“He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world” Eph 1:4. All of this summing up of all things in Christ, namely the redemption of man, was “predestined” to be the plan from the beginning, Eph 1:11. God’s plan deserves our full attention.
The message that was “hidden” for long ages that God planned to unite people of all nations into “one body” (Eph. 2:16) was “the eternal purpose [of God] which He carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord”, Eph 3:11.
Knowing how important the church was and is to God makes it very odd that some Christians act as if the church is of little importance to them. The church was on God’s radar from before the creation of the world, but for many weak Christians the church isn’t even a blip on their screen. Why is this?
Paul says to the church at Ephesus that God’s “manifold wisdom” is being demonstrated through His church. The church is God’s manifold wisdom.
We can be sure that the devil knows how important the church is. He does all he can to destroy or stain it. Paul said woe to the one that destroys the church, 1 Cor. 3:16,17. The church is the temple, house, or habitation of God in the Spirit and the one that would destroy it, God will destroy him. The devil that would destroy the church must be happy if Christians do little in the church.
The church is the place Christians work. Paul said we are created anew in Christ Jesus “for good works”, Eph 2:10. This working of the church with all the members of the body functioning together is so that it portrays the glory of Christ.
How can a Christian read what Jesus has done in the church and then give only their scraps of time, talents, and monies to God? They truly rob God, Mal 3:8. Paul said, “the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love”, Eph 4:16. The holding together and growth of the body doesn’t happen if Christian do not hold the church as dear as Jesus does.
Jesus said He would build His church, Mt 16:16ff. But I have seen so-called Christians treat the church as nothing important. I have the sense that this is going to be judged and God will find these as enemies.
We are members of one another, Eph 4:25. The man who is still in love with the world, with money, with worldly pursuits and diversions will not feel this connection which Paul speaks of. Paul sees the church being together and says about their conduct, “Therefore, laying aside falsehood, SPEAK TRUTH EACH ONE of you WITH HIS NEIGHBOR, for we are members of one another.” Eph 4:25. But for these who spend no time with the church have no need of such an admonition since they don’t fellowship, there is no occasion for lying to the church. Well, perhaps that isn’t the whole truth. There is much lying that is done with all of the excuse making that goes into explaining why he or she doesn’t have the time to work with the fellow members of the body.
In the garden of Eden God had in mind the church. When it says in Genesis, “FOR THIS REASON A MAN SHALL LEAVE HIS FATHER AND MOTHER AND SHALL BE JOINED TO HIS WIFE, AND THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH”, God had in mind to picture the Lord Jesus and His church. Paul says to the Ephesians, “This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church”, Eph 5:32. Yes, the marriage of the husband and wife is picturing the union of Christ and the Church. When weak Christians treat their membership in the body of Christ as of last importance – work, family sports, etc comes before it – it is ignorance at the very least and at worst it is the fist of rebellion still shaking at God. I believe God will not look well upon such rebellion.
How does a person come to value the church as Jesus values it? Only by turning in repentance to make God’s interests our own. We must learn from Peter who at one moment could say the praiseworthy words “thou art the Christ, the son of the living God” and in the next when Jesus says He must die, say, “God forbid it, Lord! This shall never happen to You.” Mt 16:16,22. We must learn as Peter did that God is right and we must accept the church as Christ built it. The church comes through the death of Christ. The people of God’s church must be dead to the flesh and alive to Christ. When this happens, the church will be central to our lives.
I speak this truth in love, Eph 4:15. And those who reject the truth, God will judge them. There is only one body of Christ, Eph 4:4,5. The church is comprised of those who believe in the one faith and who have received the one baptism, Mt 28:19; Mk 16:16. They worship in spirit and truth, Jn 4:23,24; Eph 5:19. They have a common mission to war against the sin in the world, Eph 6:10ff. So suit up with the armor of God. Take the Gospel to the world. Win souls and help them to grow up in the body of Christ. And those who refuse to accept God’s eternal plan, reject them and put them out of the body.