A Bedrock and A Body
The church is not a building or a place of worship; the church is the assembled people of God. It is a family of believers who are united in Christ as a spiritual organism- unified by a common bedrock of faith.
Christ’s church is a holy and royal priesthood, a people set apart by grace and decree – a chosen race for God’s glory, a temple indwelt by the Spirit of God, a household that all have the same heavenly Father, a blood-bought possession of Christ. The church of God shares one body, one Spirit, one faith, one baptism, and one Lord.
In Scripture, the word ‘ekklesia’ means a gathering of citizens – it’s an assembly or a meeting, but specifically it is used in the New Testament to mean an assembled Christian community; a congregation both local and universal. The church [ekklesia] is the assembled people of God who are believers in the gospel of Christ and who understand what it means to have a new life; being brought out of darkness and put into the visible light of the glory of God.
They are the called out ones, his adopted children, his elect, the remnant of humanity that the prophet Jeremiah spoke of when he said, “You shall be My people, And I will be your God….Behold,(the) days are coming,” declares the LORD, “when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, (a covenant) not like the covenant which I made with their fathers…, I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.
“They will not teach again, each man his neighbor and each man his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for they will all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them,” declares the LORD, “for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.” Jeremiah 30:22; 31:31-34
Throughout history, from the primitive church and early beginnings under intense Roman persecution to the turn of the century battles against rampant Pharisaical fundamentalists, the trail of corruption and division can be charted with ease. And whether we are dealing with wicked leadership and murderers or anti-Trinitarians and Judiazers, one thing stands as the grand corrective – the Word of God itself – the testament of God’s prophets and apostles delivered to the church once and for all. And so, when we investigate the schisms and factions from Demas to Rastafarianism, we see that the simple exit from Scripture is to blame. Deviations from what God has said lead the visible church astray.
Wherever the position, place, and prominence of the Word of God is less than absolutely preeminent and those who are supposed to hold fast to it have abandoned sound reasoning; the professing church will begin to fall into the devil’s trap.
Since he cannot destroy the church, Satan’s strategy consists of creating an enticing pit of ear-tickling teachings that appeal to vain desires of human weakness and pride -appeals made to power and prestige, money and wealth, ease and comfort.
His cry comes in pretty packages like, “Don’t talk about sin! Don’t talk about hell! Don’t talk about the blood or the wrath! Don’t talk about the need for repentance! Ease them into it. Ease them into it. Love, love. Love! No one can be offended by love. Forget about those old and dark days and reach for a table where there is room enough for all! Exclusivity alienates, don’t be so dogmatic!”
Muddying up the truth is the devil’s forte for it is much easier to die and suffocate while eating half-truths dipped in myths and lies than it is feed a flock open rat pellets. The trap’s pit is filled with doubt and indecision and lined with roads of endless opinions where to be certain of anything is to be misled and to be open to anything is to be enlightened.
It is a place that allows for invention, innovation, and philosophy to override Scriptural mandates and principle. A place where absolutes are mocked and godless soul-theories are coddled as long as they can be monogrammed with the name of Jesus. Feelings and emotive responses wire the trap and personal preference, prejudice, and experience test the text instead of it being the other way around. Subjectivity becomes the objective pulse and the jots and tittles turn into accents of liberty rather than anchors of assurance.
God’s promises become hopeful stories and the surety of a suffering Savior who completed all and who suffered all for my iniquities becomes a mere possible Jesus who roams the earth begging to be believed.
From Eden to glory the clarity and usefulness of Scripture is continually attacked and denigrated while the true church forever builds upon the unchanging truth of Holy writ and holds tight to the doctrine of Sola Scriptura.
It is to this end that we fight. It is our call. It is our duty. It is our joy.
As William Chillingworth once wrote – “I am fully assured that God does not, and therefore that men ought not require any more of any man than this, to believe the scripture to be God’s word, to endeavor to find the true sense of it, and to live according to it.” William Chillingworth, The Works of William Chillingworth: In Three Volumes, Vol. 2, pp.411