By David Willoughby
Many people have misconceptions of the church. It is a very misunderstood institution. The world often doesn’t feel it relates to the church. So the question I would like to raise is this: ‘What Is The Church?’ The only way to find out is to look at the Word of God. The Lord is the only one to go to when trying to find the definition of the church.
In 1 Corinthians 12:13, the church is identified as a body. In other words, the human body is symbolic of the church. The human body displays the wisdom of God. In the body God created, everything functions just right. It is the same way in God’s kingdom. When one person suffers, we all suffer. God has ordained it so that we all need each other. God has created the body with physical completeness. In this sense, if one of our parts is missing, we are handicapped. This is what Paul brought out in 1 Corinthians 12. We all need each other. God has the church as a body of believers and every member is a cell within that body. One of these days when God comes back, the body will be united with the head. So we see that the church is a body.
Some people see the church as a building. Hear me, my friend, the church is not just a collection of concrete blocks. Nor is the church just an organization. The U.P.C. is not the church. God’s church is not an organization. Rather, it is an organism. It is a body that lives and moves and breathes.
God has always had a church. You can burn a building down but you can’t burn the church down. The church is Christ’s body. So we have identified the church as not a building, but a body of believers. We should never get the attitude of, “us four and no more”, or “us two and that will do.” We do not, as Pentecostals, have to be isolated; we need to be insulated. Jesus ate with publicans and sinners. John 17 says Jesus prayed not to take the church out of the world but to keep the church in the world. This is the only way the church can be an influence upon the world, by rubbing shoulders with them. We never want to get isolated from other groups of people that need the fellowship. God is not a respecter of persons.
I Corinthians 3:9 states that God’s church is a building in a sense. Psalms 127:1 tells us that any building that has had a human hand or human architect will come down one of these days, but God’s building will weather the storm. God designed the blue print. We can have confidence in the Lord, His church will stand. buildings built by men such as Cyprus or Julius Ceasar or Agustus Ceasar, they fell because they were built around silver, gold, armies, men, and doctrines of men. but the church is built upon the solid foundation of Jesus Christ.
Some good advice for all of us is this: stick with the church. Even if you have to suffer a little bit the church is going to land us on the yonder shore someday soon.
II Corinthians 11:32 says the church is a chaste virgin. When Jesus went to Calvary, He opened up the way for the Gentiles. The Church is espoused to the gospel of Jesus Christ. The church is engaged to be married. As we see the Great Day approaching, our excitement should grow ever more intense, just as a bride or groom in the natural. They say that when you are engaged you must stay true to your lover. John said, ‘love not the world neither the things in the world.’ You can’t straddle the fence. You can’t marry the world and be married to God. No man can serve two masters. This is what happened to the church at Pergamus. Let us divorce ourselves from the world.
The true church is a church of great influence. In Matthew 5:13-16 we find that God has ordained His church, which is implanted in this world of wickedness, to be the salt of the earth. From this we understand several things: 1) Salt is a preservative. Salt has medical qualities. Salt has cleansing properties. Salt also has seasoning powers. All these things salt is capable of, and so does the church. The church has enhanced the condition of this world. But the question today must be asked; who is affecting who? Is the church affecting the world or is the world affecting the church. Are we blending in with our environment or are we taking a stand against our environment? Is the salt affecting the food or is the food affecting the salt? If you salt some food, when you take a bite, you taste the affect the salt had on the food. But the salt was not affected. This is how God wants us to be in this dark and dreary world. The Church still needs to maintain its integrity like salt. Hear me! Don’t let your environment affect you. If we blend in with the world, the Lord will not recognize us when He comes back for His church.
The Church is the light of the world. When Jesus was on the earth, He was the light. When Jesus left, it became night. So in other words, the church represents the moon reflecting the light of God or the glory of Jesus Christ. If it wasn’t for the church, the world would be in total darkness. The glory of the church is God’s glory in the church. We radiate Jesus Christ. The church is a city set on a hill. The church is conspicuous. God never intended for the church to be hid in a corner. He wants the church in the open. This is why you can tell a Christian when you see one. We are conspicuous. We stand out.
The presence of the church is what is holding back the wrath of the Lord. My friend, God is angry with the world. The church is the only thing that is holding the wrath of God back. When the church is gone this old earth is going to know it.
We must understand that the Church is indestructible and has a bright future. Jesus said, “Though art Peter and upon this rock I will build my church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it. he that doeth the will of God abideth forever.” The Church has a date with destiny. The future of the church is heaven and perfection. It will be a glorious church without spot or wrinkle. A spot is something foreign on the material, a thing that is noticeable. A wrinkle is an actual discrepancy in the material itself. The ony way to get the wrinkles out is letting the Lord get his spiritual iron out Rev. 19 tells us about the destiny of the church. Blessed is the man who is invited unto the marriage supper of the lamb. If we serve Jesus down here, the angels will serve us up there. If we honor the Lord down here, the Lord will honor us up there.
In closing, you can find room at the cross and you can find room in that great city which He spoke of in Rev. 22:1-5. The church is a heaven of rest. He bids you to come. Come now and be a part of this great and glorious church.