Our Local Churches
Are you concerned about the life of our local churches? What will it take to stop more small churches from closing their doors? If every local church is a manifestation of the universal Body of Christ, and they are, why are some closing? What can we do? I believe the answer is in what Jesus told His disciples before He ascended back to heaven.
18 Then Jesus came near and said to them, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Mt. 28:18-20 HCSB).
Go and make disciples of Jesus Christ. That’s the answer, isn’t it? We don’t want our churches to close, but if more people came to genuine repentance and faith in God, our churches would be growing.
I believe there is something even more important to this making disciples of the Son of God. It’s called life; spiritual life. Our sin separates us from this spiritual life. Sin severs our union with God. Jesus came to give us this new life, eternal life. “10 (The one who believes in the Son of God has this testimony within him. The one who does not believe God has made Him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony God has given about His Son.) 11 And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. 12 The one who has the Son has life. The one who doesn’t have the Son of God does not have life. 13 I have written these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life” (1 John 5:10-13).
Every human being living on this earth has sinned (Romans 3:23), and the wages of sin is spiritual death, but God has given us the free gift of eternal life through Christ Jesus, His Son (Romans 6:23). New life! That’s the most important reason to make disciples of Jesus Christ. That’s the ministry of all believers. Making disciples of Christ is simply helping others come to genuine repentance and faith in God. That will lead to more people in church, but more importantly it will show them they can be saved from their sin and be born-again, new creatures in Christ.
Disciples of Christ have the power of the Holy Spirit to be effective witnesses. The resurrected life of Christ is within us! Every born-again believer who is dependent upon God has the authority and power to make disciples of Christ. It’s all based on our identity and position in Christ.
The following is a partial list of who we are in Christ.
In Christ, I am accepted:
John 1:12, I am God’s child. John 15:15, I am a friend of Jesus. Romans 5:1, I have been accepted by God. 1 Corinthians 6:17, I am united with the Lord and one with Him in spirit. Ephesians 1:1, I am a saint. Ephesians 1:5, I have been adopted as God’s child. Colossians 2:10, I am complete in Christ.
In Christ, I am secure:
Romans 8:1-2, I am free from punishment (condemnation). Romans 8:28, I am assured that all things work together for good. Romans 8:35-39, I cannot be separated from the love of God.
2 Timothy 1:7, I have not been given a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and a sound mind.
In Christ, I am significant:
Matthew 5:13-14, I am the salt of the earth and light of the world. Acts 1:8, I am a personal witness of Christ. 1 Corinthians 3:16, I am a temple of God. 2 Corinthians 5:17-21, I am at peace with God. Ephesians 2:10, I am God’s workmanship. Ephesians 3:12, I may approach God with freedom and confidence. Philippians 4:13, I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
May you truly know who you are in Christ and may you be effective in sharing with others that they too can have new, eternal life.
Pastor Todd Hartsock
United Methodist Church, Swea City and Titonka