[b]The Church, the Body of Christ[/b]
by Randy Munter
"He is the head of the body, the church..." Colossians 1:18
Everything calls itself the church today, this is Satan's master plan to confusion and deceive, "...if it were possible, even the elect." Mark 13:22 The "beast" of the church is the ecumenical movement, the embracing of every belief, and of every god. It is a cursed thing! "Thus saith the LORD; Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the LORD." Jeremiah 17:5
I heard a man say once that the ecumenical was like mixing ice cream with dung. You can't hurt the dung, but you sure make a mess out of the ice cream. The mixture of the ecumenical amounts to little more than dung, and when mixed with the true church, makes a real mess. Paul said in Galatians 5:9, "A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump." Imagine then what a lot of ecumenical leaven will do to the true church. The church is left lifeless, powerless and hopeless.
Historian Edward Gibbons in his book, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire lists five reasons for the decline and fall of Rome. For the purpose of this editorial, I will mention only the fifth reason, that is, "The decay of religion, fading into a mere form, losing touch with life, losing power to guide the people." The church has reached this point now, it is the church that Paul said would "fall away" in the last days.
Despite the condition of the church as we see it, God has a remnant, and it is this remnant that will be the true Body of Christ in these last days. But what is the true body of Christ and what is her purpose. The scripture tells us that, "Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ." 1 Peter 2:5
The true church is not a building, no matter how well adorned or costly, it's still just wood and stone and will be burned up in the end. The true church is not a theological idea, no matter how educated or well versed. Neither is the true church a group of well meaning souls gathering together for a religious service, this is what the apostate church is made up of.
A. W. Tozer said, "One hundred religious persons knit into a unity by careful organization do no constitute a church any more than eleven dead men make a football team. The first requisite is life, always."
The true church is a spiritual house, made up of those who walk in the spirit, (lively stones) filled with the life of Christ, thus the "Body of Christ". The church is not a place but rather a position in Christ. Jesus said, "they shall come from the east, and from the west, and from the north, and from the south..." Luke 13:29 Those whose position is in Christ can be from any place in the world, can be any color skin, can be from any culture, can be of any social level. There are no boundries, there are no borders for those in Christ, they are one spiritual body and Christ is the head.
Her sole purpose is to offer up spiritual sacrifices unto God being a holy priesthood through our Lord Jesus Christ. She is not self pleasing, but God pleasing. The cry of her heart is to, "love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might." Deuteronomy 6:5
All other service stems from this "First Love" unto God. Like a fountain springing up from within and flowing down to "love thy neighbour as thyself." Jesus said that, "On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets." Matthew 22:40
This is the remnant, the Body of Christ, the true Church. She is the one who will do exploits in these last days. She is the one who will be raptured out of this world without spot or wrinkle and will forever be with the one she adored while on this earth.
The True Church
By J. C. Ryle
I want you to belong to the one true Church: to the Church outside of which there is no salvation. I do not ask where you go on a Sunday; I only ask, "Do you belong to the one true Church?"
WHERE is this one true Church ? What is this one true Church like ? What are the marks by which this one true Church may be known ? You may well ask such questions. The one true Church is composed of all believers in the Lord Jesus. It is made up of all God's elect -- of all converted men and women -- of all true Christians. In whomsoever we can discern the election of God the Father, the sprinkling of the blood of God the Son, the sanctifying work of God the Spirit, in that person we see a member of Christ's true Church.
It is a Church to which
. . . . all the members have the same marks.
They are all born again of the Spirit: they all, possess "repentance towards God, faith towards our Lord Jesus Christ," and holiness of life and, conversation. They all hate sin, and they all love Christ. They worship differently, and after various fashions; some worship with a form of prayer, and some with none; some worship kneeling, and some standing; but they all worship with one heart They are all led by one Spirit; they all build upon one foundation; they all draw their religion from one single book -- that is the Bible. They are all joined to one great center that is Jesus Christ. They all even now, can say with one heart, "Hallelujah;" and they can all respond with one heart and voice, Amen and Amen.
It is a Church which
. . . . is dependent upon no ministers upon earth,
however much it values those who preach the Gospel to its members. The life of its members does not hang upon Church-membership, and Baptism and the Lords Supper -- although they highly value these things, when they are to be had. But it has only one Great Head -- one Shepherd, one chief Bishop -- and that is Jesus Christ He alone, by His Spirit, admits the members of this Church, though ministers may show the door. Till He opens the door no man on earth can open it -- neither bishops nor presbyters, nor convocations, nor synods. Once let a man repent and believe the Gospel, and that moment he becomes a member of this Church. Like the penitent thief, he may have no opportunity of being baptized; but he has that which is far better than any water-baptism -- the baptism of the Spirit. He may not be able to receive the bread and wine in the Lord's Supper; but he eats Christ's body and drinks Christ's blood by faith every day he lives, and no minister on earth can prevent him. He may be excommunicated by ordained men, and cut off from the outward ordinances of the professing Church; but all the ordained men in the world cannot shut him out of the true Church.
It is a Church whose existence does not
. . . . depend on forms,
ceremonies, cathedrals, churches, chapels, pulpit fonts, vestments, organs, endowments, money, kings, governments, magistrates, or any act of favour whatsoever from the hand of man. It has often lived on and continued when all these things have been taken from it: it has often been driven into the wilderness or into dens and caves of the earth, by those who ought to have been its friends. Its existence depends on nothing but the presence of Christ and His Spirit; and they being ever with it, the Church cannot die.
