1 – How should the Church be comprised in God’s eyes?
The Church is not a building! Only those who are born-again Christians make up the Church.
All those who call themselves Christians are not necessarily born of the Spirit of God, and not all have experienced being born again. The determining factor is that we become a child of God through this new birth experience, where our sins are forgiven, and we accept the Lord Jesus as our Lord and Saviour. This experience is called ‘being born again’.
When the various apostles wrote their epistles to the different churches (Corinth, Ephesus, Rome, etc.), they were addressed to ‘the saints’, in other words, to born again Christians. These Christians were members of the church, deacons, deaconesses and even church elders. We must understand that the Church is made up of all those who are born again and all those who will become so in the future and thus will be saved.
In the Old Testament, the people of Israel met with God in Solomon’s Temple. Today, thanks to Jesus Christ’s sacrifice, we can meet with Him personally, wherever and whenever we call upon Him. It no longer depends on a place!
2 – Who does the Church belong to?
We are used to saying ‘my church, ‘your church’, ‘his church’, and pastors even say the same, but the Church belongs to Christ. He gave His life for it, He owns it, and He paid for it by shedding his blood on the cross of Calvary. In the gospel of Matthew 16: 18, Jesus said to Peter, “I will build my Church!“
MY Church! It’s very clear, the Church belongs to Jesus!
In the gospel of John 10:14, Jesus says, “I am the good shepherd. I know my sheep, and they know me.”
Without a doubt it is HIS flock, HIS sheep. Of course, we understand that Jesus wants to build His Church using men. The Lord has a very clear plan for building it and the model exists. We can’t invent a different one, nor can we have a different revelation to the one written in the Word of God.
When it comes to construction, if builders do not comply with the architect’s instructions, then the completed building won’t look anything like what it was planned or designed to be. And the result will be a disaster. Jesus is the architect, He does not need man’s advice on how to build this spiritual edifice. The tragedy is that man thinks he can do a better job than Jesus. This is one of the dangers that exists in the Church today. There are those who want to build the Church in line with their own visions, their own imagination, and dreams …
And very often it is out of line with the truth of the Gospel. Later on, we will see how the Lord chose men to represent Him in building His Church, in line with His plan. We need to accept that Jesus is the head and the one who builds. We must submit to Him, as the true Church can only be built according to the Divine architect’s plans! This is what we observe in the Old Testament when Moses had to build the tabernacle. There were precise instructions concerning width, length, materials, etc.
In the book of Acts 7:44 it reads: “Our fathers had the tabernacle of witness in the wilderness, as He appointed, instructing Moses to make it according to the pattern that he had seen.”
3 – Is there a set model for how the church should function?
Yes, of course, a model exists and if we don’t build according to it, the result will be disastrous. We can pray, fast, give all kinds of teachings, run this way and that… If you don’t follow the instructions as given in the New Testament, you will never achieve a strong church in the Lord’s eyes! You must be led by the Holy Spirit; and, at the same time, lean on the Word of God. You must have both and both must agree! When we go overboard on one, we forget the other! And this imbalance causes the building to totter, and we risk a disaster.
Too many churches depend only on the Holy Spirit and not enough on the Word. We must find the right balance. Some churches over emphasise the Word and ignore the Holy Spirit. We need both to build the true Church of the Lord Jesus Christ.
4 – Who is head of the Church?
Jesus is head of the Church, and definitely not man. In Paul’s epistle to the Ephesians 1: 22 it says, “And He (God) put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church.”
He is the supreme head of the Church and we must fall in line with him! In the army, a general gives instructions. He says what to do, where to go, and his soldiers obey. In this case, Jesus is the head of the Church. Why, then, don’t the lieutenants and the rest of the men obey the Commander-in-Chief? His instructions are clear. It is up to us, church leaders, to obey the Commander-in-Chief, who is Jesus, the head!
The Church is often compared to a body and all its members that need to submit to the head! If you cut off a person’s arm, he will carry on living without an arm, but if you cut off someone’s head, he will die! If the Church dies, it is because we have forgotten that Jesus is the head! In Paul’s epistle to the Colossians 1:18, it says, “And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence.”
5 – So who is the builder of the Church?
Mark 16:19 reads “…after the Lord had spoken to them, He was received up into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of God.”
Jesus is now seated at the Father’s right hand. He announced His ascension to His disciples as well as His return. So how will this spiritual edifice be built if Jesus is sitting at the Father’s right hand?
The answer is in the gospel of John 14:16, “And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever‚ the Spirit of truth, which the world cannot receive, because it does not see it and does not know it; but you know him, for he dwells with you, and he will be in you.”
