"Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave Himself up for it; that He might sanctify it, having cleansed it by the washing of water with the word, that He might present it unto Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish..." (Read all of Eph. 5:25-32).
In an age when the church is quite often considered to be unnecessary and unimportant, it is good to go back again to the language of the Holy Scriptures to find the value of the church which Jesus Christ places on it. The church (Greek, "ekklesia" or "called out" ) is composed of those who are delivered out of the darkness of sin and into the light of the righteousness of God: "Who delivered us out of the power of darkness, and translated us into the kingdom of the Son of His love; in whom we have our redemption, the forgiveness of our sins" (Col. 1:13,14). These members of that church have been saved by faith through the gospel. "the power of God unto salvation" (Rom. 1:16). Those members are "called to be saints" (1 Cor. 1:2). Having heard the gospel of Christ, they are led to be baptized into Christ (Rom. 6:3) for the remission of their sins (Acts 2:38), as the Lord promised: "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved" (Mk. 16:16).
Jesus had promised, "I will build My church" (Matt. 16:18). And the apostle Paul, in our text, refers to that church as "a glorious church." The word "glorious" is defined as: "Exhibiting attributes, or having qualities or acts that deserve glory; praiseworthy; splendid" (Webster). Now, what is there about that church that makes it "a glorious church"? Let us notice some basic gospel truths about that church which truly makes it "a glorious church."
The PRICE Of That Church: -- The apostle Paul, to the elders of the church in Ephesus, said: "Take heed unto yourselves, and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit hath made you bishops, to feed the church of the Lord which He purchased with His own blood" (Acts 20:28). In our text above, Eph. 5: 25, the Bible says, "Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave Himself up for it." There could be no higher price than this! The Son of God gave His life, His blood, for that church.
The value of something is determined by what price one is willing to pay for it. Thus, an article priced so high it will not sell is priced above its value. If you are willing to pay $15,000 for an automobile, that is the value you place on it. Now, what value does the Lord Jesus place on His church? What price did He pay for it?
What is salvation worth? Jesus asks, "For what shall a man be profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?" (Matt. 16:26). What is your salvation worth to you? The Bible says, "Ye were bought with a price" (1 Cor. 6:20), and Peter shows what that price is: "Knowing that ye were redeemed, not with corruptible things, with silver or gold, from your vain manner of life handed down from your fathers but with precious blood, as of a lamb without spot, even the blood of Christ" (1 Pet. 1:18,19). The same blood that redeems you from sin was the purchase price of the church.
The cost of the church is the cost of salvation -- and Jesus paid for both by the shedding of His blood on the cross. To answer the question, then, "What is your soul worth?" is to answer the question, "What is the church worth?" Christ established the value of the church by the price which He was willing to pay for it. It is a glorious church because of the price He paid for it.
The HEAD Of That Church: -- Many nations have been considered great simply because of the head of that government. A large corporation is often great because of the man who heads it. What about the church? Who is head of it? The Scriptures say that God "put all things in subjection under His (Christ's) feet, and gave Him to be Head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fulness of Him that filleth all in all" (Eph. 1:22,23). Again, the Bible shows that Jesus is the Head of the church: "For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the Head of the church, being Himself the Savior of the body" (Eph. 5:23).
Some may say, "But we need a head of the church here on earth to direct us, to intercede for us to God and interpret the Bible for us." If the church had an earthly head, this would detract from its glory. The Bible says, "Our citizenship is in heaven" (Phil. 3:20), so that is where our "Head" belongs. To try to give the Headship of the church to someone else, to have an earthly head, is to take the preeminence from Christ: "And He is the head of the body, the church, Who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things He might have the preeminence" (Col. 1:18). Christ allows for no other head of His church.
You will notice, too, that the church is here described as "the body of Christ." Many seem to think "which church" makes no difference. But the Bible says that there are "many members, but one body" (1 Cor. 12:20). And Jesus Christ is the Head of that "one body." A body without a head would be dead, a body with more than one head would be a monstrosity. But a body with a perfect head would be a glorious body. And the church about which we read in the Bible is a glorious church because Christ is its Head.
