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The New Testament Church

Devotion from Week of June 28, 2020

Today the word church is often used differently than the way Scripture defines it.  We tend to think of a building with a steeple, a morning or evening service , or even a potluck get-together.  In the Bible, however, “church” means a body of believers under the authority of their leader, Jesus Christ (Col. 1:18).  And according to God’s Word, the church has three purposes:  worship of the Lord, ministry to believers, and outreach to an unbelieving world.  When we exalt the living God and glorify His name, we show our Father that we love Him.  Psalm 100:2-4 encourages us to “come before Him with joyful singing” and to “enter His gates with thanksgiving and …praise.”  Christians should be both personally and corporately devoted to God.  Teaching and encouraging brothers and sisters produces spiritual fruit in them (Heb. 10:24-25; Col. 3:16).  Then they can spread the good news in their own sphere of influence—that through God’s Son, there is not only forgiveness of sin but also life eternal.Christians meet together regularly to worship, encourage, instruct, and reach those who don’t know Him.  In our fellowship here at St. Olaf, we are working toward these goals.

Please open your bible to the following scripture reading: 
Matthew 16:13-18
When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?”  They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”“But what about you?” he asked.  “Who do you say I am?”Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven.  And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.

Thoughts from Matthew 16:13-18: Peter reminds Christians that they are the church built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Jesus Christ as the cornerstone (1 Peter 2:4-6).  All believers are joined into this church by faith in Jesus Christ as Savior, the same faith that Peter expressed (Ephesians 2:20,21).  Jesus praised Peter for his confession of faith.  It is faith like Peter’s that is the foundation of Christ’s kingdom.  

Key thought: We cannot decide to open or close the kingdom of heaven for others, but God uses us to help others find the way inside.  To all who believe in Christ and obey his words, the kingdom doors are swung wide open.  We remember God’s goodness and dependability and then worship with thanksgiving and praise. We gather together to share our faith and to strengthen one another in the Lord.  God is love and we live in harmony with each other and in accordance with what God says in his Word.  

Blessings from the Youth Committee