What is the church all about? In many ways each congregation is unique. What their interest are, and what they are involved in has a tremendous amount to do with where they are and the makeup of the congregation. When preachers move from one church to another they often make the mistake of trying to establish the same ministries in the new place that worked successfully in the old one. It seldom works. In each church one must look at the interest and energy of that body and build ministries that fit the group.
But there is one thing that should fit comfortably at the heart of every church. In the Book of Ephesians Paul’s focus is on the church that belongs to Christ. He gives the fullest description of the church to be found anywhere in the Bible. His thesis is given in chapter one and verse three. “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.” Physical blessings are there for everyone. God sends the rain, the sunshine, the clouds and the storms on all alike. But God’s spiritual blessings are only available “IN CHRIST”. He proceeds to list many of those blessings as being chosen in him, adopted in him, accepted in him, redeemed from sin in him and forgiven of sins in him. God’s plan is to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ (Ephesians 1:10)
Against that background Paul makes the following statement about the church that belongs to Christ: “And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.” (Ephesians 1:22-23)
Do you ever talk about someone being full of something? We might say a child is full of mischief or even full of himself or herself. We might say one is full of pride, or jealousy, or even deceit.
When you think of the church that belongs to Christ it is to be full of Christ. In Colossians 2:9-10 Paul wrote “For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and you have been given fullness in Christ who is the head over every power and authority.” The fullness of deity was in Christ even when he was in the body on this earth. We have fullness in Christ and the fullness of the church is Christ.
If you forget about the chapter breaks in the Book of Ephesians and read it like Paul wrote it to begin with, the next paragraph is about how far we are from God and how much we need his grace to be saved. “As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts.” When you picture people as dead in sin, living in disobedience and following their cravings it is obvious their opinions cannot be the standard or guide for the church if the church is to be a blessing to God and a rescue team for mankind. No wonder Paul would say, “I determined to know nothing among you but Jesus Christ and him crucified.”
Christ came into the world as the object of God’s grace and as the medium through which that grace would be offered to all through their personal faith in him. (Ephesians 2:8-9)
The Book of Ephesians fills out the full meaning of the church being the fullness of Christ in the following chapters. I want to take a look at each of the points in some detail in further posts. But here I’ll list the applications Paul gave under God’s guidance.
When Christ is the fullness of the church he tears down the walls of separation between people such as Jews and Gentiles. “In Christ there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave or free, male or female. But you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:28)
The primary function of the church is to proclaim the multicolored wisdom of God not only to the world but even to angelic beings surrounding us. The power to do so is in God who can do exceedingly abundantly above all we ask or even think. (Ephesians 3:9-10; 20-21)
The church is to be working for unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace all the time. The unity is built on the foundation of there being one body, one Spirit as you are called in one hope of your calling, one Lord, one faith and one baptism. There is one God the Father who is over all, through all and in all. This unity is developed by each person doing the job God has given them and leaders helping each member to grow up in Christ.
When the fullness of the Christ is in the church it leads to the church being like a bride to the bridegroom. Love for Christ bring submission to his will in everything. He is constantly working in the church to set it apart and cleanse it by the washing of water by the word to present to himself as a glorious church without spot or wrinkle or any such thing. (Ephesians 5:21-36)
When the fullness of Christ is in the church the church will be strong in the Lord, armed to fight against sin and Satan and accomplish the mission given by God. (Ephesians 6:10-17)
Think of the church you are part of. What is it full of? If the primary focus of any church isn’t on Jesus Christ and his will it isn’t the church God planned for. Let’s make it our goal to put Christ back in the proper place in the church.