7 razones por las que amo la iglesia

I originally wrote this post in Spanish last week. Nevertheless, since I’m a part of an English-speaking congregation, I sent this to my pastors (through a barely-comprehensible google translation), and later decided to translate it and run it again. Puedes encontrar el artículo en español aquí.

Christian life is meant to be lived in community. Particularly, it’s meant to be lived in the Community called the Church. The blood-bought church that, though you can find spots right now, it will be spotless. And though it’s filled with (redeemed!) sinners, it’s the The Pure Bride of the Holy Lamb. Even though I’ve been a Christian for over 15 years, it’s in the last 8 or 9 years that I’ve really come to appreciate the true value of the church. And so here are 7 reasons why I love it:

1. Community

“So we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another”, Romans 12:5

You can’t live the Christian life alone. We need the gifts, the love, and the forgiveness of our brothers, and they need ours. My best friends are all part of the community of faith. So are many in my family. My dearest memories have the church in them, in one way or another. In a lost world where we are pilgrims and strangers, it is invaluable to count on the community of faith; to do life with those who share our longings and loathings.

2. Preaching of the Word

“If I delay, you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, a pillar and buttress of the truth”, 1 Timothy 3:15

If you’re a member of a healthy church, than you have firsthand experience of the power of the preaching of Scripture. Yes, the Lord speaks to us every day through our devotional reading of the Bible and through applying the Bible in our conversations. But there’s something special in listening to the proclamation of a passage of Scripture together with the saints. And that’s a blessing we have in the Church at least once a week.

3. Sacraments

“Do this in remembrance of me”, 1 Corinthians 11:24

By this I mean the two ordinances given by our Lord and perpetuated in the Church since its beginnings: Baptism and Communion. I love being able to witness what the waters of baptism represent. Hearing my new brothers and sisters confess God’s grace in their lives, the forgiveness of sin, being rescued of the pit of destruction, and how they now want to serve Him with their lives. I joyfully remember the baptism of friends, family, and students that I preached to. Every occasion is a reminder that the Lord continues to save from sin. And then Communion: always a special time, a remembrance of our Lord’s sacrifice. In my place and for my sin. Such love in the blood, such grace in the body. Blessed be He, who constantly reminds me of his wonderful deed on the cross, and who prepared a special time to remember him as a Church.

4. Answering Questions

“Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life”, John 6:68

We live in uncertain times, where a man can call himself a woman and a woman can murder her child in the womb and society doesn’t even blink. The haughtiness of man rises again and again against God’s truth. And we, Christians, God’s people, again and again don’t know how to think or what to do. And so I’m thankful to God for the design of the Church, where we listen in different ways and we ask and we answer to the relevant issues of the day. I love small groups and youth ministries (that preach the Word!) and couple’s group and all those things, for they provide of a space where peers with similar questions can hear from others with more wisdom and receive guidance. Of course, none of these groups substitute the general assembly—they complements it.

5. Service to Society

“In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven”, Matthew 5:16

The Church has been uniquely designed by God to serve not only those who are inside their walls, but society as a whole. Certainly, the main way in which it does that is through the proclamation of the gospel and making disciples. Members of society arrive into church, are transformed by the gospel, grow in holiness, and their whole sphere of influence is transformed. But the church has also been behind the abolition of slavery and important scientific advancements. The Bible’s morality has served to stop abortion in dozens of countries, and to put a hold on the moral corruption of nations. And though that may not save, is proof of God’s grace that allows us to live “a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way” (1 Ti 2:2). If we add the hundreds of thousands of people that have been fed and dressed by churches around the world, I have to thank the Lord for such grace.

6. Gifts and Growth

“To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good”, 1 Corinthians 12:7

I vividly remember my first sermon. My wife (my girlfriend at the time) was there, and she says she liked it. But when I look back, I know that it was not a solid sermon. Nevertheless, I thank the Lord for that church that gave me the privilege of serving them through the preaching of God’s Word, and I’m thankful for all the opportunities that I’ve had after that. What’s more, that gift of teaching, by God’s grace and the power of the Holy Spirit, has developed in me, and others have been edified by God through a sermon or writing that He’s allowed me to prepare. As for me, I’ve received the incredible blessing of listening to God’s word, receive counseling, being strengthen in my faith, and know that brothers are praying for me. The exercise of spiritual gifts is absolutely necessary for the life of the believer, and through them we are formed in the image of Christ.

7. Accountability and Discipline

“If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault…”, Matthew 18:15

We all sin in many ways. That’s the reality of living in a fallen body in a fallen world. The danger and the shame is that we get used to our sins, and we regularly don’t notice the diverse ways in which we offend God and others. That is why I’m thankful for the accountability that the Church provides. Walking the path of faith with other believers provides a space where they can speak to us and help us remove the blindspots. It requires courage and love to go to someone we love and say, “Please, ¿how can I be better? ¿Do you see any sin in me?” It requires courage to answer those questions in love and honesty. And I thank the Lord for the many brothers that have come to me and spoken into my life and that still help me be more like Christ by pointing areas where I need to repent and grow. I’m also thankful for church discipline, as it raises God’s holiness before the eyes of a watching world, and can genuinely save the soul of those who receive it. That is proof of God’s love for the Church.

I could give thanks for all these things in theory, as I know they’re in the Bible. But it’s more than theory to me: I’ve experienced all this in Sovereign Grace Church of Louisville, where I’m attending while in Seminary, and Iglesia Bautista Internacional, my home church and where we’ll be returning early next year. I give thanks to the Lord for these congregations, and for all congregations that love the Lord of the Word.

What about you? Is there any important reason why you give thanks that I left out? Please leave your comment below.