The purpose of this article and others to follow, will be to call to your attention scriptures which will provide us with facts peculiar to the church. This I will do primarily by the question and answer method.
Question #1 - What is the church? According to Acts 8:3, Saul persecuted men and women; but, 1 Cor. 15:9 says: He persecuted the church. Then Acts 2:47 says; God adds the saved to the church. So the church then is an institution which is composed of all the saved people in the world. The Apostle John says: These people are the children of God (I John 3:1). Paul, in Col. 1:13, says: They are those who have been delivered from the power of darkness. Again, this same apostle says: The people of the church are those who have been called and begotten by the gospel of Christ (I Cor. l:l-2,I Cor. 4:15). Now finally, the two questions asked by the Apostle Peter, in I Peter 4:17, proves the people of the church are those who have obeyed the gospel of Christ.
Question #2 - Is the church and the kingdom one and the same institution? Yes, they are. Luke, in Acts 2:47, says: God adds the saved to the church; but Paul, in Col. 1:13 says: He translates them into the kingdom of his dear Son. Then too, according to Luke 22:29-30, Jesus said the Lord's Supper would be partaken of in the kingdom; but according to I Cor. 11:17-34 and Acts 20:7, the apostles and their followers partook of it in the church. Therefore, it necessarily follows that the church is the kingdom and the kingdom is the church.
Question #3 - Are the expressions, the kingdom and the church always synonymous? No, they are not. Sometimes the expression, the kingdom, refers to the place where God and the saints will dwell in the next life. Yes, the people whom Paul visited in Iconium, Lystra, and Antioch, were members of the kingdom which is the church (Acts 14:23). So it necessarily follows that the kingdom of God found in Acts 14:22, refers to the place of the eternal abode.
Again we know when Jesus, in Mat. 21:43, said to the unbelieving of his time: The kingdom of God shall be taken from you and given unto another nation, he was not speaking of the kingdom which is the church. Because the church had not yet been established. The kingdom of God in this passage refers to the government of God under any dispensation of time.
Question #4 - As we read about the kingdom, how do we determine whether it is the church or the place where God dwells? Almost always, the context of the scripture in which it is found will determine this for us; but if not, then that which is taught in some other scripture will. The statement, "Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God," found in I Cor. 15:50, serves as an example of both of these determining methods. The context in which this statement is found, shows the kingdom to which it refers is the future home for the saints. Yes, almost all that was written in this chapter has to do with post resurrection facts. And many of these facts say our resurrected bodies will not have flesh and blood. Likewise other scriptures also prove this kingdom cannot be the church. The people whom, Luke said God added to the church had flesh and blood (Acts 2:47).
Question #5 - Are the expressions, the church of Christ and the body of Christ equivalent? Yes. Paul, in Eph. 1:22-23 and Col. 1:18 states that the church is the body; and that Christ is the head of it. Again, in I Cor. 1:1-2, we hear Paul say the people to whom he was writing were the church of God. However, in I Cor. 12:27, we hear him say unto them, 'Ye are the body of Christ." However, there are some exceptions. Yes, in some scriptures the word body. and the words the body of Christ are not the church; but his physical body (Luke 23:52, I Cor. 11:29).
Question #6 - Is the house of God, the church? Yes. Paul, in I Tim. 3:15, declares that the house of God, is the church of the living God.
Question #7 - Do the expressions, the church and the flock refer to the same group of people? Yes. Luke, in Acts 20, speaks of the two as one. First, he says when Paul came to Miletus, he sent for the Elders of the church in Ephesus (Acts 20:17). Then he says when they arrived, he admonished them to take heed to the flock over which the Holy Ghost had made them overseers (Acts 20:28).
Question #8 - Why do the scriptures refer to this New Testament institution as: The church, the kingdom, the body, the house of God, and the flock? Because each of these expressions describe one of its specific characteristics. It is spoken of as the church because it is composed of people who have been called by the gospel of Christ (I Cor. 1:1-2, I Thes. 2:12, II Thes. 2:14). It is called the kingdom because it has a monarchy form of government. Christ as its King, is its one and only lawmaker. The citizens of this kingdom do not say: Come let us decide what we will and will not do. Because they understand these decisions are made by their King Jesus. The scriptures presented in the first five articles of this volume, confirms this. Again, this institution is referred to as the body. Because it, like the human body, is composed of many members; who will not respond to the message of any head but their own (Eph. 1:20-23, Col. 3:17).
Then, too, it is said to be the flock; but why? The answer for this question is found in John, chapter ten. Yes, this chapter reveals unto us the great rewards that will be received by God's sheep who hear and only hear the voice of (Jesus) their great shepherd. Paul, in I Tim. 3:14-15, says this institution is the house of God. Now, why may it be called the house of God? Because its members are the children of God (Rom. 8:16,1 Jo. 3:1).
By. Tommy Hodge
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