THE CHURCH (EXCERPT OF A STUDY GUIDE FOR THE BOOK OF EPHESIANS)
From: A Study Guide for the Book of Ephesians
Copyright © 2006 Trumpet Ministries, Inc. All Rights Reserved
One of the great purposes of the past two thousand years of the Christian era has been the creating of the Body of Christ. The Body of Christ is the Church, the Wife of the Lamb, the very representation of Christ and God in Him to the world. It is our point of view that as yet we possess but a faint notion of what God means by the Church. The seventeenth chapter of the Gospel of John may be the best description in the Scriptures of the Church of Christ.
Christ has sent the Church, His Body, into the world as the living revelation of the Person, the Word, the way, the Nature, the Substance, the eternal purpose of God in Christ. All that the Lord Jesus is He has placed forever in the Church so that the Church may be the perfect and complete manifestation of all that Christ is and does.
What do the Christian ministries achieve as they serve the Lord? They build the Church, the Body of Christ.
One of the purposes—if not the purpose—of the past two thousand years of the Christian Era has been the creating of the Body of Christ. The Body of Christ is the Church, the Wife of the Lamb, the representation of Christ, and God in Him, to the world.
The Church, the Body of Christ, is not of the world, It consists of people who have been chosen out of the world to become part of Christ, to become the fullness of the Lord Jesus Christ (Ephesians 1:23).
As yet we possess but a faint understanding of what God means by the Church. The prayer of the Lord, as recorded in the seventeenth chapter of the Gospel of John, helps us grasp the extent to which the Church is separate from the world, having been chosen to be one with the Father through Christ and to be filled with the same Glory the Father has given to the Son.
We are as far from what Christ prayed in John, Chapter 17 as the dry bones of Ezekiel, Chapter 37 were from the “exceeding great army” of the Lord.
That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me (John 17:21).
The “very dry” bones in the valley, among which Ezekiel passed (Ezekiel 37:2), were about as far removed from being an army as one could imagine. Yet when the Spirit of God moved on them they were re-created as human beings and filled with eternal life. There they stood, the army of God, ready to enter their inheritance.
As we wonder about the churches of today and think of the Lord’s prayer “that they all may be one,” the question comes to us again: “Can these bones live?”
Only the Lord God of Heaven knows the destiny of the Church of Christ. The Spirit of God has proclaimed in the Word that the Church shall be perfect and unblemished, the holy city, the new Jerusalem. Therefore we look up to God in absolute faith and trust that the Christian Church eventually will be one Body of Christ. It will be one in the Father and the Son, radiant with the beauty of holiness.
We humans cannot join two dry bones together or cover the joined bones with sinew and flesh and skin. Neither can we breathe life into them. But the Lord God can make dry bones into an army.
We cannot form the Christians churches into the unblemished Bride of the Lamb. But we can and do prophesy and proclaim what God will perform. We behold in vision a glorious Church without spot or wrinkle, filled with the fullness of the Father and the Son, serving as the manifestation and vehicle of the Holy Spirit, the revelation of God in Christ throughout the heavens and the earth.
Notice the expression, “that the world may believe.”
When we grasp this expression we have a better understanding of the Church of Christ. All mankind has been divided into two Divinely ordained groups—the Church and the world. The Church has been called out from the world. The meaning of the term church is “called-out.”
The world is not of the Church and the Church is not of the world. The Spirit of God dwells within the Church but not within the world. Christ is married to the Church but not to the world. The world is not the Temple of God. The Church is the Temple of God.
The world hates the Church because the Church is not of the world but of Christ. The seventeenth chapter of the Gospel of John separates the Church from the world with terrible authority and power. The wall between the Church and the world is the highest, thickest, sturdiest wall in the creation of God. It is impenetrable and indestructible.
Notice in the following expressions the wall of separation and distinction between the world and the Church:
I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world: thine they were, and thou gavest them me; and they have kept thy word (John 17:6).
I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me;… (John 17:9).
I am glorified in them (John 17:10).
These are in the world, … (John 17:11).
Keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are (John 17:11).
Those that thou gavest me I have kept, … (John 17:12).
The world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world (John 17:14).
I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, … (John 17:15).
They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world (John 17:16).
As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world (John 17:18).
That they all may be one;… that the world may believe… (John 17:21).
The glory which thou gavest me I have given them;… (John 17:22).
That they may be made perfect in one;… that the world may know that thou… hast loved them, as thou hast loved me (John 17:23).
I will that they… be with me where I am;… (John 17:24).
The world hath not known thee:… these have known that thou hast sent me (John 17:25).
I have declared unto them thy name, … (John 17:26).
That the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them (John 17:26).
We can begin to understand from these portions of Christ’s prayer the awesome distinction and separation between the Church and the world.
Although the saints were chosen from among the inhabitants of the earth they belong to Christ in a unique manner. They are His possession.
Christ does not pray for the world. He makes intercession for the Church—for the people whom God has given to Him.
