LIVING THINGS – THE CHURCH
E. C. Richards
I Timothy 3:15, “But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.”
Here the church is called “the church of the living God,” so it is surely a living entity. That great Being is not about to be preoccupied with dead things. It is below His dignity as the very essence of life. He is living, so any group He brings into being to participate in His great plan will be living too. Perhaps this seems a self-evident subject that has no meaning in being discussed. Well, it is quite evident out there, being bandied about in the minds of men, that the church is a kind of unrealistic concoction of some old toads in the dim unenlightened past. Hence, let us consider some Scriptures and let the Holy Ghost breathe life into them, and also reemphasize in our hearts the living character of our body politic, the church.
Romans 15:16, “That I should be the minister of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles, ministering the gospel of God, that the offering up of the Gentiles might be acceptable, being sanctified by the Holy Ghost.”
You view here one of God’s hard Scriptures, to us, but most clear to Him. You see, He is in the area and atmosphere of life and all around Him is life, and He has to reveal His Words to us for any sense to be able to sift through to us. Christ died for us, but there was so much of a living offering ascending up to God, that it is difficult for us to understand. The whole mass of us Gentiles rise up to Him in this life–thing that is the church, begotten by the gospel, the living message from the Living Word. I wonder what dimensions are involved in God’s vision as revealed in statements like the above Scripture. The Gentiles entering the church by faith are surely a living group, for that is God’s interest. Remember that, even under the law, contracting the dead was a cause for intense cleansing, and even resulted in being put out of the camp for a time. God never seemed to have a hankering for dead things as His creatures do. Praise Him for the opportunity to come into a living group of humanity, The Church.
Eph. 2:4-5, “But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)”. Here the word declares how the kind loving God changed the deplorable state of humanity that come under His grace and faith with life instead of death, the way we were. This is the evaluation of the prime One of life. What He calls life, spiritual life, suitable to Him, just wasn’t man’s after sin. Now He says we are diametrically changed. Bless His name! This is something that happens now on this earth not in some vague future. Life has happened already, believing friend. We are rolling on in life. Amen!
Heb. 4:12, “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” So, the living people get a living food, the Word of God. In some mysterious way, God acquaints us with the fact that our spiritual man, that is what is in the church, has life from His Word. So, we study it, think on it, let it work obedience and work in us; and we gather around it to the amazement and ridicule of the dead folk all around us. I never yet sat under the Holy Ghost indicted Word, that I didn’t feel life inside the spirit. Yes, it is so, not a fable as the mass of humanity think.
In John 6:48 Jesus said, “I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.” Even His death produced life, and the ensuing issue in the supernatural touch of God gave life to the believer in the church. It is quite a mystifying and wonderful line of the life-productivity. God doesn’t throw away anything; the same Word produces life in the eater by faith, over and over again. Though our whole system involves death, (that of Christ and ours) it is not an end in itself. It in to give real life.
Just today, we read a long chapter, I Corinthians 14, regulating the vocal gifts of the church. In I Corinthians 14:3 it says, “But he that prophesieth speaketh unto men to edification, and exhortation, and comfort.” We well know that vocalizing is not for inanimate things. The great prophecy of the Antichrist’s image and the speaking, however it is effected, which will be a clincher for all the unbelieving world, shows the identifying of vocalization and life together. So again, the church is a living organism, and God speaks to it in ways strange to us, though not crazy ways. He notes that, too.
I Cor. 15:9, “For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.” The enemy, for sure, considers us a living mass of humanity, for he persecuted it, and still does one way or another. He is the stimulator of persecution, even by honest men as Saul was. The devil doesn’t understand the church, but fears it for He has been clipped by its faith too many times, and hates it to the death. He uses more sense than silly men who ignore the reality of the church. They stay away from it in droves. Not the veil-spirit one; he goes to all the services he can. He is quite a religious character. I have even heard him testify.
Matt. 16:18, “And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” Here Jesus declared emphatically the living perpetuity of the people of the church. The great agent of destruction and judgment, hell, should not ever touch it. We shall not spend any time there, praise God. That is the place of the dead.
Col. 3:4, “When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.” The force, motive power, actual fiber of all this organism of spirit called church, is Christ, and He is shot through it in every generation and individual. We shall have more to say of Him later. Praise the Lord, when we were added to the church we got in on life, a very important part of God’s great accumulation of life in His eternal sphere.
Eph. 3:10, “To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God.” So God, very life itself, displays to the higher forms of life, angelic beings, the way He can show movement of life in the spiritual way. That shows far more than our finite minds, senses and consciousness realizes. The features of it all: faith, spirit, prayer, vocal utterances, cooperation with the will of God, all are alien to our mode of thinking. There is life on the move in the church, nevertheless. There is more to this than meets the eye. If the church shows off God now, and His wisdom now, what will it be in the final manifestation? Surely, it is all too much for us, but let’s keep on believing any way.