Weekly Devotional 7-3-23 The Church and it’s Purpose
Many people today see the church as being a building, but it is much more than that. The church is an assembly of people called out of humanity by the Holy Spirit forming a unique body, the body of Jesus Christ. In simple terms, the church is a group of people spiritually reborn by the Holy Spirit.
Tracing this concept through the New Testament we find that the phrase “the Body of Christ” is a common New Testament metaphor for the Church (all those who are truly saved). The Church is called “one body in Christ” in Romans 12:5, “one body” in 1 Corinthians 10:17, “the body of Christ” in 1 Corinthians 12:27 and Ephesians 4:12, and “the body” in Hebrews 13:3. The Church is clearly equated with “the body” of Christ in Ephesians 5:23 and Colossians 1:24.
Staff participants at GotQuestion.org proffer that the Church may be called the Body of Christ because of these facts:
1) Members of the Body of Christ are joined to Christ in salvation (Ephesians 4:15-16). 2) Members of the Body of Christ follow Christ as their Head (Ephesians 1:22-23). 3) Members of the Body of Christ are the physical representation of Christ in this world. The Church is the organism through which Christ manifests His life to the world today. 4) Members of the Body of Christ are indwelt by the Holy Spirit of Christ (Romans 8:9). 5) Members of the Body of Christ possess a diversity of gifts suited to particular functions (1 Corinthians 12:4-31). “The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ” (verse 12). 6) Members of the Body of Christ share a common bond with all other Christians, regardless of background, race, or ministry. “There should be no division in the body, but . . . its parts should have equal concern for each other” (1 Corinthians 12:25). 7) Members of the Body of Christ are secure in their salvation (John 10:28-30). For a Christian to lose his salvation, God would have to perform an “amputation” on the Body of Christ! 8) Members of the Body of Christ partake of Christ’s death and resurrection (Colossians 2:12). 9) Members of the Body of Christ share Christ’s inheritance (Romans 8:17). 10) Members of the Body of Christ receive the gift of Christ’s righteousness (Romans 5:17). End of Transcription.
All these things are originated by the Holy Spirit, not by the members of the body. Consider how the apostle Paul explains this to the Ephesians. “1 And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, 2 in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, 3 among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others. 4 But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 21-10).
We note that when the Holy Spirit enacted His work in the Ephesians, they were spiritually dead toward God (spiritually separated from God having no recognition of, or desire for God). This is the condition of all people. The members of the church are unique “For we are “all baptized by one Spirit into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink” (1 Corinthians 12:13).
What is the importance of this? Salvation (being made right with God) of course, but also for cohesiveness, and a vibrant testimony. To assure the success of this every member has been gifted by the Lord with specific gifts in order to build one another up, individually and collectively. Turning once again to the book of Ephesians, we read: 1 I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, 2 with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, 3 endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling;5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6 one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. 7 But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift. 8 Therefore He says: “When He ascended on high, He led captivity captive, And gave gifts to men”…….. 11 And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, 13 till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; 14 that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, 15 but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head–Christ– 16 from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love” (Ephesians 4:1-8……..11-16).
In summary then: The church is a called-out group of people from all over the earth who have been brought to faith, and renewed spiritually by the Spirit of God, for the purpose of glorifying God. To achieve this goal the Lord equips its members by distributing gifts of functionality to them. Based on these truths can an unbeliever be part of the “spiritual” church, the body of Christ? Not according to the passage cited above. This is not to say that they should be excluded from attending service and or other functions of the church, but they should not be given a platform from which to speak. No matter how well intended they may be, they would be speaking from human logic not from spiritual enlightenment. This is affirmed in Paul’s first letter to the Corinthian Church:
“9 But as it is written: “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, Nor have entered into the heart of man The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.” 10 But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God.11 For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God.12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God. 13 These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. 14 But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. (1st Corinthians 2:9-14)
In addition to speaking from human logic, Satan is at work deceiving and confusing the mind of the natural man, the man without the Spirit of God. As forthright and honest as the natural man may want to be he speaks from an unenlightened mind that is influenced by Satan, the enemy of God. Granting the natural man (the non-Christian) a voice (a license) to speak on spiritual matters is a dangerous thing. Theological persuasions spring forth from seeds (from spoken words) and people can be seriously injured by incorrect utterances. Protecting correct doctrine is a serious matter. It is the Lord’s church.
Lord, help us in the consideration of who we are and our responsibility of protecting the integrity of your church.
Stevelampman.com / Transforming Power, the Work of God on Behalf of Man