CHAPTER 14-DESPISE YE THE CHURCH OF GOD?
#Ro 12:4 1Co 12:12 Eph 1:15-23 #Col 1:18-24
Just as there is no man with whom we can compare Jesus Christ; so there is no institution with which we can compare the church of Christ.
We have in these passages a definition of what the church is, the relation of its members to one another, and its function in the world. The church is called Christ's body, and He is called the head. It is His executive body to execute His will in the earth. The church has both executive and judicial powers but no legislative powers. The laws of the church are already made; they are here in the New Testament. This is the church's lawbook. The church is accepting Christ's headship when it works and behaves according to this book.
The church is compared to a human body. "Many members but one body" (#1Co 12:20). Every member is necessary. "Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary" (#1Co 12:22).
It is a divinely constituted body. "But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him." (#1Co 12:18). "Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved." (#Ac 2:47). The saved were added to the church daily. Nobody was in the church but the saved and all the saved were in the church. If lost people get in the church, who is responsible for their staying in the church? The church is responsible.
In its functioning the church is:
1. A witnessing body. It perpetuates itself through mission work by telling others about Christ. By witnessing to the lost it builds itself up. Witnessing is every member's duty and privilege. A heavenly and earthly ministry. To angels as well as men. "To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God" (#Eph 3:10). "For if the woman be not covered, let her also be shorn: but if it be a shame for a woman to be shorn or shaven, let her be covered" (#1Co 11:6).
2. A disciplinary body. Under the head it has judicial authority over its members. Anything but a mob has disciplinary power over its members. Take any kind of organization it must have powers of discipline over its members. I have been excluded from three fraternal bodies-three lodges. "But them that are without God judgeth. Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person" (#1Co 5:13). "Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us" (#2Th 3:6).
We saw this morning that the church is called the body of Christ. To show the relation to Himself and to one another the church is compared to a human body. If all members of Christ's church were as interested in one another as the members of the human body are interested in one another, we would have a different situation here and everywhere. When one member suffers all members suffer with it. That's true of the human body. The toe ache or toothache makes one feel bad all over. The human body does not have to have something wrong with all its members for the man to be sick. He may have a bad heart; he is a sick man. The church is sick when one or more members is sick spiritually. Do you suffer when you see one of our members sin against Christ and the church? Do you try to do anything about it? Don't tell me it is none of your business what other members do? None of your business if he quits coming to the assembly? None of your business whether he orders his speech and life aright or not? None of your business whether he honors the Lord with his substance or not?
Are you in the church? How does one get in the church? The only way is through public profession of faith in baptism. A person is saved by believing on the Lord Jesus Christ and then makes public profession in baptism. Nobody is in the church except baptized people. And nobody but a baptized person can glorify God.
When is a person in the church? He is in the church from the time he is baptized until he dies or is excluded from the church. Of course membership may be transferred from one body of Christ to another. We are in the church seven days in the week. All we do we do as members of the church whether we are conscious of it or not. I am told the KluKlux had an arrangement for preachers so that if they were asked if they were members of the KluKlux could say that they were not and this automatically excluded them for the time being. But we do not get out of the church that easy. The church does not come into existence only when it meets for worship; it is in existence as long as its members are in existence and trying to give glory to Jesus Christ. "Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen" (#Mt 28:20).