"that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she should be holy and blameless," (Eph. 5:27).
The Church is the "body of believers." It is comprised of those who have been saved and redeemed by the True and Living God, based upon the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus upon the cross. Inclusion in the Body of Christ is not by membership in a denomination, nor by baptism, nor or by dedication. It is not received by ritual, or by ceremony, or by natural birth. It is received by faith (Rom. 5:1, Eph. 2:8). The invisible church is the church made up of true believers. The visible church consists of those who say that they are Christian but may or may not be truly saved. Being a member of a church on earth guarantees nothing. Being a member of the Body of Christ guarantees salvation. The Christian Church does not include the Mormons, the Jehovah's Witnesses, the New Agers, the Muslims, the Buddhists, the Atheists, etc. These groups deny the true God and/or serve false gods. The true Christian Church is comprised only of those who have been redeemed by Christ, who died on the cross and rose again. They are justified by faith in Christ (Rom. 5:1). They are not saved by false teachers, false gods, false gospels, by their works, or by their works combined with the grace of God. They are saved by grace through faith (Eph. 2:8) and through Jesus alone: "And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men, by which we must be saved," (Acts 4:12, NASB).1
The word "church" comes from the Greek ekklesia, which means "assembly" or "gathering." But, the church is more than a meeting place. It is much more than a gathering of believers who profess the true and living God and attend weekly worship meetings. The church is the bride of Christ. It is a living temple of the True God. It is not the building, the meeting place, an organization, or a denomination. The church is the totality of all true believers regardless of denominational affiliation. The entire body of believers is the church and as such, it is the dwelling place of the Holy and Infinite God.
Because the Church is the temple of God, it is holy because where God dwells is holiness. This Holiness is not derived from merit of deed or ceremonies of church members (Rom. 3:28). This Holiness is the Holiness of Jesus, God in flesh (John 1:1, 14, Col. 2:9) that is given to each and every Christian in the Body of Christ by faith (Rom. 4:5, 5:1). Though the members of the Body of Christ still fail and still sin in their struggle to be more like Christ (1 John 1:7-9), their sins have all been paid for by the risen Lord Jesus who bore their sins in His body on the cross (1 Peter 2:24). They do not need to maintain their salvation by their deeds (Gal. 3:1-3). They have rest in Christ (Matt. 11:28). They have been made clean by the blood of Jesus (1 John 1:7) and possess eternal life (John 10:28).
The church is the glorious mystery of God made real and revealed in Scripture. It is the dwelling place of God. Are you in the church? Do you know what the church is supposed to be?
The church was purchased by God: "Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood," (Acts 20:28).
Jesus is the head of the Church: "And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church, 23which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all," (Eph. 1:22-23).
The church is the dwelling place of God: "in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit," (Eph. 2:22).
Such a miracle as the church can result in a changed world. If we Christians can more fully understand what the church is and the power it has because of what it is and who it is indwelt by, then they can be more confident in seeking to stand up for the truth. As those who are indwelt by God Himself, you can move into and through the darkness of unbelief and conquer it by faith. The knowledge of what the church really is should result in countless believers living for Jesus in every way possible--being ready to lay down their lives for Him in both death and in daily living. It should not result in the mockery brought upon itself by its own failures and hypocrisy.
The church is the temple of the Holy and Infinite God. You, if you are in Christ, have God living in you. You are in the church as much as you are the church.
- 1. To be justified means to be saved. Justification is the legal declaration by God upon a sinner where God declares the sinner righteous based on the work of Christ.