For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love 5 he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. 7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace 8 that he lavished on us.
I love my church.
But more than I can ever remember the church is getting a bad rap. What is surprising is how many people identify themselves as “Nones” or, another new category of “Dones” (with the church). They are becoming increasingly bold in their criticism of “the church”. Many say “the church” no longer does anything for them, or it is unnecessary.
And who can blame them?
The church has a long history of screwing up. Oh let me count the ways. Speaking of screw-ups, most of the letters written in the New Testament were written to churches that had issues! And before I go any further, let me confess that our church doesn’t always get it right (as hard as we try). As a pastor, I don’t always get it right either. The church is made up of faulty people. And the work of the church is done in the context of people. The church is inherently mistake prone because humans are messy, mistake prone people!
But for all the things wrong with the church, it gets a lot right! In being connected to a church, people can find hope, help, healing, and friendship with others and God. While many people are leaving churches, many people are joining churches because they haven’t found what they're looking for in our culture. Many people stay connected to churches because it's life-giving.
So, for all the issues with church, should we be done with church? Perhaps the more important question is, “Is God done with the church?”
Let’s begin with understanding what the Apostle Paul teaches about the church.
1. GOD CHOSE US IN CHRIST BEFORE THE CREATION OF THE WORLD. Is Paul talking about personal salvation here? There may be implications for personal salvation, however, I don’t think that the Ephesian church would have heard Paul’s letter read that way and had their own personal salvation in mind. I believe when Paul writes, “us”, he is referring to us, “the church”. The Ephesian church was primarily made up of non-Jews (aka “Gentiles”). The entire book has a “gentile” stream of thinking. All 6 chapters in Ephesians asserts that the relationship between Jew and Gentile is to be “one in Christ” (Eph 2:13-14; 3:4-6). They are to be: raised up together, sit together, build together, be one in corporate body together, belonging to one spirit, one hope, one faith, one baptism.
Is Paul teaching the Ephesian Jews and Greeks that they were chosen before the foundations of the earth that they would and should be unified together as God predestined them to be adopted into Christ because it is the will of God? I believe that he is.
2. HE PREDESTINED US FOR ADOPTION ACCORDING TO HIS PLEASURE AND WILL. God decided long before the creation of the world to create “the church” as a means of showing the world what the kingdom of God is like. Humans didn’t create the church! God willed the church into existence and finds pleasure in his presently imperfect bride. Think about that! God finds pleasure in people coming together in his name for his purposes! We should not keep from meeting together weekly for it pleases God!
So, what does all this mean? What’s the point? The point is that….
3. IN CHRIST WE HAVE REDMEPTION AND FORGIVENESS ACCORDING TO THE RICHES OF HIS GRACE THAT HE LAVISHED ON US!
God’s grace is free. Gloriously free! His grace is famous and renowned! For those who are in Christ are adopted recipients of God’s glory and grace (John 15).
What does that mean? It means that for all the church is not, it is the recipient of God’s lavish grace! And to the church all Christians are called!
God is NOT done with the church! My passion is that NorthCreek Church will be a church filled with God's glorious, lavish grace! Jesus didn't give up on the church. He didn't abandon it. It's not PLAN B. It wasn't above correction (Revelation 2), but, he loved it and was committed to it! If God loves the church, then I do too.
Whether you live in Bothell, Kirkland, Kenmore, Duvall, Bellevue, or Redmond, NorthCreek is a great place to connect and grow. You're invited to take your next steps with God here!