The Church Life

by C. A. Nyren

My task has been, or is, to write a few words about the church life. It is also a very important subject. May the Lord give us His grace, that something may be written, that may be useful and edifying.

First, a few words about the church, the congregation. It is God's own institution through Jesus Christ and is, therefore, sometimes called God's church and sometimes Christ's church. This God's and Christ's church is constituted only of those, who are joined with God through a genuine heart faith. She (the church) was formed by Jesus' first apostles, they served as the foundation of the church. Her growth happened only through those who came to believe as it says: "The Lord increased every day the church with those who became saved." Of this follows, that the church is also the church of the holy as it says in the apostolic confession: "I believe in a holy universal church."

This "samfund", church, is only one. See the expression: God's building, God's House, Christ's Body. "The apostles", says Peter Waldenstrom, "have always seen the believers as joined in a congregation (church). They have never seemed, never thought, never spoken about the believers (Christians) as stones scattered here and there on the field, or as limbs separated from each other, but always as stones joined together to form a house, or as limbs to form a body."

That they were separated from each other by longer and shorter distances; that some belonged to the church in Rome, others in Corinth or Ephesus or Galatia was not something, that changed matters because each local church represented the church of Christ on one or the other places. Thus, they all belonged to the Great Church of God through belonging to the local churches.

This shows us clearly what we as believers should regard toward the church and the life in the church. Believers, who put themselves outside of the church, are unnatural and something that the Bible does not recognize. Such a thing the apostles could not even think about. One that does so has God's word against him instead of with him.

Why should a believer belong to the church?

  1. Because that is his only right place. It is the only right thing, that a branch is joined to the trunk of a tree and a limb joined with the body and that the child is in the family. Only through death ought a different condition take place.
  2. Because he needs the believer's fellowship, their togetherness, their warnings and their encouragement and their advice. He needs their fellowship to thereby give his soul richer opportunity to spiritual upbuilding and steadfastness; to keep his spiritual life more awake, clean and warm in the midst of a hostile world. He needs the Church to take part in communion, baptism and be under a teacher's care, who has a special commission to feed God's flock and watch over him.
  3. Because the church needs him. Every believer has received his special gift of grace from God to serve. But how can a limb serve a body if it is not in connection with the body? And how shall a believer be able to serve the church with his gift if he does not belong to the church?

Therefore, one shall belong to the church's outside organization for to be helped and help, to receive and give, to be warmed in his own soul and to warm other souls, to be carried and to carry, etc. Mark carefully: obligations always go together with prerequisites.

In regard to other Christian church life we have the best and clearest advice in our New Testament. Therein we find for example: "Let us aspire to that which leads to peace and mutual edification". And further: "Advise the unruly, console the sorrowing, help the weak, be longsuffering toward all." And further: "Toward each other, be goodhearted, merciful, forgiving each other as God in Christ has forgiven you." And further: "Be of one mind, having the same love, harmonious, so that nothing happens of prejudice or vanity, but that one in humbleness consider the other higher than himself. Do not look each one for his own best, but everyone for the best of the other. Be of such mind as Christ Jesus was." And further: "Let us be aware of each other to encourage love and good deeds."

Advise each other especially as you see how the day draws near .And further: "Cleanse your souls to brotherly love and love each other dearly of a clean heart." And further: "Carry each other's burden and so fulfill Christ's law." And further: "Drive out from you anyone who is evil."

Well, here we have simple, clear, and over all describing beautiful and glorious words, whose implication or effect in the church life will give much gladness and peace, spiritual salt in the world's great rottenness; strength and growth, fight and victory, until the church life here, full of insufficiency as it is, even at its best, dissolves in its completed life in the land of the heavens. May none of us be missing.

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