Friday, April 20, 2012


The Church Which is His Body

Submitted by William MacDonaldon Tue, 02/08/2005 - 06:00


     In the New Testament, the word church is a translation

    of the Greek word elklesia, which means “a called-out

    company,”“a gathering” or an “assembly.” Stephen

    used the word todescribe Israel as “the church

    (assembly)in the wilderness’, (Acts 7:38). It is also

    used in thebook of Acts to describe aheathen mob at

    Ephesus (Acts19:32,39,41). But the mostcommon use

    of the word in

    the New Testament is to describea group of believers in

    the Lord Jesus Christ. Thus Paul speaksof “the church of

    God, which He hath purchased with His ownblood”

    (Acts 20:28). In his first letter to the Corinthian


    the great apostle divides the whole world into Jews,

    Gentiles, and the church of God (1 Corinthians 10:32).

    Again,he identifies the church of God as including the

    group ofChristian believers whom he persecuted before

    his conversion (1 Corinthians 15:9).

    It has often been said that the Church is not an

    organization but an organism. By this is meant that it is

    not a lifeless institution but a living unit. It is a fellowship

    of all those who share the life of Christ and who are

    linked together in living union by the Holy Spirit. It has

    been well called “a pure communion of persons without

    institutional character.” Many descriptive titles are given

    to the Church in the New Testament, and one of the best

    ways of arriving at an understanding of the church is to

    consider the significance of each title. The following are

    the prominent descriptions of the church:

     1. A flock (John 10:16, R.V.).

    The Jewish nation was a fold. The Church is a flock.

    In John 10: 16 the Lord Jesus said, ‘Other sheep

    I havewhich are not of this fold (Israel): them also

    I must bring,and they shall hear my voice; and there

    shall be one flock(R.V.) and one Shepherd.” The idea

    of a flock bringsbefore our minds a group of Christians

    living togetherunder the loving, tender care of the

    Good Shepherdhearing His voice and following Him.

    2. God’s husbandry (1 Corinthians 3:9)

    The Church is God’s garden plot in which He purposes

    to raise fruit for His glory. The thought of fruit-bearing

    is thus brought before us here.

    3. God’s building (1 Corinthians 3:9)

    This expression pictures God as carrying on a building

    program. He is adding living stones to the Church. How

    important it is that our lives should be devoted to the

    construction project in which He is so vitally interested!

    4. The temple of God (1 Corinthians 3:16)

    The word ‘temple” immediately brings before us the

    thought of worship, and reminds us that the only true

    worship God gets on earth today is from those who are

    members of the Church. Worshippers must worship in

    spirit and in truth (John 4:23, 24). Such worship can

    only come from redeemed hearts.

    5. The body of Christ (Ephesians 1:22,23)

    The body is the vehicle by which a person expresses

    himself. Thus the body of Christ is the unit through


    the Lord chooses to express Himself to the world today.

    Once this great truth is grasped, a believer will never

    againthink of the Church as of minor importance, but

    will devotehimself unreservedly to the best interests of

    the body ofChrist.

    6. A new man (Ephesians 2:15)

    Here the idea of a new creation is prominent. The

    greatestof all differences among men—that of Jew

    and Gentile—has been abolished in the Church, and

    God makes ofthese two peoples one new man.

    7. An habitation of God (Ephesians 2:22)

    This expression conveys the truth that God now

    dwellsin the Church, rather than in a material

    tabernacle ortemple, as in the Old Testament.

    8. The bride of Christ (Ephesians 5:25-27; 2

    Corinthians 11:2)

    This view of the Church gives prominence to the

    idea of affection. “Husbands, love your wives,

    even as Christalso loved the Church, and gave

    Himself for it; that Hemight 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, butthat it should be holy and without blemish.

    If Christ lovedthe Church, and gave Himself for it,

    then obviously theChurch should be filled with brida

    affection for Him.

    9. The house of God (1 Timothy 3:15)

    A house (or household) speaks to us of order and

    discipline.The thought of order is suggested in 1 Timothy

    3:15: “Thatthou mayest know how thou oughtest to

    behave thyself inthe house of God.” Discipline is

    suggestedin 1 Peter 4:17:“Judgment must begin at

    the house of God.”

    10. The pillar and ground of the truth (1 Timothy 3:15)

    In addition to being a support for a building, a pillar

    was often used in early days for posting public

    notices. It wasameans of proclamation. The word

    “ground” means abulwarkor a support. Thus the

    Church of God is the unitwhich He hasordained for

    proclaiming, supporting, anddefending His truth.

    We may safely say, therefore, thatif Christians are

    to be inthe current of God’s will andpurposes, they

    should devotetheir finest efforts to the

    expansion and spiritual welfare ofthe Church.


    Many boast today that their mission is to preach

    the gospel,and they take a detached view of anything

    to do with thechurch. They should notice that the

    Apostle Paul’s ministrywas twofold: (1) “To preach

    among the Gentiles theunsearchable riches of Christ,”

    and also (2) “To make all

    men see what is the fellowship of the mystery,” that

    is, to ground them in the great truths of the Church

    (Ephesians 3:8, 9).


    Great and godly men have differed widely as to the

    time of the beginning of the Church. Many believe

    that the Churchis a continuation of the nation of

    Israel in he Old Testament.Others maintain stoutly that

    tthe Church did not exist in theOld Testament, but

    that it began in the new dispensation.

    In favor of the latter viewpoint are three considerations.

    In Ephesians 3:4, 5, Paul speaks of the Church as a

    “mysterywhich in other ages was not made known

    untothe sons ofmen, as it is now revealed unto His

    holy apostlesand prophetsby the Spirit.” Again, in

    verse 9 he states thatthe Church is amystery which

    from the beginning of the worldhath been hid inGod.”

    (See also Colossians 1: 26; Romans

    16:25, 26.) Thus the

    Church was a secret, kept by God throughout the

    Old Testamenttimes, and never revealed until the

    New Testament apostles andprophets appeared. In

    Matthew 16:18, the Lord Jesus said,“Upon this rock

    I will build my Church.” In other words, theChurch was

    still future at the time He spoke. Again, in Ephesians

    4:8-10, Paul emphasizes that it was the risen, ascended

    Christ whogave gifts to the Church. This argues strongly

    that if the Churchexisted before His ascension,

    it must havelacked gifts for its edification.

    We believe it is not only possible to show that the

    Church beganin the new dispensation, but, more

    specifically, that it wasbrought into being on the

    day of Pentecost.The body of Christ is said to have

    been formed by the baptismwith the Holy Spirit

    (1 Corinthians 12:13). Can we determine then

    when the baptism with the Holy Spirit took place?

    In Acts 1:5, immediately prior to the Lord’s ascension

    , He promisedthe apostles, Ye shall be baptized with the

    Holy Ghost not manydays hence.” On the day of Pentecost,

    “they were all filled withthe Holy Ghost, and began to

    speakwith other tongues as theSpirit gave them utterance”

    (Acts 2.4 11 :15-16). By the timewe reach Acts 5:11, the

    Church has definitely come into being,because we read that

    “great fear came upon all the Church….”This certainly seems

    to pin-point the birthday of the Church as

    occuring at Pentecost.

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