Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
January 11, 1962
NUMBER 35, PAGE 2,11b,14a

The Church Of The Living God

Forrest D. Moyer, Sunnyvale, California

(Editor's note: This excellent article has been put into tract form, and may be ordered in any quantity from Forrest D. Moyer, Box 822 Sunnyvale, California. Prices are: $1.00 per dozen; $6:00 per hundred; and $50:00 per thousand.)

In this series of sermons on "Things Most Surely Believed," it has been our purpose to study some of the great foundation facts of the religion of Jesus Christ. These facts are set forth in the Holy Scriptures in plain, unmistakable language. We believe them because we believe the Bible. Our faith is based on the word of God. (Rom. 10:17) We could never have a complete discussion of either the word of God or the "things most surely believed" without giving consideration to the "church of the living God." When Paul wrote to his son Timothy, he said, "These thing write I unto thee, hoping to come unto thee shortly: but if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and the ground of the truth." (1 Tim. 3:14-15) Here Paul declares that the church is not the product of man nor is it to promote the work of human beings. It is the church of the Lord, and it exists to promote and uphold the truth, for it is the pillar and ground of the truth.

For countless generations men have spoken lightly of the church. Many have tried to destroy it while at the same time claiming to believe in Jesus Christ. They claim to be interested in religion and in the Bible, but yet they do not love the church. How often do you hear someone say, "I do not think that the church is necessary. I think we can be saved without it?" Before you make a statement like that, consider these pertinent facts:

1) First, Jesus Christ himself built the church. He said, "Upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." (Matt. 16:18)

2) Secondly, Jesus bought the church with his own blood. (Acts 20:28) Anything that required the blood of Christ cannot be spoken of lightly.

3) Third, Jesus loved the church and gave Himself for it. (Eph 5:25) When you do not love the church, you must part company with Jesus for he loved it to the extent that He sacrificed His very life for it.

4) Fourth, Jesus positively identified Himself with the church in Acts 9. He asked Saul the question. "Why persecutest thou me?" What was Saul doing? He was persecuting the church. Jesus said he was persecuting Him.

5) Fifth, Paul spoke of his greatest sin as being that of persecuting the church. (1 Cor. 15:9) When you begin to try to tear down the church, you become guilty of the same sin that Saul was. Thus, we can begin to see the importance of the church.

Perhaps one great reason why people have not recognized the value of the church is because they do not realize what it is. Let us understand that the church is not a material building. God does not dwell in temples made with hands. (Acts 17:24) The church of the living God is not a denomination or sect; it is not a religious organization built by some man or group of men. The word church simply means "called out." The church then is composed of those people who have been called out of sin into the salvation that Jesus came to give. To belittle the church is but to belittle the people who have been saved from sin by the blood of Jesus Christ.

We most surely believe that the church is absolutely essential to the purpose of God in this world. Why? Let us learn more concerning the church — what it is and why it exists in the world. By our doing so, we shall come to realize the importance of the church of the living God.

The Church Of The Living God Is The Product Of The Seed Of The Kingdom

In the parable of the sower Jesus said, "The seed is the word of God." (Luke 8:11) When seed is sown into good, fertile soil, it always produces after its kind. Turnip seed never did produce watermelons, and cotton seed never did produce wheat. Wheat seed never germinates into a variety of products. The word of God has this same characteristic. It produces after its kind in that it always bring forth one and only one product; it produces the kingdom or church of the living God. It produced it 1900 years ago and it produces it now. The Lord's church is simply the result of the word of God. Anything that is not produced by the Bible and the Bible alone is not the church of Christ. Teaching the doctrines of men will produce churches of men — churches that wear human names and follow human creeds. That is why there are so many denominations in the world today. Men have failed to plant the pure, unadulterated seed of the kingdom. The result has been a multitude of religious organizations that cannot be found in the Bible. But the church of the living God follows the word of God only and, therefore, is the same now as it was in the days of the apostles. This is why that in the church of Christ today we accept and teach only the Bible. Anything that the Bible teaches, we accept. Anything that is not authorized therein, we reject. It is just that simple, yet it is just that demanding. If every man who calls himself a preacher would preach the gospel without any additions or subtractions, there would be no divisions in the religious world. And there would be only one church — the church of the living God. This we surely believe.

