The Glorious Church of Christ
Christ…loved the church, and gave himself for it…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” (Ephesians 5:25, 27). This is a description of the Lord’s church. God describes it as a “
glorious church” because He is its Divine Architect. It is ruled by the glorified Christ who is with God in Heaven.
The church is an emotional subject to write about because it took the death of the Son of God on the cross of Calvary to bring it into existence. I can imagine tears swelling up in the eyes of the Father as He watched His own Son hanging in agony on the Cross to bear the sins of the world and to purchase the church with His blood (Acts 20:28). Previous to this, He had seen His being denied by Peter, forsaken by His disciples who has been His close companions for three years, scoffed at, ridiculed and tortured by the Jews who were His own brethren in the flesh, and cruelly crucified by the Romans.
In the glorious church of our Lord, people from all walks of life, cultures, colours, and classes have heard of the accounts of the cross. They have fallen in love with the One who hung on it, believed His great victory over the grave, and rejoiced in His exaltation to the right hand of His Father. In loving obedience, they have changed their lives to be reconciled through the cross to God in the one body, the church (Ephesians 2:16). Let us now look at some aspects of this glorious church.
The Beginning of the Glorious Church of Christ – Acts 2
It began on the Day of Pentecost, fifty days after our Lord was crucified. On that day, the account of the cross was preached by the inspired apostles to the very Jews who had crucified the Saviour. Many of those who were listening to the preaching on that day cried,
Men and brethren, what shall we do?”(Acts 2:37). These cries for help came from the depth of agonizing souls, who were suddenly convicted by the preaching of the gospel. They heard that their own wicked hands had crucified the innocent Son of God (Acts 2:22-23).
The answer Peter gave to this question is one we should allow to sink deep into our ears.
Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost” (Acts 2:38). Upon their baptism, these previous enemies of the cross were forgiven of their sins and added by the Lord to His glorious church (Acts 2:41, 47). Because of the fact that repentance and baptism were
for the remission of sins” and to be
added to the church, we know that no sinner who has ever lived since Pentecost has been saved (added to the church) without meeting these clearly defined conditions. How could any unforgiven sinner ever be a part of such a glorious church that is described as being without a spot or wrinkle? None of us in the church live perfectly sinless lives, but we thank God every day for the forgiveness we receive through the shed blood of Christ as we grow spiritually (Acts 8:22; I John 1:7).
The Builder of the Glorious Church of Christ
And I say 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” (Matthew 16:18). We notice by the expression
I will build my church that Christ has not yet built His church. The church and its establishment through the death of Christ was planned in the eternal mind of God before the world even began (Ephesians 3:10-11). When Christ promised to build the church, He was declaring that in His death, burial, resurrection, and exaltation to Glory He would fulfill God’s plan of the ages.
In the verse above, He called the church
my church, indicating that it belonged to Him. We also notice that He said,
the gates of hell [Hades] shall not prevail against it.”
The Ruler of the Glorious Church of Christ
Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, Which is his body, the fullness of him that filleth all in all” (Ephesians 1:20-23). The glorified Lord Jesus is the supreme monarch of the church. No man on earth has any authority to make any “church laws,” innovate any acts of worship, or change any doctrines. The Lord can never be “voted out of office” or lose His position of authority for He never changes and never dies. Apart from being head of the church, our Lord is also its Saviour (Ephesians 5:23), its merciful and faithful High Priest (Hebrews 2:17), its blessed and only Potentate and mighty King (I Timothy 6:15), its foundation (I Corinthians 3:11), and its Chief Corner Stone (Ephesians 2:20).
The place from which Christ rules the glorious church of Christ is at the right hand of God in Heaven (Hebrews 1:2). There are, therefore, no headquarters on earth. Any church with earthly headquarters cannot be the church of the Lord.
The Worship of the Glorious Church of Christ
On the Lord’s Day (the first day of the week) the glorious church assembles together for worship (Hebrews 10:25; Revelation 1:10). This day of worship is the highlight of every faithful Christian’s life, for in it, he shows adoration to God through five special acts of worship.
Preaching and Teaching the Word of God
Preach the Word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine” (II Timothy 4:2). No error is permitted to go forth from its pulpit for it is the
pillar and ground of the truth” (I Timothy 2:15). The preaching and teaching in public worship is to be done by the men of the church (I Timothy 2:11).
Giving to Provide for Its Needs (I Corinthians 16:1-2)
The Lord has chosen to ask the church to rely upon its own resources to provide the funds its needs. Every Sunday each member is pleased to give to the Lord’s church a liberal portion of what he has been blessed with.
As is the case with all worship, public prayer is to be led by the men of the church. The women are not permitted to lead the church in worship (I Timothy 2:8). The leader prays on behalf of all the rest of the congregation who listens intently and pray along with him mentally. At the close of the prayer all the church say “amen” (I Corinthians 14:16).
Breaking of the Bread (the Lord’s Supper) (I Corinthians 11:23-29)
The emblems for the supper are only the unleavened bread and the fruit of the vine. Since these elements represent the Lord’s body and His blood, it would be blasphemy to partake of anything else. The divine pattern restricts the taking of the supper to Sundays (Acts 20:7). To partake of it any other day would be to go beyond what is written (I Timothy 4:6).
Singing (Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16; I Corinthians 14:15)
Singing is the only type of music authorized in the worship of the church of Christ. All the congregation are to teach and admonish one another in this way. The New Testament authorizes no other type of music in worship. It is, therefore, going beyond God’s Word to play a mechanical instrument in worship.
The Law of the Glorious Church of Christ
The New Testament is its only law. This is the instrument of authority through which Christ rules the church (Philippians 3:16; II Timothy 1:13). We cannot add to it or take away from it (Revelation 22:18-19). It was given to us by divine inspiration and is prefect (II Timothy 3:16-17). Since there will never be any more revelation from God (Jude 3), the New Testament is the complete, final, and perfect blueprint for the church. The word of God is the divine standard which will judge every individual on the last day (John 12:48).
The Earthly Organization of the Church of Christ
We have already mentioned its spiritual headquarters in Heaven, but in order for it to function, God desires qualified men to be placed in responsible positions in the church. He has chosen to have elders appointed in every local church (Acts 14:23). Their job is to feed and oversee the local flock (I Peter 5:2; Acts 20:28). Deacons are also to be appointed as servants to assist the elders (Philippians 1:1; I Timothy 3:8-13). The Lord has chosen preachers to reprove, rebuke and exhort the flock (I Timothy 4:1-5), and teachers to instruct (Ephesians 4:11).
The Saviour of the Glorious Church of Christ
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” (Ephesians 5:23). The Saviour of the church of Christ is the glorified Jesus Christ. It is therefore only those who are in this glorious church who can hope for salvation. What a wonderful blessing and privilege it is to belong to the Glorious Church of Christ!
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