The Church 4

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.

In thinking through the issue of the Church, the focus must remain on the essence of the Church as being the body of Christ and the temple of Christ. When this point is out of focus or simply not taken into account as the essence of what the Church is, the concept and practice of being the Church will be taken in a man-centered direction. It simply is inevitable. The purpose of the Church cannot be anything different than the chief end of man, yet the Great Commission seems to be what people think of as the Great Commandment of men. Evangelism must be done out of love for God and be done out of love for His glory or it is not biblical evangelism. I would even submit that it may not be possible to practice biblical evangelism apart from an understanding of the essence of the Church as set out in the New Testament.

The Church is not the building that men build, but it is the spiritual body that Christ purchased and God builds. It is God that adds to the number of the Church and not how many people are talked into saying a prayer. There must be new hearts for men to become members of the body of Christ and not just a new commitment. A fleshly human being who is born dead in sin cannot simply become a member of the body of Christ when s/he decides to do so. This is something that God must do. A fleshly person cannot become a spiritual person by a mere decision. A dead person cannot become a person with life by a mere decision. God has to do the work and that work is making a person a new creation. The true Church is supernatural and is not simply a matter of natural people making natural decisions out of selfish concerns.

The Church must be seen as a body that consists of true believers or it will degenerate and be seen as some form of organization operating in the natural realm. The Church is the tabernacle of the glory of God because it is the very body and dwelling place of Christ who is the shining forth of the glory of God (Heb 1:3). When the true Church evangelizes, it must consider Christ who is its life and how He is to shine forth as the very glory of God shining forth in and through His people. It is not that evangelism is to be done for humanistic reasons primarily, but it is to be done because the body is full of His glory and it wants to spill over and shine out. True evangelism is done when the people that the Church consists of as the body of Christ want the glory that dwells among them to shine forth in other places as well.

The Church, as the body of Christ, must be seen as the place where the glory of God (Christ) dwells. One cannot do anything for the glory of God apart from Christ since Christ is the shining forth of the glory of God. As the physical body of Christ was the very tabernacle of the glory of God on earth then (John 1:14-16), so the spiritual body of Christ (the Church) is the very dwelling place of the glory of God on earth now. The Church glorifies God by being the Church and shining forth Christ in His strength by grace alone. The Church does not glorify God by its own methods and plans, but only in being the Church by the plan and grace of God.

This is utterly vital to take to heart, even into the depths of the heart. We do not glorify God by what we do, but He glorifies Himself by what He does in and through His people (His body, the Church). This is why (one reason) the Church must learn what it really is and how it exists to glorify God. The Church is first and foremost for the glory and pleasure of God Himself. The Church must realize that it is the dwelling place of God and it must be and do all for His pleasure. The body is to be at the disposal and pleasure of the head, so the Church is to be at the disposal and pleasure of its Head. The Church is not its own because it has been bought with a price. God is absolutely and utterly sovereign and that means His glory is sovereign. The Church cannot glorify God as such, but God glorifies Himself through the Church and beholds His own manifested glory in beholding His Son in the Church.

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