Archive for the ‘The Church’ Category

The Church 14

October 4, 2016

Ephesians 5:28 So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; 29 for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church, 30 because we are members of His body.

Col 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.

Westminster Confession of Faith Chapter 15
I. The catholic or universal Church, which is invisible, consists of the whole number of the elect, that have been, are, or shall be gathered into one, under Christ the head thereof; and is the spouse, the body, the fullness of Him that filleth all in all.
II. The visible Church, which is also catholic or universal under the Gospel (not confined to one nation, as before under the law), consists of all those throughout the world that profess the true religion; and of their children: and is the kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ, the house and family of God, out of which there is no ordinary possibility of salvation.
III. Unto this catholic and visible Church, Christ hath given the ministry, oracles, and ordinances of God, for the gathering and perfecting of the saints, in this life, to the end of the world; and doth by his own presence and Spirit, according to his promise, make them effectual thereunto.
IV. This catholic Church hath been sometimes more, sometimes less, visible. And particular Churches, which are members thereof, are more or less pure, according as the doctrine of the gospel is taught and embraced, ordinances administered, and public worship performed more or less purely in them.

If the essence of the true Church is spiritual, that is, it is the very body and bride of Christ, then we must be very careful about letting visible things take priority of that in any way. The WCF (as seen in the sections of chapter 1-5 above) steps far too close to that line (at best). The life of the Church is Christ Himself and that is the spiritual Church. People are united to Christ spiritually and not visibly. The professing church will have no life other than when it comes into contact with the true and living Christ and that can only be spiritually. As long as the professing church operates by visible things, it cannot have the life of Christ.

When a professing church operates under the notion of a visible church, it is not operating under the truth of faith which operates by things that the eyes cannot see. The Gospel must be preached in a spiritual way and the Gospel must be preached in such a way that the natural eye can see that it is blind and needs grace to open the eye. The visible church must operate in a way that points people to the spiritual realm and points people to the invisible things as more important and more real than the physical realm. The kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ is over spiritual things and it is over His spiritual subjects. The kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ is over the regenerate by which they must be born from above to even enter His kingdom. The kingdom of Christ does not consist of those who profess the true religion, it consists of those who have the true religion in their hearts.

It seems to be self-evident that the truth of God is at a low ebb in our nation today. There are many who profess Christianity, but according to the power it has over their lives it appears that few have Christ in truth. It would appear that many are satisfied with knowing that they are in the visible church and they think that they are in the invisible church and as such in the kingdom of Christ. This is terribly confusing to people. The people need to hear a clear distinction between the spiritual kingdom of Christ and that which is not of Christ. The people need to hear that they must really and truly be born from above if they are to enter the kingdom, not just that they need to belong to the visible church.

While it says that the professing churches are more or less pure depending on the gospel that is taught, I would argue with Luther that if they do not preach a pure Gospel they are not preaching the Gospel at all. If they are not preaching the Gospel, then they are not part of the true Church and no true Christian should be part of a non-Church. The issues involved here are quite enormous and even vital. This is not just some minor thing, it is very important. There is no such thing as a true Church which does not preach the true Gospel. Regardless of whether it holds to a good or even great confession, and regardless of whether it has the true Gospel in the confession, it must preach the true Gospel or it is not a true Church. Being part of a professing church that has a great confession is not determinative of whether that professing church preaches the true Gospel. Preaching the Gospel is absolutely necessary in order to be a true Christian and to be part of the true Church.

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The Church 13

October 3, 2016

Ephesians 5:28 So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; 29 for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church, 30 because we are members of His body.

Col 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.

