Speaker: Vasko Belovski
What is God’s church? If you asked several people, you’d likely get several different answers. And yet, as with all other spiritual questions, the answer should be based solely on what inspiration has revealed. The word church comes from the Greek word ecclesia, which literally means a gathering of an assembly or the called out ones. In other words, the church are those whom God has called out of this world into His marvelous light. This is presented in various Bible verses, such as Hebrews 10:25, for example: “not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the day approaching.” In this verse here, were told not to forsake the assembling of ourselves together. In other words, God is calling us to come and worship Him together. There’s something particular about coming together with other believers. And I personally can testify that I have experienced that in my own personal journey as a Christian. It is because of this coming together, that the Bible also presents God’s church as the body. In Ephesians, chapter one, we read: “And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.” Ephesians 1:22-23. We see the same illustration presented again in 1 Corinthians chapter 12. “For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit. For the body is not one member, but many.” 1 Corinthians 12:12-14.
The illustration of a body that Paul uses here is very particular, because it allows us to better understand not only what the church is, but also what it is intended to do. Just as the body has different parts–legs that allow it to move forward, hands and arms that allow it to reach for things. A church also has different members who assist in its workings, who allow it to move forward, to reach out, to see, to operate. It is very important for us to understand that the church of God is not only one single individual.
While it is true that the Bible calls every Christian individually to be a temple of the Holy Spirit, that does not mean that the individual is the entirety of the body, nor that the individual Christian is at liberty to work independently of the body. God’s church is comprised of different members upon whom God has bestowed different spiritual gifts in order for the church to be edified. We read of this in 1 Corinthians 14: “Even so ye, for as much as ye are zealous of spiritual gifts, seek that ye may excel to the edifying of the church.” 1 Corinthians 14:12. The word edifying here means to build up as members of the body. We’re to use the gifts which God has bestowed upon us in order to build up the church. For this reason, in 1 Peter chapter two, we read: “Ye also, as lively stones,” all the different members are to be lively stones, “are built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.” Oftentimes, when we think of the church, we’re talking about a physical building that we meet in. And while a building is needed in order for the assembly to come together, that physical monument, in and of itself, is nothing more than a simple building unless these lively spiritual stones are found inside. The church of God is primarily a spiritual house. And in order for this spiritual house to be complete, that is built up; all of its members must respond to the calling that Christ has for them and utilize their spiritual gifts for the cause. In 1 Corinthians 12:28, we read: “And God hath set, some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.”
Christ has a particular calling for each and every one of us. For if we had all been called to do one and the same thing, then the work would not be able to move forward. The feet, for example, can certainly take us forward; but unless the arms are functioning, how are we to balance the body? This is why all of the different members are to work in unison. Imagine going out for a run and all of a sudden you realize that your entire life upper body isn’t functioning. Even though you have strength in your legs with a paralyzed upper body, not only will you not be able to run; but the moment you try to move forward, you will lose balance and fall to the ground. The proper functioning of all the body parts and their harmony in completing various tasks or exercises is necessary for a body to function adequately. Even internally, one malfunctioning organ or system leads to disease.
Nothing in the body is done randomly, haphazardly, or in a disorderly fashion. Every part is interconnected. The Word of God says that He’s not the author of confusion, He has called the members of His church to do all things in order. In 1 Corinthians 14 we read: “Let all” not some, but rather all “things be done decently and in order.” 1 Corinthians 14:40. You see, without order, the body simply cannot function. And in like manner without order, the church also cannot function. For this reason, it is important to understand all the aspects of what the church is and what the church is not; in order to understand how it can work in harmony for the glory of God.
Lastly, I would like to draw our attention to one more characteristic that the Bible presents about the church of God. In 1 Timothy 3:15, we read: “But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.” The church of God is not only a gathering, nor is it only a fellowship of professed believers; but the church of God is a gathering and fellowship of Christian believers in the truth.
And what is truth? The dictionary says The truth is that which is true or in accordance with fact or reality. But what about the Bible? How does the Bible define truth? In John 17:17, we read: “Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.” Do you see, friends, the Word of God is our only true foundation. Nothing that contradicts the Word of God can be truth. And God’s church which is to be the pillar and ground of the truth is to be built upon a doctrinal foundation that is entirely based on thus saith the Lord. There is no room for human inventions and creeds, but for the Bible and the Bible alone. Every Christian movement or the denomination that isn’t built upon the Word of God, but rather on the teachings and traditions of men, is nothing more than a counterfeit of the true church of the living God.
The unity among the disciples of Christ was and always will be a unity in spirit, and in truth; both go hand in hand. Friends, God does not just want us to understand what the church is, but more importantly, He yearns for us to be a part of it and work actively with the gifts that He has bestowed upon us. There is a work to be done and a world to be reached. Will you choose to become an active member and assist the church with your gifts? It starts with each of us making that decision for ourselves. May the Lord help us and rejuvenate His body with the current of His love, so that the work can be finished and we can go home.