The Study Of “The Church, Part 1”
Matthew 16:18 (KJV)
18 And I say also 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.
There are thousands of different churches in the world. Each one of these denominations has its own teachings which are different from the teachings of other denominations. Each one of these churches is called by a different name. Yet, all of them claim to be following the Bible. Is this possible? No, it is not! The Bible contains only one teaching. Yet each one of these denominations has a different teaching.
What is the true church?
How can we learn which is right?
There is only one way. Let us go to the Bible. The Bible will tell us what Christ’s church is.
The Bible helps us to understand what Christ’s church is like. It does this by "figures" or "pictures" of the church. Let us look at some of these pictures that we may understand what the true church is like.
The Bible often pictures Christ’s church as a kingdom. Sometimes it is called the "kingdom of God" because God is its Ruler. The members of the church are citizens of the kingdom. Sometimes the church is called the "kingdom of heaven" because it is a spiritual kingdom. It is not an earthly kingdom.
We know that the kingdom and the church are the same thing because Christ used them in this way. For example, let us hear Jesus’ words to Peter: "And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven" (Matthew 16:18,19).
God has set up His kingdom on the earth. It began on the Day of Pentecost after the resurrection of Christ. Read Acts 2:1-47. It began in city of Jerusalem. Since the church and the kingdom are the same, we know that Christ’s church began in Jerusalem. It began on the first day of Pentecost after Jesus arose from the dead. Any church which began at any other place than Jerusalem cannot be the true church. Any church which began at any other time cannot be the true church.
Just before He returned to Heaven, Jesus said, "Thus it is written,and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem" (Luke 24:46,47).
THE TEMPLE OF GOD
The Bible sometimes pictures the church as the temple of God. "Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord" (Ephesians 2:19-21).
In the Old Testament, we can read how King Solomon built a temple for God (1 Kings 8:12,13). Today, the church is God’s temple. God dwells in the church through His Spirit: "Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are" (1 Corinthians 3:16,17).
THE FAMILY OF GOD
Sometimes the Bible pictures the church as God’s household or family. "But if I am delayed, I write so that you may know how you ought to conduct yourself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth" (1 Timothy 3:15).
In His family, the church, God is the father. Members of the church are His children. One becomes a member of a family by being born into it. The same is true of God’s family. One must be born again to become a member of it. "…Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God" (John 3:5).
A HOLY NATION AND A ROYAL PRIESTHOOD
Another picture of Christ’s church is that of a holy nation and a royal priesthood. "But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light" (1 Peter 2:9).
In Old Testament times, God chose the nation of Israel to be His people. Today, Christ’s church is the chosen nation of God. In the nation of Israel, there was a special class of people who served as priests. Only the priests were allowed to conduct the public worship of God. But in Christ’s church, every member is a priest. Every member can pray to God for himself.
THE BODY OF CHRIST
Many times the Bible pictures Christ’s church as His body. "And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all" (Ephesians 1:22,23).
The church is the body of Christ. Christ is the head of the body. He rules from heaven. Heaven is the headquarters of Christ’s church. The human body has only one head. Christ’s body, the church, has only one head. Christ is the Head of the church! Christ’s church has no pope or president on the earth to rule over it.
The church is the body of Christ. Christ has only one body.
Therefore, Christ has only one church."There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling" (Ephesians 4:4). There are many thousands of different denominations in the world today. Christ’s church is His body. Does Christ have thousands of different bodies? Of course not! A man has only one body. Christ has only one body—the church.
Special thanks to IBTM for these wonderful studies.