What makes a true Church – Part 2
Just as the Apostle Paul was concerned for believers in Colosse, Christ also expresses this same concern to the church in Thyatira (also in the book of Revelation), where a so-called prophetess, Jezebel, was allowed to corrupt God’s “servants”. Every defiled church of influential and notable, but notorious corrupters incurs divine judgment, if they fail to repent. As the Truth personified, Christ taught the truth of the Word.
Thus, He does not want us to adulterate, modify or mutilate it, because it is the truth that saves, transforms, sanctifies, empowers, establishes, qualifies and prepares us for heaven. Without the truth of God taught, believed, obeyed and upheld as central and pre-eminent in the church, such a gathering is vain and ultimately worthless. The Apostle’s concern is for the church of professing believers to abide in and uphold the truth.
A true church is not known by its name, but by the attributes of its adherents. Saintliness and faithfulness characterise believers in a true church. The Scripture calls believers in a Bible-believing church “saints” not only in name but also in conviction, character, conduct, principle and practice. They are free from all sins, including fornication, uncleanness or covetousness. As saints, they do not make jests of or ridicule the doctrine of holiness because Jesus died to make His followers “unblameable in holiness”.
From the beginning to the very end, believers are supposed to be righteous, holy and saintly. Just as it is contradictory to have an honest liar, contented thief, sober drunkard, chaste adulteress, godly idolater, loving oppressor and upright transgressor, it is also impossible to have a ‘sinning saint’. So, if a person is a saint, he is honest, holy, godly, righteous, chaste, loving and upright.
A real child of God in a true church will also be faithful in business and to the Lord, being always conscious of His omniscience, omnipotence and omnipresence in all his actions and conversations with others. Possessing a sober comportment, he is “faithful in all things”. This extends to his employment, where he must not deprive his employer the man-hours for which he is paid, cut corners, change receipts or collude with fraudsters to dupe his organisation. In the family, parents and children must faithfully adhere to and practise the Word. Christ is coming for believers that are faithful in whatever they do, whether in private or in the public space.
Every believer is required to maintain abiding commitment to the body of Christ by upholding and preserving the doctrines of Christ. Believers in Colosse were commended for being saintly and faithful and for possessing faith, love and hope. The Thessalonian believers also proved their membership of the true, triumphant and rapturable church by their “work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ…” (1 Thessalonians 1:3).
Thus, we need to live by faith, refrain from actions that can “overthrow the faith” of others and watch over our children to avoid associating with those who will destroy their faith. Christian leaders must preserve the faith of members of their church from being destroyed. The reason is that we cannot please God without faith. If our ‘question and answer sessions’ will build faith, we must not entertain “foolish and unlearned questions” that “engender strife”.
The Colossian Christians also demonstrated love toward “all the saints”. This kind of love is not tribal, sectional, partial, limited or constrained. We must not love some saints and oppress others; accept some and reject others; befriend some and be cruel to others. They also had hope of heaven where Jesus, the Old and New Testament saints have gone. The hope of heaven is the reason we separate from the world and labour relentlessly to preach all the doctrines of Christ. To seek or support people who destroy the faith, love, hope and commitment of believers desiring to get to heaven, is to risk divine judgment. God is calling sinners out of the truth-less, transgressing, traditional and Christ-rejecting churches. They should come to salvation in Christ. He is calling converted believers to continue in the truth with godly attributes that qualify them for heaven.
Further Reading (King James Version): Colossians 1:1,2; John 15:19; 2 Corinthians 6:17,18; 1 Peter 2:9; Revelation 3:1; Galatians 5:2-4; Mark 7:7-9; 3 John 9,10; Colossians 2:8,16-18; 2 Thessalonians 2:7-12; 1 Timothy 1:18,19; Philippians 3:18,19; Revelation 2:18-20-23; 22:18,19; Colossians 1:1,2; Romans 1:7; Ephesians 5:1-3; 1 Thessalonians 3:12,13; Revelation 19:6-9; Luke 16:10; Acts 16:15; 1 Timothy 3:11; 6:2; Titus 1:6,9; 3 John 5; Revelation 17:14; Colossians 1:3-5; 1 Corinthians 13:13; 1 Thessalonians 1:3; 5:8; Galatians 2:20; 5:6; 2 Timothy 2:16-18,23; Ephesians 1:15; Philemon 5; Titus 2:13,14; Hebrews 3:6; 1 Peter 1:3-5.