The church is a profound and deeply significant matter in the Bible. In our post “What Is the Church according to the Bible,” we began to look into the church as it’s revealed in the Scriptures.
In this post, we’ll continue to discuss the matter of the church by getting into some verses in Ephesians, a book unique in its rich revelation of what the church is in God’s eyes. We’ll look at seven aspects of the church revealed in Ephesians and how they relate to us as believers.
1. The Body of Christ
“The church, which is His Body, the fullness of the One who fills all in all.” Ephesians 1:22-23
The revelation of the church as the Body of Christ tells us that the church is not an organization but something living, just as our physical body is a living organism. The Body of Christ is an entity of life.
The church as the Body of Christ isn’t a lifeless organization, structured and arranged according to the concept of man. The Body of Christ is a living organism, issuing from the life of Christ as the Head who becomes the life in His believers as the members of His Body. This means all the members of the Body must possess Christ’s life.
Because the church is Christ’s Body, an organism with Christ’s life, a person can’t simply join it by taking an oath, agreeing to a creed, or signing a paper. One can only become a member of the Body of Christ by being born again, or regenerated, with the divine life.
Praise God, we received the life of Christ when we were born again; at that time, we became members of His Body. In His life, we’re joined to Christ as the Head and to other believers as the members of His Body. Just as with our physical body our fingers, arms, legs, and so on are joined together by our physical life, we as members of the Body of Christ share and are joined together in the life of Christ.
2. The new man
“Abolishing in His flesh the law of the commandments in ordinances, that He might create the two in Himself into one new man, so making peace.” Ephesians 2:15
For the church to be the Body of Christ means the church has Christ as its life. The aspect of the church as the new man means the church has Christ as its person. Christ is the person of the Body with His personality. For this, we as His members must live by His life and take Him as our person, and not ourselves.
As individual human beings, we all have our own personality and differ in background, upbringing, culture, preferences, etc. Although we may greatly desire to be one with one another, if we each live by our own personality, it’s impossible.
But Christ Himself now lives in us to be our new person. He wants us to take Him with His personality as our person. This means we take His preferences and feeling instead of our own.
When we live in this way, spontaneously we’re one because one Person is really living through all of us—Jesus Christ.
3. The kingdom of God
“So then you are no longer strangers and sojourners, but you are also fellow citizens with the saints.” Ephesians 2:19
The phrase fellow citizens with the saints here shows us our salvation brings us into a new kingdom—the kingdom of God. Here, all the believers are fellow citizens in God’s kingdom.
As citizens of a particular country, people have certain rights. For instance, in the US, citizens have the right of freedom of speech. But responsibilities also come with being citizens of this country, such as paying taxes.
Similarly, today we have both the rights and the responsibilities as citizens of the church as the wonderful kingdom of God. Sometimes we may want to enjoy the rights without bearing any responsibilities, but as citizens we must also acknowledge and bear the responsibilities of the church as God’s kingdom.
4. The household of God
“…and members of the household of God.” Ephesians 2:19
All the believers make up the household of God. This is a very sweet aspect of the church, for household refers to the church as God’s family. When we’re saved, whatever our background was before, we become a member of the household, the family, of God.
As the kingdom of God, we have rights and fulfill our responsibilities as citizens. But as the household of God, God’s family, we have God as our Father and the other believers as our brothers and sisters. The church is God’s home, God’s family, where we enjoy the care of our Father and where we care for one another. We find true rest, satisfaction, and enjoyment as members of the household of God.
5. The dwelling place of God
“In whom all the building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord; in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling place of God in spirit.” Ephesians 2:21-22
The church is also God’s dwelling place on earth. How incredible that today, God’s dwelling place is our spirit, and not simply individually but corporately with all the believers in Christ. Today we are growing in His life and being built together to be God’s corporate dwelling place!
Note 4 on verse 21 in the New Testament Recovery Version helps us see what this implies:
“Since the building is living (1 Pet. 2:5), it is growing. It grows into a holy temple. The actual building of the church as the house of God is by the believer’s growth in life.”
God’s dwelling place on earth isn’t a physical building but His redeemed and regenerated believers, built up by the growth of the divine life in us. Today we are growing together as God’s dwelling place. The more we grow in life, the more God’s dwelling place is built up!
6. The bride, the wife of Christ
“Husbands, love your wives even as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her that He might sanctify her, cleansing her by the washing of the water in the word, that He might present the church to Himself glorious, not having spot or wrinkle or any such things, but that she would be holy and without blemish.” “This mystery is great, but I speak with regard to Christ and the church.” Ephesians 5:25-27, 32
The church is the bride, the wife of Christ. In this aspect of the church, Christ loves us with the tender love of a husband, and we love Him as our dear Bridegroom. In His love, He is preparing us by the washing of the water in the Word for our wedding day when He returns.
7. The warrior
“Be empowered in the Lord and in the might of His strength. Put on the whole armor of God that you may be able to stand against the stratagems of the devil.” Ephesians 6:10-11
The Body of Christ, the new man, the kingdom of God, the household of God, the dwelling place of God, and the bride of Christ are all positive aspects of the church. But the church is also the warrior by which God can deal with His enemy, the devil. This a crucial aspect of the church.
Many are familiar with the verses in Ephesians 6 about putting on the parts of the armor of God. But when we look at the original Greek of these verses, we can realize this armor isn’t for an individual Christian. Paul exhorts the church, made up of all the believers, to put on the armor of God. Thus, the church is the corporate warrior of God, empowered in the Lord to fight the spiritual warfare to deal with God’s enemy.
Seeing and entering into the reality of the church
The revelation of the church in Ephesians is rich, deep, and high. We can pray for the Spirit of reality to reveal the church to us according to Ephesians, and we can ask Him to guide us into the reality of each aspect of the church in our experience.
“Dear Lord, thank You for the church. Grant me a spirit of wisdom and revelation so I can see the church in all these aspects. I also ask that the Spirit of reality would guide me and my fellow members of Your Body into the reality of the church so You can gain the church You desire. Amen.”
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