Posted by: forbygrace | January 18, 2009

The Church and the Christian-Part 1

This is an excellent excerpt from a book by Mark Dever titled: What is a Healthy Church

It’s always vital for the believer to be biblical in his or her thinking even when it means going against the grain. This is nowhere more evident today than in the church where relativism and narcissism has penetrated.

Can you define what a Christian is without mentioning the church? If you can, your definition just might not line up with the Bible’s.

Think about it. If you’re an orphan, you don’t adopt parents; they adopt you. If your adoptive parents are named Smith, you now attend the Smith family dinners with the parents and all the children. You share a bedroom at night with the Smith siblings. When the teacher at school calls out attendance and says, “Smith?” you raise your hand like your older brother did before you and your younger sister will do after you. And you do this not because you decided to play the role of “Smith,” but because someone went to the orphanage and said, “You will be a Smith.” On that day, you became the child of someone and the sibling of others.

Only your name’s not Smith. It’s Christian, named after the one through whom you were adopted, Christ (Eph. 1:5). Now you’re part of the whole family of God. “The one who makes men holy and those who are made holy are of the same family” (Heb. 2:11).

And this is no dysfunctional family, with family members estranged from one another. It’s a fellowship. When God “called you into fellowship with his Son Jesus Christ our Lord” (1 Cor. 1:9), he also called you into “fellowship” with the whole family (1 Cor. 5:2).

And this is no polite and formal fellowship. It’s a body, bound together by our individual decisions but also bound together by far more than human decision—the person and work of Christ. You would be as foolish to say, “I’m not a part of the family,” as you would be to cut off your own hand or nose. As Paul said to the Corinthians, “The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I don’t need you!’ And the head cannot say to the feet, ‘I don’t need you!’” (1 Cor. 12:21).

In short, it’s impossible to answer the question “What is a Christian?” without ending up in a conversation about the church; at least, in the Bible it is. Not only that, it’s hard to stick with just one metaphor for the church because the New Testament uses so many of them: a family and a fellowship, a body and a bride, a people and a temple, a lady and her children. And never does the New Testament conceive of the Christian existing on a prolonged basis outside the fellowship of the church. The church is not really a place. It’s a people—God’s people

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