The Holy Church
The Holy Church
God is Holy. Jesus, the Only Son of God, is Holy. But the Church, is it really Holy? Yes the church is holy, and if you doubt it, read on.
Lately I have been thinking about a challenging bit of scripture from Paul’s letter to the Ephesians. I want us to study it together because it contains truth we often ignore. In Ephesians 1:18-21, Paul writes, “I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know….his (God’s) incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come.”
Paul is saying that God has incredibly great power for us who believe. He says that God has raised Christ from the dead and seated Him at His right hand. There, He (Christ) is over all powers and authorities. Then Paul continues, “And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church (bold added.) Everything is under His feet. God has made the Risen and Ascended Christ Head over everything for the church.
My goodness, Jesus is ruing over everything, for the church! Then Paul goes on to say in verse 23, even more radically, that the church is “his (Christ’s) body, the fullness of him (Christ) who fills everything in every way.”
This is mind-blowing! Not only is God’s great power available for us who believe. Not only did all the fullness of God reside in Christ (Colossians 2:9 says: “For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form.”) But the fullness of Christ, who fills everything in every way, resides in the church, and the church is His Body!
Not the three radical affirmations that Paul makes about the church:
1. God appointed Christ to be Head over everything for the Church.
2. The church is Christ’s body!
3.The church is the fullness of Christ who fills everything in every way!
Yesterday my wife Victoria and I visited the church where we both were pastors at various times. We had not been at a worship service there in a little over a year, in conformity with our Presbytery policy about former pastors, with which I agree. Because I am fighting a severe form of lymphoma, the visiting pastor had us come up for prayer. I sensed a real peace and power as Christ’s church prayed for us. Later that day, however, I sensed a huge spiritual attack of doubt and self- criticism. Only later did I connect that attack to the fact that the church, the fullness of Christ, had prayed for us!
There were probably fewer than a hundred people there, and yet I believe Paul affirms that the very body of Christ, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way, prayed for us!
Paul has a very high view of the church. In particular we should look at the word translated “fullness” in point number 3 above. The Greek word is “pleroma,” and it means that in some mysterious way, the same Christ who fills the whole creation has put all of his nature and virtue and power into his church. Imagine that. But do we receive this reality by believing it?
When we gather in worship and prayer with Christ’s Church, the fleshy mind focuses on how many people are there, on errors in presentation, on what the music sounded like, on how young or old the people were, and on and on. The spiritual mind (the mind that agrees with God’s word) is focused on the fact that this is the Body of Christ. This in the fullness of him who fills everything in every way. It is part of how we encounter Him.
Winfield Casey Jones is a retired pastor and can be reached at . An earlier version of this column appeared in the Pearland and Friendswood Reporter News.