Questions and opinions as to what a New Testament church is, and where it or one may be found are unlimited, and in the main, unanswered. It is my sincere desire, hope, and prayer to God, that I may be enabled by the Holy Spirit through the medium of this book to Biblically answer some of these questions and allay some erroneous opinions which now pervade the far greater part of the ecclesiastical landscape.
Two of the glorious truths clearly, forcibly, and insuperably stated in the above text (Acts 20:28), are:
1. Whatever a New Testament church may be, it is bought with a price.
2. And that price is the blood of God. “The blood of God” is an unmitigable reference to the blood of Christ, Who, though born of a woman, was the world’s only Divine man. “… God was manifest in the flesh …” (I Timothy 3:16), and in His flesh He purchased the church with His own blood. Every effort to devalue the price of the church, is an insidious attempt to diminish Christ’s absolute and indivisible Headship over His church, and it is at the same time a satanic effort to lessen the sinfulness of sin, and to leave man in his inextricable state of condemnation.
All for whom the blood of Christ was vicariously shed, will be in the kingdom of God. The Kingdom of God will be fully and forever manifested at the second coming of Christ (Matthew 25:34), but until that time the number of persons and their positions in the kingdom will remain a mystery (Matthew 20:20-23). All regenerate persons are “the children of the kingdom” (Matthew 13:38), but all the regenerate are not in the church, nor shall they ever be. The kingdom which is a mystery, and the church which is not a mystery are now contemporary. Paul, the apostle to the Gentiles lifted the cloud of mystery with which the New Testament church in its infancy was shrouded, and revealed that the church would primarily consist of Gentile believers. And, that the Gentiles would be fellow members, and fellow participants with the Jews, in the blessings and responsibility of the church (Ephesians 3:1-12).
The church is a part of the kingdom of God, even as Washington, D.C. is a part of the United States. The church is within the kingdom of God, and is a part of the kingdom, but the kingdom is not de facto a part of the church, even though representatively in the church. The church is the Lord’s governmental arm or executive body within His kingdom, and while as yet on earth, He said unto His church: “Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven” (Matthew 18:18). So it is, when Paul says; the church is purchased with the blood of God (Acts 20:28), he does not equate the church with the kingdom of God, but highlights the distinctive function of the church within the kingdom.
The Church Bought By Flesh and Blood Deity
From the first verse of the Bible to the very last verse, divinity is ostensibly ascribed to the Man, Christ Jesus. It is unequivocally declared in the gospel of John 1:1-5 that Jesus is the living Word, and the Creator referred to in Genesis 1:1. This same gospel in the same chapter says the Word which was God, “Was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth”(Vss 1 & 14). The obdurate Jews, who gloried in their illustrious ancestry, in an effort to entrap Jesus; asked Him: “Art thou greater than our father Abraham …
Whom makest thou thyself? … Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, before Abraham was, I am” (John 8:53, 58). The Scriptures eminently set forth the truth that Jesus of Nazareth is both the Son of God, and God the Son. The deity and humanity of Jesus is explicitly taught in the Bible, and is readily attested to by all who are taught of God (Matthew 16,17; John 6:45). “And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know Him that is true, and we are in Him that is true, even in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life” (I John 5:20). “But unto the Son He saith, Thy throne, 0 God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of Thy kingdom” (Hebrews 1:8). Paul, in anticipation of Christ’s return from heaven, and with overwhelming emotion said that he was “looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13).
The doctrine of the deity of Christ is of such paramount importance, that it is absolutely essential to all true faith, and where ascription to this cardinal truth is absent there is NO ground for fellowship. The apostle John, by inspiration of the Spirit speaks on this matter in a most direct way; saying: “Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son. If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: for he that biddeth him God speed is a partaker of his evil deeds” (II John 9-11). This great truth is basic to all correct theology, and the “Man Christ Jesus” by way of compendium, said: “I and My Father are one” (John 10:30).
Scriptures could be multiplied indefinitely which attest to the deity of Jesus of Nazareth, and the redeemed of the Lord know that all “The words of the Lord are pure words” (Psalms 12:6). However, they also painfully know, to the inexorable mind of the natural man, all Scripture is utter foolishness (I Corinthians 2:14). But this spiritually blinded state of unregenerate mankind does not discourage the Lord’s blood bought churches, for they know beyond an infinitesimal doubt that all the counsel of the Lord shall stand (Isaiah 46:10), and that it is their heavenly mandated duty to declare all the counsel of God (Matthew 28:20; Acts 20:27). So it is, the Lord’s virgin churches have for the last two thousand years gone forth with “The sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God,” and their preaching of His word has not returned unto Him void, but has been gloriously used of the Lord in delivering multitudes from the power of darkness and translating them into the kingdom of His dear Son (Isaiah 55:11; Ephesians 6:17; Colossians 1:13).
