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Shepherds Hill Homestead » Messages » The Church-The Body of Christ-Part II

The Church-The Body of Christ-Part II

 

In last week’s message I talked about the Church’s formation. I covered the original meeting place for God’s people (the Tabernacle) and how that it was a type of the Christian in that it was mobile and went where the Spirit led by the pillar of fire and cloud. I discussed the fact that this was indicative of the New Covenant and the way that God put His laws in our hearts. In the New Testament we saw that the early Church began to meet in the Jewish Synagogues but were quickly stopped by the Jews. Then they primarily met in homes. This does not mean that it is wrong for Christians to meet in established buildings. But Jesus declared that where two or more people met in His name He would be there. Through the centuries Christians have met in homes, caves, basements, established buildings for the purpose of worship and even open public places. Our own family has been to many different settings for worship. We once regularly met in denominationally structured settings but for the past fourteen years we have met in our living room.

The people of God are not always in places that you would think. Just because a group meet in a building with a sign it doesn’t mean that every person that shows up is a Child of God. A modern quote says that being in a church doesn’t make you a Christian any more than being in a garage makes you an automobile. It’s not what you’re in that saves you but rather what’s in you. God’s Holy Spirit must be in you; guiding you on the path to heaven. That relationship alone makes you a Christian. Statistically there are a high number of people who go by the name of Christian. Many simply lean toward the Bible instead of fully trusting in God. I would like to go through some passages that illustrate characteristics of the true Church.

First, the Church is Jesus’ Body. Look at Colossians 1:18 and Ephesians 1:22-23. The group of people known as Christians are directly related to Jesus in the form of His body with Him being the head. This seems quite mysterious unless we look at passages relating to husbands and wives. A few weeks ago in Ephesians 5:22-33 we saw that husbands and wives are one in flesh and represent Christ and the Church. In the same way that I used this passage to see the relationship between husbands and wives we can also see the relationship between Christ and the Church. Christ is our Master and we submit to Him. We are married to Jesus Christ and should submit to Him in the same manner that a good wife submits to her husband. Revelation 19:7-9 tells us that the Marriage between Christ and the Church will be finalized at the Marriage Supper of the Lamb. This will be the fruition and finalization of the Marriage Union.

The Church is eternal. John 3:16 tells us that Jesus came to this world to give us everlasting life. In Revelation 3:5-6 God said that those who overcome (the true Church) will be clothed in white garments and that He would never blot (erase) their name out of the Book of Life. Notice that in the passage given above in Revelation 19 that it says the Bride has made herself ready. Have you prepared yourself for the eternal union? Romans 11:29 says that the calling is irrevocable! This group is an eternal one. While that may be agreeable to you it could be that you haven’t quite accepted that there will be many others in Heaven that you will spend eternity with. We cannot love God without also loving our Brothers and Sisters.

This brings me to the next attribute of the Church. The Body of Christ is diverse. While society may think it came up with the philosophy of diversity God designed it first. Not in the same sense of accepting people even living in ungodliness but rather in the sense that we are all different and should accept our differences. In 1st Corinthians 12:12-31 Paul teaches us about the diverse members of the Body of Christ. Each one of us has a special part in the Body and we are all different and unique. By plan God designed the human body to have differently functioning parts. No one could live properly without a heart, kidneys, lungs, etc. While we could live without fingers and toes our lives would not be the same. His plan for the Body of Christ is to have a complete body that has all of its members. Looking across the Church don’t you agree that we are all different? Let’s not begrudge someone in their difference but accept the fact that their function is not the same as ours and that they have the same importance.

The Body of Christ are all equals. Galatians 3:26-29 tells us that anyone who becomes part of the Church has the same standing as another. Jesus doesn’t have favorites. We sometimes think that the church is divided into groups such as laity and clergy, Jews and Gentiles or even men and women. This passage goes against that thought.  No member is more important than the rest. God is not a respecter of persons (Acts 10:34).

