Author: L. D. Pruitt
Jesus Christ declared in A. D. 32, “. . .Upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it [singular].” (Matt. 16:18). Christ is the foundation of His Church. “For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” I Cor. 3:11. See Ephesians 2:20-22. During His earthly ministry Jesus gathered material for His Church, and on the day of Pentecost in A. D. 33 after His ascension, that body of believers was sanctified, endued with the witnessing power of the Holy Spirit and set in operation as the spiritual Body of Christ, the organic, visible, corporate expression of Christianity.
The Church is invincible, and it is the only institution in this world that will survive the end of all things. It is of divine heavenly origin, and it will be consummated when the Lord comes to take her unto Himself as a “glorious Church, without spot or wrinkle.”
The prominence of the Church in the Scriptures is shown by the fact that the word “church” or “churches” occurs 111 times in the New Testament, but the singular and plural forms of the word never refer to a sect or a denomination. The Church is the whole of the same faith-not a part of or a cut off portion. The plural form “churches” refers to the various congregations of the one and same Church which Jesus built. In a universal sense the Church is biblically defined to include every redeemed, blood-washed soul-the whole family of God “in heaven and earth.” (Eph. 3:15). It includes all the saved and excludes all sinners, regardless of their profession. Every member of the Church universal is potentially a member of any local congregation of God.
The name of the Church is “The Church of God.” The apostle Paul exhorted the elders of Ephesus: “Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.” Acts 20:28. See also I Cor. 1:2; 10:32; 11:22; II Cor. 1:1; Gal. 1:13; I Tim. 3:5, 15.
The apostle Paul declared: “I speak concerning Christ and the church.” (Eph. 5:32). The Church is identical with Christ and is the physical expression of His Spirit in the world. “For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.” Eph. 5:30-32. Again we read that “all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ.” I Cor. 12:12.
Christ is the vine and we are the branches (John 15:1-5), and the same energy and vitality flows from the vine to the branches.
Christ is the head of His body, and we are the members (Eph. 1:22-23; 4:15-16), and the same lifeblood flows through the head and the members.
Christ is the Bridegroom, and we are His Bride. “They two shall be one flesh-Christ and the Church.” Again the apostle writes: “That ye should be married to another, even to him [Christ] who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God.” (Rom. 7:4).
Members are inducted into the one body of Christ-the Church-by obtaining salvation. “And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.” (Acts 2:47). Christ is the door. “I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved.” (John 10:9).
Members who sin are out of the Church. “And the Lord said unto Moses, Whosoever hath sinned against me, him will I blot out of my book.” (Ex. 32:33).
The members of the Church live without committing sin. “Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him.” I John 3:6. See also I John 5:18; Titus 2:11-12; Luke 1:74-75.
The Church register is kept by the Lord in heaven, called “the book of life.” “The Lord shall count, when he writeth up the people, that this man was born there.” (Ps. 87:6). See Luke 10:20; Phil. 4:3.
The discipline of the Church is the New Testament. “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.” (II Tim. 3:16).
Listen and heed Christ’s loving entreaty to become a member of His Church: “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.” Rev. 3:20. “And the Spirit and the bride [Church]say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely. Rev. 22:17.
The Church of God
Church of God, thou spotless virgin,
Church of Christ for whom He died,
Thou hast known no human founder,
Jesus bought thee for His bride.
Sanctified by God the Father,
Built by Jesus Christ, the Son,
Tempered by the Holy Spirit,
Like the Holy Three in One.
God Himself has set the members
In His body all complete,
Organized by Jesus only,
Oh, the union pure and sweet!
Church of God, the angels marvel
At the music of thy song;
Earth and hell in terror tremble,
As thy army moves along.
Church of God, “beloved city,”
Thou art of celestial mold;
Lo! from God and out of heaven,
Came the city of pure gold.
Stones of jasper, clear as crystal
Is the building of thy wall;
And the Lamb, thy light forever,
Jesus, Jesus, all in all.
God’s own holiness within thee,
His own beauty on thy brow;
Glorified in His own image,
This thy wondrous portion now.
In thee dwells the Triune fullness,
Blessing all thy pilgrim days;
All around thee His salvation,
And before thee gates of praise.
Church of God, in heaven written;
Thine the risen life of Christ,
And the treasures to thee given,
Never, never can be priced.
Far above this world’s confusion,
Walking close by Jesus’ side,
Leaning on His loving bosom,
Is the Church, His chosen Bride.
—D. S. Warner