By Pastor Max Solbrekken, D.D.
In his work on Ekklesia Translations, Cooper P. Abrahams,111 states that the Greek word 'ekklesia' which means 'called out assemblies or congregations’ had been in use since 5 B.C. It was also used for gatherings of Christians since the First Century, A.D. The word ‘church’ is taken from the Greek word ‘kyriakon’ which correctly refers to ‘the house of the Lord’.
What is masquerading in this 21st Century as Christian Churches in various parts of the globe is very confusing and disturbing, indeed. Although there are millions of God-fearing and true Christians gathering in Assemblies around the world, there are many who are not truly ‘called out from the world and sin and paganism’.
My prayer is that this paper on Christ and His Church will help bring clarity to those who are struggling in their Christian walk and those who have been led astray by the false teachings of those who have substituted the slippery slope of the “wide and broad way” for the “straight and narrow way” that our Lord Jesus Christ taught! (Matt.7:13, 14)
"If ye then be RISEN with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sits on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on the things on the earth. For ye are dead and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ Who is our Life shall APPEAR, then shall ye also appear with Him in glory." (Col.3:1-4)
When Christ died, we died with Him. When Christ was buried, we were buried with Him. When Christ arose, we arose with Him. When Christ sat down on His Father's right hand, we sat down with Him. When Christ returns, we will return with Him. When Christ reigns, we will reign with Him. We will be with Him eternally!
St. Paul states: "Know ye not, that as many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into His death. Therefore, we are BURIED with Him by Baptism into death: that like as Christ was RAISED up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in the newness of life.
"For if we have been planted together in the likeness of His death, we shall be also in the likeness of His RESURRECTION: Knowing this, that our old man isCRUCIFIED with Him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is dead is freed from SIN.
"Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also LIVE with Him: Knowing that Christ being RAISED from the dead, dies no more: death hath no more dominion over Him. For in that He died, He died unto sin ONCE: but in that He lives, He lives unto God." (Rom.6: 6-10)
POPISH MASS: STRIKING THE ROCK!
Roman Catholic priests crucify Jesus Christ repeatedly in their mass, much like Moses striking the Rock instead of speaking to it. Moses paid a high price because of his anger and irritation with the Israelites, when he disobeyed Almighty God.
In the first instance where they were without water at Massah, he cried out to God and the Lord told him to strike the Rock (Ex.17:6) and when he did, water gushed out quenching their great thirst. On the second occasion at Kadesh (Nu.20:11), God commanded Moses to speak to the Rock (Type of Christ). He disobeyed and in anger he twice struck the ROCK.
Water gushed out, however, God was sore displeased and would not allow the great Lawgiver to enter the Promised Land! WHY? The ROCK represented CHRIST! The first strike against the ROCK was a TYPE of Christ being CRUCIFIED to meet our great need of Salvation. On the second occasion, Moses dishonoured Almighty God by striking the ROCK twice instead of speaking to it. You CANNOT Crucify Christ again. All you need to do is to SPEAK to Him in prayer!
MARTIN LUTHER, refuted the Popish Mass as follows: "First, the blood of Christ remains the blood of the same Christ. For we believe and hold that the BLOOD of Christ that is at the right hand of God was shed for us only once." (Church and Works, Vol.40, P.215)
The Bible is clear on the fact that CHRIST'S vicarious death on our behalf satisfied the Demands of Divine Justice and that He will NEVER die again: "For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into Heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us:
"Nor yet that He should offer Himself OFTEN, as the high priest enters into the holy place every year with blood of others; For then must He often have suffered since the foundation of the world; but now ONCE in the end of the world hath He appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. So Christ was ONCE offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for Him shall He appear the second time without sin unto salvation." (Heb.9: 24-28)
THE PURE GOSPEL OF JESUS CHRIST!
The Bible says: "But God, who is rich in MERCY, for His great LOVE wherewith He loved us; even when we were DEAD in sins hath quickened together with Christ, by grace are ye saved. And hath raised us up TOGETHER and made us toSIT together in Heavenly places in Christ Jesus. That in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His GRACE in His kindness toward us through Christ Jesus." (Eph.2: 4-7)
When Christ died on the cross, our sins died with Him. When Christ was buried, we were buried with Him by (emersion) Baptism. When Christ ascended and sat down on His Father's right hand, we are now "sitting with Him in Heavenly places" and when He returns, the saints will be return with Him. And we will be with Him eternally. (Eph.1: 3)
God's Word declares: "And ye are complete in Him, which is the head of all principality and power...Buried with Him in baptism, wherein ye also are risen with Him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised Him from the dead.
