A letter to Bethel Church (June 2022)
Your Local Church
is More Powerful Than You Think.
You may not realize it, but your greatest longing is for God—for the glory and the grandeur of God to dawn on your soul. God has designed the assembly for this very purpose.
God’s Glory in Creation.
There is something about the glory of God that you can see in creation. “The heavens declare the glory of God…” (Psalm 19:1) You can see the glory of God in things far away through the telescope. You can see the glory of God in things so near and small they can only be observed through the microscope. Big things like the Great Lakes and the Grand Canyon display the glory of God. Little things like a wayside flower and a bright Northern Cardinal, and the hummingbird and fireflies display the glory of God.
God’s Glory in His Word.
The Word of God displays the glory of God. When you sit alone at the table in the morning and the sunlight falls on the pages of your Bible God reveals something of himself to you as you read the pages of his miraculously-inspired and providentially-preserved word. There is a glory in the Word that shines even brighter than creation. There is a glory in the law of God revealed in the Bible and an even more brilliant glory in the gospel revealed in the New Testament. (Read 2 Corinthians 3) Paul calls the law “the ministry of death” and it displays something of the goodness and wonder and grandeur—the glory of God. Paul later calls the gospel “the ministry of the Spirit…” “Will not the ministry of the Spirit have even more glory (than the ministry of the law)?” (2 Cor. 4:8)
You see the glory of God in creation in the first part of Psalm 19 and you see the glory of God in his word in the second part of Psalm 19. But there is more, and this in not usually emphasized adequately in our time and it is a tragic oversight.
God’s Glory in The Gathered Church.
According the Word, the New Testament Church is the place where God especially manisfests his glory in our time. The church in our age is the “Temple of God.” You may have heard that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit and you would be right. That Scripture teaches this, but more often the Scripture teaching that “We” —the assembly of believers are the temple of the Holy Spirit—the place of his dwelling, the place where he manifests his glory—the people he visits with his powerful manifest presence.
“Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.” (1 Corinthians 3:16–17, ESV)
“What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said, “I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.” (2 Corinthians 6:16, ESV)
“in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.” (Ephesians 2:21–22, ESV)
A Life Without the Glory of God.
I could not imagine a life blind to the beauty and glory and grandeur of God displayed in His creation around me. I simply cannot, would never want to imagine that. I could not imagine my life without my Bible—to understand the deep things of God, to have the Spirit awaken me to some truth in Scripture just when I need it, to know that God is at work in me through His word, making himself known to me, convicting, comforting, enlightening, encouraging, giving wisdom and insight and direction with precise timing corresponding to what his is doing in my world. I cannot imagine a life without my Bible.
I am sure Satan would love to unhitch a Christian from seeing the sacred in Creation. I have often seen a dark force driving a distance between a believer the life-giving source of God’s Word. This is a work as dark as it is common. A defeated Christian usually has a dusty Bible.
But hear me now. What makes us think that we can enjoy the spiritual flourishing that only comes from God and neglect his Church? How can we cay we take God seriously but we don’t take the church for which he spilled his blood seriously? How can we say we love him, but we forsake his bride? How can we see his glory in all its sweetness, and brightness and neglect the place and the people of his glory on earth?
What doubts would flee if we saw his glory weekly in the gathered assembly? What darkness would be dispelled in the light of it? What sorrow would be lifted? What questions would be answered? How dare we think that we can live without the glory of God He manifests in his church?
Most of you reading this are devoted to the Church of Christ and its local expression at Bethel. You would not neglect its ordinances. You support its efforts in your giving. You attend and participate in its services. You serve beside others in its ministries and efforts. You invite others to join us. You speak well of her and you pray faithfully for her. I hope these thoughts have encouraged you afresh with confidence in its place in the plan of God and its purpose in the working of God.
And like I always say, “See Ya’ Sunday.”
Pastor Ken Pierpont