"And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My Church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it" (Matt. 16:18). Thus, we have the promise of our Lord to build a Church, a Church destined to become the greatest institution on the face of the earth. The Church was to be the world's greatest institution because it was to offer God's pardon to all people of all nationalities.

bulletThe Church of Christ was to be Universal.

It was not limited to one nation, color, or sex of people. But, all those who rightfully call upon the name of the Lord shall become a part of it. Many years before its establishment, Isaiah records in chapter 2, verses 2 and 3, these words: "Now it shall come to pass in the latter days [That] the mountain of the Lord's house Shall be established on the top of the mountains, And shall be exalted above the hills; And all nations shall flow to it. Many people shall come and say, 'Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, To the house of the God of Jacob; He will teach us His ways, And we shall walk in His paths.' For out of Zion shall go forth the law, And the word of the Lord from Jerusalem."

Another prophecy about the universality of the Church is found in Daniel 2:34-35, "You watched while a stone was cut out without hands, which struck the image on its feet of iron and clay, and broke them in pieces. Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver, and the gold were crushed together, and became like chaff from the summer threshing floors; the wind carried them away so that no trace of them was found. And the stone that struck the image became a great mountain and filled the whole earth."

From the above two prophecies, we can see that the Lord's Church was destined to become a universal body. All nations would flow unto it, and it would eventually fill the entire earth. Therefore, every person, without respect to nationality, color, sex, or financial standing, would be welcome within its boundaries. These points, of course, distinguish the Church from organizations that limit their memberships for one reason or another, and from Judaism that appealed only to the Jews. One of the chief reasons Jesus came was to break down any wall of separation so that all men could become one in Him. All inequities are to be abolished, for God is no respecter of persons. Obedience shall be the only test of loyalty. Those who obey shall be accepted without further restrictions.

bulletThe Church of Christ is a Divine Institution.

By this statement we mean divine as opposed to human. The reasons for its divinity are many. 

First of all, it is of divine origin. In Ephesians 3:10-11, we read, "To the intent that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the Church to the principalities and powers in the heavenly [places], according to the eternal purpose which He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord." The plans for the Church were of eternal origin, taken from the mind of God and executed by His Son--so different from the shallow schemes of man that have flooded the world with hundreds of religious bodies all claiming to be the one built by Christ.

Secondly, the Church is divine because it has a divine builder--Jesus Christ the Son of the Living God. According to His promise in Matthew 16:18, Christ built the Church (Acts 2), making it impossible for any manmade organization to lay claim to divinity. These human organizations, which exist in abundance, are the product of man and not of God. Many times they give themselves away by wearing some human designation, or even by boldly calling themselves by the name of their founder. Such practices make a mockery of divine authority.

Thirdly, the Church of our Lord has a divine head. Ephesians 5:23, "For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the Church; and He is the Savior of the body." The reader is also referred to Ephesians 1:21-22 and Colossians 1:18. All of these scriptures teach that Jesus rules over the Church as the authoritative head. In other words, He is the divine ruler, or lawmaker. All in the Church are subject to Him. Unlike the human denominations that are governed by boards of directors, committees, creeds, confessions of faith, disciplines, councils, and majority rule, the Church of Christ is governed by Christ and His Word. He is the universal head, and besides Him there is no other. He does not have a representative on earth as some would suggest but rules the Church today through His teachings, the Word of God.

Fourthly, and lastly, the Church has a divine mission, which distinguishes her from the human sectarian bodies existing in the world today. Her mission is one of evangelization, ministry, and benevolence. To add to or in any way change this mission is to bring divine disapproval. Human churches that operate in the fields of entertainment, money-making, society, domestic relations, etc., have perverted the true mission of the Church. Religion, with far too many people, has become a social thing. Subtract the social and entertaining features of religion, and many people would immediately lose interest. Hence, the excuse of modernism that such devices are necessary for a continuation of religion. With religion this might be true, but it is not true of Christianity. For years Christianity has survived without the aid of such innovations, and it shall continue to do so.

bulletThe Church of Christ is Glorious.

Ephesians 5:27, "That He might present her to Himself a glorious Church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish." The word "glorious" means held in honor, full of splendor, etc. And this definition aptly describes the Church. David in the long ago says, "Walk about Zion, And go all around her. Count her towers" (Psalm 48:12). To walk about spiritual Zion is one of the most interesting tours one can take. In such a walk, one is awed by the simplicity of her teachings and the power of the glorious message of salvation. The glorious beginning of the Church, attended with demonstrations of spiritual power is impressive. The glorious salvation that comes to fallen man also catches the attention of the viewer. One is immediately aware that all this is of tremendous cost, provided only by the shedding of the blood of Jesus. What a glorious and marvelous institution it is!! In comparison to human denominational and sectarian bodies, she outshines them as the sun does the moon. No wonder the Lord had concern for her welfare, requesting that we lead sober, godly, and righteous lives to safeguard her influence in this world.

bulletThe Church of Christ is a Saving Institution.

Salvation is the reason for the coming of Jesus. Had man not been hopelessly lost in sin, He never would have condescended. His blessed name was even indicative of His mission (Matthew 1:21). To seek and save the lost became the object of His every act; however, because of His death on the cross, it was impossible for him to continue in bodily form the work of salvation. Realizing He must soon return to the Father, He readied the apostles for the great work of converting the world. This work was to be done in the Church. Paul says in 1 Timothy 3:15, "But if I am delayed, [I] [write] so that you may know how you ought to conduct yourself in the house of God, which is the Church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth." From this scripture we see it is the duty of the Church to uphold the truth to the lost. And those who obey the truth, according to Acts 2:47, are added to the Church. We do not claim that the Church saves by itself. It is Christ who does the saving, but it is done in the Church. In Ephesians 5:23, Paul says of Christ, "He is the Savior of the body." Thus, if I am saved, I must get into the body. Frequently, I hear people talking about Christ being a personal savior. We believe that in a sense Christ is personal to every individual; however, we deny the assumption that He saves individuals as such. But rather, He saves us in the Church. Salvation is in Christ, and to be in Christ is to be in His Church.

bulletThe Church of Christ is Lasting.

We should never forget that permanence is the final test of all values. The fact that the Church is lasting should be of utmost importance to every person today. Practically everything with which we come in contact is fleeting and dying. Not so with the Church. She shall stand forever. The gates of hell shall not prevail against her. She cannot be touched by death, depreciation, or decay. Paul declares in Hebrews 12:28, "Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear." This kingdom cannot be moved. It is stable. Again, Daniel 2:44, "And in the days of these kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed; and the kingdom shall not be left to other people; it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever." My friend, the kingdom of Christ shall outlast all earthly kingdoms. It shall stand forever. May I encourage you to seek it diligently today. Where else can you find the permanence and promises offered in Jesus? No wonder the poet so fittingly wrote:

I love thy kingdom Lord,
the house of thine abode
The Church our blest redeemer saved
with His own precious blood
I love thy Church oh God,
her walls before thee stand
Dear as the apple of thine eye
and graven on thy hand.

God Bless the Church!

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