"And you being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath He quickened (made alive) together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses: Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to His Cross." (Col.2: 10-14)
The Bible teaches that believers in Christ are "born again" and have been"baptized into the body of Christ" by the Holy Spirit. We are "heirs of God and joint heirs with Jesus Christ" and have been "accepted in the Beloved". We are"washed in the precious blood of Christ", have become "new creatures in Christ"and through God's Word are being daily "transformed by the renewing of our minds". (John 3:3,7; 1 Cor.12:13; Rom.8:17; Eph.1:6; 2 Cor.5:17; Rom.12:1,2).
St. Paul states: "Know ye not that your bodies are the members of Christ? What, know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's." (1 Cor.6:15,19,20)
WE ARE ONE WITH CHRIST
The Bible affirms that "Christ lives in me and I in Him" (John 14:16-23), and we are "hidden with Christ in God." (Col.3:3) The Apostle prays, "That He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might in the inner man: That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith." (Eph.3:16.17)
In St. Paul's Epistle to the Colossians, we are confronted with the greatness of the Gospel of Christ in what he calls the "Mystery of the Ages", which is Jesus Christ actually entering and taking up residence in the believer:
"Even the Mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to His saints: To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is CHRIST IN YOU, the Hope of Glory." (Col. 1: 26, 27)
St. Paul conveyed through the Holy Spirit the good news that even though we are sinners by birth, nature and choice, through Jesus Christ's vicarious death on the Cross, we can be forgiven if we have faith in Him!
The Bible states: "For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man, some would even dare to die, but God commended His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." (Rom.5: 6-8)
What does the word 'IMPUTE' mean?" The Bible declares: "Wherefore, as by one man (Adam) sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned...Therefore as by the offence of one (Adam)judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one (Jesus Christ) the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life. For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous." (Rom.5: 12-19)
OUR SINS IMPUTED TO CHRIST:
HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS IMPUTED TO US!
Adam's sin was imputed or credited to our account making us guilty in the sight of God, but through His MERCY and LOVE for us Jesus Christ left Heaven's glory to be incarnated (God in human flesh) so that "He could taste DEATH for every man".(Heb.2: 9). As He hung on Calvary's Cross, the sins of the entire world were laid upon Him and He became SIN (sin offering) so that He could destroy our sins!
He willingly and gladly gave His life for us. The Bible says, "Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher (perfecter) of our faith; who for the JOY that was set before Him endured the Cross, despising the shame, and is set down on the right hand of the throne of God." (Heb.12:2).
Our sins were IMPUTED to Him and He died as God's Pascal Lamb, paying the price of our salvation by meeting the demands of Divine Justice. (Phil.2:5-11; John 1:29; Rev.5: 6)
The Bible states: "That is, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself, not IMPUTING their trespasses unto them: and hath committed unto us the ministry of reconciliation...For He hath made Him to be sin for us, Who knewNO SIN: that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him." (2 Cor.5: 19-21)
Seven hundred years before the birth of Christ, Isaiah prophesied: "Surely He hath borne our sicknesses and carried our pains: yet we did esteem Him stricken, smitten of God and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement for our peace was upon Him and with His stripes we are healed.
"All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned everyone to his own way; and the Lord hath laid upon Him the iniquity of us all.(Is. 53: 4-6) Who His own Self bare our sins in His own body on the TREE, that we, being dead to sins should live unto righteousness: By Whose stripes ye were healed." (1 Peter 2: 24)
OUR NATURE FOR HIS NATURE!
In his great spiritual wisdom and knowledge, St. Paul gives us a peak into what he calls the 'ETERNAL PURPOSE OF GOD' for the Church, which is His Body:
"For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of the Lord Jesus Christ, of Whom the whole family in Heaven and earth is named. That He would grant unto you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might by His Spirit in the inner man: That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith;
"That ye being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and height, and to know the LOVE of Christ which passes knowledge, and that you might be filled with all the fullness of God.
"Now unto Him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us. Unto Him be glory in the Church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen." (Eph.3: 11-21)
In His great compassion for humankind our Lord and Saviour initiated what I call'THE GREAT EXCHANGE'. Through the shedding of His pure and perfect blood for the sins of the world, He took upon Himself our sin, guilt and unrighteous nature and in return, gave us His Divine Nature and His righteousness.
St. Peter says: "Grace and truth be multiplied to you through the KNOWLEDGE of God and our Saviour Jesus our Lord. According as His Divine Power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him that hath called us to glory and virtue:
PARTAKERS OF THE DIVINE NATURE!
"Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the DIVINE NATURE, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust." (2 Peter 1: 2-4)
St. Paul wrote: “Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through thesanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the BLOOD of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied.
