[Editor’s Note: This excerpt is taken from Where I Am: Heaven, Eternity, and Our Life Beyond by Billy Graham Copyright © 2015 by William F. Graham Jr. Used by permission of Thomas Nelson www.thomasnelson.com]
The Church Eternal
Wake Up and Take Charge: Ephesians
The church is in turmoil today. Why is this? The church—the body of Christ—will never fail; however, when “churches” turn away from God’s Word to chase after the worldly system, they stumble and fall. What is the true church?
The church belongs to Jesus Christ. He founded the church. He is the great cornerstone and the foundation upon which it is built (Ephesians 2:20). The church does not belong to pastors or congregations but to Christ alone. It is His dwelling place on earth, through the lives of His followers. We have no right to bring worldly ways into His church.
Jesus died for the church and is over the church. “He is the head of the body, the church . . . that in all things He may have the preeminence” (Colossians 1:18). If we were to examine church programs today, would Christ really be preeminent? Believers should reflect Christ in every way. What a responsibility. What a privilege!
The church is to be built up in His Word. Many churches now mold their programs around the community— not the Word of God. Church bulletins often reflect this by announcing grand programs and activities with little to no emphasis on God’s Word. The Lord did not design the church to cater to people’s wishes—the Lord breathed life into the church to learn, proclaim, and live out His truths. We are to build one another up in the Word of God (Jude 20).
The church is to fellowship together. When Jesus birthed the church, believers submitted to the teaching of the apostles—the inspired Word of God. They also joined in fellowship together, prayed together, and shared the Lord’s Supper (Acts 2:42). For them, this fellowship was a taste of Heaven on earth.
The church’s message is Jesus Christ crucified, risen, and coming again. As people observed their witness for Christ, they shouted, “These . . . have turned the world upside down” (Acts 17:6). Is the church today making that kind of impact? Or has it become complacent like the church at Laodicea, whom the Lord rebuked by saying, “You are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot” (Revelation 3:16)?
The church’s mission is to make Jesus Christ known. Making Christ known is not a command exclusively given to preachers. I believe one of the greatest priorities of the church is to mobilize the laity to do the work of proclaiming the Gospel. Why? God has His people everywhere. Living the Word of God is what draws people to Christ, but instead, we are using clever gimmicks. We are to be witnesses for Him wherever we are, whatever we are doing.
The church must be prepared to endure persecution. We are told to be prepared—to wear the belt of truth, put on the breastplate of righteousness, pull on the boots that will carry the Gospel, and take up the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit (the Word of God), which represents Christ’s entire message. And we are to keep in mind that this battle is not ours, but God’s (2 Chronicles 20:15).
The church is the bride of Christ. That glorious day is coming when we will be caught up in the air with our Bridegroom, Jesus Christ. The bride of Christ is the triumphant and eternal church, which will be gathered to His side and reign with Him forever. The angels will sing, instruments will resound; God’s people will praise and worship the Redeemer. What a day that will be for the church eternal! To Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. (Ephesians 3:21)
Billy Graham, the world-renowned preacher, evangelist, and author, has delivered the Gospel message to more people face-to-face than anyone in history and has ministered on every continent of the world, in more than 185 countries. Millions have read his inspirational classics, including “Angels,” “Peace with God,” “The Holy Spirit,” “Hope for the Troubled Heart,” and “How to be Born Again,” “The Journey,” “Nearing Home,” and “The Reason for My Hope.”