Westminster Confession of Faith Chapter 15
I. The catholic or universal Church, which is invisible, consists of the whole number of the elect, that have been, are, or shall be gathered into one, under Christ the head thereof; and is the spouse, the body, the fullness of Him that filleth all in all.
II. The visible Church, which is also catholic or universal under the Gospel (not confined to one nation, as before under the law), consists of all those throughout the world that profess the true religion; and of their children: and is the kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ, the house and family of God, out of which there is no ordinary possibility of salvation.
III. Unto this catholic and visible Church, Christ hath given the ministry, oracles, and ordinances of God, for the gathering and perfecting of the saints, in this life, to the end of the world; and doth by his own presence and Spirit, according to his promise, make them effectual thereunto.
IV. This catholic Church hath been sometimes more, sometimes less, visible. And particular Churches, which are members thereof, are more or less pure, according as the doctrine of the gospel is taught and embraced, ordinances administered, and public worship performed more or less purely in them.

It is hard for me to understand how the WCF (Westminster Confession of Faith) does not step over the biblical bounds in terms of the nature of the church at this point. The Belgic Confession seems to be far more careful at this point than Westminster. The true Church is, as the WCF sets out in section 1, “consists of the whole number of the elect”… “and is the spouse, the body, the fullness of Him that filleth all in all.” However, when it goes on to set out the visible Church, it certainly appears to be less than consistent with the teaching of section 1, though it would perhaps be better to say that section 2-4 seems to become more important or at least takes over in terms of the focus (as set out by the WCF) than section 1.

It is the invisible Church, that is, the true Church that is united to Christ and is the very essence of the true Church. There is nothing that should override the basic teaching of Scripture on the essence of the true Church. The visible church is not and cannot be the same in terms of being universal. If the invisible Church is the very body of Christ, then the visible church is not the very body of Christ. This is a vital distinction.

The WCF goes on to assert that the children of those who profess true religion, which would not be the same thing as children of true believers, are members of the visible church. Even more, it says that the visible church is the “kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ the house and family of God, out of which there is no ordinary possibility of salvation.” This is bringing in a “good and necessary consequence” that seems to be brought in at the expense of Scripture. The Scriptures tell us that a person must be born from above or regenerate to be in the kingdom.

John 3:3 Jesus answered and said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

Colossians 1:13 For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son,

It is very dangerous to override the teachings of Scripture on the essence of the Church regardless of how it is done. The WCF is a wonderful Confession overall, but at this point it can be very deceptive. It tells us that there is ordinarily no possibility of salvation outside of this visible church. The Bible has many warnings about being a true follower of Christ, but it never has this particular warning in it. The Bible gives many signs concerning salvation, but it never tells us this one. We can be sure that many if not most of the writers of the WCF would agree that it is no sign or evidence of salvation to be part of the visible church, so it is amazing that they wrote what they did here.

As the WCF notes in section 4, particular churches are more or less pure according to the doctrine of the gospel they embrace. Luther, however, was more clear on this point and more accurate as well. He said that “justification by faith alone is the article upon which the Church stands or falls.” It is true that the WCF was written in different times than ours, but it is hard to find a church that preaches the Gospel as set out in Scripture. Should one join themselves to a visible church that does not preach the Gospel of grace alone? It seems that it is far more dangerous to join a local and visible church that does not preach the Gospel than it is not to join one.

A visible church can have wonderful people who are very moral and nice and a wonderful man as pastor who holds to orthodox creeds. However, that does not mean that the minister or the people are part of the invisible church and that a believer should be part of that congregation. Surely it does not reflect negatively on the salvation of a person or person who do not wish to be part of a visible church that does not preach the true Gospel.

The Church 12

September 15, 2016

Revelation 2:8 “And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write: The first and the last, who was dead, and has come to life, says this: 9 ‘I know your tribulation and your poverty (but you are rich), and the blasphemy by those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. 10 ‘Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to cast some of you into prison, so that you will be tested, and you will have tribulation for ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life. 11 ‘He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes will not be hurt by the second death.’

Ephesians 5:22 Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 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.

We have the words of Christ through Paul regarding a few aspects of the Church in the text from Ephesians, but we also have the words of Christ through John regarding some issues of the church in Smyrna. But again, we can learn or see the essence of the nature of the Church by positive statements and the examples of this faithful church. In the words of Christ to the church in Smyrna we can see that the essence of the church is spiritual rather than physical by His telling them that in their poverty (physical) they are rich (spiritually). Having Christ is true riches for those who have Him. Despite what appears to have been a time of tribulation and poverty, Christ tells them that they are rich. Even when they were being blasphemed by some who made false professions of who they were, the other people were considered a synagogue of Satan.

