The Lord’s church is the most valuable institution that has ever been established. In fact, so significant was the Lord’s church that it was in God’s “eternal purpose” (Eph. 3:11), it was spoken of by the prophets (Isa. 2:2-3), and was so precious that the Lamb of God purchased it with His own blood (Acts 20:28). The church was wonderfully perfected by the Holy Spirit (Eph. 4:11ff), and it is in the church that a man is saved (Acts 2:47). The Lord’s church offers us peace (Rom. 5:1), prosperity (2 Cor. 8:9), pardon (Mt. 1:21), and power (Jn. 1:11-12). The Bible says we have received “a kingdom that cannot be shaken” (Heb. 12: 28). Daniel foretold that the church would never be destroyed (Dan. 2:44).
This wonderful institution is referred to in the Scriptures as “My church” by our Lord (Mt. 16:18); therefore, it is Christ’s church because He is the builder. The Lord’s church is simply referred to as “the church” (Acts 8:1), meaning a group of called out people — the Lord has only one such group (Eph. 1:22-23; 4:4). The church of our Lord is also called “the church of God” (1 Cor. 1:2), “the churches of Christ” (Rom. 16:16), “the body of Christ” (Col. 1:24), “the church of the living God” (1 Tim. 3:15), and the “church of the firstborn” (Heb. 12:23). All of these various designations of the church show ownership — the church belongs to Christ! These are all scriptural names by which the Lord’s church may be called.
Recognizing and considering the descriptive names of the church opens the door of our minds enabling us to understand the true nature of the Lord’s church. The Lord’s church is described as the beautiful bride of Christ (Rom. 7:4), and as such we carry His name — Christian, and we must ever remain pure and faithful to Him. Christ has only one bride — not many! The church of the living God is called the house or family of God (1 Tim. 3:15). A family suggests a closeness in relationship. Again, God has only one family — not many! The church of Christ is described as the body of Christ (Eph. 4:12). There is only one body (Eph. 4:4) and Christ is that head of that one body (Eph. 1:22). As the one body of Christ we are to work together for the common spiritual good of the church. Every part of the body is needed and valuable. The church of the firstborn is portrayed as the blood bought institution (Acts 20:28). The blood of Christ is precious (1 Pt. 1:19), frees us from our sins (Rev. 1:5), and it was with this invaluable blood that the church was purchased.
The church of God is also portrayed as the army of Christ (1 Tim. 1:18). As the army of the Lord, the church is to “fight the good fight of faith” (1 Tim. 6:12), “war a good warfare” (1 Tim. 1:18), “contend earnestly for the faith” (Jude 3), and to “endure hardship” as a good soldier of Christ (2 Tim. 2:3). The basic function of any army is to fight and protect, and this is one of the functions of the Lord’s church. The New Testament church is called the vineyard of the Lord or God’s husbandry (1 Cor. 3:9). In a vineyard there must be preparing, planting, watering, pruning, and harvesting. The same is true in the Lord’s church. The church must prepare minds, plant the seed of the kingdom, edify, discipline, and in the end God will harvest the good fruit. The Lord’s church is described as the saved (Acts 2:47). The church of the New Testament is the only sphere wherein all of the saved are located (Eph. 5:23). Christ saves the church, and those outside His church are not saved. The church of Christ is the kingdom of Christ (2 Pt. 1:11). An earthly kingdom will have a location, subjects, a law, and a ruler. This is also true of the Lord’s church. The location is “in Christ,” the subjects are Christians, the law is the New Testament, and the ruler is Jesus Christ. The church of God is the pillar and ground of the truth (1 Tim. 3:15). Notice, the manifold wisdom of God is made known through the church (Eph. 3:10). The church is the underlying strength and supporter to the precepts of God. The church must boldly proclaim the truth and all of the truth of the Almighty.
May we ever value, love, protect, and spread the borders of the precious church of our Lord. We with the writer of the old gospel hymn declare, “I love thy kingdom Lord!