The Body of Christ is unique. We are different than any other group in the history of man. There have been thousands of religions but only one Church. We were called by God for the particular role of being the Bride of Christ. 1st Peter 2: 9-10 gives several adjectives that describe our exclusiveness. First, we are chosen. God chose us in the same way that Isaacs wife Rebecca was chosen for him. If you’ve never read this beautiful story its in Genesis chapter twenty-four. Since we can recognize that Abraham and Isaac are a picture of God and Jesus (when Abraham took Isaac to sacrifice him) it’s not hard to see that Abraham’s servant is a picture of the Holy Spirit. This man went to another country and selected a wife for his master’s son. The second thing we see in 1st Peter 2:9-10 is that the Church is a royal priesthood. We are called as royalty in the Kingdom of God. The third thing we discover is that we are a holy nation. No country on the planet in all the history of the world was a unique Christian nation with all its members being the part of the Body of Christ. Many countries are primarily Christian in which the majority declare themselves to be. But there are no Christian nations like the Church is. The fourth thing this passage tells us is that we are a peculiar people. I can just hear the pagans giving a hearty Amen! We should really be recognized by the rest of the world as peculiar. But the real background of this term is broader. The Greek words here mean preserving one’s own property or possessions. This means that God chose us to preserve what is His. We are His treasure!

The Body of Christ is humble. In Romans 12:3-5 Paul reminds us that we should not think of ourselves more highly than we ought to. Again he states that we are all part of the same body having different functions. It’s easy to let the sin of pride come into your life when you really start living for God. When we fail to remember that without Christ we are no different that the rest of the world we will become prideful. It is because of His redemption that we are saved and not of our own works. The fact that He chose us as a people should humble us. Only when we stay in humility can we reach the world. Our value should be in the treasure within and not what we present on the outside (2 Cor 4:7). This agrees with other scripture that speaks against glorifying the flesh

As members of the Body of Christ we are called to meet regularly. Hebrews 10:25 says that we are to not forsake the assembling together as some have been doing but to do it even more as the day of the Lord approaches. Since most church buildings have services on Sunday and Wednesday what is the possibility of meeting even more? Perhaps you can start meeting each morning or evening as a family and have devotion, Bible study, praise and worship and prayer. That is exactly how our family began to Homechurch. We were without a church for several weeks. The one we had been attending was going through a split and we wanted nothing to do with it. After a few Sundays I pulled together a simple Bible study. I had been a Sunday school teacher, youth pastor and associate pastor in several churches. I decided that my family should have some type of service. Within a few weeks we had others joining us.

Down through the centuries the Church has been persecuted by the world but also the pseudo-church. At times there was a group leading by force which put to death anyone that the leaders declared to be heretics. It gave itself a name that appeared to be Christianity and yet acted out of carnality. All through those dark ages there was a remnant of true Believers. Even now there remains a worldwide church which is the true Bride of Christ. They do not fill one single denomination or building. Rather, they are the ones who truly have chosen Christ as Lord even to the point of death if necessary. Just as in the Old Testament there were Jews who put the prophets to death there are religious people who would have true Christianity snuffed out. My own family has had persecution simply for not belonging to a denomination. We have taken criticism for churching at home in the same way that home schoolers get flack from “professional teachers” who declare that they are better qualified to teach children than the parents are. We press on because we are the Body of Christ!

That brings me to the last characteristic of the Church I will cover today. The true Church of Christ is resilient. Romans 8:35-39 gives a list of things that will come against the members of the Church. Yet, Paul states that none of these things can possibly separate us from the love of Christ! Not tribulation, persecution, distress, famine, nakedness, peril or sword. There is no entity that can move us from our position. Not angels, principalities, powers, death or life can move us from our standing in Christ! Throughout history when Satan persecuted the precious Saints they endured until death and won a martyrs crown and it only furthered the movement of the Church. When persecution came people got more dedicated than they ever were. It was through this persecution that the Church of Christ was spread rapidly over all the Earth.

I hope this has clarified the picture of who you are and Whose you are. If you are a true believer you belong to a family that has brothers and sisters all over the world. You may be traveling into another country and discover a brother that you’ve never met before. God’s people are everywhere!

Prayer-Father, help us to remember the Brotherhood of man and our relationship to You. When we begin to feel alone remind us that we are part of something larger than ourselves. Help us to see those around us who may be different but are still members of the Bride of Christ.

In Jesus’ Name–Amen

Don’t forget that you can join us live for this message on Sunday morning at 10:45 at the link below.

http://www.ustream.tv/channel/shepherds-hill-homestead

paul

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Philippians 3:13-14 Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

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