This (last sentence above and verse 9 above) is also an insightful statement about the true state of the church. The church consists of those who are of Christ as opposed to the national Jews who were not true Jews. The physical Jews who were standing and wanting Judaism restored or at least brought into the church were not true Jews, but they were of the synagogue of Satan. The true church is spiritual and the essence of the true church is that it has Christ and is the body of Christ. The church is not just an extension of Judaism, it is the very body of Christ and there are to be no works to the grace He gives by grace alone.

The true church is that which one can die for and yet still have true life. The true church has Christ in the midst of Her and He is Her life, which means that one can be threatened with death and if that one truly has Christ that is nothing to fear. This crown of life is something one has in eternity. Those with ears to hear are those with spiritual hearts and can hear the words of Christ in a spiritual manner. The church at Smyrna was clearly a faithful church and the essence of it was spiritual rather than physical. They were not concerned with things like fancy buildings and Hollywood guests, they were concerned with standing firm during tribulation and death. These people appeared to have eternity in their sight with no possessions or riches to weight them down.

How fitting the passage of Scripture in Ephesians is in light of the church in Smyrna. Christ is the Head of the church and Christ is Savior of the church. The church, therefore, is to submit wholeheartedly to Him in all things and at all times and places. Even when their lives were in danger, they were to submit to Christ in all things. Even when they were in the midst of hard tribulations, they were to submit to Christ. Even when they were going to assuredly die if they did not deny Christ, they were to stand firm and submit to Christ. They were to be faithful to Christ even unto death.

It seems that submission to Christ is a far different thing in our day (in the USA) than it was in the biblical times. People were ready to kill true believers and true believers were ready to stand firm. They counted the cost and many of them were indeed killed. In our day these things are true there as well as many people are being killed for being Christian. However, if the essence of the church is physical and the people are promised health and wealth, then those people are not faithful and the people at Smyrna were not faithful. Faithfulness comes from truly having Christ as our life and submitting to Him at all times. This only fits with a church that the essence consists of being the body of Christ rather than being some institution following a set of rules and laws.

The Church 11

September 13, 2016

Revelation 2:1 “To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: The One who holds the seven stars in His right hand, the One who walks among the seven golden lampstands, says this: 2 ‘I know your deeds and your toil and perseverance, and that you cannot tolerate evil men, and you put to the test those who call themselves apostles, and they are not, and you found them to be false; 3 and you have perseverance and have endured for My name’s sake, and have not grown weary. 4 ‘But I have this against you, that you have left your first love. 5 ‘Therefore remember from where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first; or else I am coming to you and will remove your lampstand out of its place– unless you repent. 6 ‘Yet this you do have, that you hate the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. 7 ‘He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will grant to eat of the tree of life which is in the Paradise of God.’

When we view what Christ revealed to John and had him write to the churches, it is plain that the issues and concerns were different then than now. While there were positives listed, the main issue was that they had left their first love. The issue was not that they were not growing in numbers and were not giving enough money, nor was the issue that they did not have a building program going. They were not told that the number of professions or that the number of baptisms were not high enough. They were told that they had left their first love.

John wrote the churches with the words he was given by Christ and with each one it was said to them what the problem or problems were. In the modern day we do not hear things like this spoken to the churches, but then again we don’t hear much of Christ or about Christ either. What people are now interested in concerning the churches appears to have to do with things other than the church. People are concerned with numbers and money. They are concerned with buildings, comfort, and style. They are concerned with appearances. There appears to be no concern or little concern for the love of Christ. This is most likely strong evidence that at best there has been a great fall from loving Christ.