Christ is not in the world but the members of His Body are in the world and He is glorified in them. Our role in life is not merely the informing of other people concerning Christ of history. Our role is to demonstrate, to reveal, His indestructible, incorruptible resurrection Life that is dwelling in us. He is glorified in us.
Christ’s prayer is that the Church will be one as He and the Father are One. We see anything but this today. Nevertheless the true Church always is one in Christ and in the Holy Spirit. Some day the world will be able to see that the Church indeed is one in the Father and the Son.
Christ takes care of and protects His Church. The world hates the Church because the Church is not of the world just as Christ Himself is not of the world.
The Christian Church is not merely a social institution. It is not of the world. It is not just a collection of well-intentioned people who are attempting to put Christ’s teachings into practice.
The Christian Church is the incarnation of Christ just as Christ is the Incarnation of the Father. The church is bone of Christ’s bone, life of Christ’s Life, flesh of Christ’s flesh, spirit of Christ’s Spirit, mind of Christ’s mind, strength of Christ’s strength, being of Christ’s Being, joy of Christ’s joy.
The Church is the fullness of Christ in Heaven and on the earth. When the Church has been perfected and glorified, he who sees the Church will be seeing Christ.
It is not true today that seeing the Church is the same as seeing Christ. But God speaks of things as being accomplished before we can see them in actuality.
Before the creation of the world the Father saw the holy city, the Bride of the Lamb, the new Jerusalem. Two thousand years ago the Father permitted the Apostle John to glimpse the vision. The city is the Church, the Bride. He who beholds the holy city, the new Jerusalem, the Bride of the Lamb, beholds the Glory of Christ and the Father in Him. This is what the Father has purposed and this is what shall be brought to pass.
The world hates the saints because it hates Christ. The world hates Christ because He bears witness concerning the world that its works are evil. The true Church, being one with Christ in all things, also bears witness of the world that its works are evil.
It is not the will of Christ that the Church be taken from the world. Jesus does not pray to that end. Rather, He prays that the members of His Body be guarded so the adversary cannot touch them.
The wall between the Church and the world is not a wall of distance such that the Church is in Heaven and the world exists on the earth. Distance by no means is the wall. Geographical distance apart does not present the same barrier in the spirit realm that it does in the physical realm.
Rather, the wall between the Church and the world is the wall of the holy power of the Spirit of God. The saint is in the world but the world cannot harm him because of the protection of the angel of the Lord. “A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand, but it shall not come nigh thee” (Psalms 91:7).
Israel dwelled in Goshen, a suburb of Egypt. But when the plagues fell from the heaven there was a wall between the Israelites and the Egyptians. The wall was not that of distance. The wall was the Presence of God.
Little is accomplished in the Kingdom of God by removing the saint from the earth, which is his inheritance. Much is accomplished in the Kingdom of God when the saint learns to make the Lord, the most High, his refuge and his habitation. This is why Jesus, in the seventeenth chapter of John, does not pray that the Father take the saints from the world but that He guard them from the evil one.
The Father sent Christ into the world as the living Revelation of the Person, the purpose, the way, the nature, the Substance, the Word of the Father. All that the Father is He has placed forever in the Lord Jesus Christ so that Jesus is the perfect and complete manifestation of all that God the Father is and does.
Christ has sent the Church, His Body, into the world as the living revelation of the Person, the purpose, the way, the nature, the Substance, the Word of Christ. All that the Lord Jesus is He has placed forever in the Church so that the Church may be the perfect and complete manifestation of all that Christ is and does.
Christ and His Father are One. The Church, the Body of Christ, is being created, is being perfected, is being incorporated, as an integral, indivisible, incorruptible substance and expression of the one God.
The Church, the Body of Christ, shall be made complete and perfect in the Father and the Son, according to the prayer of the Lord Jesus. The Church shall be spotless, unblemished, without wrinkle. The creation of a complement, a counterpart, a companion of the Lord Jesus is not the ambition of mankind. It is the vision and desire of the Father—God Almighty.
Because the perfecting of a wife for the Lamb is the vision and desire of God Almighty it shall come to pass. The members of the Body of Christ were known to the Almighty before the creation of the world. Such is the proclamation of the Scriptures.
The work is of God, not of man. Whether an individual saint grasps his or her marvelous inheritance as a member of the Body of Christ is decided by the particular person. Our task is not to bring into being the vision of God. He will do that. Our task is to learn what God has stated in the Scriptures, place all our faith and trust in that, and be obedient to the Holy Spirit each day of our life.
There is no question whatever. All that Jesus has prayed for will come to pass in its entirety. Whether or not we participate in it is decided by us.
The world is dependent on the maturing of the Body of Christ. The world cannot be released from the bondage of futility in which it labors, apart from Christ. Christ will not release the inhabitants of the earth by Himself. He has chosen (and it is stated in the Scriptures and therefore cannot be changed) to release the earth by working through His saints.
And saviours [deliverers] shall come up on mount Zion to judge the mount of Esau; and the kingdom shall be the Lord’s (Obadiah 1:21).
For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God (Romans 8:19).
