Revive Our Hearts Podcast

An Organism

Leslie Basham: Here's Nancy Leigh DeMoss. 

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Isn't it an amazing thing that you can go to church and be with the people of God and realize that you can relate to, you can be connected to people who are so different from you that if it weren't for your relationship with Christ you would have nothing in common? But you have everything in common because you are in Christ! 

Leslie Basham: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss. It's Tuesday, August 2nd. Do you know the difference between an organization and an organism? Nancy will help us understand that better today as she continues in a series called Who Needs the Church? Here's Nancy.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: We're trying to illustrate the difference. I'm holding in my hand a bundle of sticks. They're all tied together with this cord. This bundle of sticks . . . there's a kind of unity to these sticks. They're all about the same size. They're all tied together, but it's only an organizational unity. These sticks are not really one. You could pull them out; you could separate them. There's not an organic unity. There's not an internal unity to these sticks. The unity is merely external. It's just this cord that's holding these sticks together. That's an organization.

An organization is a group of people who are organized for a particular purpose. "It's a structure," the dictionary says, "through which individuals cooperate systematically to conduct business; a group of people who work together." There's something that ties them together. They work for the same company, or they go to the same school, or they're part of the same club. They're an organization.

Now compare instead this plant that's sitting to my left. It has a totally different kind of unity than that bundle of sticks. This plant has a lot of diverse parts. It has leaves; it has flowers on it, but there's an internal unity to this plant. All the diverse parts of this plant are an outgrowth of its inward life. It's one plant, and the different parts of the plant come out of that internal inward life.

This plant is not an organization; this plant is an organism. It's an organic unity, not an organizational unity. The dictionary defines organism as: "a living body, either vegetable or animal that's composed of different organs or different parts with functions which are separate but mutually dependent and essential to the life of the individual. A body made up of organs or other parts that work together to carry on the various activities and processes of life." That's an organism.

Now as you think about the Church, capital "C", which is the Church? Is it an organization, or is it an organism? Now some people think of the church as an organization--just a bunch of people who join the same club. They all give their dues to the same club. They're tied together because they have the same name of their church. That's how they think of the Church as an organization.

But as you look at the Scripture and see the Church, capital "C", it's not an organization of individual independent parts who have no real organic connection to each other. Instead, it's an organism; it's alive. It's held together, all the parts are held together because they are connected to one central source for life. The Church, capital "C", is comprised of all believers who are in union with Christ and therefore with each other.

It's a living organism. There's a dynamic growing relationship between the members of the body of Christ. As we think about the Church, we need to remember that there is unity through Christ. In the New testament it was a "mystery revealed" Paul said that the Old Testament believers didn't understand that one day God would bring together very diverse people--Jews and Gentiles, slaves and free, men and women--and would make them all part of one organic body.

Not just tying them together like these sticks are tied together in a bundle, but actually making them one new person--the body of Christ, the temple of God, the bride of Christ. The Church knows no racial, age, socio-economic, cultural distinctions. Isn't it an amazing thing that you can go to church and be with the people of God and realize that you can relate to, you can be connected to people who are so different from you that if it weren't for your relationship with Christ you would have nothing in common? But you have everything in common because you are in Christ! You are united with each other.

So I can have close fellowship with 93-year-old Mom Johnson who lives out in California. I'm not her age or close to it. I'm not her peer, but we are one in Christ. I can have intimate fellowship with those who come from a totally different background than my own because we are one in Christ.

Every Biblical metaphor for the Church, without exception, emphasizes its unity. One bride with one husband, there's one flock with one shepherd. Pastor John MacArthur points this out in his book, The Body Dynamic. He says there are branches on one vine, one kingdom with one king, one family with one father, one building with one foundation, one body with one head. He says each of these illustrations involve a group related to the same perfect leader, Jesus Christ. There's a unity that we have in Christ.

Then we need to remember as we think about the Church, we need to remember the centrality of Christ. Not only is He the source of our unity, but He is central. He is core; He is foundational to the Church. I have a friend who's a pastor who recently preached a series of messages to his church about the Church.

