The Church is the body of CHRIST, which He is the Head and Owner, and i (and all born again believers -- no matter the denomination, nationality or country) as His follower, is a member of the whole body. The Holy SPIRIT Who abides within, in His still small voice, asked me: rln, how is your "church"? Are you SPIRIT filled? Are you a beacon of light to those around you, to the community in which you live? Are you zealous for CHRIST as He was (and is) for the Father? Does His SPIRIT control you...does His Presence enliven your "church"?
In Revelation, chapters 2 and 3, there were seven churches with certain characteristics which i could apply to my own "church" today -- a checklist, so to speak, to gauge my own inner spiritual condition. Which of these churches describe the inner me today?
The church at Ephesus -- the loveless church.
JESUS commended this church as hard working (evangelistic), patient (longsuffering and enduring all for Him without quitting), separated from the world (discerning of the truth, not tolerating evil people or wickedness, agreeing with Him in repudiating the deeds of the immoral Nicolaitans), persistent in their faith though persecuted. Yet He condemned this church for leaving its first love -- love for CHRIST Himself and fellow believers. This church had many good works, yet it neglected its first love -- communion with GOD and fellowship with His family. His counsel -- repent!
The church at Smyrna -- the persecuted church.
JESUS commended this church for suffering persecution (and slander from the synagogue of satan) and poverty for His sake (GOD saw this church as spiritually rich). He had no condemnation for this church. His counsel -- be fearless, remain faithful -- even when facing death, for those who are victorious will receive the crown of life and will not be hurt by the second death.
The church at Pergamos -- the compromising church.
JESUS commended this church for holding fast to their faith in Him amidst satanic influence (the city's populace worshipped many idols and objects) and martyrdom. He condemned this church because some members practiced the doctrine of Balaam (sexual immorality and idolatry); and some practiced the doctrine of the Nicolaitans (sexual immorality, perversions, self-indulgence). His counsel -- repent!
The church at Thyatira -- the corrupt church.
JESUS commended this church for their good works -- their constant improvement in love, service, faithfulness, patience and endurance. Yet He condemned them for allowing Jezebel to corrupt the church, to teach and seduce the members to commit sexual immorality, heresy and idolatry. His counsel to those who remained undefiled by Jezebel's corruption -- hold fast to their faith in Him until His return.
The church at Sardis -- the dead church.
JESUS commended this church for having a few who were not defiled, who were still a GODly remnant of the true faith in CHRIST. He condemned this church for being dead though it had a reputation for being alive -- for going through the motions like a walking zombie, but actually spiritually dead, for their deeds were far from right in the sight of GOD. His counsel -- watch, strengthen (that which remains and is about to die); remember what they have received (salvation, the Gospel), hold fast and repent!
The church at Philadelphia -- the faithful church.
JESUS commended this church that though it had little strength, it obeyed His Word and not denied His name...it obeyed His command to persevere. This church openly confessed to the inspiration of the Word of GOD, and openly confessed to the incarnation of JESUS, the Son of GOD. He had no condemnation for this church. His counsel -- hold fast to what they have so that no one may take their crown.
The church at Laodicea -- the lukewarm church.
JESUS had no commendations for this church! He had nothing good to say whatsoever. He condemned this church for its arrogance and pride -- for saying, "I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing." He condemned them for their ignorance of their true state -- "wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked." His counsel -- replace their material riches (wealth derived from the city's commercial industries -- banking, wool, medicine...eye salve, in particular) with the true spiritual riches which lead to genuine salvation: faith (gold purified by fire), works blessed by GOD (white raiment for their nakedness), forgiveness (spiritual eye salve, that they may see).
His counsel -- repent! Be diligent and turn from indifference. He is at the door, knocking -- calling (the Son of GOD asking to be allowed in!!!)...open the door of your heart.
(The above are basically from John Yates' commentary of the seven churches, as derived from Willmington's Guide to the Bible.)
So which church do i most resemble today? What will JESUS commend me for, and what will He find in me to rebuke? Do i do good works for self-aggrandisement rather than simply out of love for Him? Do i compromise His Word by not standing firm to His Truth? Do i obey GOD's commands or do i still conform myself to the world? Do i worship Him by rote rather than with passionate gratefulness? Do i still value the riches of this world rather than setting my sights on the true riches of His heavenly Kingdom? What is the condition of my inner church today?
Here's another guide which helped me in gauging my walk in CHRIST:
According to Pastor Charles Stanley, a church is healthy and effective when it is founded on these eight doctrines:
The Bible -- as the inerrant Word of GOD.
The Deity of CHRIST -- that JESUS CHRIST is not only the Son of GOD, but that He is GOD.
The Virgin Birth of JESUS CHRIST -- that the Holy SPIRIT supernaturally placed Him in the womb of the virgin Mary.
The Bodily Resurrection of CHRIST -- JESUS fully conquered death and rose on the third day.
The Second Coming -- that JESUS is going to return.
The Judgment -- that there is a time for each person to stand before almighty GOD and give an account.
Heaven and Hell -- that CHRIST's judgment will result in different eternal destinations for people.
Salvation -- that JESUS CHRIST went to the cross and died a sacrificial, atoning death, and that His sacrifice is the only way to be saved.
Okay, so far so good...i believe all the above and live intentionally (as enabled by the Holy SPIRIT), according to these foundational beliefs in CHRIST. (Midway Church teaches the above as well.)
Pastor Stanley states further that a healthy and effective church "builds faith and disciples... strengthens a believer's relationship with GOD, and helps him/her understand the Bible and scriptural principles for living... also provides avenues through which to serve... concerned about people around the world who have never heard the gospel... and should make an impact in its community, as well as globally."
How is my "church" -- my own inner spiritual process as a fully devoted follower of CHRIST? Am i applying GODly principles in my life? Am i walking the Life of JESUS by serving, by sharing the gospel? Am i impacting my family, my community...wherever GOD may choose to place me, even globally?
This i can say, with firm conviction --i am a saint being sanctified, one day at a time... that CHRIST has made me a new creature altogether, that i am His workmanship, that He is the author and finisher of rln, and that He is Faithful and True and will not leave any part of me undone!
All things i can do through CHRIST who strengthens me... without Him, i can do nothing... and without His Love, i am nothing -- nothing at all.