Faith Column: The purpose and power of the local church
In Matthew chapter 16, Jesus gives first reference to a concept with which many of us are acquainted. He said, “I will build my church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it.”
That was the first time the Bible uses the word church. The word was actually a secular term that referred to the summoning of individuals to a local gathering of people who were called together for the purpose of influencing the future of a local area. It was similar in those days to what we would consider a city council meeting today. Jesus used this word when he spoke of what he was building when he died and arose from death. He was building the church. This is what Jesus is still doing today. Jesus selecting this word to describe the local church gives us understanding of his purpose for the church. The church is God’s plan to impact and shape the future of regions as well as each individual in that region.
Since the church is a calling to gather, who issues the summons? To whom are we accountable if we do or do not respond to the call? Is it the pastor? Or other church leaders? Is it just tradition? No, according to Jesus, the church is actually God calling His people together for His purposes to be carried out on earth. Some do not hear the call of God. Some hear, but decide other things are more important, and the business of life drowns out their participation. Some hear, but do not understand the purpose of the local church and fall short of God’s intended fruitfulness. I believe we are living in days where God is reviving His people and there will be a greater and greater resurgence of the power and influence of the local church across earth.
Because God has called His people together for the purpose of influencing localities for light, He has given the church His authority to break the powers of darkness and to release His light. The first thing Jesus said about the church was that the gates of hell would not prevail against it. It is easy to complain about why the world is falling apart around us. It is even common to blame or question God for why this is allowed. But, God has a plan for bringing His light into a dark world, and He is working. He is calling people to join as one to carry out His plans. Are you hearing the call? Are you heeding the call? He is working today through the church, through as many as will respond. Are we hitting on all cylinders and producing all heaven desires? Sadly no. He is working as much as He can with and through those who yield to Him. But there is a stirring and an arising in this day to a greater cooperation with God. He is stirring vision, purpose, and understanding. He is stirring a spirit of action among His people. Many are coming together. Many are coming back that had fallen away.
The effectiveness of the church will mark change in any region. As the church goes, so goes the city, so goes the nation, so goes the world. A cold and dark church will lead to a cold and dark region. A fiery church will set a city on fire for God. Many desire a change in the earth, but are not committed to be a part of God’s solution. It takes no strength or commitment to complain. Anyone can do that. Rather, consider being part of the solution by joining together with others of like heart to bring transformation. This is the purpose of the church.
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In the early days of Christianity, the church was spoken of as those who turned the world upside down. We could use some of that turning upside down stuff in our day! God is still well able. I believe you and I were born for such a time as this! If you are not already a part, find a strong and active local church, and become a part of what God is doing in this hour. May God bless you all!
Jason Haskell is the senior pastor at New Creation Church in Craig.Jason Haskell is the senior pastor at New Creation Church in Craig. Jason Haskell is the senior pastor at New Creation Church in Craig.
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