He sent me his notes and I was struck by one paragraph. He said, "If you take Christ out of the picture and divorce any of these metaphors from their counterpart, the metaphor ceases to function.

"A body without a head is not living. It's not a body; it's just a corpse. A building without a foundation cannot stand. It's just a pile of rubble. A woman without a husband is not a bride. He goes on to say, "Any organization without Christ is not the Church. The centrality of Christ is the Church."

Then notice the ownership of Christ over His Church. The Church is His body; it is His Church. It's not my church I go to or your church. It's not John MacArthur's church or Rick Warren's church. We need to be careful about that kind of language. It's Christ's Church. He owns it. He purchased it with His blood. The Church belongs to Christ.

Then notice the Lordship of Christ over His Church. The centrality of Christ, the ownership of Christ, the lordship of Christ--He is the head. He's in charge. He's the boss. He is the sovereign Lord of His Church. That means the Church must be in submission to Christ, its head.

Then I'm touched as I think about the presence of Christ in the Church. Someone said to me recently, "Is there any church where God's really there, where there's the presence of God?" Now I know what she meant. What she meant was we sometimes get so busy with our programs and our services and just doing things and we're oblivious to the presence of God, and we don't sense the presence of God. But the fact is, whether we sense it or not, Christ is present in His Church.

Then I just want to note the love of Christ for His Church. To think less of the Church than Christ does is in a sense to be anti-Christ. You can't love Christ and not love His body. How did Christ love His Church? Selflessly. Ephesians 5:25, "Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her," (sorry mess that she is). He's committed to redeeming her, to restoring her, to making her a beautiful bride. He gave Himself up for her.

The Church isn't without problems. Your church has problems; my church has problems. Those local expressions of the Church--they have problems, but it's still His Church. It's His body. Bodies can get hurt. Families can have pain and problems. Buildings have to be maintained and repaired. A bride doesn't always look the way she did when she was walking down the aisle to meet her bridegroom. But Jesus thought the Church worth laying down His life for, and He did.

Timothy Dwight was the grandson of Jonathan Edwards, one of the leaders of the First Great Awakening in the 1700s. In the late 1700s and early 1800s, Timothy Dwight was the president of Yale. He was there when God sent a revival to the student body at Yale. He wrote a hymn that is one of my very favorites. He said:
I love thy kingdom Lord,

The house of thine abode.

The Church our blessed redeemer saved

With His own precious blood.

 

I love thy Church, oh God.

Her walls before thee stand

Dear as the apple of thine eye

And graven on thy hand.

 

For her my tears shall fall.

For her my prayers ascend.

To her my cares and toils be giv'n

Till toils and cares shall end."

Do you love the Church? Jesus does. He laid down His life for it. I want to tell you that's one of the biggest driving motivating forces in my life. That's why for years and years I have said that my goal in life is to be a wedding coordinator, helping the bride get ready for the wedding.

I've seen as many or more messes in churches as you have, probably. I've seen a lot; I've heard a lot. I know we're a sorry mess, but I know that Jesus loves the Church and gave His life for it. I want to tell you, my goal in life is to lay down my life for Christ and for His body, the Church.

Leslie Basham: That's Nancy Leigh DeMoss offering hope for the Church. She'll be right back to pray. Maybe you've been hurt by some people in the church or witnessed some hypocrisy. Our current series called Who Needs the Church? may help you reconnect with the body of Christ.

You can order the complete series by calling 1-800-569-5959. This program comes to you every weekday thanks to the gifts of our listeners. You can donate by calling 1-800-569-5959 or going online to ReviveOurHearts.com.

If the church doesn't perform its mission, is there a "plan b"? Nancy will answer that tomorrow, and I hope you can be here. Now let's pray.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: O Lord, I love Your Church, Your kingdom, the place that You are building for Yourself. How I pray that You would revive Your Church, that You would restore and make her into the beautiful bride that one day will be presented to You in heaven. May we love and nourish and cherish Your body even as You do. Thank you for the gift of the Church. I pray in Jesus' name, amen.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

All Scripture is taken from the English Standard Version.

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