This is the Church to which the Scriptural titles of present honour and privilege, and the promises of future glory especially belong; this is the body of Christ; this is the Bride; this is the Lamb's Wife; this is the flock of Christ; this is the household of faith and the family of God; this is God's building, God's foundation, and the temple of the Holy Ghost. This is the Church of the first-born, whose names are written in heaven; this is the royal priesthood, the chosen generation, the peculiar people, the purchased possession, the habitation of God, the light of the World, the salt and the wheat of the earth; this is the "Holy Catholic Church" of the Apostle's Creed; this is the "One Catholic and Apostolic Church" of the Nicene Creed; this is that Church to which the Lord Jesus promises "the gates of hell shall not prevail against it," and to which He says, "I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world." Matt. 16:18; 28:20).
This is the only Church which
. . . . possesses true unity.
Its members are entirely agreed on all the weightier matters of religion, for they are all taught by one spirit. About God, and Christ, and the Spirit, and sin, and their own hearts, and faith, and repentance and necessity of holiness and the value of the Bible, and the importance of prayer, and the resurrection, and judgment to come -- about all these points they are of one mind. Take three or four of them, strangers to one another, from the remotest corners of the earth; examine them separately on these points; you will find them all of one judgment.
This is the only Church which
. . . . possesses true sanctity.
Its members are all holy. They are not merely holy by profession, holy in name and holy in the judgment of charity; they are all holy in act and deed, and reality, and life, and truth. They are all more or less conformed to the image of Jesus Christ. No unholy man belongs to this Church.
This is the only Church which
. . . . is truly universal.
It is not the Church of any one nation or people Its members are to be found in every part of the world where the gospel is received and believed. It is not confined within the limits of any one country, or pent up within the pale of any particular forms or outward government. In it there is no difference between Jew and Greek, black man and white, Episcopalian and Presbyterian -- but faith in Christ is all. Its members will be gathered from north, and south, and east, and west, in the last day, and will be of every name and tongue -- but all one in Jesus Christ.
This is the only Church which
. . . . is truly apostolic.
It is built on the foundation laid by the Apostles, and holds the doctrines which they preached. The two grand objects at which its members aim. are apostolic faith and apostolic practice; and they consider the man who talks of following the Apostles without possessing these two things to be no better than sounding brass and a tinkling cymbal.
This is the only Church which
. . . . is certain to endure unto the end.
Nothing can altogether overthrow and destroy it. Its members may be persecuted, oppressed, imprisoned, beaten, be- headed. burned; but the true Church is never altogether extinguished; it rises again from its afflictions; it lives on through fire and water. When crushed in one land it springs up in another. The Pharaohs, the Herods, the Neros, the Bloody Marys, have labored in vain to put down this Church: they slay their thousands, and then pass away and go to their own place. The true Church outlives them all and sees them buried each in their turn. It is an anvil that has broken many a hammer in this world, and will break many a hammer still; it is a bush which is often burning, and yet is not consumed.
This is the only Church of which
. . . . no one member can perish.
Once enrolled in the lists of this Church, sinners are safe for eternity; they are never cast away. The election of God the Father, the continual intercession of God the Son, the daily renewing and sanctifying power of God the Holy Ghost, surround and fence them in like a garden enclosed. Not one bone of Christ's mystical body shall ever he broken; not one lamb of Christ's flock shall ever be plucked out of His hand.
This is the Church which
. . . . does the work of Christ upon earth.
Its members are a little flock, and few in number, compared with the children of the world: one or two here, and two or three there -- a few in this district and a few in that. But these are they who shake the universe; but these are they who change the fortunes of kingdoms by their prayers; these are they who are the active workers for spreading the knowledge of pure religion and undefiled, these are the lifeblood of a country, the shield, the defense, the stay, and the support of any nation to which they belong.
This is the Church which
. . . . shall be truly glorious at the end.
When all earthly glory is passed away then shall this Church be presented without spot before God the Father's throne. Thrones, principalities, and powers upon earth shall come to nothing; dignities and offices, and endowments shall all pass away; but the Church of the first-born shall shine as the stars at the last, and be presented with joy before the Father's throne, in the day of Christ's appearing. When the Lord's jewels are made up, and the manifestation of the sons of God takes place, episcopacy, and presbyterianism, and congregationalism will not be mentioned; one Church only will be named, and that is the Church of the elect.
This is the true Church to which
. . . . a man must belong, if he would be saved.
Till you belong to this, you are nothing better than a lost soul. you may have the form, the husk, the skin, and the shell of religion, but you have not got the substance and the life. Yes; you may have countless outward privileges: you may enjoy great light, and knowledge -- but if you do not belong to the body of Christ, your light, and knowledge, and privileges, will not save your soul. Alas, for the ignorance that prevails on this point! Men fancy if they join this Church or that Church, and become communicants, and go through certain forms, that all must be right with their souls. It is an utter delusion; it is a gross mistake. All were not Israel who were called Israel, and all are not members of Christ's body who profess themselves Christians. Take notice, you may be a staunch Episcopalian or Presbyterian, or Congregationalist, or Baptist, or Methodist, or Plymouth Brother -- and yet not belong to the true Church. And if you do not, it will be better at last if you had never been born.
"Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity." [Matthew 7:22-23]
SI Moderator - Greg Gordon