The Church of the present dispensation of grace
Before we will see what is the Church we want to know what the original word Ekklesia means: it is a called out assembly. Believers or people who come together and they have a purpose. In the Bible we have a lot of examples of Ekklesia or Churches. An Ekklesia could also be political, social or religious. Some examples in the Bible of churches are: Acts 13:1: The church that was at Antioch. In Acts 2:47 and Acts 7:38 we read about the church at Jerusalem. In 1 Peter 5:13 we read about the church at Babylon. Another example of Ekklesia is written in Acts 19:39-41.
Now we come to the Church of this dispensation of grace wherein we live under as believers in Christ. This is the heavenly CHURCH. If Christ was not living than there would be no body of Christ. Outside the epistles of the apostle Paul we can’t find that the Bible mentioned about the body of Christ which is the CHURCH.
For this church we have found a lot of scriptures and we have to read them for ourselves: Romans 12:5, I Corinthians 10:16,17, I Corinthians 12:12,13, 27. Ephesians 1:22,23, 2:16, 3:6, 4:4,12, 5:30, Colossians 1:18,24, 2:17-19, 3:15.
The apostle Paul compares the Body of Christ, the Church, with the human body. In 1 Corinthians 12:12-27. We shall read some verses of this: For the body is not one member, but many. If the foot shall say, because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? Verses 14,15 and in verse 20 we read: But now are they many members yet but one body. The human body is used as an illustration for the spiritual relation that exists between the members of the Body of Christ and Christ as Head of the Body. In verse 22 we read: Nay, much more those members of the body , which seem to be more feeble are necessary.
What are the characteristics of the Body of Christ, the heavenly CHURCH?
First: Christ is the Head of the body or the church. We can read this in Ephesians 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 fullness of Him that filleth all in all. And in Ephesians 5:23 we read: For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church; and He is the savior of the body. And also in Ephesians 4:15 we can read about Christ Who is the head: But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into Him in all things, which is the head, even Christ. In Colossians 1:18 we read again: And He is the Head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things He might have the preeminence.
Second: The body of Christ, which is the CHURCH, exists about Jews and Gentiles in one body, in one true church!!! There is now in this dispensation of grace under which we live now no difference between Jews and Gentiles, they are for God on the same level. In Ephesians 2:16: And the He might reconcile both (Jews and Gentiles) unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby. In Ephesians 3:6 we read that we as non-Jews, Gentiles: That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ by the gospel!!!!
Third: People became members of His body, which is the church, through the Holy Spirit which baptizes us into the body of Christ. We see it’s the work or operation of God!!!! That’s very good news! We become only members of this heavenly Church at the moment we accept Christ as our Savior! At that same time the Holy Spirit baptizes us in the body of Christ. We read this in I Corinthians 12:13: For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the Baptizer! In Acts 2 the Lord Jesus Christ was the Baptizer! Scripture………..Now it is the Holy Spirit!!!! In Galatians 3:27 we read : For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.”
Fourth: The body of Christ, the heavenly Church, is an organism, not an organization. The body of Christ is not a local Church which is an organization. It is an invisible spiritual organism. The members of this CHURCH are believers who are saved through Jesus Christ., all true believers. We read Ephesians 4:3,4: “Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling”.
The apostle Paul was the first man in the body of Christ which is the church. In I Timothy 1: 15,16 we read: “This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief. Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on Him to everlasting”. The apostle Paul was thus the first man in the body of Christ for a pattern, an example to follow!!!! Before this he was a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: but I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief I Timothy 1:13. Paul persecuted the church at Jerusalem, under his rebellion against Christ many believers of that church were persecuted and put to death. On the way to Damascus Paul was saved by grace alone, through grace alone by Christ alone!!!! And so are we as believers, members of the body of Christ!!!! Paul was a Jew and Roman by birth!!!! That’s why he is the first representative person in the body of Christ , because we have earlier learned in this study that the body of Christ consists about Jews and Gentiles. In Acts 22:28 we read that the apostle Paul was a Roman by birth: And the chief captain answered, With a great sum obtained I this freedom. And Paul said, But I was free born. In 2 Corinthians 11:22: Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they the seed of Abraham? So am I. So Paul was a Hebrew and Gentile in one man!!!! Paul was a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee, we read this in Acts 23:6!
As members of the body of Christ are we ambassadors for Christ. We represent Christ on earth with the gospel of the grace of God Acts 20:24. We read 2 Corinthians 5:20,21: Now we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God. For He hath made Him to be sin for us, Who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him. Now at this moment we have the day of grace, we live under the dispensation or administration of grace and now it is the day of salvation 2 Corinthians 6:2!!!! We don’t know how long this administration of grace will continue. Every day now is the day of salvation. People can now believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and accept Him as their Savior. Tomorrow this dispensation of grace can be over when the Lord Jesus Christ will come for His Church, the body of Christ. That is our hope! Lets read Philippians 3:20: “For our conversation (citizenship) is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, Titus 2:13, 1 Corinthians 15:51-54, Ephesians 4:4 speak also about our hope and there is one hope that we will meet the Lord in the air and that He will take us to heaven because we belong to heaven! Till that time may the Lord use us as ambassadors for Him to preach the gospel of the grace of God to people Acts 20:24 as our apostle Paul did whole his life till his death at Rome and that we say with him:”I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day; and not to me only, but unto all them also that love His appearing! 2 Timothy 4:7,8!!!!