In 1 Corinthians 16:22 Paul wrote that “If anyone does not love the Lord, he is to be accursed.” He did not say that if preachers do not perfectly exegete a text that they are to be accursed. He did not say that if preachers do not preach with a certain outline or a certain number of points that they will be accursed. He did not say that if people do not join a local church (with modern standards) that they will be accursed. He did not say that if people do not protest all the moral evils of the day that they will be accursed. He simply said that if anyone does not love the Lord that person is to be accursed.

The Greatest Command is to love the Lord your God with all of your being, that is, with the whole of every aspect of your being. Yet, like the Pharisees, we want to water that down to a level where we can keep this command and others as well. We would rather be able to boil the church down to a matter of external things so we can do what we think we should in our own strength. Yet the love of Christ is not in our own strength and power, it must be given to us that we may love Him. We cannot love apart from the love we receive which is the fruit of the Spirit.

The essence of the true Church is that it is the body of Christ and it follows the Head of the Church and receives all from the Head who is the vine as well. Whatever spiritual fruit we bear, which love is part of that fruit, must come from Him first. In the modern day we read that verse and think that we should make a greater commitment. While that may be a true need, what we really need to do is die to self and seek Him to bring us back to our true love. After all, it is a fact that all spiritual blessings are found in Christ and the love of God is a great blessing. We do not need more works of the flesh, we need more of Christ.

The Church 10

August 29, 2016

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;

John 1:14 And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.

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 language of the day about “Church” or ‘church” is that of the externals and of churches being based on business models. Some church growth gurus even talk about how they learned their church growth methods from business models. This is sure evidence that men have no idea of what the true Church is and that they have no concept of the true Gospel of Jesus Christ. The kingdom of God and the kingdom of Christ cannot be brought about by the wisdom of the flesh and of the wisdom of men, but instead it is about the power of God. It does not matter how many people the wisdom of men can get into the door and can get to join the group and become more moral, what matters is the living God regenerating souls and dwelling in them.

How is the body of Christ built up? The Lord gave the churches leaders to teach them. The churches are built up when the know Christ, are built up in doctrine, and the members of the body love God and each other. The churches are not built up by greater numbers in and of themselves, but by those in the church becoming stronger in the faith and by Christ living in the soul. The churches are actually weaker when people give themselves to watered-down forms of evangelism as this brings in false converts and this is like bringing the things of the devil in to the churches. Evangelism must be God-centered first and foremost and as such it will be the true Gospel given out from the pulpits and the Bible studies of true churches.

Mat 28:19 “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

Here we see the Great Command or the Great Commission given to the Church. Where is the command to go out and water down a little message with a few points in it and ask people to pray a prayer? Where is the command for the Church to be devoted to evangelism (so-called) and virtually nothing else? The command is to make disciples of the nations. Yes, it is to make disciples, baptizing them, and then teaching them. However, disciples are baptized and disciples are to be taught. But notice that these people are to be disciples of Christ. They are not to be taught with little programs here and there, they are to be taught all that Christ commanded them.

Without going into John 17 where Jesus set out some wonderful teachings about unity and the oneness of His disciples and those who would come after Him with Him, we should not water down the Great Commission either. It would appear that it is necessary for the people to know the truth about the Trinity (though not in great detail, necessarily) before they are baptized. After all, they are to be baptized in the NAME of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. The name of God is really all that God is. When we are talking about being baptized into the name of another, one should know something of God (perhaps a lot) before s/he is baptized. Surely we are to know the One we are being baptized in the name of. The teaching ministry of each church should be focused on the nature of God and what Christ taught. It is true that the teaching ministry of Christ was carried on by His apostles, so His teachings are in the epistles as well. What does Paul teach us about the Church? The Church is the body of Christ. This is so fundamental and so basic and yet the churches are thought to be nothing but tax exempt organizations now. Christ is all and in all His people!

The Church 9

August 24, 2016

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 chief end of man is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever, or so the Westminster Shorter Catechism says. It never gets around to saying what the chief end of the Church is, but we cannot imagine that the answer would be any different. The chief end of each man is to glorify and enjoy God forever, so surely that is the chief end of the Church. This is not just an idle point in a larger speculative type of reasoning; it is the very reason for the Church. If we look at what the Church is in light of the Scriptures, and then what the Scriptures tell us regarding what the Church is to do, it should be clear that the modern professing Church has lost its way.

