As we speak about “the church,” we are referring to the church about which we read in the Bible. Biblically speaking, “the church” is not a material structure, but is comprised of those people whom God has called out of the world into the light of His dear Son. The Greek word for “church” means an assembly.
In the New Testament, at times it simply is called “the church” (Ephesians 1:22,23). In other cases, it is described as “the church of God” (1 Corinthians). We also read that it is identified as “the church of the living God” (1 Timothy 3:15), “house of God” (1 Timothy 3:15), “the body” of the Christ (Colossians 1:18,24), “the kingdom” of God’s Son (Colossians 1:13), or “the temple of God” (1 Corinthians 3:16).
What is the relationship between Jesus and His church? Consider these scriptural truths about it:
Jesus was its Promiser. About one year before His death, Jesus said, “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” (Matthew 16:18). The Master kept His promise, as He always does. In the book of Acts and elsewhere, we read that Jesus’ church already existed in the first century (Acts 8:1,3).
Jesus was its Builder. We return to the message of Matthew 16:18, where we find that Jesus is the one who said “I will build my church.” Does it really matter who built the church? It matters to the Lord! The Bible says, “Unless the LORD builds the house, they labor in vain who build it” (Psalm 127:1). If the Lord did not plant it, it will be uprooted (Matthew 15:13).
Jesus was its Purchaser. He bought the church, so it is His. Paul reminded and exhorted church elders with these words: “Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood” (Acts 20:28). Jesus’ blood was the redemption price of the church!
Jesus is its Foundation. It is written, “For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 3:11).
Jesus is its Head. Referring to the Christ, Paul wrote, “And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence” (Colossians 1:18). According to God’s plan, the church has one head — Jesus. He does not share His headship with anyone, as He alone is to have preeminence in all things. God’s decree is for the church to be subject to the Christ (Ephesians 5:24).
Jesus is its Savior. Read what the Bible says: “For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body” (Ephesians 5:23). As we have noted already, the church and the body are the same, so to say that Jesus is the Savior of the body is the same as saying He is the Savior of the church. “But I thought Jesus died for everyone.” He did, and the Bible speaks of Him being “Savior of the world” (1 John 4:14). To say He is the world’s Savior shows us that He makes it possible for all people to be saved. The reality, however, it that only those who become members of His church by believing and obeying the gospel can claim rightfully that the blood of Jesus has washed away their sins. The saved are in the Christ, which is the same thing as being in His church/kingdom (Colossians 1:13,14).
Jesus loves it. Yes, our Lord loves all people, but He had/has a special love for His church: “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her” (Ephesians 5:25). Such Bible statements make it plain that the church is important to the Lord!
Jesus has only one church. He promised to build one (Matthew 16:18), He purchased one (Acts 20:28), He is the head of one (Ephesians 5:23), He is the Savior of one (Ephesians 5:23), and He has only one church which He claims as His own. There is one body/church (Ephesians 4:4).
Planned before the creation of the world, the church of the Christ is special, really special! The picture the Bible gives of the relationship between Jesus and the church is so clear. One day He will deliver it up to the Father (1 Corinthians 15:24).
— Roger D. Campbell