Is the Church Really Necessary?
By: Rev. Joe Kramer
Not only is this a good question, but one that at this juncture must be asked! The church (universally speaking) has a ton of faults and failures. We must ask, is the church what God really wants? You may say the church has a lot of excesses. I will concede that point (see previous articles which talk about some of the problems with the church)! That being said, is it really necessary to God’s plans? Find out in today’s article.
4 Coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious, 5 you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 6 Therefore it is also contained in the Scripture,
“Behold, I lay in Zion
A chief cornerstone, elect, precious,
And he who believes on Him will by no means be put to shame.”
7 Therefore, to you who believe, He is precious; but to those who are disobedient,
“The stone which the builders rejected
Has become the chief cornerstone,”
“A stone of stumbling
And a rock of offense.”
They stumble, being disobedient to the word, to which they also were appointed.
9 But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; 10 who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy.
–1 Peter 2:4–10 (NKJV)
This section of scripture is all about being a living building. The mindset of the Jew was on the temple where they would worship God, but God was done with temple in Jerusalem. God was and is building something new. He is building a people who will be the temple. Not only are we (individually) His temple, but the group of people (the Church) is the place of His dwelling. The place where is presence and glory dwells. No longer is it in buildings built by men, but men have become the place where His glory will now dwell.
In verse four it states that Jesus, the chief cornerstone, has been rejected by man. Indeed He was rejected by man, primarily the Jews at this time and subsequently by many today. The Jews continued to reject Jesus and hardened their hearts toward God. The continued rejection of Jesus today causes spiritual blindness amongst those that are rejecting Him. The rejection today is not just among Jews, but among many people from many nationalities.
Peter then makes the contrast between those that have rejected Jesus and the people he is writing. He is writing to Christians and states that they have not rejected Christ and therefore their hearts are open to God and are a part of the Spiritual temple that is being built.
Now in verse five Peter talks about this spiritual house that is being built. He is talking about the Church. The Bible uses many metaphors to describe the church. Among them are a body, a family, and a city. Continuing his metaphor of a temple, Peter relates the church to each of us by saying that we are a holy priesthood, solely dedicated to God. The job of a priest is to stand between God and needy individuals. This is what a priesthood was designed by God to do in the Old Testament. While it is true that we have no need for someone to go to God for us, this metaphor was not used for this meaning. This metaphor means that Christians are supposed to stand between God and the unsaved in the world and bring them to God. That is the intent of the metaphor as it is used in this passage.
Now in verse six there is a quote from Isaiah chapter twenty-eight verse sixteen. Notice that Jesus is called a cornerstone. Without going into too much detail, a cornerstone is the primary stone of a building. This stone must be laid as perfect as possible so that as things are built on top of it the building stays sturdy and does not collapse. Jesus is our perfect and Holy Cornerstone. This verse also says that the individual who believes in Christ will not be put to shame. Notice that this is an open invitation to everyone, not to the Jews only but to everyone.
In verses seven and eight it says that to the Christians (those that have accepted Him) He is precious to them, but to the ones who rejected Him he has become a stumbling block to their faith. This was undoubtedly a reference to the Jews of Peter’s day because of what they had done to Jesus. To come to Christ they had to admit that their action is what lead to His crucifixion and because of that many continued to reject Him. At the end of verse eight Peter writes that they, the Jews, were disobedient to the Word, but they were also appointed to the word. What does this mean? It means that the Jews were given the promise of the Messiah (Christ) and were to be the ones that He was coming to bless, but having the Holy Word (Old Testament Scriptures) they still rejected Him! How ironic that the ones that were the keepers of the Word of God, would end up rejecting Him!
With verses nine and ten Peter ties his thoughts together. In verse nine, Peter is moving on from those that rejected Christ and he does this with one phrase, “but you.” He says that Christians are chosen people. They are called to do ministry and are called to be the informers of God’s Word and proclaim the good news of Christ. In verse ten we find that Christians were not always God’s people, but they are now His people through the shed blood of Jesus Christ. Jesus has taken many people from all nations who had no affiliation with each other and builds a spiritual church on the earth to proclaim who He is and what He has done for the world. These people will be His witnesses throughout the world. It is because of this marvelous transcendent organization that people will be brought to salvation and cleansing so that they can be put right with a Holy God.
So in this text we have seen that the church is not only necessary but the primary way in which God has decided that the world should come to know about His marvelous plan, even with all if its’ faults and failures. So the question is what are you doing right now in your church? Are you one who is causing some of these failures? Or are you one who is going to co-labor with Christ to try to spread the good news of what God has done for us? The choice is yours.