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Just what is the Church?

Jesus Christ said: "I will build my Church."
What IS that Church — human organization, or spiritual organism?
Of whom composed? How does one become a member?
Does it have a divine Commission? — and if so,
WHAT? — and HOW carried out?
By organization, or by individuals acting independently?


MANY ARE CONFUSED about the nature of the Church founded by Jesus Christ. How shall we know? WHO or WHAT is the AUTHORITY to give us the right answer?

It was Jesus Christ who said, "I will build my Church." He is the "Won)" of God (John 1:1-3) in person — the Spokesman. The Bible is the Word of God in writing — the Maker's Instruction Book for mankind. The Bible, therefore, is the Authority.


HOW One Becomes a Member

The first place the word "church" is used following the inception of that Church (Pentecost, 31 A.D.) is Acts 2:47: "And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved."

This immediately gives insight into the means by which one enters the Church as a member. God adds each one. It is God who puts each one into the Church as a member.

Again, "For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body" (I Cor. 12:13). The word "baptized" means immersed — put into. So, again, it is GOD who puts one into His Church.

And How? By His Spirit! When God bestows within one His Holy Spirit, that puts the believer into the Church.

So note it well! One cannot enter the true Church by putting himself in — by "joining." One may join a social club, a sports team, or a secular group — but NOT the Church of God. Incidentally, is it not significant that so many of this world's "churches" have become, virtually, just social clubs?

Notice, too, the Church is here referred to as "one body." In several passages the Church is referred to as "the body of Christ." I Corinthians 12:12 says: "For as the body is one, and hath many members. . . ."

How is the Church "the Body of Christ"? Few understand.

Here is the explanation.


Jesus Started the Work of God

God sent Jesus into the world to start the Work of God. When Jesus was twelve years old, His parents, returning to Nazareth from attending the Passover at Jerusalem, discovered the child was not among the company. Returning to Jerusalem, "they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them, and asking them questions. And all that heard him were astonished at his understanding and answers." And when His parents saw Him, "they were amazed: and his mother said unto him, Son, why hast thou thus dealt with us? . . . And he said unto them . . . wist ye not that I must be about my Father's business?" (Luke 2:40-49)

What was His Father's business — what is the Work of God?

God sent His Son Jesus into the world in the human flesh as a Messenger with a Message. He was the Messenger of the Covenant — the NEW Covenant, as foretold in Malachi 3:1.

And what was that Message? John the Baptist was to prepare the way before Him (Mal. 3:1). Also His Message was NEWS — GOOD news — advance good news ("gospel" means good news) of the future.

So we read: "The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God; As it is written in the prophets, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare the way before thee. . . . Now, after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of THE KINGDOM OF GOD" (Mark 1:1, 2, 14).

How did Jesus start the Work of God?

1) By proclaiming Good News of the coming KINGDOM OF GOD.

2) By calling and teaching His disciples the same Message.

Notice: "Then Jesus called his twelve disciples together, and gave them power and authority over all devils [demons], and to cure diseases. And he sent them to preach the kingdom of God . . ." (Luke 9:1-2).


The Divine Commission

What is the PURPOSE of the Church — its divine Commission? To proclaim this Gospel as a witness to the world. In other words, to carry on the WORK of God, which Jesus, in person, started.

After His resurrection, He gave His disciples this Commission: "Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature" (Mark 16:15). The Commission to the Church, then, is to carry on the Father's business — to proclaim the Message of the NEW Covenant that God sent into the world by His Son and Messenger, Jesus.

Jesus gave His life for us, but He ROSE from the dead, and right now TODAY He is the living Jesus Christ. And His Commission for our day is: "And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end [of this age] come" (Matt. 24:14).


How the "Body of Christ"

The twelve disciples became the twelve original apostles. But HOW/ did they, with the other disciples, become "the BODY of Christ"?

While Jesus was starting the Work of God, He said, "I can of mine own self do nothing," and again, "The Son can do nothing of himself," and again, ". . . but the Father that dwelleth in me he doeth the works."

It was the power of God's Holy Spirit, dwelling in His individual human body, doing THE WORK OF GOD.

Without this same Spirit dwelling in them, His disciples would be utterly impotent. The very night before His crucifixion He said to them: "As the branch [of a grapevine] cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches . . . without me ye can do nothing" (John 15:4, 5). It is the sap flowing from the vine into the branch that produces grapes. It is the Spirit of God and of the living Christ, flowing into the collective Body that is the Church that produces the results.

