“What is the church of Christ?” The way we answer this question may ultimately determine where we spend eternity! Jesus said that He had come to build His church (Matt. 16:18). In Acts we read that, “the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved” (Acts 2:47). If Jesus came to build a church, and if God is the one who adds souls to that church, shouldn’t we look at His word to determine whether we are a part of Christ’s church? Let’s let the book of Ephesians tell us more about the glorious church of Christ:
The church is the body of Christ (Eph. 1:22-23) — “He gave Him to be head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.” In a world filled with religious confusion, Jesus declared, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life, no man comes to the Father but through Me” (John 14:6). The church of Christ is important because it is the body of Christ! We must therefore look to His authority and His guidance to find His will concerning the body. In a day when men claim that the body of Christ is divided into some 300 major denominations, should we not refer to God’s word for His concept of what He intends the church to be? It seems inconsistent at best to affirm that Jesus has ALL authority (Matt. 28:18), and then to divide His body into several camps with different doctrines, beliefs, and practices! According to Ephesians, God never intended the church of Christ to be divided into denominations. The church of Christ is His body, faithfully obedient to the Head in all things.
The church is the body of the reconciled (Eph. 2:16) — “That He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity.” Jesus came into a divided world to restore unity. Jews and Gentiles were hostile toward each other (cf. Eph. 2:14-15), but the cross was God’s way of tearing down the Jew / Gentile division. Even more importantly, Jesus’ cross reconciled both Jews and Gentiles to God. Sin earns death (Rom. 6:23), and separates men from God (Isa. 59:1-2). What a glorious truth, then, that we can be reconciled to God through Christ’s cross! We are, therefore, not saved in order to join the “church of our choice,” rather, we are added by God (cf. Acts 2:47) to the body of the reconciled when we individually obey God’s plan of salvation. According to Ephesians, you cannot be saved outside of Christ’s church — it is, by its very nature, the body of those who have been reconciled! If you are reconciled to God, you are added to the church of Christ.
The church is God’s eternal plan for salvation (Eph. 3:10-11) — “To the intent that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the church… according to the eternal purpose which He accomplished in Christ Jesus.” Before the world began, God had the church of Christ in mind! The church, according to Ephesians, demonstrates and represents the fullness of God’s wisdom. This necessarily begs the question: “If the church of Christ was in God’s mind from before time began, then why do men continue to think they can make improvements?” Do we not impugn the wisdom of God when we establish unbiblical “chains of authority,” or when we add unbiblical elements to the worship service, or when we attempt to turn God’s church into an entertainment-oriented organization? God planned the church of Christ, and we ought to be willing to let His wisdom dictate its doctrine, practice, and mission. In a day and time when “organized religion” is frowned upon, may God’s people rise up with one voice and declare His wisdom and glory in the church of Christ! — JB