“Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.” (Acts 20:28)
Imagine purchasing a piece of property, designing a blueprint for a house, purchasing the materials, and successfully building the house of your dreams. After you have worked diligently and have made sure that the work was done perfectly, and the house you built was exactly the way you envisioned it to be, you move all your belongings into this house and your family begins to enjoy the fruits of your labors. A short time after you move into this house, early one morning someone knocks on the door, sledgehammer in hand, and announces to you they are going to rearrange your house, that they are not satisfied with the way you have designed and built your house, and they have come to make your house fit their desires and needs. How would you react to this type of situation? Would you allow them to destroy what you worked so hard for, would you allow them to make changes they thought were necessary, would you do nothing and accept the fact that they may know better than you? It seems crazy to think that something like this would take place, and anyone who thought they would be able to remodel someone’s house against their will would have to be out of their minds to think that could take place.
When Jesus went to the cross to shed His blood for the remission of sin (Matt. 26:28), He purchased the church with His blood, and being that He purchased it, He has the authority to make all the decisions regarding the church as He desires. Although the authority for the church lies within the Godhead, there are many that desire to rearrange the church to fit their desires and needs and expect to be able to do such without recourse. If we can understand the above scenario and understand why one would be enraged if someone wanted to rearrange their house without their consent, why would some believe they can change the church without the authority of the Godhead and think it is acceptable? Some may begin to ask, “Does the church matter?” and as we will notice the answer throughout Scripture is a resounding “Yes!”
The church matters because it is the eternal plan of the Godhead. Before God ever said “Let there be light” or before Adam and Eve were ever created, God had an eternal plan for the church. “To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God, According to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord:” (Ephesians 3:10–11). The “eternal purpose” of God was that Jesus Christ would establish the church, and that plan was carried out perfectly by Christ. Throughout the Old Testament, God foretold of the coming of the church. When sin entered the world, God foretold of the coming of the One that would “bruise” the head of Satan (Gen. 3:15). When Abraham was told to leave his father’s house and go to a land that God would give him, God promised that through his seed “all nations” of the earth would be blessed (Gen. 12:1-3). When the prophets declared the Word of the Lord to Israel, while in captivity, Daniel proclaimed there was a kingdom coming that would never be destroyed and would last forever (Dan. 2:44). When Jesus began to preach, He began by declaring the kingdom/church was “at hand” (Matt. 4:17). Jesus told His apostles of the church He would build that would last forever, and the apostles would be given the keys to this kingdom (Matt. 16:13-20). Before Jesus would go to the cross, He comforted His apostles by telling them of the Comforter (the Holy Spirit) that would come and guide the apostles in all truth as they went into the uttermost parts of the earth establishing the church throughout the world (John 14-16). After Jesus ascended into heaven to take His rightful place on the throne at the right hand of God, the apostles preached the Word, and those that gladly received the Word and obeyed were added to the church as God saved them (Acts 2:47). The church matters because it is the plan of God.
The church matters because of the high cost that was paid to establish it. The church was purchased with the precious blood of the perfect Savior (Acts 20:28). Jesus did not hesitate to take on the role of a servant and become obedient to the will of the Father, even being obedient to the point of crucifixion on the cross (Phil. 2:5ff.). Jesus lived the perfect sinless life, yet He was crucified in our place so we might be able to be saved (John 3:17; 1 Peter 2:20-23). Jesus was in great agony in the Garden of Gethsemane as He pleaded with the Father to “let this cup pass from me” (Matt. 26:39) and although He would have to suffer for our sins, He was faithful to the will of the Father. As Jesus shed His blood for our sins, He purchased the church with His blood (Acts 20:28). There has never been a greater price paid for anything than the price that was paid for the church and in this purchase price one can see the church matters.
The church matters because it is the bride of Christ. The great illustration of the relationship between Christ and the church is seen in Ephesians 5:21ff. In this illustration husbands are told to love their wives as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for it. In this illustration Christ is shown as being the head of the church just as the husband is the head of the wife and the church is subject to Christ in everything. If the church is subject to Christ, mankind does not have the authority to change it. As a matter of fact, all authority was given to Jesus (Matt. 28:18) and we are to look to His authority as the author and finisher of our faith (Heb. 12:2). The church is the bride of Christ and those that belong to Christ are added to Him, wear His name, and are made partakers of His inheritance (Gal. 3:26-29). When speaking of the beautiful relationship of husband and wife, Jesus stated “what God hath joined together, let not man put asunder” (Matt. 19:6), and just as God has placed Christ and His church together, man does not have the right to separate the two.
The church is of utmost importance. It was planned by God and purchased by Christ’s blood. Man does not have the authority to change it but has the opportunity to be a part of the church because of the gracious mercy of God given to man.