What’s wrong with the church today?

First, what do we mean when we say the “church”?

·        Do we mean “church” as presented in Scripture?

·        Or do we mean church as presented in our culture?

Here in Gospel of Matthew, is first use of “church” in Scripture, when Jesus says “on this rock I will build my church.”

"But what about you?" he asked. "Who do you say I am?" Simon Peter answered, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." Jesus replied, "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, 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 (Matthew 16:15-18).

When Jesus says He will build His church on this rock, He is referring to Himself, the rock.  Jesus Christ is the rock referenced throughout Scripture. When He makes this statement He is merely addressing Peter, Christ is not saying that He will build His church on Peter.  The “church” is spiritual; it cannot be built on a man.

Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. And in the church God has appointed first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then workers of miracles, also those having gifts of healing, those able to help others, those with gifts of administration, and those speaking in different kinds of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? But eagerly desire the greater gifts (1 Corinthians 12:27-31).

I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him [Christ] to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way (Ephesians 1:17-23).

In reading this, then, you will be able to understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, which was not made known to men in other generations as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to God's holy apostles and prophets. This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus. I became a servant of this gospel by the gift of God's grace given me through the working of his power.  Although I am less than the least of all God's people, this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to make plain to everyone the administration of this mystery, which for ages past was kept hidden in God, who created all things. His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, according to his eternal purpose which he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord (Ephesians 3:4-11).

For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. … This is a profound mystery--but I am talking about Christ and the church (Ephesians 5:23-24, 32).

The bride [church] belongs to the bridegroom [Jesus Christ] (John 3:29).

Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb [Jesus Christ] has come, and his bride [church] has made herself ready. Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear." (Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of the saints.) Then the angel said to me, "Write: 'Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!'" (Revelation 19:7-9)

1.      The “church” as presented in Scripture is,

·        The body of Christ

·        All believers

·        All believers, Gentile and Jewish

·        All believers, of a town or city

·        All believers, of a fellowship

·        All believers, Old and New Testaments

·        All believers, male and female

·        The household of God

·        The Bride of Christ

2.    The church as presented in our culture is,

·        That church building on the corner.

o   There are 260 in my town which has a population of 100,266.

·        That Christian denomination.

o    Barrett, cited a figure of 20,780 denominations in 1980 and projected that there would be as many as 22,190 by 1985.

Comparing these two meanings for the church.

1.   The first is spiritual: made up exclusively of true believers in Jesus Christ, members and leaders.

2. The second is secular: local, national and international organizations with unbelievers and believers, members and leaders.

The articles which follow this article are about the biblical pattern for the church structure.  However, at this time few church organizations carefully adhere to God’s commandments about church structure.

In an effort to make clear distinctions between the secular church and God's spiritual Church, I will differentiate my references to them by capitalizing Church, for the spiritual Body of Christ:

1.       The spiritual, will be Church.

2.       The secular, I will be church.

For example: There is still a remnant of the Church in the local Baptist church on Broad Street.

The question is what’s wrong with the church organizations that call themselves Christian.  The answer to that question will be addressed in this series of articles under the heading,

What’s wrong with the church today?

On the other hand if the question were, what’s wrong with the Church today? The answer would be nothing.  For Jesus said, “You are the salt of the earth.” … “You are the light of the world” (Matthew 5:1314).

Richard H Perry