The Great Commission is mentioned over and over in certain circles, but the focus is on evangelism. In other circles there is a lot of talk about discipleship, yet it seems all too human. The chief end of the Church is to glorify God and that should teach us a lot about the Great Commission. The Church is the body of Christ and that should teach us a lot about the Great Commission. This is to say that what the Church is and the chief end of the Church should drive what is done and also how it is done. The true Church is not about huge buildings and building programs, it is about building the body of Christ. The true Church should not be about great numbers and baptisms; it is about proclaiming the glory of God in Christ. The true Church should not be about programs of discipleship, it should be about men and women growing in Christ in reality and not just in outward things.

John 1:14 And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.

The eternal Word took human flesh and tabernacled among people. We are told that the physical body of Christ was the very tabernacle of the glory of God. Without even attempting to show that the present tabernacle of God is the Church, we can see that the dwelling place of the glory of God now is the Church. Each person is in some way a temple of the Holy Spirit and yet the Church is the dwelling place of God. There is no contradiction in saying that the Church is the very body of Christ and also the very dwelling place of God. This is a basic truth that we should and must go no further until this is driven home into our hearts. When people think of the Church (or church) in terms of a business model, they are far from the biblical truth. The buildings can be filled with religious people who are deceived about being a church, but that is not what it means to be a church at all.

Jesus Christ has really and truly been resurrected. Jesus Christ really and truly dwells in His people and the people are His body. Jesus Christ is alive and will be alive forevermore. Jesus Christ is the Lord of His Church and they are to follow Him as Lord and as their life. The Church must follow Christ in all ways AND have His intents, motives, and loves. It must not turn to humanistic methods in order to reach humanistic goals, but it must follow Christ regardless of all those other things. The hands and the feet must follow the head or the person is thought to be spastic at best. The body of Christ (the true Church) must follow Christ at all points. His glory is the true goal of the Church and we cannot make up ways to glorify Him and pretend to glorify Him when all we are doing in reality is to seek self.

The Church 8

August 21, 2016

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 should never be identified or thought of as an institution of some sort without the clear recognition that it is first and foremost the body of Christ. The Church is not about a denomination and it is not about leaders with big names, but it must always be about the glory of God in Christ. The Church does not have a primary duty to evangelize and it does not have a primary duty for social justice. The primary duty of the Church is to love God in all that it does. The purpose of the Church is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever. Every function of the Church (and church) is to be aimed at that goal and every function should and must be thought of only in terms of that goal. The Church can only be thought of in biblical terms as the body of Christ and that is what defines it and what should determine how it functions.

The Church has the purpose of manifesting the glory of God and making His wisdom known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. It is the glory of God that is to be the focus of the Church rather than money, buildings, and all of the worldly trappings that has been and is the focus of so many. It is to the glory of God that the Church must focus on that the saints would be equipped to the building up of the body of Christ. The Church, as the body of Christ, should and must focus on the Head of the body and know that it is to receive all from the Head and do all for the sake of the Head. The Church must be all about Christ and Christ is all about His Father.

For the local church that recognizes that it is the dwelling place of God and the body of Christ, it should realize that it is utterly helpless (inability) to glorify God other than being what it is called to be and it can only be that by grace alone. The strength and wisdom that the Church is to go by is that of Christ and the Spirit of Christ. It must come to realize that Sunday morning services are not enough and not even close to enough. The local church is to be a body and bodies operate the best when the pieces of the body are complete and hang together as they follow the Head. When a person lifts weights, that person will soon learn that it takes the whole body working together and each part doing what it should in union with the other parts that enables the person to lift more weight. So the local church can only function truly when it functions as the body of Christ and each part striving to be strengthened and to strengthen others which is for the sake of Christ and His glory.

