The Church by Martin Eldon

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We hear a lot about "The Church". In fact "The Church" is the central theme through out the New Testament. The bible even informs us that the Church is the apple of Christ's eye, his precious bride. It is the one thing that Christ gave his life for. The Church is his glory, it was the joy of knowing that one day that he would be able to hold his church in his loving arms that gave him the strength to go to the cross.

Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; Ephesians 5:25

Hebrews 12:2 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Thus the church is very special to our risen Lord and Savior; but what is the "The Church"? Is it a building with a cross on the front? Is it `all' the people in that building? Is it a denomination that has "the truth"? What is the Church? The way we answer this surely affects the way we view our salvation, thus this must be a very important matter. Where should we turn if we wish to know the truth about a salvational matter? Of course, to the word of GOD, for His word is truth. Let us base our decisions on the word of God. First turn with me to the book of Ephesians, where we read.

Ephesians 5:20-24 Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God. Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.

Very quickly we see from the bible the loving relationship Jesus Christ has toward `the Church'. The church is personified as his `glorious' wife, and is in subjection to the Christ as the wife is in subjection to the husband. But also notice the other similitude, which is being drawn, that is Christ being the literal `head' of the church, and the church is seen as his body. This is brought out more clearly in the following verses.

Ephesians 5:25-27 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.

Why did Jesus give himself for the church? That he might sanctify it by the word of GOD. Jesus prayed to his heavenly Father, "Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth. (John 17:17) And how would this process of sanctification result? The church would be without spot or wrinkle and it would be holy and without blemish. Can the word of God have this effect on a person? Only if the Spirit of Christ is abiding in their hearts, remember that, the only way the word can sanctify, is if the Spirit of Christ is residing in the hearts of the hearer. Without the Spirit the bible is only words on paper.

Ephesians 5:28-30 So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.

Here clearly we see that `the Church' is the `body' of the Christ, his flesh and his bone. Christ is the `head' of the church. This is also clearly presented in the book of Colossians.

Colossians 1:18 And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.

Colossians 1:24 Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body's sake, which is the church:

Again we are told that Christ is the `head' of the church, which is his body. When we hear the term `head' what comes to our mind? Ruler ship maybe? Yes, Christ is our King; yet this carries with it a much more spiritual connotation. The head of an individual controls the body of the individual, correct? Our brain, more importantly our mind, is found within our head. Now when the bible speaks of the mind, what is it speaking of? Our spirit right? Our mind and our Spirit are basically the same. For instance the bible tells us that Christ understood something in his spirit. Where is our understanding? It is our minds.

Mark 2:8 And immediately when Jesus perceived in his spirit that they so reasoned within themselves, he said unto them, Why reason ye these things in your hearts?

In fact the terms `mind' and `spirit' are interchangeable in the bible, as we see in the following verse.

Ezekiel 11:5 And the Spirit (ruwach) of the LORD fell upon me, and said unto me, Speak; Thus saith the LORD; Thus have ye said, O house of Israel: for I know the things that come into your mind (Ruwach), every one of them.

Thus the body of Christ must have the mind or Spirit of Christ does it not? If the `body' has another's `mind' then it is not the body of Christ, thus it is not `The Church'. No wonder Paul exhorted us saying: Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus. Phillipians 2:5

Now let's turn to the book of 1st Corinthians chapter 12 and we will see if our logic is supported by the bible.

CHURCH HAS HIS SPIRIT

1Corinthians 12:12-14 For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit. For the body is not one member, but many.

Here Paul tells us that though the body of Christ, "the Church' is made up of MANY members, yet it remains ONE BODY. Why? Because the body of Christ has only ONE SPIRIT. This is also seen in the following verse.

Ephesians 4:4 There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling.

If something joins its self to my body and has not my spirit or isn't controlled by my mind, then in truth it is not mine right? Of course not: this same principle applies to the body of Christ. You can pretend to be a member of his body, but without his Spirit you're really none of his.

Romans 8:9 But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.

So with out the Spirit of God and his Son, then we cannot be a part of Christ's body. Thus the ONLY way one can be a part of `the church' is to possess the Spirit of Christ. Those who profess to be a part of the body of Christ, yet have another `spirit', then they are really what? They are dead.

James 2:26 For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.

THE PARABLE OF THE VINE

This is exactly what Christ taught in the following parable.

John 15:1-2 I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.

Under the symbol of a vine and branches Christ compares himself to the church. Only as long as a branch is in connection to the vine can it continue to live. If this connection ends then the branch dies.

John 15:3-5 Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.

Again we see only through our connection with Christ can we bear fruit. With out Christ we are nothing, and we can do nothing. And what if we severe our tie to Christ what becomes of us?

John 15:6 If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.

So our eternal life is based upon what? It is based upon our connection to the vine. If we remain in Christ what are the promises he makes?

John 15:7-9 If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples. As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love.

Thus what have we learned so far? That `The Church' is the body of Christ and the only way one can be a part of the body of Christ is if they have his Spirit. Those without the Spirit of Christ are not a part of his body but are fit to be burned. From the bible perspective what comes between the Vine and the branch? Or the head and the body? Nothing, nothing can be between them, if something comes between them they lose connection and the member or branch dies. This is important friends, so important that our eternal life depends on this.

