Kevin Wayne Johnson
Later this month, summer will officially launch around the world. Many of us will travel around the globe and have the privilege of interacting with multiple cultures, customs, peoples, and have experiences that can be life-changing in many aspects. That said, this post will emphasize the importance of the church. Prayerfully, the introduction (below) to our seventh book in the Give God the Glory! series (The Power in the Local Church) will cause you to think and reflect upon several documented reasons to get connected this summer to a good Bible-believing, Bible-teaching church. You’ll be glad that you did!
The Church defined:
…any number of souls, called and united in one vow, in one place, for divine worship, where the pure Word is preached, and the sacraments duly administered, and godly living, after His law, as given by the head of the church, the Lord Jesus Christ.
I love the church and what is represents. To me, the church is a place of comfort where, joy, peace, tranquility, rest, and contentment permeates the atmosphere. Over the years, the church has consistently and repeatedly provided an untarnished sense of pure power that is inconceivable to describe.
Power is referenced throughout the Scriptures 242 times! Its first reference is transcribed in Genesis 31:6 (KJV) – “And ye know that with all my power I have served your father,” and concludes in Revelation 20:6 (KJV) – “Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.” In the former verse, ‘power’ refers to ability. In the latter verse, there is comfort in knowing that the second death, reserved for the unjust, has no power in the life of the believer.
Church is referenced throughout the Scriptures 80 times! The Greek word for ‘church’ is ekklesia, meaning “called out ones.” Its first reference can be found in Matthew 16:18 (The Message) – “Jesus came back, “God bless you, Simon, son of Jonah! You didn’t get that answer out of books or from teachers. My Father in heaven, God himself, let you in on this secret of who I really am. And now I’m going to tell you who you are, really are. You are Peter, a rock. This is the rock on which I will put together my church, a church so expansive with energy that not even the gates of hell will be able to keep it out. The last mention in the Scriptures is located at Revelation 3:14 (NLT) – “Write this letter to the angel of the church in Laodicea. This is the message from the one who is the Amen—the faithful and true witness, the beginning[a] of God’s new creation:” In both instances, the church represents a gathering place of believers who worship, celebrate, and praise the Lord corporately. Although I have served as an active member and ministry leader in three denominations – African Methodist Episcopal Zion, Pentecostal, and Church of God (Anderson, Indiana) – since my salvation experience in 1993, the common theme throughout each of these dynamic local churches is that Jesus is Lord! There is power in that name.
I still cherish the memories of my local church as a child. During those formative years, a solid foundation was laid based upon the center verse in the Bible: It is better to put your trust in God than it is in man (Psalm 118:8 – KJV). My parents understood, and valued, the statutes, commandments, and judgments of our Almighty God. These principles were instilled in them through their parents, also at an early age in life. Both of my grandmothers, ‘Grandma’ (paternal) and ‘Granny’ (maternal), were God-fearing women who demonstrated righteousness before God in every aspect of their respective lives. Grandma regularly attended Sunday morning worship services at Fifth Street Baptist Church, while Granny regularly attended Saturday morning worship services at Ephesus Seventh Day Adventist Church in our hometown of Richmond, Virginia. Though each observed the Sabbath on different days of the week, I was undeniably convinced that they loved and trusted the Lord with all of their heart (Proverbs 3:6). Their mannerism, discipline, prayer life, service to others, diligence, and lifestyle was on display for all to witness. I remember our loving interactions as if it were yesterday. In fact, I still recall Granny’s prophesy that I would preach the gospel in due season. I was eight years old at the time. It was during the summer of 1968. The power of the gospel in their lives resonates perpetually because of their active involvement in the local church.
While observing their Godly lives week after week and year after year, I spent my impressionable childhood years at Ebenezer Baptist Church, Richmond, Virginia, actively engaged in Sunday school, cub scouts, music, and youth leadership programs. The experience from active engagement was powerful. I remember my scout master, Deacon Ross, and my music teacher, Sister Flowers. They are still active ministry leaders at Ebenezer and I enjoy seeing them as often as I can. I experienced water baptism at the age of nine. Although I did not quite understand the significance at the time, there was power in this ordinance. I could not explain what I felt but it was real and meaningful. Between the ages of ten to twelve, I recall leading Sunday morning worship services, along with other youth in the church, from the pulpit, reading Scripture and reciting the Lord’s Prayer. There was power in these leadership positions during our annual youth day programs.
My dad served twenty years in the United States Marine Corps. His love for his family compelled him to decline a promotion to the rank of captain in order to avoid another tour of duty overseas. During his illustrious career as an enlisted soldier and commissioned officer, Dad served admirably in Okinawa, Japan and Vietman (twice). His decision not to leave us again was a sincere demonstration of love. In exchange for an overseas tour, Dad retained his rank as first lieutenant and our family relocated from Richmond to Virginia Beach in 1973. Dad would serve his final three years of military service at the Naval Air Station, Norfolk, Virginia. We would not return to Richmond until 1976. During our time in the Norfolk and Virginia Beach area, and during my pivotal middle and high school years, we did not attend church services regularly. I lost my connection with God, but not my need for Him. Once my dad retired from military service in 1976, we returned home to Richmond and once again actively attended church at Ebenezer. While I temporarily strayed away from the power in the local church for a brief period of time, God’s Word kept me from falling – “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6 – KJV).
As a result of the solid foundation that my grandmothers’ laid for my parents to build upon, who in turn passed their Godly love on to their children, I am able to write this next book in the award-winning Give God the Glory! series. This book series has reached a global audience in multiple languages. It is my prayer that you will experience The Power in the Local Church and pass this revelation along to the next generation as well as those within your sphere of influence.
Together, let’s Give God the Glory! as we journey through the power in the local church.