Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
December 11, 1958
NUMBER 32, PAGE 8-9a

Christ And His Church

J. P. Lusby, Amarillo, Texas

"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. So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh, but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church. For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church." (Eph. 5:25-32).

Paul was speaking "concerning Christ and the hurch." He was pointing out the relationship between Christ and the church. He was declaring Christ's great love for the church. He loved it, and gave himself for it, said Paul. He died for it that he might sanctify it. To sanctify means to set apart. This sanctifying or setting apart took place at the cleansing. The cleansing occurred at the "washing of water by the word." When a man is washed in water according to the teaching of the word, he is cleansed and sanctified. Hence, Paul said to the Corinthians: "And such were some of you:" that is, they had been thieves, covetous, drunkards, etc.; "but ye are washed ,but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God." (1 Cor. 6:11). They were washed when they were baptized. Ananias said to Paul: "And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord." (Acts 22:16). When Paul was baptized according to the word of the Lord, as spoken by Ananias, he was washed — his sins were washed away. He was justified, because he was forgiven. He was sanctified, because he was now set apart to a life of holiness and service to God. All of this occurred at his baptism.

The church is made up of those individuals who have been washed in water according to the teaching of the word. That is, the word says: "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved." (Mk. 16:16). "Repent and be baptized for the remission of sins." (Acts 2:38). "Arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins." (Acts 22:16). When one is buried in baptism by the word — that is, by the instruction of the Word — he is washed, cleansed, sanctified, set apart to the service of God, and the Lord adds him to his church. (Acts 2:47). The Lord adds only those who have been thus washed, cleansed, and sanctified. Therefore, the church is made up of washed. cleansed, sanctified people. Hence, the church is sanctified and cleansed with the washing of water by the word. All of this was made possible by the death of Christ. and the process is outlined in the word. Consequently, Paul's statement: Christ "loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word." This was to the end 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."

It is regrettable that there are people who will fly inthe face of all this and say the church is nonessential. In spite of the fact that Christ loved the church and gave himself for it — died for it — numbers of people will say: "The church doesn't save, it is nonessential; you don't have to be a member of the church in order to be saved."

I received a letter which, in regard to some past sermons I have preached on Christ and His Church, reads: "I'd like to hear more along that smile line. Of course, I'm still not convinced that it takes baptism and the church to save one. I think just so one is a good moral person and minds his own business, reads his Bible, God will save him." This letter is but expressing the idea that numbers and numbers of people entertain. But where did they get such ideas? Not from reading God's word, but from listening to those preachers who cry one church is as good as another, and that one is saved first and can then join the church of his choice.

Ladies and gentlemen, such language is foreign to Holy Writ, it is unknown to the Book of God, and so man can find a statement that even hints at anything like that. Yet, preachers all over the country are teaching people that one does not have to be a member of the church to be saved, that it is a nonessential institution. Why — I appeal to your reason — why did Christ have to die? Why did he give himself up for the church? Why did he purchase it with his own blood? Why did he become the head of it and fill it with his Spirit if men can be saved without it as well as with it? Don't you see that frustrates the grace of God? For if righteousness comes without the church, then Christ is dead in vain; for he died for the church "that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word." But if man can be washed, cleansed, sanctified, justified, purefied and made holy without the church, then Christ is surely dead in vain.

The church for which Christ died is the greatest, grandest, most glorious institution this earth has ever known or shall ever know. In it are all the saved, all the redeemed. all those who have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Outside of this blood-purchased, heaven-born, world-wide institution there is no salvation.

If one man can be saved outside the church as well as within it, then of course two men can thus be saved. And if two men can be saved outside the church, two thousand, two million, the entire human family can, on the principle that "there is no respect of persons with God." (Rom. 2:11). Thus the church would be ruled out as absolutely nonessential. And we are again confronted with the question: "Why did Christ die for the church, purchase it with his blood, build it, become the head of it and fill it with his Spirit, if the human family can be saved without it. And echo comes ringing back, Why?

God placed the life of a fish in water, and if it is to enjoy "fish life" it must remain in the realm where God put it. Outside of water there is no fish life. Take it out of the water and it dies. God placed the life of man in the atmosphere. Put him in a vacuum and he will die. Outside of the atmosphere there is no human life. Even so, God placed the life of his child in the church, which is his family. Outside of the church, God's family, there is no spiritual life.

There can be no physical life until one is born into the family of his father. A man can have no spiritual life until he is born into the family of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth. Paul speaks of God's house, and calls it the "church of the living God." (1 Tim. 3:15). But a man's house is his family. The jailor and "all his house" were baptized. (Acts 16). No one thinks that the house in which the jailor dwelt was baptized, but "all his house" means all his family. "And the man Elkanah, and all his house, went up to offer unto the Lord the yearly sacrifice." (1 Sam. 1:21). Does that mean Elkanah was in the house moving business? Certainly not. But he and all his house, that is, all his family, went up to offer sacrifice. So, when the Bible speaks of the house of God, it means the family of God — and that family is the church.

Outside of God's family or church there is no spiritual life. God does not have children outside his family. It is not even complimentary of men to say they have children outside their families, much less of God. All of God's children are in God's family, which is the church.

In order to become a child in God's family, one must be born again, "born of water and of the Spirit." (Jno. 3:3-5). Christ was not speaking of two births, one of them physical and the other spiritual, as some affirm. One who has not been born physically simply is not. And a thing that is not cannot enter into anything. Christ was speaking of one birth — a rebirth. One who has been born physically must be "born again," that is, as Christ himself explains it, "born of water and the Spirit," or else "he cannot enter into the kingdom of God."

On Pentecost three thousand entered the kingdom, for they were saved and added by the Lord to his church. To say they did not enter the kingdom is to contend they were saved without being born again. But to admit they did enter the kingdom is to grant they were "born of water and the Spirit." From their experience we can learn what constitutes this birth. The record is in Acts. 2.

Peter, speaking as the Spirit gave him utterance, preached the gospel to them. They heard and believed. "What shall we do?" they asked. "Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins . . .," answered Peter. This was the Spirit's reply through the apostle. Three thousand obeyed. The Lord saved them and added them to the church. Thus they became citizens of that kingdom of which our Lord said one cannot enter except he "be born of water and the Spirit." They therefore must have been born "of water and the Spirit" when they, having believed the gospel and repented of their sins, were baptized as the Spirit through Peter directed them.

Neighbor, do you believe the gospel? If you do, why not obey it as did the people on Pentecost? If this you will do, the Lord will save you and add you to his church. You will then be a citizen of heaven's kingdom, a child in God's family.

Wonderful privilege!

Magnificent honor!

Glorious blessing!