Thursday, May 17, 2012

The First Command Jesus gave to His church

Matthew 18:15-18 15“If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother. 16“But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that BY THE MOUTH OF TWO OR THREE WITNESSES EVERY FACT MAY BE CONFIRMED. 17“If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. 18“Truly I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven.

Holiness matters because it points to Jesus Christ
Yesterday we considered the first reason why holiness matters to the Christian - because by it we can prioritize life around God.  However if we stop there, we fall short, since holiness is not only just God centered, but God in Christ centered.  The passage above is the first command Jesus ever gave to His church. 

Jesus' Great Concern for His Church was her holiness
Many Christians may be surprised to find out that Jesus spoke on His concern about the church's holiness before He ever gave the two other "greats" that most Christians know.  Most will be familiar with the "Great Commission" of Matthew 28:18-20 to go into all the world and make disciples.  Furthermore some Christians may be familiar with what's termed "The Great Commandment" -  to love God with all our heart and love our neighbor as ourselves. (Matthew 22:37-39 and Mark 13:34-35)

However very few Christians will know what I term the "Great Concern" - namely holiness in His church in both the personal, interpersonal and corporate church body levels.  Christ's aim is to prepare a church, a bride for Himself, that will be holy and blameless at His coming. (Ephesians 5:25-27).  Frankly without fulfilling this first of the "Great commandments", the church will not be effective in fulfilling the Great Commandment nor the Great Commission.  A flippancy towards holiness will yield a church that is short-sighted in both its internal love for fellow Christians and evangelism of the lost. (please compare 2 Peter 1-3-11)

Holiness points to Christ since it is Christ who points us to holiness
Christ Himself is called "Holy". (Hebrews 7:25-26)  When He prayed to His Father in His High Priestly prayer in John 17, He as the Holy, Faithful High Priest prayed that His church would be "Holy". (John 17:17,19)  Christ is the beginning and goal of the Christian's holiness, since it is Christ's Holiness that provides the basis for the Christian's holiness. 

Holiness leads us to enjoyment of God, since Christ Himself is pleased to dwell, speak and even sing for joy in the midst of the very ones He is aiming to make Holy. (Hebrews 2).  Holiness matters because it points to Christ.  Only when we point to Christ can we desire to build a life around God, that is, our Great God and Savior Jesus Christ. (Titus 2:13)   

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