Thursday, May 04, 2017

Christ the Head - The Sustainer of the Church

Days portion for reading – Ephesians 4:1-16

Christ the Head – The Sustainer of the Church – Eph. 4:15

In Ephesians, Eph 1:22, 23, we discovered that ‘Christ is head over all things to the church, which is his body’.

In this post we are explaining why Christ cares and provides for the Church. But before we get into that I need to explain what I mean when I use the word church.

There are two ways in which the word church is used in the New Testament. The most obvious is that it describes a group of Christian believers who meet together, Matt. 18:17, Acts 5:11, 1 Cor. 1.2. So you might be in fellowship in a church in New York or in Liverpool, England. You might relocate and so leave the church you meet with and start to meet with a church in another area. Sadly, many Christians are not in fellowship in a local church. They miss out on a lot of blessing but that doesn’t mean that they are not saved.

The other use of the word church is that of the Dispensational Church, this is often also described as 'the church, which is his body.' Eph. 1. 22,34. Every Christian believer is in this church and some of the church is on earth and some of it is already in heaven. You automatically become part of the Dispensational Church the moment you get saved. This church started on the Day of Pentecost (as described in Acts 2) and it will be complete when the Lord Jesus comes back to take the church to heaven (see 1 Thess 4, John  14 etc).

In Ephesians Paul is not focusing so much on the local church but on the Dispensational Church. So, to recap, every believer is in the Dispensational Church but not every believer is in a local church. The Dispensational Church is the collection of all believers who have ever lived; that is from the commencement of the Church on the Day of Pentecost until the Lord returns to take those who are ‘in Christ’ to heaven at the event that we have come to know as ‘the rapture,’ 1 Thess. 4. The truth we are looking at today teaches us that Christ as the head of the church has done everything possible to ensure that the Church grows.

A lot of the truth in this letter is about the Lord Jesus’ relationship to the church. The emphasis is on the fact that the church is a body and that as people grow from infancy to adulthood so the church commenced on the day of Pentecost in it’s infancy and is growing until one day it will be a full grown adult, Eph 4:13.

When we think about our physical growth we are aware that we need food, exercise, rest and a safe and secure environment to grow into mature and well adjusted adults. The quality of the food is important, periods of activity and exercise are essential as well periods of rest. A safe and secure environment will make it easier to develop properly. The responsibility for all of this is normally entrusted to our parents. The parallel provision for the church is stated in Ephesians chapter four verse 15 and 16 where the Lord Jesus provides everything that is needed for the growth of the church.

The Lord Jesus as ‘head’ has given gifts to the church so that we are well fed which should result in our growth and development, Eph. 4:11. The gifts in this passage are the men God has given to equip God’s people to serve him so that the ‘body of Christ’ will grow. The church as it grows is growing up into (unto) Christ, Eph. 4:15. This means that the Lord Jesus Christ is the reason why the church is growing and he is the object and purpose of its growth. Just as in our physical growth we develop the features of a mature man or woman so the church as it grows is becoming more and more like the Lord Jesus (the perfect man – Eph 4:13). This should be true of every believer individually but even where it not true now it will be true when, in the future, the church is complete and we, at the rapture, shall be changed into the likeness of the Lord Jesus, Phil 3:21, 2 Cor 3:18.

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