It is commonly believed by many people that there exists no special relationship between Christ and any one church. Most religious people believe that Christ has some sort of relationship with all churches. The Bible, however, does not support such a conclusion.
If you examine the Bible, you will note that Christ sustains a special relationship to his body, the church. The Bible refers to the church as Christ’s (Romans 16:16). When a person obeys God’s will through baptism he is simultaneously added to the church (Acts 2:38-47). Thus a very special relationship exists between the church described in the Bible and Christ.
What’s so important about relationship to Christ? Quite a bit actually! Relationship in the world is important. If you were related to J. Paul Getty, Howard Hughes, Warren Buffett or Williams H. Gates III, you would not question the importance of relationship, for if you were, you stand to inherit millions of dollars. If you were related to someone who possessed great power and authority, that relationship could be quite beneficial to you. Relationship, therefore, be it in money or in power, is of great importance in the world-how much more so, then is it a great value with regard to the Christ.
Open your Bible and begin reading in Ephesians 5:22 and continue reading through the chapter. After you have read these verses, you will note that the following aspects of the church’s relationship to Christ are emphasized. The church is —
I. The Bride of Christ. As you read through this section, you will quite obviously note that the Apostle Paul is making an analogy between husband and wife, and Christ and the church. In this sense the church is the bride of Christ (see also Romans 7:1-4; Revelation 19:6ff).
II. Saved by Christ – Paul, in Ephesians 5:22-23, teaches that Christ is the savior of the body (which is the church; Ephesians 1:22-23; Colossians 1:18, 24) and the head of the church. Christ saves those who are in his body (see Ephesians 1:3 for the blessings which are described as being in Christ). Christ’s purpose is salvation (Matthew 1:21; 18:11; Luke 19:10; Hebrews 5:8-9). It should come as no surprise then that Christ has purposed to save those obedient to him, those who are in his body.
III. Sanctified by Christ. – The church, according to Paul, is sanctified and cleansed by Christ by the washing of water by the word. Christ came for the purpose of sanctifying mankind, that is to make men holy and separate for a specific purpose (Hebrews 2:9ff; 9:13-14). To be sanctified and cleansed therefore, we must be “washed” of water by the word. This simply means to follow the dictates of God’s word to the point of being baptized into the body of Christ (Romans 6:1-4; Galatians 3:26-27) and remaining faithful to Christ. We are then sanctified, that is made holy, by the blood of Christ.
IV. Loved By Christ – God loves all people (John 3:16), but in a very special way God loves those who are obedient to his will (Romans 5:8ff). Those who have thus obeyed the will of Christ (Romans 6:17; 2 Thessalonians 1:7ff; Hebrews 5:8-9) have become members of the church for which Christ died. Jesus, then, loves his church (Ephesians 5:25).
V. Subject to Christ — To be in subjection to Christ means that we are to do the will of Christ (Matthew 7:21ff). Subjection entails (a) obedience (John 14:15; Hebrews 5:8-9), (b) humility (Philippians 2:1ff) and (c) respect (John 3:1). The church, because it is composed of people who want to do Christ will, is subject to Christ in all things (Colossians 3:17).
VI. The Body of Christ —The church, according to Paul, is the body of Christ (Ephesians 5:23). As men ought to love their own bodies and therefore their wives, so ought all Christians to love the church (Ephesians 5:25, 28ff). The head (Christ) needs us to do his will, and we, Christians, the body, need Christ, the head, to guide us in the way we ought to live. The body does what the head says. The body “holds up” the head. It supports it, respects it, and follows it. So should we support, respect, and follow the Christ. The church, then, is related to the Christ as a body is to the head.
VII. Purchased by Christ – Ephesians 5:5 says: “Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it.” The church, then, is purchased by Christ. When you go to purchase something at the store, you are usually only willing to pay what the object is worth and no more. You pay according to the value of the object purchased. Likewise, Christ gave THE price for the church; He gave his life, shedding his blood (Acts 20:28 informs us that the church was purchased by blood), so that we might obtain the redemption of our souls (Ephesians 1:7). The church, therefore, is of as great a value as is the blood of Christ. It was a costly purchase, but Christ knew the value of his church. He did not shed his precious blood for naught, He shed it for an institution equal in worth to his own blood. He did not pay too much for it. He did not pay too little for it…. He paid what it was worth. The church that Jesus died for, therefore, is very special to Christ.
VIII. Presented to Christ — Paul, in Ephesians 5:27, teaches us that the church will be presented to Christ being “a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that it should be holy and without blemish.” The church will be presented to Christ in such a condition after the world comes to a close. Revelation 19:6ff depicts the great marriage feast that will take place in heaven between the bride (the church) and Christ. On that day, all the dross will be purged, and the Lord church will be presented to Christ as a pure bride.
From the foregoing discussion, it is evident that the church under consideration in Ephesians 5 is special. It is special because of the relationship it sustains to Christ. The church is the bride of Christ. The church is saved by Christ. The church is sanctified and cleansed by Christ. The church is loved by Christ. The church is subject to Christ. The church is the body of Christ. The church is purchased by Christ. And finally, on the day of judgment, the church will be presented to Christ.
The relationship that exists between Christ and his church as expressed in Ephesians 5 is such that it could only apply to one body, one church, one Kingdom (Romans 12:4-5; 1 Corinthians 6:16; 10:17; 12:12-13, 20; Ephesians 2:16; 4:4; Colossians 3:15).
The scriptures teach that it applies to the church/Kingdom Jesus promised to build (Matthew 16:18-19) – the church planned from eternity (Ephesians 3:8-11), foretold by the prophets (Isaiah 2:1-4; Micah 4:1-2; Joel 2:28-32; Daniel 2:44), and established on the day of Pentecost following Christ’s death, burial and resurrection (Acts 2:1-47). By virtue of the specificity of the scores of passages that chronicle and describe his origin in great detail, it cannot apply to more than one body, let alone the hundreds of man-made religious institutions.
Dare we even think that the church which belongs to Christ is not important and special to our Lord and Savior? In light of the connections depicted in Ephesians 5, I should hope not.
The Story of Everybody, Somebody, Anybody, and Nobody.
Once upon a time there were four men named Everybody, Somebody, Anybody and Nobody. There was an important job to be done and Everybody was asked to do it. But Everybody was sure that Somebody would do it. Anybody could have done it. But Nobody did it. Somebody got angry about it, because it was Everybody’s job. Everybody thought Anybody could do it, and Nobody realized that Everybody wouldn’t do it. It ended up that Everybody blamed Somebody, and Nobody did the job that Anybody could have done in the first place. At last report, these four men were still arguing about the job they were supposed to do still wasn’t done.