The Church 1

Eph 1:22 And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church, 23 which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.

Colossians 1:24 Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I do my share on behalf of His body, which is the church, in filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions.

Ephesians 3:10 so that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the church to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly places. 3:21 to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.

Eph 4:12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ;

Eph 5:23 For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body. 24 But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything. 27 that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless. 29 for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church, 32 This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church.

The Church is such a vast subject that writers have each spent multiple volumes writing on it. Could it be, however, that so much ink has been spilled over the idea of the Church that the real issues of the Church have been neglected? Have people in the past and some today become so concerned about swallowing gnats about the Church that they have ignored the fact that they have swallowed camels? In a different way, could it be said that people have become so concerned about the order of the Church that they have forgotten the true nature of the Church? Have people become more concerned about “joining” the local church that they have forgotten the nature of the true Church?

While we look at a lot of complicated rules and documents on church order, it does not seem like anything like that was ever set out in the New Testament. It seems as if the concerns of men started early on and then took over the concept of what the Church really is fairly early as well. It has been said many times, and used wrongly many times as well, but still there is something true about the statement that “the church is not an organization, but it is an organism.” Again, that can be used in a wrong way, yet there is something very true about it. If we read the passages of Scripture above (all but one taken from Ephesians), it should be clearly seen that the essence of the Church is that it is the body of Christ. This changes things quite fundamentally.

The Church is not only headed by Christ and ruled over by Him, it is His very body. This is an essential and yet a most basic point. If we think of Christ as Head of the Church as a man is head of a company, then we have missed the biblical point. Christ is Head of the Church in the sense that we all have a head on our shoulders and the body is supposed to follow the head and in one sense receive all from the head. It is not just that Christ gives the Church its marching orders, but He gives it life and the Church is His body. The New Testament is quite clear that in salvation Christ dwells in each of His people and as such He is the very life of that person and the Church as a whole. Those who belong to Christ are also said to dwell in Him, which points to the unity of the believer with Christ. But again, these are things which should never be set aside in thinking about the Church. These things are the very essence and heart of the Church.

The Church is not just an organization sent out to do things written about in the Bible, but the Church is the Body of Christ in the world. The Church is to worship Christ in the strength, joy, and love that it receives from Christ as the Head. The Church is not on earth just to carry out a mission; it is here to be the Body of Christ. Before the Church can do anything biblical, it must realize who it is and what it is. The local church is not just to get together once a week and sing a few songs, say a few words of prayer and either give or listen to a sermon, but the local church is the very Body of Christ and it comes together because the Body is to be together. The local church gathers as the Body of Christ and it is to seek Him in His glory because that is the very life of the church. The Lord Jesus is the hope of glory to us because He is the very shining forth of the glory of God (Heb 1:3). In history the revelation of the glory of God in the face of Christ happens when the local church is together seeking His face.

It is in beholding the glory of God in the face of Christ (II Cor 3:18) is when we are transformed into His image from one degree of glory to another. When churches and preachers give learned messages and moral messages to the people and that apart from the glory of Christ in the Gospel, they are doing the devil’s work. Yes, that sounds harsh, but the devil works to hinder people from seeing “the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God” (II Cor 4:4). When the church gathers, in order to pursue the Gospel they must pursue the glory of Christ and not just true words about Him. When the church gathers, if they are not seeking the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, what are they seeking? The devil works to hinder and blind people from seeing the glory of Christ, so those who do not seek His glory seem to be working hand in hand with the devil. The local church is either seeking the glory of the Christ who indwells His people or it is not. The devil does not seem to mind it when people speak of the facts of the Gospel, but he works to hide the glory of it. Do we really see the glory of Christ in the churches?

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