.

This idea is much like that of the first century Jews who wanted a warrior Messiah, not a Savior and One who convicted their souls. However, when we are in Him, we have no need to fear a loss of relevancy because we more than make up for it with authenticity, which is far more contagious for the faith to those who do not yet know Him. Authenticity means we are encountering and becoming close to Him. Christ alone gives us the comfort, protection, and the deep love we need. Therefore, we can lead His way and not compromise or lose our footing when we are on His footer. Keep in mind that we, too, are precious in God’s sight!  

Our identification as a “corporate” church does not imply a building; rather, it is a relationship of community where we are His priests! The entire sacrificial and priestly system, as God directed Moses to set up, is now obsolete. It has been replaced. Its purpose was to point to Christ and get people ready; now, He is here. He is the Sacrifice, the Altar, and the Temple, and we are the priests (Ex. 19:1-9; Eph. 2:17-18; Heb. 7:27; 8:6; 9:12-28; 10:12-19; 13:15-16; Rev. 1:6). The key is that we have to listen to His Word; we must relinquish our self-absorbed mindsets and focus on Christ as Lord over all. We are called a Spiritual House referring to the O.T. Temple as God’s dwelling place. Now, that house is more than a building; it is also a legacy, a large family, or a dynasty such as the “House of Israel.” Thus, the Church is God’s dwelling place and legacy (2 Sam. 7:5-7, 12-16; 2 Cor. 6:16; Eph. 2:19-22; Heb. 3:6).

Other Significant Growth Factors that come from these top Seven

That God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 2 Corinthians 5: 19

8. Healthy churches that are growing in Christ have leaders who focus on Christ and serve Him. Their leadership style is not by will; it is by being a servant. “Servant Leadership” is modeled and practiced.

9. Healthy churches that are growing in Christ have people that are disciplined and growing in Christ. This is the reason they are loving and caring, practicing the “one another” passages. They are enamored by God’s presence in their church and life, and thus place Christ first, acting on His character and call! They are not selfish or inwardly focused, but care for others and focus on their community and world.

10. Healthy churches that are growing in Christ have a system of pastoral care. They train their staff and leaders to immediately respond when they hear of a church member in need. They hire licensed, qualified people and/or train and assign trained deacons or care workers; also, a key person is in charge.

11. Healthy churches that are growing in Christ have effective evangelism, stewardship, and discipleship. These programs come from those top seven factors! As people are transformed, they can be taught and motivated. They also tend to spend at least one-third of their resources of budget and talent in outreach and missions.

12. Healthy churches that are growing in Christ have a well thought out, biblically empowered vision and mission statement. This is clearly defined by a purpose that points to Christ, and strategies on what God has called them to do and be. In addition, the people know this and are willing to act on it. It is one thing to write it out, but another thing to act it out. The vision does not lead the church; rather, it s a motto that encapsulates the work of the Spirit and the precepts of Scripture that calls, empowers, and employs the church. A vision is a sign to show what is happening and help others see the direction of the church so they know where to go. A vision will not motivate or lead, just as placing a label for soda on a can of water does not make it a soda.

13. Healthy churches that are growing in Christ tend to organize and mobilize their people according to their Spiritual Gifts! The people are more content and motivated so serve in a team manner when they serve in their area of their giftedness. The quarrels and apathy will dry up as the energies are redirected and channeled in a godly way. People will function less in their own strength and more in the power of the Holy Spirit.

14. Healthy churches that are growing in Christ empower the people in their care. They are training, discipling, recognizing, and encouraging their people, especially those in critical roles. They do not see or use volunteers just as helpers or as people to control and manipulate, but as the essential tools and prime resources with which to glorify God, enablers of the goals of missions and needs to be reached. These churches see the pastor as the trainer for the congregation. If the senior pastor feels they do not have the gifts and abilities to equip and train others to do ministry (what the biblical principle of a “pastor” is), the church hires or build teams around them that do! If the training is not done, the church will fail! Some pastors are great teachers, but cannot do anything else. A pastor must operate in his gifted area, and encourage others who will compensate for him in the areas where he is weak or does not have the time.

15. Healthy churches that are growing in Christ are willing to and do confront sin, evil, gossip, slander, manipulators, and heresy in the church—immediately! The leadership puts down gossip and solves conflict quickly. Healthy churches move ahead in purpose and unity.

16. Healthy churches that are growing in Christ have pastors who are real, joyful, and authentic, and lead healthy, disciplined lives. Their leaders are learning and growing in community with one another, willing to go beyond their prejudices and fears and embrace Christ. They are willing to publicly repent, apologize for past mistakes, make improvements, and change. They do not have thick skin as much as loving hearts, and they give people grace and room to grow. They are not afraid to step on the toes of others, but remain loving, listening, and firmly uncompromising to the Word.