The Glory of Christ’s Church

The Glory of Christ’s Church

As we consider our calling as the Church of the living God, may we begin by recognizing how God sees us in Christ. May we start by realizing what God has declared about the purpose and nature of the Church, not settling for something that falls far short of the divine reality, but instead, setting our gaze upon the glorious certainty of what God is actually accomplishing through His Son.

What is the Church? If someone were to ask you that question, how would you respond? Would you reference the difference between the local and universal Church? Would you explain where your particular church is located? Maybe you would talk about the people who make up your church. Or, perhaps you would describe the programs and activities that your church is engaged in. Whatever your answer to that question may be, Scripture provides us with a number of descriptions which help us understand the nature and identity of the Church.

The Church is the Body of Christ

In Paul’s first epistle to the Corinthian believers, he writes to them, saying:

For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit. For the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot should say, ‘Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,’ that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear should say, ‘Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,’ that would not make it any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, yet one body (1 Cor 12:12-20).

Certainly, the most familiar of all the metaphors and descriptions for the Church found in Scripture, is the body. God, in his infinite wisdom and grace, has provided us with reference points, if you will, in order to better help us understand who and what the Church is. In doing so, he takes something far beyond our mind’s comprehension and brings it down to a level that we can begin to consider. Like a loving and patient father, our God stoops down, as it were, and provides us with descriptions we can understand.

Here, in 1 Corinthians 12, he does so through the Apostle Paul by referencing our own human bodies. The point of comparison is simply to say that just as the human body is one entity, yet has many members, such as ears, eyes, feet, and hands, so it is with the Church. The universal Church is one entity, yet it is comprised of believers from every nation, language, and people group of the world, with Christ as the Head (Col 1:18, Rev 7:9).

Now, there is certainly a profound mystery found within this metaphor, as we also find it utilized in the book of Romans, Ephesians, and Colossians, and recognize that in some unfathomable way we are spiritually united to Christ, who is seated at the right hand of the Father (Eph 2:6). Yet, at least one thing is obvious. This glorious description of the Church stands in blatant contradiction to the division and individualism found to be so prevalent in our culture, today. The Church of Christ is a living, active body of believers who are dependent upon their Head and upon one another.

The Church is the Temple of God

Turning our attention to the next description of the Church we find in God’s Word, the Apostle Paul writes to the Ephesian believers, saying:

So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit (Eph 2:19-22).

The magnificence of this metaphor should not be overlooked. Since every genuine believer is indwelt by the Holy Spirit, Paul uses the picture of a temple to explain that the Church is being built as a place where God, himself, lives both now and for eternity. Testifying to the Spirit’s divine authorship, the Apostle Peter echoes this same idea, saying:

As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ (1 Pet 2:4-5).

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