God Has Joined Jesus to the Church
The church is indestructible. We have already seen that in Matthew 16:18. Jesus said the gates of Hades would not prevail against the building of the kingdom, or the church. But, also there is a passage in Hebrews 12:28 where the writer declares,
Wherefore, receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us have grace, whereby we may offer service well-pleasing to God with reverence and awe. Notice:
…receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken. The church is an indestructible kingdom. In Luke 8:11, in the parable of the sower, the seed is the Word of God. Wherever the seed is planted—that is, wherever the Word of God is planted in the hearts of men and those hearts are good hearts, good soil, the kingdom comes forth.
The kingdom is always in existence, at least in seed form. It is an indestructible institution, and one day it will be delivered back to the Father. First Corinthians 15:24 clearly shows it will be delivered back to the Father when the Lord comes again. If we are to receive the crown of life, it is through the church.
The church is indivisible—the Lord built one church. Some passages in the book of Ephesians show clearly the Lord built one church, not a multiplicity of religious bodies teaching differing doctrines. In Ephesians 1:22-23, we read,
and he put all things in subjection under his feet, and gave him to be head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all. The church is called the body of Christ. He is the head over it. Christ is the spiritual head of His spiritual body, the church. Notice what Paul writes in Ephesians 4:4-5:
There is one body, and one Spirit, even as also ye were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism.
Just as there is one God and one Lord, there is one body, the church. The church is indivisible. The Lord built but one. In I Corinthians 1:10-13, the apostle Paul wrote to the brethren at Corinth and begged them to all be of the same mind and the same judgment, to speak the same things, because there was some division there. The very fact that Paul warned against that and begged them to be united shows that it was the Lord’s intention that we be one, and speak the same thing. Notice:
be perfected together in the same mind and in the same judgment, that is, the doctrine is to be the same. In John 17:20-21, in His prayer to the Father in His last hours upon the earth, Jesus prayed for His apostles. Then He turned His attention to all of those who would believe on Christ through the word of the apostles:
Neither for these only do I pray, but for them also that believe on me through their word; that they may all be one; even as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be in us: that the world may believe that thou didst send me.
How are God and Christ one? They are one in doctrine, certainly, as well as in nature and purpose and so on. Are we one in doctrine in the religious world today? Tragically, no. But does that please God? Certainly not, because we have seen that He built one church that was to be one in doctrine.
The church is distinct—that is, it has clear identifying marks. We invite you to study further and think very soberly and carefully about these things, because they are of an eternal consequence.
- It has Christ as its head, as we have seen in Ephesians 1:22-23.
- It has Scriptural names or designations. We saw
the church of Godwas mentioned in Acts 20:28 and in 1 Corinthians 1:1-2, not as a denomination, but as an identifying, possessive, designation showing God is the author of all things that bring about salvation, even in the church. But, of course, it is done through Christ whom He made head of the church. In Romans 16:16 we see,
All the churches of Christ salute you.Thus, we know
- The mission of the church is to preach. In 1 Timothy 3:15, Paul writes,
but if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how men ought to behave themselves in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.The church is to be the pillar and ground of the truth. We are to edify each other. The church is to edify itself (Ephesians 4:16). We are to carry on benevolent work (Galatians 6:10, James 1:27). As we have opportunity, we are to work that which is good toward all men.
- The organization of the church: Elders are to oversee individual congregations. There is no central government the Lord gave to His church, but a plurality of elders are to oversee the flock of God in each location, in each congregation. First Timothy 3 and Titus 1 give us the qualifications. Deacons are to serve as special servants under the elders. In 1 Timothy 3, we have the qualifications of these special servants who are to carry out various works of the church. And, of course, all of the members are to be subject to the elders of the church. As we have mentioned, each congregation is to be autonomous, separate or independent.
- The terms of admission are also very clearly set forth. We are to believe in Christ as the Son of God. In John 8:24, Jesus said,
“…except ye believe that I am he, ye shall die in your sins.We are to repent (Luke 13:3, 5). Jesus clearly makes repentance essential. We are to confess Christ. We are to be buried with Him in baptism (Mark 16:16 and other passages). Then we are added to the church, where we are to worship God in Spirit and in truth.
- The worship of the church: We are to worship God in Spirit and in Truth. The acts of worship are clearly set forth in the Scriptures. We are to partake of the Lord’s supper every first day of the week (Acts 20:7). We are to sing and make melody with our hearts to the Lord (Colossians 3:16, Ephesians 5:19). Prayer is a part of our worship (Acts 2:42). As members of the church, we must give as we have been prospered (I Corinthians 16:1-2). Bible study, or the preaching of the Word, is an act of worship, authorized by Acts 20:7 in the New Testament.
If we are to enjoy the crown of life, if it is to be ours, it will be only as we come to Christ through the cross, being obedient to its terms, in order to reach the benefit of the blood. Then, we are added to the church where we must remain faithful to one day receive the crown of life.