The Church (and each local church) is to be subject to Christ. The leadership of the local church (pastor, elders, or whatever title) must be in subjection to Christ or they have lost all reality as to what they are about. When we think of the Gospel of John and how Christ was always doing what the Father told Him which was always seeking the glory of the Father, it should easily be seen what a local church does when it is in true subjection to Christ. The local church should be about what the Head of the church is all about. When the church is in true subjection to Christ and to Christ as the Head of the Church, then that local church will seek the glory of God through Christ. It can do no other because it is seeking what the Head of the church and the life of the church seeks. Away with all the personality issues and all the ridiculous arguments, the church is to be about Christ who is about the glory of His Father. Anything else is simply and plainly rebellion against King Jesus.

The Church 7

August 19, 2016

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.

When we think of the Church in light of the Trinity, we can easily see that those who are brought into unity with Christ are in some way the dwelling place of God. When the Church prays as it is supposed to pray, that is, for the name of God to be reverenced and glorified, this is something that the Church should do as it is seeking for God Himself. In this prayer the Church is the body of Christ seeking the Father and the glory of the Father, yet the glory of God shines forth in Christ and the body of Christ is the Church. Jesus prayed in John 17:1-3 for the Father to glorify the Son that the Son may glorify the Father, so the Church is to pray for the Father to fill the Church with Himself that His glory may shine through the Church. This is to say that the Church should seek the presence of God more and more that it would be filled with Christ and the Spirit of Christ that the glory of God would shine through the Church. The Church must not be thought of in terms of duties, it must be thought of in terms of the body of Christ seeking the glory of God.

There are all sorts of writings and teachings about what the Church is to do in terms of society and social justice, but the Church is defined by what it is and that is the body of Christ. The Lord Jesus Christ came to glorify the Father and reveal the Father when on earth in bodily form, so now the body of Christ (the Church) is here to be the dwelling place of Christ and the temple of the Holy Spirit. When God glorifies the Church, that is, fills the Church with Himself and His glory, it is only then that the Church is an instrument through which the glory of God shines. The greatest duty of the Church is to seek God out of true love to fill the Church with His glory that He may be glorified. The Church is to long to be filled with His glory and it is to long to taste of His glory.

The Church must learn to be like the Savior in that it is to seek God for the sake of God. In a sense the Church is to be like the Savior who told His disciples that he who has seen Me has seen the Father. The church should have that same love and desire in all it does. It should want people who come to the meetings of the church and come into contact with the members of the body of Christ to behold the glory of Christ in order to behold the glory of God shining in Christ. This is what should determine what the church thinks of itself and what it does. When a church thinks of itself or defines itself in terms of works or in terms of focus and that main focus is other than the glory of God shining in it, that is a local church that is not seeking God.

The saints are to be equipped for service. What that seems to mean in the modern thinking is that the saints are to be equipped to go out into the world. However, the focus of equipping the saints is for the body of Christ to be built up. The Church is to love the body of Christ because what it does to the body of Christ because what is done to the body of Christ is done to Christ. What is not done to the body of Christ is not done to Christ. If we love Christ then we are to love the children of God. We love the children of God and their Father when we desire and seek to build them up in Christ and to be part of their getting stronger that they may not fall to the deceptions of the evil one. The main ministry of the Church is to be to the body of Christ. The stronger the body of Christ is the more the glory of God dwells there and the more He is glorified through the Church.

The Church 6

August 9, 2016

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 chief end or the primary goal and purpose of the Church is the glory of God. In the eternal plan of God He planned and then through Christ purchased His Church for the purpose of glorifying His name. His chief end is not to save souls, but instead He saves to the praise of the glory of His grace. His chief end is not the comfort and wealth of His people, but instead that they would love Him and live for His glory. The Church is not delivered from hell and then set out to plan and live by its own power and wisdom, but instead all that it is and does is to be for His glory and that requires the Church to rest in Him and look to Him alone.

