THE LORD'S CHURCH
Charles E. Burch
The Lord's church is the most glorious institution upon the face of the earth. It is the only institution upon the earth to which God adds the saved. It was purchased with the precious blood of Christ. The apostle Paul told the elders of Ephesus to: "Take heed unto yourselves, and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit hath made you bishops, to feed the church of the Lord which he purchased with his own blood" (Acts 20:28 ASV). This shows the importance of the church, as one considers the price paid by our Lord.
The church as God designed it is perfect. Man pollutes it when he brings into it things that our Lord did not authorize. Paul had a lot to say about the purity of which Christ commands. Notice these verses: "Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, that he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish" (Ephesians 5:25-27).
Again Paul wrote, “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” (Colossians 1:18). Notice what is said here: the body and the church are the same. The “He” in the above verse is Christ. Therefore, the church which He purchased is His spiritual body. Since the church is the “body” of Christ, we should realize how important it is to keep the church pure.
As we look at the Lord's church as revealed in the Bible, we find a number of things. It has a perfect organization: Christ is the head (Ephesians 1:22-23). Elders oversee the local congregation (Acts 20:28). Deacons serve the local congregation under the oversight of the elders (Acts 6:1-6; I Timothy 3:8-13). It reveals the perfect plan of salvation: One must hear the word of God (Romans 10:17). One must have faith or believe in Christ (Hebrews 11:6). One must repent (Acts 2:38; Luke 13:3, 5). One must confess Christ to be God's Son (Acts 8:37). One must be baptized into Christ for the remission or forgiveness of sin (Acts 2:38; Mark 16:15-16).
The problem comes and the church is blemished and spotted with sin when one deviates from what God authorized. Paul told the Ephesians elders, “For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.” (Acts 20:29-30). Paul was speaking of false teachers who would teach the doctrines of men instead of teaching the word of God. Jesus warned, “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves” (Matthew 7:15).
We must be constantly on guard against error which has a way of creeping in. We must: learn the truth, love the truth, live the truth and teach the truth. Only in so doing can we have hope of eternal life.