Vol.XIII No.III Pg.4
May 1976

The Lords Church

Robert F. Turner

When followers of Christ are likened unto a physical body, Christ is the head and the saints are the members of that body, the church (Eph. 1:22-23). All who are in Christ are, by this figure, considered members of His body. We ignore priorities if we say one becomes a saint by becoming a member of His body. The body figure describes certain characteristics of Christs followers — it does not tell us how to become followers, nor does it provide the means of becoming such.

The church is not the means of our redemption from sin, it is the result. The church does not save, it is the saved. The Christian life is lived in faithfulness to the LORD (Acts 11:20-23), not to the church. When we say one can not be saved without being in the church we mean that all who are saved become, by the same process, members of His universal church body.

What was Gods eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus? Paul says it was that the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel (Eph. 3:3-6; 8-11). Salvation from sin, in Christ, for whosoever will; that was Gods eternal purpose. The wisdom (and love, and mercy) of God is made known (demonstrated) by the product: Jews and Gentiles serving God together in the church.

What was to be established in the last days according to Isa. 2:, Dan. 2:, Mic. 4:, Joel 2:? The mountain of Jehovah was to be established — the rule or government of God in Christ. Kingdom (basileia) always refers to rule; then by extension to citizens, etc. Out of Zion shall go forth the law (instruction), and the word of Jehovah from Jerusalem. Those who came to the mountain, who followed the instructions of the King, were the fruit or result of the means of salvation, Jesus Christ. Thus, the church was established in Jerusalem.

The church is called the temple of God (1 Cor. 3:16-17), the bride of Christ (2 Cor. 11:2; Eph. 5:23-32), and other like terms which stress various characteristics of Gods people. It is the people who are under consideration, not some institutional concept of church apart from saints. Perhaps there is a sense in which God instituted church as He did marriage: by sanctioning and giving rules and regulations for all who enter this relationship; but neither marriage nor church exist apart from or before people so related.

We therefore reject the Catholic institutional concept of church as a society which is the means of redemption. They think of the New Testament as the product of the church; we think of the church as the product of the New Testament. Catholic Encyclopedia (V.111, p.752) says only by entering the Church can we participate in the redemption wrought for us by Christ. We say, only by participating in the redemption wrought for us by Christ can we enter the church. They say Incorporation with the Church can alone unite us to the family of the second Adam. We say we are born of water and spirit into the family, which is the church (Jn. 3:5; 1 Cor. 12:13; Eph. 2:19; Heb. 12:22-23). (continued next page)