"Blessed be the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ: which according to His abundant mercy hath BEGOTTEN us again unto a lively hope by the RESURRECTION of Jesus Christ from the dead. To an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled, and that fades not away, reserved in Heaven for you. Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time." (1 Peter 1: 2-5)
The Greek word 'Theosis' is used to define the great spiritual truth, 'Partaking of the Divine Nature'. We are united with Almighty God by His wondrous grace in the Person of Jesus Christ, Who is "God come in the flesh". (1 John 4: 2) Through the divine gift of sanctification by God's grace alone, we are able to mortify the deeds of the flesh! (Rom.8:13)The NICENE CREED states: "Jesus Christ, Who for us and our salvation descended from Heaven and became incarnate by the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary and became a man." - Third Article. Church Fathers John Chrysostom andAthanasias the Great preached that, "Christ became man in Nature and in Truth and assumed human nature with all its properties: not another kind of flesh, but the same one with which we are afflicted."
The HOLY BIBLE states: "In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God, The same was in the beginning with God. And the Word 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." (John 1: 1,2. 14)
Jesus Christ was True God from Eternity and True Man born of a virgin without the aid of a human father. St. Paul wrote concerning Him: "For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, Yet WITHOUT SIN." (Heb.4:15)
With absolute faith, the Church Fathers believed in and declared the Divinity of Jesus Christ. St. Eirinaeos believed in One God, Father Almighty and in one Christ Jesus, the Son of God, incarnate, for our Salvation. Proving that 'God the Son' was indeed God, he declared: "If a man had not been joined to God (united in Christ) He would not have been able to partake of incorruption."
The ministry of the Holy Spirit is beautifully evident everywhere in the Scriptures. The Holy Spirit convicts sinners and points them to the Saviour, but is unable to work in their lives until they have received Christ as Saviour! Then, He works through the shed blood of Jesus Christ to work miracles. Here are some of His great works for God's glory and the deliverance of people!
THE GREAT WORKS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT!
1. We are baptized into the Body of Christ by the Holy Spirit - 1 Cor.12: 13
2. The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit - Rom.5: 5
3. We are led by the blessed Holy Spirit of God - Rom.8: 17; Gal.5: 18
4. By the indwelling of the Holy Spirit our bodies are the temples of God - 1 Cor.6:15-20
5. We become partakers of Christ through the Holy Spirit - 2 Peter 1: 2-4
6. The Word of God is the Sword of the Spirit - Eph.6: 17
8. We are sealed by the Holy Spirit, Who is the Earnest of our inheritance - Eph. 1: 13,14
9. He gives us the Spirit of Wisdom and Revelation in the Knowledge of Him - Eph.1:17
10. The Holy Spirit of God brings us into the Holy of Holies - Eph.2: 18
11. The Holy Spirit calls us into the Ministry of our Lord - 1 Tim.1: 12; 2 Tim.1: 9
12. The Holy Spirit manifests signs, wonders and miracles by the Gifts of the Spirit - 1 Cor.12:7-12; Gal.3:5, 14
13. We are sanctified (set apart) by the Holy Spirit - Gal.5:24, 25; Eph.5:26, 27
14. Through the Holy Spirit, we receive the Fruit of the Spirit - Gal.5: 22, 23
15: The Holy Spirit witnesses with our spirit that we are children of God - Gal.4: 6, 7
16. The Holy Spirit reveals the Son of God; not only to us, but in us - Gal.1: 16
It is evident that the LIFE OF CHRIST we receive through His shed BLOOD brings the Holy Spirit into operation in the lives of Believers in Christ!
CHRIST: THE HEAD THE CHURCH!
St. Paul so masterfully lays out in systematic order as well as repetatively in all his epistles the Gospel of Christ and Who Jesus Christ really is! And Who is He really? For starters, Jesus Christ is all in all, in us all, over all and for us all!
The great Apostle wastes no in letting people know Who Jesus is. He begins his epistle the Ephesians thusly: “Grace be to you, and peace from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ.” In this salutation he reveals that Grace (unmerited favour) and Peace comes from the Father and the Son!
Then he reveals that Jesus Christ is truly the Son of God: “Blessed be the God and FATHER of the Lord Jesus Christ, Who hath blessed us with ALL spiritual blessings in Heavenly places in Christ.” (Ephesians 1: 2,3)
CHRIST IN US: WORKING THROUGH US!
For nearly 2,000 Years, the Church has heralded this worthy Slogan as our Theological Doctrine: Christ Has Died ~ Christ Is Risen ~ Christ Will Come Again! What more can we say? Nothing can better that great Salutation! We can only build on that marvellous Confession of Faith in God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Ghost, Thrice Holy God, Indivisible, Omnipotent, Omniscient, Omnipresent, Immutable, Incomprehensible, Immortal, Infallible, Good, Merciful, Gracious, Holy, True & Just! Amen.