God, our heavenly Father is after a people who live for one purpose – His ultimate passion. These are people of faith who do not feel that they are special or elite in any sense. They understand that without Jesus they are nothing and can accomplish nothing of any eternal significance. However, these people do believe and stand in a strong faith that forms a solid foundation for all that they do. These people form the Church of Jesus Christ.
Many today are simply cultural Christians. They have a head knowledge of the Gospel but it has not touched their heart. Their lives have not been impacted by the life-changing power of the Spirit. They live life from their soul realm and do not walk in the Spirit. The same was true in Paul the apostle’s day. So, in 2 Corinthians 13:5 Paul talks about believers testing themselves to see if they really are in the faith… really born again.
Of course, if they are cultural Christians and have not had a conversion experience they are not members of the Church. Those who are members of the Church have made Jesus Lord and not just Saviour. The have encountered Jesus and had a life-changing experience of His love. And, He is Head of the Church that is made up of those who are truly born again. It is an amazing Church.
The Lord Jesus Christ is multi-splendid in His awe and beauty. He is so vast that one image or title cannot adequately represent Him. Consider the many images and titles that Scripture employs in its attempt to describe Christ: Son of God. King of kings. Prince of peace. Heavenly bridegroom. Lord. Master. Saviour. Lamb of God. Bright and Morning Star. Good Shepherd. Great High Priest. Light of the world. Root of David. The Righteous Branch … and the list goes on.
The Church is inseparable from Christ. As a result, the Church is also multi-splendid in her awe and beauty. Like her Lord, the Church is too rich to be defined. She is too vast to be depicted by one image. For this reason the New Testament paints fourteen different images to present the Church.
I would like to take the next few blogs to examine briefly each image. And, please feel free to compare your local church to what the Bible states regarding the Church. Ponder the question: “Does my church fit the image that the New Testament paints for the Church?”
To start with we need to note that all these images have two key elements in common:
1> Every image is intensely corporate. All of them teach us that the church is a close-knit, intimate community of people. Often, we are, by contrast, profoundly individualistic. The early Church embodied a togetherness-in-community. Each image makes this truth abundantly clear.
2> Each image teaches us that Jesus Christ, and not a human being, is the head, the leader, and the glue that cements the members of the church together.
All fourteen Bible images of the Church give us insight into the anatomy of the Church. They show us how her DNA naturally expresses itself in the earth. So, let’s jump in and hopefully by the time we are finished all fourteen images of the Church we will have a fresh understanding of the vastness of the Church that Jesus is building.