MEN BETWEEN CHRIST AND HIS BODY?

Do you think that God would place a group of men, a conference, or some sort of hierarchy to decide who should be united with Christ? Of course not! Yet there are people that actually believe that Christ's body is a denomination, which is controlled by men, and these men weld the power to severe you from the body of Christ. One church that comes to mind really quickly is the Roman Catholic Church; they are very open about this.

"For 'there is one universal (Catholic) Church outside of which no one at all is saved...'" (Pope Pius IX, Ubi Primum (On Discipline For Religious), Encyclical Promulgated on June 17, 1847, #10.

There are many of other churches that believe this, yet they are not as open about it as the Roman Catholic. One of which is the Seventh Day Adventists.

"Regardless of the pretext, or how righteous the cause may appear, separation from the visible remnant [the SDA church] is apostasy from the body of Christ." (E.R. Bacchus, president of the Ontario Conference of SDA, Canada, in Messenger, October, 1994, p 2).

What does this mean to those who believe this? It means that their Salvation is not based upon their connection to Christ himself, but to a Denomination. If they lose their connection to the Denomination then in their minds, they cease to be a part of the body of Christ. The hierarchy of man-made religion becomes their Savior. If you believe this friend, then your connection with Christ is already broken, for a denomination has come between you and Christ.

Thus `THE CHURCH" can never be a denomination, for in any denomination you have those who do not have a living relationship with Jesus Christ, but in GOD'S true Church, everyone knows the Lord, everyone is connected with Christ, they have his Spirit, his mind, dwelling with in them. Speaking of Spiritual Israel, which is the true Church it is written.

Hebrews 8:11 And they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest.

Isn't that a blessing? All who are a part of `the' Church know God personally, is there a denomination like that? Of course not!

Now of course we are suppose to assemble together with those of like faith, in one mind and one accord. So how do we know the true members of Christ's body? What is one thing the `Church' will definitely profess and stand upon? What will be the foundation of all her doctrines?

Matthew 16:15-18 He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

It will profess first of all that Jesus is the Son of GOD. It will be the foundation of all her other doctrines. And what fruits will the Church possess?

Ephesians 5:9 (For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;)

They will love goodness, righteousness and truth, these will be the three major signs of those who have Christ's Spirit. But with out Christ's Spirit my friends we don't have any thing.

This reminds me of a story I heard recently. There was a very wealthy, kind and generous man, who had one very precious son. The father and son were very close to one another. One of the things the father and son loved doing most, was collecting very rare paintings. They had Michael Angelo, Rembrandt, and Raphael; they would spend hours sometimes just sitting and talking about the beauty of these paintings. Well eventually the Son was drafted and he went away to fight in the Vietnam War. During a fire fight the son lost his life. You wouldn't believe the lost the Father felt for his son, he grieved and grieved over him. Well, not long after there was a knock at the Father's door. It was a young man with his arm in a sling, wearing a uniform. The Father said, "Can I help you?" The young man said, "Sir, I was in the war with your son, we were friends; in fact when I was wounded your son came to help me and to drag me to safety. It was while he was trying to save me that he lost his life." The young man continued, "Your son told me how much you too loved paintings, so I painted this picture of your son, I know I'm not much of an artist, but I want you to have it." The Father thanked the boy and tried to offer the young man a reward for the painting. But he responded, "No sir, it is yours to have". The Father took the painting of the Son and made it the centerpiece of all his collection. It was his favorite, he would spend time just gazing upon the face of his son. Time passed and the man grew old and finally passed away. But in his will he stated that his collection of beautiful paintings were to be auctioned off. The day for the auction finally arrived, and the house was packed with perspective buyers. The auctioneer began by saying, "The first painting which shall be offered is the SON. Who will bid $10,000 for the Son?" The Crowd was silent. "Who will bid $9,000 for the Son?" exclaimed the auctioneer. With this the crowd began to be restless, murmuring, "We came for the master pieces, the Rembrandts, the Raphael's". "Who will bid $8,000 for the Son?" Asked the auctioneer. Some one shouted from the back, "We are not interested in the Son bring out the Michael Angelo's!" The auctioneer began to hurry, "Then who will give $1,000 for the Son?" Again the crowd mumbled, "We don't won't the Son!" The Auctioneer went on, "Who will give $500 for the Son?" Finally the Auctioneer said, "Who will give anything for the Son?" From the back row stood a little man, with wore out pants and a dirty shirt and he said, "I knew the Father, I worked as his gardener for many years, and I know how much he loved that painting, I will give $10 for it, I would give more, but that's I all I have." The auctioneer exclaimed, "Sold for $10". And closed his briefcase and said "This concludes our sell today". The crowd went into an uproar, "How about the Masterpieces, you must auction off the Masterpieces!". The auctioneer replied, "There was a secrete stipulation in the will, who ever received the Son, also receives all the paintings; not only all the paintings, but he inherits the entire estate. Those who rejects the Son are to receive nothing."

Do you have the Son friends? If you do you are a part of the body of Christ, if Christ's Spirit dwells within you, then you are a part of the true church. You have become one with the Son of God, and one day you will inherit all.

Romans 8:15-18 For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together. For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.

What are you willing to give for the Son of GOD? He was willing to give all for you, are you willing to give all for him?