EDUCATING OUR WORLD

Question: Why Is It Important To Study About The Church?

Answer: As we begin to look at the subject of the church we will first start by considering the importance of such a study. It is really necessary to do a detailed study of the church? Of what benefit is this endeavor?

A study of ecclesiology, or the doctrine of the church, is important for a number of reasons. They include the following.

1.  It Is Part Of The Bible Doctrine

The teaching about the church makes up a sizeable portion of Scripture. The Bible teaches that all Scripture is divinely inspired of God as well as profitable for study. Paul wrote.

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work (2 Timothy 3:16-17 NIV).

Since the doctrine of the church is part of the Bible, and all Scripture is profitable for our instruction, for this reason alone, the biblical teaching about the church should be studied.  

2.  Scripture Attaches Special Importance To This Subject

Not only is the doctrine of the church taught in Scripture, it is given a place of importance.  The subject of the church consists of a large part of the New Testament. Since the church is important to God, it also should be important to God’s people. There are many people who have a picture of the church that incorrect and only a proper understanding of the church from God’s perspective will serve to correct this.

3. It Is God’s Work On Earth Today

The church is the work of God on the earth for this age. Paul wrote the following to the Ephesians explaining this fact. He put it this way.

It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God's people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up (Ephesians 4:11,12 NIV).

The church is God’s divine work today. A person cannot be fully committed to Jesus Christ without a full commitment to His church. Consequently the believer must have a proper understanding of the church to do the work of the Lord.

4. Jesus Christ Identified Himself With The Church

Jesus Himself identified with the church. He told Peter that He would build His church. Matthew records Jesus saying the following.

And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it (Matthew 16:18 RSV).

The church is something which Jesus Christ Himself will build. It is His church; it does not belong to anyone else.

Therefore, we find that persecuting the church was the same as persecuting Jesus Christ. The Bible gives the following account of the conversion of Saul of Tarsus to the Apostle Paul.

Meanwhile, Saul was uttering threats with every breath. He was eager to destroy the Lord’s followers, so he went to the high priest. He requested letters addressed to the synagogues in Damascus, asking their cooperation in the arrest of any followers of the Way he found there. He wanted to bring them-- both men and women-- back to Jerusalem in chains. As he was nearing Damascus on this mission, a brilliant light from heaven suddenly beamed down upon him! He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul! Saul! Why are you persecuting me?” “Who are you, sir?” Saul asked. And the voice replied, “I am Jesus, the one you are persecuting!” (Acts 9:1-5 NLT).

Jesus told Saul that the persecution of the church was the same thing as persecuting Jesus Himself.

Indeed, the Apostle Paul later testified that his greatest sin was persecuting God’s people. He wrote the following to the Corinthian believers.

For I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God (1 Corinthians 15:9 HCSB).

Paul persecuted God’s people before he met Jesus. This was something he never forgot. This is a further reminder of the importance of the church.

5. Jesus Gave His Life For The Church

Jesus sacrificed His life for the church. Paul wrote to the Ephesians and explained it in this manner.

Husbands, love your wives, just as also Christ loved the church and gave Himself for her (Ephesians 5:25 HCSB).

Christ died for the church. In the Book of Acts we read about how Christ purchased the church with His own blood.

Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood (Acts 20:28 ESV).

The fact that Jesus died for the church is sufficient reason to understand what the church is all about.

Thus, the importance of the church can scarcely be overstated. It is that which Christ loves, nourishes, and cherishes. Paul wrote.

For no man ever hates his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, as Christ does the church (Ephesians 5:29 RSV).

Jesus Himself nourishes His church; He cares for it and loves it. If it is important to Him, is should be important to us. Someday the church will be presented to Christ as a bride to her husband. Paul wrote about this to the Ephesians. He said.

That he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish (Ephesians 5: 27 RSV).

This is another reason as to why we should be concerned with church matters.

6. There Are Many Areas Of Dispute Among Believers About The Nature Of The Church

There have been disputes among believers on many of church related issues. These include areas such as: the authority in the church, water baptism, communion, and church government.  These disputes have lead to deep division among professing Christians. This is unfortunate.

Consequently all believers should understand what they believe about these particular issues that have caused these disputes.

Furthermore, we need to appreciate why other Bible-believing Christians may have a different opinion on these same issues than we have. Perhaps they are right and we are the ones in error! We must always hold this out as a possibility.

Conclusion:The Importance Of The Topic Of The Church Cannot Be Overemphasized

This sums up some of the reasons as to why it is essential to study about the church which Jesus Christ is building here upon the earth. Obviously it is an important topic; one which should be diligently studied by all those who belong to Him.

God’s work on earth today is done through the church. This is how He reaches an unbelieving world with His message of grace and truth. Thus, we should understand how the Lord is going about doing His work through His church.

Furthermore, Jesus Christ identified Himself with the church. The church is His; it belongs to nobody else. Indeed, the apostle Paul confessed that his greatest sin was persecuting the church – the people of God. Trying to stop the work of the church is the same as trying to stop the work of God.

There is something else. Jesus not only identified Himself with the church, He also gave His life for it. This alone is sufficient reason to study it.

Finally, there are many unresolved issues among Bible-believers regarding the church. Issues such as water baptism, final authority, and church government have divided believers. These matters should be thoroughly studied.

It is important that we understand why there are differences between various Christian groups on these and other matters. We also need to know what we personally believe on these topics and why we believe it. The importance of this issue is clear. The doctrine of the church should be carefully studied.

Summary To Question 1 Why Is It Important To Study About The Church?

The study of ecclesiology, or the doctrine of the church, is vital for a number of reasons. They can be summed up as follows.

First, since the subject of the church is part of Holy Scripture, it should be studied, since the Bible teaches that all Scripture is profitable. Consequently, we should attempt to discover what the Scripture says on the subject.

The doctrine of the church also encompasses a large portion of the teaching of the New Testament. In other words, it is an important doctrine. This is another reason we should learn what the Scripture says about it.

God’s work on earth today is done through the church. This is how He reaches an unbelieving world with His message of grace and truth. Thus, we should understand how the Lord is going about doing His work through His church.

Furthermore, Jesus Christ identified Himself with the church. The church is His; it belongs to nobody else. Indeed, the apostle Paul confessed that his greatest sin was persecuting the church – the people of God. Trying to stop the work of the church is the same as trying to stop the work of God.

There is something else. Jesus not only identified Himself with the church, He also gave His life for it. This alone is sufficient reason to study it.

Finally, there are many unresolved issues among Bible-believers regarding the church. Issues such as water baptism, final authority, and church government have divided believers. These matters should be thoroughly studied.

Indeed, it is important that we understand why there are differences between various Christian groups on these and other matters. We also need to know what we personally believe on these topics and why we believe it. The importance of this issue is clear. The doctrine of the church should be carefully studied.

This question comes from my forthcoming book “The Church: God’s People In Today’s World”

ABOUT DON STEWART

Don Stewart is an internationally recognized Christian apologist and speaker. He graduated cum laude from Talbot Theological Seminary and the International Seminar in Theology and Law in Strasbourg, France, as well as from Biola University. Don is also a best-selling and award-winning author/co-author of over seventy books. [ read more ]

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