"Verses 16-18 give us three marks of a genuine Church.(i) It is a happy Church. There is in it that atmosphere of joy which makes its members feel that they are bathed in sunshine. True Christianity is an exhilarating and not a depressing thing.(ii) It is a praying Church. Maybe our Church's prayers would be more effective if we remembered that 'they pray best together who also pray alone'.(iii) It is a thankful Church. There is always something for which to give thanks; even on the darkest day there are blessings to count. We must remember that if we face the sun the shadows will fall behind us but if we turn our backs on the sun all the shadows will be in front."
Worship is central in a genuine church.
A genuine church will grow.
- "And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved." (Acts 2:47)
- " ... more and more men and women believed in the Lord and were added to their number" (Acts 5:14).
Is there any good reason top believe that a dying church is a healthy church?
A genuine church grows because it takes "the Great Commission" seriously.
There are a couple of versions of this Commission by Jesus to His church:
Luke 14:21 "Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame."
However, Scripture says that:
- Jesus Christ is the head of the church (Eph 4:15; 5:23; Col 1:18). In fact, He is "the head over every power and authority" (Col 2:10) and "all power in heaven and earth" has been given to Him (Matt 28:18).
- Jesus has been exalted to the highest place and has been given a name above every name (Phil 2:9-11).
Because Jesus is "the image of the invisible God", "the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of His being" (Col 1:15; Heb 1:3; cp. John 1:18; 14:9; 2 Cor 4:4) a church which is Christ-centred is therefore God-centred. We cannot be God-centred unless we are Christ-centred. Jesus said "He who does not honour the Son does not honour the Father, who sent him" (John 5:23).
John made a powerful allusion to the tabernacle in the wilderness which was positioned in the centre of the camp of Israel, when he said of the Word-made-flesh that He "made his dwelling among us" (John 1:14), which literally means He "tabernacled" among us, or "pitched His tent with us". As the tabernacle was at the centre of the camp of Israel, so Jesus Christ is the centre of the church, the place where God dwells among His people.
What does this mean in practice? A Christ-centred church will honour Him with its praises, giving Him glory (e.g. Rev 1:6; 5:12; Heb 13:21; 1 Peter 4:11; 2 Peter 3:18). A church which honours the Father alone with its praises does not practice the Truth in relation to the supremacy of the Son.
I personally feel that it was a backward step when the revisers of the Christadelphian hymn book changed a much-loved hymn, "Allelulia, sing to Jesus" to "Hallelujah, sing of Jesus." The change suggested that we should not address our praises to Him who is the Head of the Body, to Whom all authority in heaven and earth has been given, and Whose name is above every name. If so, then the revision is a sad denial of a foundational Truth, and an indication that the doctrine of God-manifestation is either ignored or not understood by those in the Christadelphian community who should know better.
Let's give Jesus His rightful place as the object of our praises.