Healthy Congregations, Part 2

This Jesus God raised up again, to which we are all witnesses. Therefore having been exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He has poured forth this which you both see and hear. For it was not David who ascended into heaven, but he himself says: “The Lord said to my Lord ‘Sit at My right hand, until I make Your enemies a footstool for Your feet.’” Therefore let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ—this Jesus whom you crucified (Acts 2:32-36).

Healthy congregations understand that Jesus is the way people approach God (John 14:6; Hebrews 1:1, 2; 4:14-16). The Christians in such congregations understand one of God’s intents in Jesus (resurrected to be Lord and Christ) was to provide all people access to God. He is Lord because it was God’s intent that he conquer everything opposing God (1 Corinthians 15:25-28). God placed all divine authority in the resurrected Jesus (Matthew 28:18; Ephesians 1:20-23).

Jesus is the Christ by God’s intent. Jesus is the fulfillment of God’s promise to Abraham (Genesis 12:3; Galatians 3:8, 16). (“Christ” is the Greek word for the Hebrew “Messiah.”) Jesus is the “anointed by God” to bring God’s gift to our physical world (Matthew 1:18-23; Luke 1:31-33; John 3:16; Romans 5:8). He gives us immediate access to God (Hebrews 6:19, 20; 10:19-21) by allowing us to go where no one before us went. The resurrected Jesus is seated (mission accomplished!) at God’s right hand (the place of prominence) to intercede for us (Romans 8:33, 34). As Christians, we have a quality of representation with God that is unequaled and cannot be surpassed (Hebrews 8:1, 2).

Our confidence is in a Savior--not an institution, not a building, not a person or group of persons (humans), not a prominent historical figure, not an apostle, nor in a human perspective. We trust the One who died for us, who was raised for us, who intercedes for us, and who (by God’s appointment) is the Lord given to lead us to God.

Healthy congregations listen to Jesus, learn from Jesus, follow Jesus, and let Jesus show them God’s purposes and intents. Instead of being defensive of human ideas and desires, we are willing to learn. Instead of concluding we know everything to be known about God’s will, we are open to God’s guidance in Jesus Christ. Instead of turning people away from God, we encourage those who seek God. We never stop seeking God’s wisdom placed in Jesus.

We call ourselves “Christians” because we want to be like Jesus. We shine as lights in a dark world to attract people to Jesus and to glorify God (Matthew 5:16). Such people make healthy congregations. Lives and behavior are determined by Jesus, not people.

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Bulletin Article, 3 April 2008

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