II. The Church Of The Living God Is The House Of God

"These things write I unto thee....that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth." (1 Tim. 3:15) These were the words of the inspired apostle. What is the church? It is the house of God. Herein the family feature of the church is set forth. The house of God simply means the family of God (Cf. Heb. 11:7; 1 Cor. 1:16) God is the Father of this great family. Christians are God's children. "For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ." (Gal. 3:26-27) Thus, those who believe in Jesus Christ and who are baptized into Him are children of God — they are in God's family, the church. God has no children outside His family. This is a self-evident fact. All God's children are in His family. God's family is the church. Thus, all of God's children are in His church. There is no such thing as being a child of God outside the house of God which is the church. Do you not see the importance of the church? Can you speak lightly of it in view of these pertinent facts? Most certainly, you cannot!

III. The Church Is The Body Of Christ

When Paul wrote to the Ephesians, he stated: "And hath put all things under his feet and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all." (Eph. 1:22-23) This is repeated in Col. 1:18: "And he is the head of the body, the church." The church is the body of Christ. This shows the vast importance and significance of the church, for it is in this body that man is reconciled unto God. Listen to the voice of inspiration: "And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby." (Eph. 2:16) Where is man reconciled? Paul answers, "In one body." What body? He has already informed us: "The church is the body." Friends, language could not be plainer. We are reconciled to God in the body. The body is the church. Therefore, we are reconciled unto God in the church of the living God. There is no other place of reconciliation. If you are still outside the church, then you are not as yet reconciled to God. This clearly teaches the necessity of our being in the church in order to be saved.

This is repeated in the fifth chapter of Ephesians: "For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the savior of the body." (Eph. 5:23) What does Jesus save? This passage informs us that He is the savior of the body. Hence, I must be in that body to be saved. Do we need to reiterate that the body is the church? I believe that this has been implanted in our minds.

But there is another question that it would be well for us to ask: How do we get into the body? Again we shall allow the Holy Scriptures to answer. "For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body...." (1 Cor. 12:13) Baptism places us in the one body which, says Paul, is the church. Here we see the necessity of baptism. This is why Jesus said, "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved." (Mark 16:16) This is why the Spirit inspired Peter to say, "Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift at the Holy Ghost." (Acts 2:38) These people to whom Peter spoke "received his word and were baptized." (v. 14) God added them to the church. (v. 47) And he added daily to the church those that were being saved. To be in Christ's body, which is the church, we must be baptized for the remission of sins after believing and repenting. Are you in the body of Christ?

There is one other thing that we might observe in connection with this point. That has to do with the number of churches that are authorized by the Lord. Paul makes this indelibly clear in Ephesians 4:4 by saying, "There is one body." To the Corinthians he said, "There is but one body." (1 Cor. 12:20) And remember that the body is the church.

IV. The Church Is The Bride Of Christ

We read just a moment ago that "the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church." (Eph. 5:23) This teaches that the church is the wife of Christ. If this is not sufficient, let us look at Romans 7:4: "Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God." When you become a Christian, a member of the church, you are then married to Christ and are expected to bring forth fruit unto God.

Being married to Christ demands faithfulness to Him. Under the Old Testament dispensation God was married to Israel: "For I am married unto you...." (Jer. 3:14) But Israel forgot her husband! Hence God said: "Can a maid forget her ornaments or a bride her attire? yet my people have forgotten me days without number. Why trimmest thou thy way to seek love? therefore hast thou also taught the wicked ones thy ways. (Jer. 2:32-33) Therefore, one thing that the Lord will not tolerate is a gadding bride. The church becomes a gadding bride when she goes after man's ways rather than hewing the line straight to God's way. It should be our constant aim to keep the church of the Lord pure and free from the worldly entanglements that seek to destroy its very life. Jesus will someday present the church "to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish." (Eph. 5:27) Any spot or blemish or unfaithfulness of any kind will be removed that the church might be pure. The bride of Jesus Christ cannot gad about after strange doctrines and practices.

The church is the produce of the seed of the kingdom — the word of God. Are you conforming your life by the Holy Scriptures that you might be a part of His kingdom? The church is the house of God; it is God's family. Are you in the family of God? You can be a child of God by faith if you will be baptized into Him. (Gal. 3:26-27) The church is the body of Christ. It is in this body that we are reconciled. Are you in his body? The church is Christ's bride. Are you married to Christ? You can be a part of His bride by your obedience to the gospel. We urge you to believe with all your heart, to repent of your every sin, and to be baptized for the remission of sins today. If you will do so, God will add you to the church of the living God. It is the most important body in all the world. This is one of the "things most surely believed."