And in the gospel of John 14:26, “But the comforter, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things, and will remind you of all that I have told you.“
Or even in John 15: 26-27, “But when the Helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, which comes from the Father, he will bear witness to me; and you too will bear witness, because you have been with me from the beginning.“
Let’s finish with John 16: 13-15, “When the comforter comes, the Spirit of truth, he will lead you into all truth; because he will not speak for himself, but he will say all that he has heard, and he will tell you things to come. He will glorify me, because he will take what is mine and declare to you. All things that the Father has are Mine. Therefore I said that He will take of Mine and declare it to you.”
Yes, it’s Him, the Holy Spirit, who will build the Church! No one can build the Lord’s Church without God’s help. The Church belongs to Jesus and the Father gives this authority to the Holy Spirit who comes and dwells within us and speaks to us on God’s behalf. The Holy Spirit is God Himself and He is there to instruct and guide us! He will show us how to build the true church of Jesus Christ through the Word of God.
So how will He do this?
The prophet Zechariah writes in 4: 6, “‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit, says the Lord of hosts.”
We cannot build the Church today without the revelation of the Spirit of God. The point is not reading the Word and trying to put it into practice, but instead to have a true revelation. It’s something that we need to discover, so that the Spirit of God is able to lead us. We are all co-workers and the Spirit of God lives in us, this is the assurance that we have. It’s the witness of the Holy Spirit in our hearts that enables us to serve the Lord and work with Him.
6 – We are all members of one body.
The apostle Paul writes in his first epistle to the Corinthians 12: 12-13, “For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ. For by one Spirit we have all been baptized into one body‚ whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free‚ and have all been made to drink into one Spirit.“
The apostle Paul compares the Church to a human body. It is a whole! All those who are born-again form part of this body! There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all. When we come to Christ, we become ONE with Jesus and have something in common that draws us together, allowing us to recognise one another. For example, if we meet Christians from other countries, even though we don’t speak the same language, we recognise each other quickly and feel a unity, thanks to what Christ accomplished on the cross. We feel that we belong to the same body and it gives us the impression that we have always known each other!
If we carry on reading 1 Corinthians 12: 14-27, “For in fact the body is not one member but many. If the foot should say, ‘Because I am not a hand, I am not of the body.’ Is it therefore not of the body? And if the ear should say, ‘Because I am not an eye, I am not of the body,’ is it therefore not of the body? If the whole body were an eye, where would be the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where would be the smelling? But now God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased. And if they were all one member, where would the body be? But now indeed there are many members, yet one body. And the eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I have no need of you’; nor again the head to the feet, ‘I have no need of you. No, much rather, those members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary. And those members of the body which we think to be the less honourable, on these we bestow greater honour; and our unpresentable parts have greater modesty, but our presentable parts have no need. But God composed the body, having given greater honor to that part which lacks it, that there should be no schism in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another. And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it. Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually.“
Every member is important and must find their place!
We realize that we need each other! We cannot ignore a brother or sister in Christ who has been born again by the Spirit of God, and who is part of the same body which is Christ. We are all called to be operational in this body. Everyone has a place because we all have a particular gift, whatever it may be. This gift is important to the Lord and necessary for his Church.
This is how the whole body recognizes each person’s place in the Church.
Above all, there should never be feelings of superiority towards another, because, as we read, the weakest person has the biggest part to play. So, let’s not overlook the part each brother and sister plays in the building of the Church of Jesus Christ. Let’s respect one another. Let’s make sure everyone finds their place and that every member is able to contribute to the body.
Christian unity is the Lord’s aim. Jesus’ prayer in the gospel of John 17: 11 says, “Now I am no longer in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to You. Holy Father, keep through Your name those whom You have given Me, that they may be one as We are.”
In the gospel of John 17: 20-23, “I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.“
Unity amongst Christians is truly the Lord’s heart. All born again Christians form part of the body of Christ, and we are ONE by and through the Spirit. If we are no longer walking in unity, today, it is for several reasons. First, for doctrinal reasons, but also because we have a hard time forgiving and loving one another as Christ asks us to do.
Certain pastors cannot even sit at table with other brothers or sisters, and yet they are ONE in the Lord. They don’t manage to walk in unity. It’s very sad, my brothers and sisters, but this is the state of the Church today. In any case, the fact remains: we are a body and this body needs to function with all of its members, according to the gifts given to each.
Conclusion: For everyone to take their place, we must understand that the Church is not a building, it is a congregation of born again men and women who belong to Jesus. The Church must be built according to the model in the New Testament that Jesus left us.
We must allow Jesus to be the head of His Church.
Jesus is the head of the body. He holds everything together, and if we go beyond His plan and His instructions, we’ll be building upside down and will encounter big problems. Jesus is the only architect and He must remain so. The builder is the Holy Spirit, He reveals God’s plan to us and our place within that plan. We, His people, are a body and must function in unity, in humility, and in love and respect for each member of the body.
Next week, we will talk about the different functions of the body of Christ.