Bella Vista Church of Christ

LIFELINES

08/21/2019

Randall Caselman

 

Church in the Mind of God

"You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people

for God's own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies

of Him who called us out of darkness into His marvelous light."

 

  His Ecclesia. Church in the New Testament is most often a translation of the Greek "ecclesia," meaning an assembly, an assembly set apart for a specific purpose. When a Jew of old heard the word ecclesia, his mind naturally went to Israel. They saw themselves as the called out, selected, set apart, people of God. They understood that they were called out, set apart, assembled for God's purpose and use, His chosen ones, holy ones, His community, kingdom. So, the church is a community of obedient believers who have responded to God's call to separate themselves from the world; those who would walk in the light of truth; to be a priesthood of different, holy, peculiar people; those set apart for His purpose, His Divine function.

 

  The Body of Christ. Ephesians 1.22 " And God placed all things under His feet and appointed Him to be head over everything for the church..." Colossians 1.18, speaking of Christ: "He is the head of the body, the church... so that in everything He might have the supremacy."  These verses tell us that if we are a part of the church, Jesus must control our lives in every arena. He is to be the Lord and King. So, who has the supreme authority in my life and yours? Do we act and react according to our own wishes or His?

 

  His Family. Paul is found saying: "I am writing you these instructions so that you will know how people ought to conduct themselves in God's household, in God's family, which is the church of the living God."  Paul's prayer for the church in Ephesus contains these words: "I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named." God's family includes the saved in heaven and on earth.

 

  His Kingdom. Perhaps the most used metaphor for God's people is kingdom. Over a hundred-fifty times, the New Testament refers to His people as a kingdom. The Old Testament prophets spoke of a kingdom coming. Daniel foretold of a time when God would set up a kingdom that would engulf all people, all kingdoms of the earth. John the baptizer came proclaiming "prepare for the kingdom is at hand." Jesus told Peter that He would build His church and would give Peter the keys to the kingdom, seemingly using the words interchangeably. Mark 9.1 has Jesus saying to His disciples: "some among you will not taste death until you see the kingdom come with power." Revelation 1. 6 & 7 has John writing to the Seven Churches in Asia, saying "He (Jesus Christ) has made us to be a kingdom of priests to God the Father." Again, when we think of a kingdom, it reminds us that someone must be king, must be in authority, that's Jesus.

 

  A Vineyard and Field. In Matthew chapter thirteen, Jesus speaks of the kingdom in terms of being a field where a farmer went to sow. In Matthew chapters twenty and twenty-one Jesus tells two parables about the kingdom of heaven, the church, being a vineyard where sons and servants were employed. In the Gospel of John, Jesus pictures Himself as the Vine, His Father as the Gardener. With these metaphors, we learn that the kingdom (Church) is a place of work. This concept is supported by: Ephesians 2.10: "We are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." Ephesians 4.12 says God prepares His people for "works of service." Titus 2.14 tells us that we, as God's grace recipients, are to be "zealous, anxious, to do good works, good deeds." Interesting that in the letters to the Seven Churches, the word "works" appears twelve times in our King James. Revelation ends by saying twice that we will be judged by our "works." First Corinthians chapter fifteen ends with words to the effect that "our work in the Lord is not in vain." Indeed, we are set apart for His divine function.

 

  Let's close our thoughts with questions: How important is it to love Jesus? How important is it to love the church? Can we love Jesus without loving His body, His family, His kingdom, His called out holy possession?

 

—RANDALL CASELMAN