The absolute priority of the Church is to seek the glory of God in all that it does and it is to do so out of love. We cannot seek the glory of God in truth and reality if we do not love God and seek His glory. If we seek His glory (supposedly) out of a higher goal or a greater love, then we are not seeking Him out of love as set out in the Great Commandment. Our prayer lives in many ways reflect our true love. Of course this may be seen in our public prayer lives, but especially in our private prayer. In public prayer we may have learned proper words and perhaps some voice inflexions and so we sound as if we are really praying, but our hearts can be caught up with the applause of others or even self.

The Lord Jesus prayed for the glory of His Father just before He went to the cross, so this should teach us that what He taught the disciples about prayer (Matthew 6) was His practice as well. Since the Church is the body of Christ and He is the life of the Church, it is safe to assume that He will work the first petition in the hearts of His people. The first petition that He taught His people to pray was “hallowed be Your name.” This should be the breathing out of the desires and love of the people who are the Church. “With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints” (Eph 6:18). These two things must go together. We are to pray first and foremost for God’s name to be revered, stood in awe of, and glorified. Yet we are also to be on the alert to pray for the saints.

We can see how these things come together when we understand that the Church is the body of Christ and the temple of the Spirit and so we are to pray for the saints to love God and glorify God. The greatest thing that a person can have is the presence of God and so we are to pray that for the body of Christ with our hearts desiring His glory. When we pray for the Church and the saints that the Church consists of with a heart that loves God and His glory, we are praying for His name to be hallowed and the way He hallows His name is through His people. They are the vessels of clay that His glory dwells in. The Church and the glory of God go together. The Church, that is, the saints of God are the very dwelling place of Christ who is the very outshining of His glory. We should long for Him to come down and dwell among His people so that His glory would shine through His people more and more. It is a totally different concept to think of the Church as a building or a denomination.

The Church 5

August 7, 2016

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 has the privilege of prayer because it is united to Christ, is the body of Christ, and Christ dwells in His people. The Church must never forget the Head of the Church when it comes to prayer, but instead it is the Head that gives them the Spirit of prayer and indeed is the Mediator of their prayers as well. Christ loves the Church and He nourishes His Church and cherishes it. Prayer can only be motivated and moved by love for God, which can only come to the soul when it is communicated to the soul by the Spirit of Christ. The Church should seek the living God through Christ for more and more of Himself and His presence that is in Christ.

We can see something about how people should pray for each other by the true nature of the Church. The essence of the Church is Christ and the love of the Church is for Christ. The Lord Jesus Christ dwells in each soul and He is the best thing for each soul. As members of the body should seek the Head for the true good of other members of the body, so they should pray that others would have Christ. It appears that praying for the physical problems of the congregation is about the only thing that people pray for, but it should be noted that there is at best only one instance in the epistles of that. Jesus healed people in the Gospels, but we don’t see prayer for those who had ailments as such. We do see the example of Paul in several cases where he prayed for the spiritual welfare of the people. It is also an old adage that when people are physically ill they are in a spiritual struggle. Therefore, when we see people that are ill we should pray for their spiritual strengthening.

Those who are united to Christ and love God and His glory know that the purpose for anything and all things is the glory of God. God saves souls to the praise of the glory of His grace. God established the Church that to Him would be all the glory. The Church is on earth “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” (Eph 3:10). This is a profound truth that we have to have taught to our hearts by Christ. The Church is on display so that the glory of God would be made known to beings in the heavenly places. In the context, this was what flowed out of the reason for Paul preaching the Gospel. All of this is in accordance with His eternal pleasure.

It should be clear that in light of God’s purposes and the essence of the Church that prayer must be different. Our first priority in prayer is the glory of God, but we must know that the Church is on display in order that God and His glory would be manifested to beings we know little to nothing about. Our obligation and privilege is to seek the Lord and to pray for His people to know Him and to grow up in Him. Prayer is part of how we equip the saints for service so that the body of Christ would be built up. The people of God need more and more of Christ in order that they would be established in Christ and that they would be strengthened to stand against the wiles of the devil. In our hearts we should seek for grace that we may pray for the body of Christ (believers) that they may have more of Christ. After all, He is true food and true drink for the soul of all who truly love Him.