Today the world is in the worst condition of its history as far as spiritual bondage is concerned. The Church is a long way from the unity and maturity that is required before Christ will work through the Church and release the creation, The world labors in darkness and death, awaiting—without realizing it—the perfecting of the Church.
The world will not be forced to wait much longer. The Father will move swiftly, bringing both the tares and the wheat to maturity. He will quickly finish in righteousness the work of redemption. Then the righteous will shine as the sun in the fullness of the Glory of Christ, and the nations of the earth will come running toward that eternal life and light.
The fruit of each saint in that day will be in proportion to his willingness now to “fall into the ground and die.” He who saves his life will lose it. He who loses his life in Christ will reap a staggering harvest of souls—his crown in the Day of the Lord.
Within the one Church there are many different callings, many ranks of achievement. There is oversight and organization—all under the direction of the one Holy Spirit. Satan has used our immaturity and ignorance in such a way that the differences among us have caused division and suspicion rather than the fullness of expression that is intended. God’s efforts in the last days will overcome all division and suspicion among the true members of the Body of Christ.
And I will lay sinews upon you, and will bring up flesh upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and ye shall live; and ye shall know that I am the Lord (Ezekiel 37:6).
Notice the “I will.” The Christian Church is the handiwork of God. What the Lord God has purposed to do He shall do. No wisdom or power in Heaven or on the earth or in Hell beneath can stop Him.
The sinews will bring the Body of Christ together and give it eternal strength. The flesh will adorn the Body with the beauty of holiness, the beauty of the graces of God. The skin is the wall of defense that God is creating around all the glory.
The breath is the incorruptible eternal life that Christ will breathe into His Body as soon as it becomes unified, strong, beautiful, and separated from the poison of the world. The necessary separation will occur as a result of giving God’s Glory to the Church, the fires of great tribulation, and the development in the saints of the ability to distinguish between good and evil and to choose the good and resist and reject the evil.
All that Jesus prayed for in John, Chapter 17 God shall create.
God has chosen to bring the Church, and indeed shall bring the Church, to this state of completeness, unity, and maturity. All the ministries and gifts of the Spirit are being restored to the members of the Body of Christ in order to assist in the perfecting of the Body.
We are learning to recognize that the Holy Spirit is God in our midst. The responsibility of creating the Wife of the Lamb belongs to Him.
Every member without exception of the Body of Christ is to be supplying his or her part in the work of building the Body of Christ.
- The Church is to be separated altogether from the world. Remember Samson!
- The cross will enter the personalities of the members of the Body of Christ so that self-will and self-seeking will cease.
- God shall create His Church, as we note in the thirty-seventh chapter of Ezekiel.
The glory that the Father has given to the Son, the Son has given to us. There is no doubt that the Father has shed on His beloved Son the fullness of the Glory of God. There is no doubt that the Son has shed on His beloved Church the fullness of the Glory that God has given to Him.
The glory that is spoken of here is so magnificent in grandeur, so galactic in scope, so awful in authority and power, that no human language could in any manner begin to portray or define it. It is the fullness of the Glory of God—that which creates and upholds all nations, all things, all forces, all the universe.
When the fullness of the Glory of God flows through the Son to His Church, the Church will become one with the Oneness of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Such absolute oneness is far beyond human comprehension at this moment. The world shall behold the Glory of God in the Church and will know indeed that God has sent Christ and loves the Church as He loves His firstborn Son.
The voice of Divine, eternal love cries out, “I will that the people whom You have given Me be forever with Me where I am.” We are married to the Lamb and shall be with Him forever, ages without end.
The world does not know the Father, The true saints realize within their personalities that Christ has come from God. Christ has proclaimed the true God to us. Christ is introducing us to the Father and is revealing the Father to us.
Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. (Matthew 10:32)
All things are delivered unto me of my Father: and no man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him. (Matthew 11:27)
God has ordained from the creation of the world that the love with which He loves His Son will dwell eternally in each member of the Body of Christ. Christ abides in Divine love in each member of the Body of Christ with the end in view that he or she may be filled with “all the fulness of God” (Ephesians 3:19).
Such, then, is the “wall” between the Church of Christ and the world. It is the highest, thickest, sturdiest wall in the creation of God. It separates the Church from the world with terrible authority, power, and holiness to God.
Paradoxically, the higher and sturdier the wall becomes, the more use the Church becomes to the world. As long as the Church is mixed together with the world the Church is powerless. It possesses no iron. Without the iron of the Spirit the Church cannot possibly bring the righteousness of God into the affairs of the nations of the earth. But the cross thrown into the mixture will make the “iron swim” (II Kings 6:6).
A church that is part of the world is of no use whatever to the world and of no use whatever to Christ. It is fit only for the garbage.
Let us, as did Nehemiah and his kinsmen, rebuild the wall of separation. Let us come out from the world and touch not the unclean thing. Then the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ will shine with the fullness of the Glory of God, and all the ends of the earth will be blessed with God’s Presence.
(“The Church”, 4015-1)