The BUILDER Of That Church: -- The prophets of old foretold that the "house of God" would be built in Jerusalem: "And it sahll come to pass in the latter days, that the mountain of the Lord's house shall be established on the top of the mountains and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it. And many peoples shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; and He will teach us of His ways, and we will walk in His paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the Word of the Lord from Jerusalem" (Isa. 2:2,3). Of what was the prophet speaking? Let God answer: "The house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth" (1 Tim. 3:15). And a firm principle is stated in Psa. 127:1, "Except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it."
Now, whose job was it to build the church? Many seem to think it makes no difference who built the church they are in. But Jesus said, "I will build My church" (Matt. 16:18). Only the Lord Jesus Christ had a right to build it, and He did. No one has the right to "alter the blueprint" of the church: "But though we, or an angel from heaven, should preach unto you any gospel other than that which we preached unto you, let him be anathema" (Gal. 1:8). In fact, no one else has any authority with regard to that church, only Jesus Christ. He stated clearly, "All authority hath been given unto me" (Matt. 28:18).
Had I built the church, I probably would have built it different from what it is. Had you built it, it would not be just what it is. But the job was not left to us. God's own Son has done the building job. He drew the plans, He gave the apostles power to carry out those plans (Acts 1:8). We have no right to "disannul, or add thereto" (Gal. 3:15). This is one "building program" that was done right. No alterations were needed after the construction was begun -- nor are any alterations needed now!
The MEMBERS Of That Church: -- The church is composed of those who are saved by the blood of Christ, bought with His blood (Acts 20:28). When the apostles,as Jesus had told them and empowered them, preached the gospel for the first time after His death and resurrection, people asked: "What shall we do?" The Lord answered by the mouth of Peter, "Repent ye, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ, unto the remission of your sins" (Acts 2:38). We then read, "They then that received his word were baptized: and there were added unto them in that day about three thousand souls" (Acts 2:41). Then we read in vs, 47 "The Lord added to the church daily such as were being saved." When people are "washed, sanctified, justified" (1 Cor. 6:11), it is because they are "bought with a price" (vs. 20) -- the blood of Jesus Christ. Conversely, when people are bought with the blood of Christ, they are sanctified, washed and justified -- and the Lord Jesus Christ adds them to His "glorious church."
To the churches of Galatia, the apostle Paul wrote, "For ye are all sons of God, through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ did put on Christ" (Gal. 3:26,27). The "glorious church" of the Lord is composed of all those who are children of God. Just as Jesus promised, "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved" (Mk. 16:16), the passage above (Gal. 3) shows that it is through faith that we are "baptized into Christ" where we then become children of God.
Just as one "purifies the soul by obedience to the truth" (1 Pet. 1:22), members of His church continue to obey "as children of obedience" (1 Pet. 1:14). Those whom the Lord adds to His church have an obligation to walk in obedience at all times. Some will object that members of His body still commit sin. And this is true, for all of us sin (Rom. 3:23; 1 Jno. 1:8). But the church of Christ is made up of people who recognize their sinful state and rely on the blood of Jesus to cleanse them: "If we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanseth us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us" (1 Jno. 1:7, 8).
The DESTINY Of That Church: -- Glory is determined by the future destiny or purpose or reward -- whether of people or nations. This is a "glorious nation" in which we live, because of the part the U.S.A. has played in world affairs and the freedom offered its citizens. The church of Jesus Christ is a glorious church because of its destiny. Notice our text says, "That He might present the church to Himself a glorious church" (Eph. 5:27). This has reference to a bride's presentation to a husband (Rev. 21:2). The Bible says that we are "espoused to one husband...to Christ" (2 Cor. 11:2). To be married to Christ, to live with Him forever in heaven, in the presence of God, the Father -- this is the destiny of that "glorious church."
In Matt. 15, Jesus said of the unbelieving Jews, "But in vain do they worship Me, Teaching as their doctrines the precepts of men" (vs. 9). Then four verses later: "Every plant which My heavenly Father planted not, shall be rooted up." Those churches built (or, planted) by the ideas and the efforts of men will be rooted up. But the church which is bought with the blood of Jesus, built by Him and of which He is the Head, has eternity with Him as its destiny. It is "a glorious chruch." Dear reader, why not leave man-made churches and be a part of HIS church?
By Clem Thurman in Gospel Minutes, Vol. 56, No. 41, Oct. 12, 2007.
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