Jesus, the Son of man, is eternally and absolutely perfect. Invariably and always doing the things which please the Father, knowing that it was His Father’s pleasure to bruise Him (Isaiah 53:10), He prayed, saying: “Nevertheless not My will, but thine, be done” (Luke 22:42). It was with the bruising of the Son by the Father on the accursed tree that the covenant of blood redemption was ratified in heaven (Hebrews 9:12). In the eternal mind, Jesus, the virgin born Son of Mary, was “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world” (Revelation 13:8), but it was in this world He would be “Made of a woman,” and become “A little lower than the angels for the suffering of death” (Galatians 4:4; Hebrews 2:9). It was in this evil world He would become the personified and humble Lamb of God, and it was in this world, He would bare the sins of His people in His own body on the tree (I Peter 1:19; 2:24).
The sacrificial blood of Christ has been shed, the ransom price has been paid, the just penalty of His people has been suffered, Divine justice has been satisfied, and the people of the everlasting covenant have been redeemed and reconciled to God (Isaiah 53:11; Hebrews 13:20; Romans 5:19). Notwithstanding, all for whom Jesus died, have not as yet experienced the glorious and irrevocable salvation He has purchased for them, but in due time, every one of them will without a solitary exception be drawn to Christ by the Holy Spirit empowered gospel (John 6:37; I Corinthians 4:15).
The sacrificial system which had its origin in the garden of Eden (Genesis 3:21), and was practiced by the people of God throughout the four thousand year history of the Old Testament, was abruptly and everlastingly terminated with the sacrifice of the all sufficient Lamb of God. “And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more. Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin” (Hebrews 10:17, 18). The temple services with there many types of Christ are no longer sacred, for the type met the Anti type at Calvary, and it was then and there the type was fulfilled and the ceremonial system of Israel, nullified, by the Anti type which came down from heaven (John 6:38).
Jesus said from the cross: “Father into Thy hands I commend My spirit” (Luke 23:46), and at the time He spoke these words, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom (Matthew 27:50, 51). The renting of the veil in the midst was a positive declaration that the most holy place and the presence of God was accessible by faith in the person of God’s Lamb, Jesus Christ (Romans 5:1,2). It was never the design of God to take away sin by the blood of bulls and goats (Hebrews 10:4), and when the ceremonial law had run its course, and fulfilled God’s purpose for it, He by the inspired pen of the apostle Paul, pronounced a double anathema upon all who would try and perpetuate it in any of its ramifications (Galatians 1:8,9).
In a brief three score and ten years the prophecy of Jesus concerning the temple itself came to pass. Jesus said, not one stone of the innumerable stones in the temple would be left one stone upon another (Matthew 24:1,2paraphrased). In the year 70 AD the temple was razed by Rome’s mighty conqueror, General Titus, and his great army.
The good news is, the abolition of the ceremonial law did not leave the people of God without an overarching ministry. On the contrary, the old and dead way had already been supplanted by the “new and living way”(Hebrews 10:20). The shadow had given way to the substance, and the Lord gave His people a new institution with a well defined message, mission, and a hell defying authority (Matthew 16:18, 28:19,20; Acts 1:8). The kingdom of God is given a new establishment, a new organization with new ordinances, and a new status. Christ is the Sovereign Ruler in His Father’s kingdom, but He has now purchased the church with His own blood, and has become its loving Head and Bridegroom (John 3:29; Ephesians 1:22).
To emphasize the fact, importance, and prominence of the Lord’s new assembly, the Holy Spirit by the medium of inspired human autographs refers to it over one hundred times in the Greek New Testament with the term “ekklesia”. God willing, more will be said later concerning this term, but for now it needs to be said: the term “ekklesia” by Greek definition means a “called out assembly,” and is never used by the New Testament writers in any sense which precludes the concrete sense of the term, which sense demands a local visible assembly. For affirmation of the above statement, see any work of reputable Greek etymologists or authorities.
The blood of God coursing the veins of Jesus Christ was emptied out on the cross, and the blessings procured for His people by His sin atoning blood are so numerous that eternity will never reveal the sum, nor can the felicity which these blessings bring to the redeemed heart ever be fully expressed. Nevertheless, it is oft that the saint grows weary in his struggle with the powers of darkness, and to counteract this duty neglecting state, the saint must go to the sacred Volume and refresh his spirit by feasting his eyes and heart upon the blessings merited by the shed blood of Christ and put to his account. These blessings serve as impenetrable ramparts, hurling back the most vicious attacks of the adversary. The devil hates the word of God with an insatiable passion, for he knows it is through and by the scriptures the saint draws nigh to God, and is thereby enabled to resist his most malicious attacks continued. Continued next week.
We invite you and your family to join us for worship at Grace Missionary Baptist Church, located at The Glowmar Bridge Sunday School 11:00 am Worhship 12:00 Evening Worship 7:00 pm Bible Study and Prayer Meeting Wednesday 7:00 pm. Elder Charles Minks, Brother Fred Minks