The Church, Part 1

Beginning Bible Studies, Lesson 12 of 15

There are thousands of different churches in the world. Each one of these denominations has its own teachings which are different from the teachings of other denominations. Each one of these churches is called by a different name. Yet, all of them claim to be following the Bible. Is this possible? No, it is not! The Bible contains only one teaching. Yet each one of these denominations has a different teaching.

What is the true church? How can we learn which is right? There is only one way. Let us go to the Bible. The Bible will tell us what Christ’s church is.

The Bible helps us to understand what Christ’s church is like. It does this by "figures" or "pictures" of the church. Let us look at some of these pictures that we may understand what the true church is like.

THE KINGDOM

The Bible often pictures Christ’s church as a kingdom. Sometimes it is called the "kingdom of God" because God is its Ruler. The members of the church are citizens of the kingdom. Sometimes the church is called the "kingdom of heaven" because it is a spiritual kingdom. It is not an earthly kingdom.

We know that the kingdom and the church are the same thing because Christ used them in this way. For example, let us hear Jesus’ words to Peter: "And I also say unto thee, that thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven." (Matthew 16:18,19).

God has set up His kingdom on the earth. It began on the Day of Pentecost after the resurrection of Christ. Read Acts 2:1-47. It began in city of Jerusalem. Since the church and the kingdom are the same, we know that Christ’s church began in Jerusalem. It began on the first day of Pentecost after Jesus arose from the dead. Any church which began at any other place than Jerusalem cannot be the true church. Any church which began at any other time cannot be the true church.

Just before He returned to Heaven, Jesus said, "…and he said unto them, Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer, and rise again from the dead the third day; and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name unto all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem." (Luke 24:46,47).

THE TEMPLE OF GOD

The Bible sometimes pictures the church as the temple of God. "So then ye are no more strangers and sojourners, but ye are fellow-citizens with the saints, and of the household of God, being built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the chief corner stone" (Ephesians 2:19-21).

In the Old Testament, we can read how King Solomon built a temple for God (1 Kings 8:12,13). Today, the church is God’s temple. God dwells in the church through His Spirit: "Know ye not that ye are a temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man destroyeth the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, and such are ye." (1 Corinthians 3:16,17).

THE FAMILY OF GOD

Sometimes the Bible pictures the church as God’s household or family. "but if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how men ought to behave themselves in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth" (1 Timothy 3:15).

In His family, the church, God is the father. Members of the church are His children. One becomes a member of a family by being born into it. The same is true of God’s family. One must be born again to become a member of it. "…Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except one be born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God" (John 3:5).

A HOLY NATION AND A ROYAL PRIESTHOOD

Another picture of Christ’s church is that of a holy nation and a royal priesthood. "But ye are an elect race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God's own possession, that ye may show forth the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvellous light" (1 Peter 2:9).

In Old Testament times, God chose the nation of Israel to be His people. Today, Christ’s church is the chosen nation of God. In the nation of Israel, there was a special class of people who served as priests. Only the priests were allowed to conduct the public worship of God. But in Christ’s church, every member is a priest. Every member can pray to God for himself.

THE BODY OF CHRIST

Many times the Bible pictures Christ’s church as His body. "And he put all things in subjection under his 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" (Ephesians 1:22,23).

The church is the body of Christ. Christ is the head of the body. He rules from heaven. Heaven is the headquarters of Christ’s church. The human body has only one head. Christ’s body, the church, has only one head. Christ is the Head of the church! Christ’s church has no pope or president on the earth to rule over it.

The church is the body of Christ. Christ has only one body.

Therefore, Christ has only one church."There is one body, and one Spirit, even as also ye were called in one hope of your calling" (Ephesians 4:4). There are many thousands of different denominations in the world today. Christ’s church is His body. Does Christ have thousands of different bodies? Of course not! A man has only one body. Christ has only one body—the church.

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