I wonder how many of the problems in the churches in evangelical America stem from an inadequate understanding of the church’s importance in God’s great work of redemption. She is the prized jewel, the chief institution in this dispensation, by which God is working in the world for the salvation of the elect. No other institution rivals her–not government, not para-church organizations, not even the family. If there was any organization to which you should join yourself, it is an orthodox local church. This is where God is working. If any energy be spent, let it be for the sake of Christ’s church, for to work for the church, is to work for Christ. It is she whom Christ is adorning as his one and only bride.
How important is the church? She is so important that it is though the glory of Christ would be as it were incomplete without her. So says Jonathan Edwards:
That nature in a tree, by which it puts forth buds, shoots out branches, and brings forth leaves and fruit, is a disposition that terminates in its own complete self. And so the disposition in the sun to shine, or abundantly to diffuse its fullness, warmth, and brightness is only a tendency to its own most glorious and complete state. So God looks on the communication of himself and the emanation of his infinite glory to belong to the fullness and completeness of himself, as though he were not in his most glorious without it.
Thus the church of Christ (toward whom and in whom are the emanations of his glory, and the communication of his fullness) is called the fullness of Christ, as though he were not in his complete state without her, like Adam without Eve. And the church is called the glory of Christ, as the woman is the glory of the man, 1 Corinthians 11:7. Isaiah 46:13, “I will place salvation in Zion, for Israel MY GLORY.” (from The End for Which God Created the World).