No one can appreciate the importance of the church until he fully realizes what the Bible teaches the church is.
The Church is the Creation of God
Man should be greatly interested in anything that God either teaches or does. One tremendously important thing that God did was to create the church. He authored it; He designed it; He purposed it. In Ephesians 2, Paul speaks of the church as “one new man.” He declares that Christ took Jew and Gentile and made them one in order that “he might create in himself of the two one new man, so making peace” (Eph. 2:15). The Bible also says that we are “created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God afore prepared that we should walk in them” (Eph. 2:10). The new man resurrected in Christ Jesus is stated to have been by God ””created in righteousness and holiness of truth” (Eph. 4:24). We therefore sing of the church that “she is his new creation, by water and the word.” God purposed the church, and Christ built it (Matt. 16:18). The Hebrew writer could therefore declare that the church was a true tabernacle, “which the Lord pitched, not man” (Heb. 8:2; 9: 11). Since deity planned the church and deity built the church, we may therefore with befitting reverence say that the church is as good as an infinite God can make it. Because God planned it perfectly, and because Christ perfectly built it, it therefore can be said that the church exemplifies the many sided wisdom of God.
The Church is the Eternal Purpose of God
The apostle Paul declared that the church was a part of that scheme of salvation “which for ages hath been hid in God” (Eph. 3:9). The book of Ephesians is a beautiful essay on the church. It shows the place God “according to his eternal purpose” assigned to Christ and to the church (Eph. 3: 11). Since God purposed, before the worlds were founded, to have Christ to purchase and to build the church, we readily can see that any system that declares the church to be an afterthought on God’s part, or a theological accident, cannot be a system predicated on truth. But such lack of importance is precisely the place assigned to the church by nearly every premillennial theory.
The church is an Exemplification of God’s Wisdom
Paul teaches “that now unto the principalities and the powers in heavenly places might be made known through the church the manifold wisdom of God” (Eph. 3:10). While it is true that the church is the pillar and ground of the truth (1 Tim. 3:15), Eph 3:10 is not talking about the evangelistic responsibility of the church. Instead, it is teaching that the church itself embodies and therefore exemplifies the wisdom of God.
In fact, it is a demonstration of God’s “manifold wisdom.” The word “manifold” suggests that God’s wisdom is many-sided. Heavenly creatures or powers, or the intelligent creatures of earth, can look at the church from any side, and see exemplified the infinite wisdom of God.
The Church is the Body of Christ
Paul said, “Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and fill up on my part that which was lacking of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body’s sake, which is the church” (Col. 1: 24). The identification of the church as the body of Christ also may be found in Eph. 1: 22, 23 and Col. 1:18. If the body of Christ is unimportant, then Christ himself is unimportant. But since all with an ounce of respect for the Word of God recognize that Christ is important, and since the Bible teaches that the church is the body of Christ, it must therefore follow that the church is important.
The Church is the Fullness of Christ
Eph. 1:23 teaches that the church is the “fullness of him that fills all in all.” This statement is equivalent to saying that the church is the fullness of Christ. But what is meant by the expression “the fullness of Christ?” It means that the boundaries of Christ and the church are co-extensive. It means that to be in Christ is to be in the church, or that to be in the church is to be in Christ. It means that whatever is available “in Christ” is not available outside the church of Christ.