Can You Over-Emphasize the Church of Our Lord Jesus Christ?
By Chuck Bartlett
Let’s take a moment to consider the focus of the preaching delivered around the time Christ entered the world. In Luke 1:31-33, Mary was told by an angel that she would bring forth a son and that He would be known as Jesus. Moreover, she was informed He would reign over His kingdom.
This is why we read about the forerunner of Christ (John the Baptist) preaching that the kingdom was at hand (Matt. 3:2). As Jesus began His ministry, He also spoke about the coming of His kingdom (Matt. 4:17). He taught his followers to pray for this kingdom to come (Matt. 6:10). The Savior also stressed the need for everyone to seek that kingdom (Matt. 6:33). Even on the night of His betrayal, Jesus told His apostles that He would not partake of the Lord’s Supper again until His kingdom arrived (Matt. 26:29).
So much of Christ’s teaching about the coming of the kingdom – what should be taught after the kingdom has arrived? The answers to the above question is obvious. If there was to be great anticipation of the Lord’s kingdom, imagine how much more one would talk about the kingdom when arrived!
Is it here though? Yes! Christ stated in Mark 9:1 that the kingdom was going to come with power during the lifetime of some of those standing there listening to Him speak. Logically, we cannot be waiting for the kingdom as none of those people are still alive on the earth.
There are many scriptures that speak of the kingdom being in existence now. Saints were being translated into the kingdom (Col. 1:13). The apostles were given the key to speak the way one can get into the kingdom (Matt. 18:19; John 16:13). But just when did the kingdom come into existence? Remember that Jesus aid the kingdom would come with power (Mark 9:1). The apostles were told to tarry in Jerusalem until they received that power (Luke 24:49). This power comes when the Holy Spirit comes upon them (Acts 1:8). The Holy Spirit came upon the apostles in Acts 2:1-4.
When the Holy Spirit came, the power came. When the power came, the kingdom came. To be clear, this kingdom is spiritual, not physical. Jesus told Pilate that if His kingdom were of this world, His servants would fight (John 18:36). Pilate realized that Jesus and His followers were not a threat to the Roman government. This spiritual kingdom has come, and we need to become citizens of it today (Eph. 2:19).
To more precisely identify when the kingdom came, we need to see the link between it and the church. When Jesus said He was going to build His church, He connected it with the kingdom (Matt. 16:18-19). The promise to build His church is synonymous with the establishing of His kingdom. The two terms are often used interchangeably in the scriptures. Because Jesus purchased the church with His blood (Acts 20:28), both the church and the kingdom both began after His resurrection. Those who obeyed the gospel were added to the church and the kingdom by the Lord (Acts 2:47; Col. 1:13).
Let us now return to the question posed in the article’s title – can we really over-emphasize the church of our Lord? No! Knowing that the prophets of old, John the Baptist, Jesus and His followers spoke about its coming, why would we not also proclaim that the kingdom (church) has come? If anything, Jesus’ blood-bought church is not discussed and respected enough in today’s pulpits. Remember, Jesus is ruling and reigning (Col. 1:18)! Christ is our king (I Tim. 6:15)! Are you emphasizing the need for people to become members of His church and citizens of His kingdom?
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