After His resurrection, just before ascending to God's throne in heaven, Jesus commanded these apostles: ". . . that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father . . ." — that is, for the Holy Spirit, the same power that did the Work of God in Jesus' human body. And again, "But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Spirit is come upon you" (Acts 1:4, 8).

On the day of Pentecost, 31 A.D., this POWER of God did come and enter into the COLLECTIVE BODY — the Church — that now was to carry on the Work of God.


The Head of God's Church

When Jesus ascended to the throne of God (the Father of the divine creating-ruling-governing Family) in heaven, He became the Head of the Church. Notice Eph. 1:22, 23: "And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, which is his body."

The CHURCH is composed of those who are the begotten CHILDREN OF GOD — of the FATHER of the divine Family. One becomes a begotten SON of God upon receiving within him the Holy Spirit of God.

This Spirit comes from the very Per. son of God — it is, first of all, the impregnating LIFE of God — divine, eternal, ever-living LIFE. As the physical sperm cell from the body of a human father begets a human embryo that develops into a fetus and later is born a human child, so the Spirit of God begets us into a state by which we are called, even now in this life, sons of God (I John 3:2).


Of What Composed

And thus it is that the CHURCH is composed of those who are the children of God. That is why the CHURCH is the Church of GOD, even as the Old Testament Church was called "the congregation of Israel" — the human children of Israel.

That is why, also, one CANNOT PUT HIMSELF into the Church by "deciding to JOIN." When he becomes a son of God, by having and being led by the Spirit of God (Rom. 8:14), then God has PUT HIM INTO the Church by begetting him as a son of God.

"Joining" a group that calls itself a church — having one's name on the membership roll of some group calling itself a church — does not make one in true fact a member of THE Church Jesus founded. Here is positive proof: "But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his" (Romans 8:9).

I have shown that it is the living Christ who puts members into His Church — and it is done BY the Holy Spirit. Notice, now, the conditions for receiving God's Spirit — Acts 2:38: "Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." This is speaking of being baptized in water — after which they shall receive the Holy Spirit, which, in turn, baptizes — puts them into — the Church.

Those who were so baptized on that day of Pentecost did receive God's Holy Spirit, and DID thereupon become the Church, and TO THEM, God "added to the church daily" (Acts 2:47).


The FOUNDATION of the Church

Notice, now, the FOUNDATION upon which the Church is built. To the converts at Ephesus, who had been Gen- tiles, Paul was inspired to write: "Now therefore, ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens [of a GOVERNMENT] with the saints, and of the household [FAMILY] of God; and are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone" (Eph. 2:19-20).

Thus you see how the one and only true CHURCH is NOT an ORGANIZATION OF MEN, but a SPIRITUAL ORGANISM.

Yet that fact does not preclude organization.


Is the Church Organized?

But did Christ, the HEAD of the Church, ORGANIZE that Church? Does it have a definite form of organization?

Indeed He did — and indeed it has!

First of all, the true Church of God is a spiritual organism. It is Not a human organization. This spiritual organism is the "Body of Christ" existing for the PURPOSE of carrying on THE WORK OF GOD.

The resurrected, eternally living Jesus Christ is the HEAD of the Church. The very fact the Church has a Head implies organization. The living Christ directs, leads, inspires, and blesses the Church in doing God's Work.

But it is a BIG, WORLDWIDE WORK. If every individual in it goes out alone, independently, trying to carry out the entire divine Commission in whatever way he sees fit, we shall have confusion, a house divided against itself — and it could not stand.


Even Nature Is Organized

God is CREATOR. Everything God has created in nature is ORGANIZED. Take a sturdy, beautiful oak tree. It has a root system in the ground. It has a main trunk. It has major branches joining to that trunk, smaller branches joined to them, still smaller branches joined to each minor branch, and finally the twigs joined to the smallest branches. But they are all joined together as a system.

Jesus used the example of the vine. He is the Vine . . . we the branches. Unless we are joined systematically to the Vine, we can produce NOTHING. In a grape vine, there is ORDER — SYSTEM — organization.

The whole WORK OF GOD functions toward the restoration of what has been taken away from the earth — the GOVERNMENT OF GOD. The Kingdom of God IS that government. That government is an ORGANIZED government.

God's form of government is government from the top down. God the Father is the extreme top. Under Him is the living Christ, administering God's Government as God directs.