Let’s continue our look at the different pictures used in the New Testament to describe the Church – what the Church is and the work that the Church is called to accomplish for it’s head, Jesus Christ.
5> An Army
See: Ephesians 6:10-20; Colossians 1:13; Revelation 19:19
As followers and disciples of Christ, we are in a war against God’s enemy. When you were saved you were immediately removed from the domaine of darkness and firmly planted in the Kingdom of God (Colossians 1:13). You immediately became part of God’s army that is waging war with the devil and his demons. The war has been going on since the days of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. It is a war for the souls of people.
But that war is fought by a corporate army. The armour described in Ephesians 6 is put on the Church, it is not given to an individual. We are soldiers in God’s army, and Jesus Christ is our Captain, Commander, and Chief. Spiritual warfare is a corporate exercise. The weight of it belongs on the shoulders of the Church, not the individual soldiers.
The Church has been given spiritual authority to do the work that Jesus came to do. We are to complete His work of telling every human being of the love of God and the offer of forgiveness and salvation through Jesus’s death and resurrection. Spiritual authority is based on growth in spiritual life. The more maturity in spiritual life that a church experiences, the more spiritual authority the church wields in the war we are called to fight.
Ephesians 6:10-20 “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armour of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.”
So, as you look at your local church … Do the members of your church see themselves as part of one army that is growing in spiritual life and understanding. In practical ways is your local church a growing part of the worldwide army of God? Does your church understand that true spiritual authority is linked closely to growth in things of the spirit and in the spiritual life of the local church? In your church do they view spiritual warfare as an individualistic or a corporate call? Is the church making an impact on invisible realms in the heavenlies?
6> A Holy Priesthood
See: 2 Corinthians 5:18, 20; 1 Peter 2; Revelation 1; Revelation 5
Jesus Christ is our Great High Priest, and we are priests unto God through Him. This truth was rediscovered by Martin Luther at the same time he had the revelation from Ephesians 2 that we are saved by grace through faith and not by good works. However, although the first discovery brought about he Reformation, the second truth was not embraced and generally was lost once again. However, in the Kingdom today the Holy Spirit is revealing this truth once again.
Everyone is a minister or a priest unto God. As priests, we minister the the Lord at any moment of the day. We function as ministers and servants in the church’s corporate gatherings. But, we are also called to minister daily in the world in which we live, work, and play. In the Bible we are called “ministers of reconciliation” and ambassadors of the Kingdom.” We are to be building relationships with those who do not have a personal relationship with Jesus and as opportunity arises within that relationship we are to share the love of God as found only in and through Jesus Christ. We are to share the Gospel of the Kingdom (Matthew 24:14).
2 Corinthians 5:18 “All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation…”
2 Corinthians 5:20 “Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.”
So, as you look at your local church… Do the members of the assembly function in the meetings of the church? And, do they reach out on a regular basis as ambassadors of the Kingdom and ministers of reconciliation sharing the Gospel of the Kingdom during the week?