Responsibilities of the Church Day 19 – Guard and Protect Itself
“And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” (Matthew 16:18, ESV)
“Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood. I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them. Therefore be alert…” (Acts 20:28-31a, ESV)
“Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.” (Ephesians 6:11-13, ESV)
The words of the Lord Jesus in Matthew 16 above are wonderful news for the believer. The Church of the Lord is built on a solid foundation, and not even hell itself will prevail against it. We have great security in knowing that our faith has a strong foundation, one that cannot be taken away. However, this is for the Church, the Body of Christ, as a whole, not the local church. There are many potential pitfalls in a local church. It often comes under attack, and if not properly protected can be overtaken and its light diminished.
An important responsibility of the church is guarding and protecting itself from harm. It is one of the key defensive responsibilities of local church leadership, but should also be taken on by each of its members. We often think of the church needing protection from outside attacks. There are certainly many outside sources of attack: governmental bodies, regulatory agencies, terrorist groups, secular ideologies, changing political winds, and myriad others. These are all very real and dangerous, but some of the most insidious attacks on local churches have started from within.
Division, false teaching, covered up sin, distraction, hopelessness, and many other internal issues have plagued local churches from the beginning of the Church Age. Even though we are saved, we are still flawed human beings, and we can let personal feelings, vendettas, pettiness, and pride get in the way of what is supposed to be a beautiful picture of Christ. Many divisions in the local church begin when we put ourselves and our own desires over the good of others and the church itself. So, how do we protect against these attacks?
First of all, do we even know what we are protecting and what we should look out for? If we study the truths in Scripture, we will have a baseline for what we are called to protect. We should also have a desire for unity and preservation, a love for our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, and an attitude of reverence when we meet together. Yes, we must protect from outside attacks, but the attacks that come from within usually prove to be the most damaging. It would be my prayer that each one of us would desire to follow the truth, and step up and protect ourselves and each other from harm so that the local church can thrive and the glorious message of the gospel can be spread in our communities.