John MacArthur: Why I Love the Church

JP: Excerpts only quoted below. See my comments at bottom.

Why I Love the Church (Part 1)

… the remedy for evangelical apathy about the church is not a return to the twisted, extrabiblical ecclesiology of the Roman Catholic Church. Evangelical Protestants must approach ecclesiology as they have soteriology—from the perspective of Scripture alone. Unfortunately even among many Protestants, too many of the popular notions about the church are laden with human traditions, superstitions, and other holdovers from the medieval Catholic Church. Scripture alone can give us a sound understanding and appreciation of the true role and nature of the church.

I love the church. I am inveterate and incurable lover of the church. It thrills me beyond expression to serve the church. Although I am also involved in some parachurch ministries, I wouldn’t trade my ministry in the church for all of them combined. The church takes first place in my ministry priorities, and all the parachurch ministries I serve are subordinate to, and grow out of, my ministry in the church.

Why I Love the Church (Part 2)

The church is the New Testament counterpart of the Old Testament Temple. I’m not referring to a church building, but the body of all true believers.

It is a spiritual building (1 Pet. 2:5), the dwelling-place of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 3:16-17; 2 Cor. 6:16), the place where God’s glory is most clearly manifest on earth, and the proper nucleus and focal point of spiritual life and worship for the community of the redeemed.

God Himself is the architect and builder of this temple

Why I Love the Church (Part 3)

In the mystery of the Trinity we see that there is an ineffable and eternal love between the Members of the Trinity. Jesus refers to it in His high priestly prayer: “Father, I desire that they also, whom You have given Me, be with Me where I am, so that they may see My glory which You have given Me, for You loved Me before the foundation of the world” (John 17:24, emphasis added).

That love must find an expression. True love always seeks ways to give. And in a demonstration of His perfect love for His Son, the Father made a pledge to the Son. And what was that pledge? He promised the Son a redeemed people—justified, sanctified, and glorified. He promised to bring the redeemed to ones to glory, that they might dwell in the very place where Father and Son have dwelt since before time began—the very realm of God. And this collective body of called-out ones—a people for His name (Acts 15:14) from every tribe and people and tongue and nation (Rev. 13:7)—would form a living temple for the Holy Spirit (Eph. 2:21-22), becoming the very dwelling-place of God.

That is the eternal promise the Father made to the Son. Why? As an expression of His love. The redeemed of humanity, then, are a gift from Father to Son.

With that in mind, consider Jesus’ words in John 6:37: “All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out.” That, again, affirms the utter invincibility of the church. Every individual ever redeemed—everyone ever given the gift of faith, forgiven, and justified before God by grace—is a love-gift from the Father to the Son. And not one of them will fail or be cast out. Would Christ turn down a love-gift from His own Father?

Why I Love the Church (Part 4)

There’s a third biblical reason I love the church: It is the most precious thing on this earth — more precious than silver, or gold, or any other earthly commodity.

How precious is the church? It demanded the highest price ever paid for anything. “You have been bought with a price” (1 Cor. 6:20). What price? “You were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ” (1 Pet, 1:18-19). Acts 20:28 refers to “the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.”

Why I Love the Church (Conclusion)

Here’s a yet another reason from Scripture why I love the church: It is like heaven on earth. I don’t mean that the church is perfect, or that it offers some kind of utopian escape from the realities of a sinful world. But I mean that the church is the one place where all that occurs in heaven also occurs on earth.

Christ instructed us to pray, “Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matt. 6:10). In what sphere is that most likely to occur? In the United States Congress? Not likely. In the Supreme Court? Probably not. In the university? No. City Hall? Don’t count on it.

Where is God’s will done on earth as it is in heaven? Only in one place, and that is the church.

Comments: The church is God’s ordained organism for carrying out His work in this age. Notice that I said “organism” instead of “organization”. An “organism” speaks of something that is alive! And certainly the Body of Christ, the church universal is alive! It is (we are), His hands and feet, His voice for ministry in this Church age. The word translated “church” in the NT is the Greek ἐκκλησία (ekklēsia). ἐκκλησία is a compound of the Greek preposition, ἐκ, meaning “out of” AND the Greek verb, καλέω, meaning “to call”. The church is literally a “called out assembly“.

The vast majority of occurances of ἐκκλησία in the NT speak of a local assembly of believers!

Question: Who called us?
Answer: The Lord!

Question: From whence has He called us?
Answer: From the world!

Question: To what has He called us?
Answer: To gather to worship and adore Him! To fellowship with other “called ones”. To edify and to be edified!

I love the church because it is ordained of God: (Matthew 16:18, “I will build My church”). I love the church because Christ loves His Church: (Ephesians 5:25, “Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her”). I love the church because I love the people of the church – my Brothers and Sisters in Christ.

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