Posted by: Veroni Kruger | October 7, 2014

What has your church become? (An excerpt) Available on Amazon.com and Kalahari.com

what has your church become

PART TWO – THE CHURCH – THE IDEAL

4. Some essential aspects of the church
The church of Jesus Christ is a diverse manifestation, impossible to describe fully in words. The reason for this is obvious: it is a manifestation of Christ Himself. The significance of the words of Ephesians 1.23, describing the church as the body of Christ, the fullness of Himself, should not be watered down because of our own disbelief or lack of faith.

“The church is Christ’s body,
the completion of him who himself completes all things everywhere.”
(TEV)

Louw and Nida, two prominent scholars, have the following entry in their standard lexicon about the Greek word in Ephesians 1.23, translated above as “completion”:
“a total quantity, with emphasis upon completeness – ‘full number, full measure, fullness, completeness, totality’ until the complete number of the Gentiles comes (to God)’ Romans 11.25; … ‘for the totality of the divine nature lives in him (Christ) in bodily form’ Colossians 2.9. In a number of languages it may be difficult to use a generic expression such as ‘totality’. As a result, this clause in Colossians 2.9 must often be completely restructured, for example, ‘for Christ is completely like God’ or ‘for just what God is, that is exactly what Christ is.’ ”
(Louw and Nida, paragraph 59.32)

Our disappointment with the church should not be the reason we determine theologically that the statement is not what it was intended to be, namely, that the church will be the full manifestation of Jesus Christ on the earth in the interim period between his ascension and his return. It stands to reason that there will be limitations, because the church consists of human beings. As such it is impossible for us to portray realistically the fullness of God. Furthermore, the world in which we are called to portray God is imperfect and unsuitable to be the scene for the full revelation of God. As transcendent being, God can only be revealed fully where He dwells as a spiritual being, i.e. in the realm that is spiritual. However, we can be the fullness of God to the extent that it is possible at all for his fullness to be revealed in the world. This is not to detract from the ideal set by God in his Word. Rather, the miracle is that much greater because it is God who reveals Himself through humans.
As we contemplate the ideal for the church of Jesus Christ in this world, there are a number of very important characteristics of the church that need to be considered. As I said before, my plan is not to write a comprehensive ecclesiology. For this reason I will not pretend that what follows is an exhaustive account of such characteristics. I do believe, however, that the ones I will discuss are crucial to an understanding of what the church really is. They are the following (there is no intended significance in the fact that I discuss seven characteristics):
1. “A fellowship centring on the living Christ”
2. Built on the foundation of Scripture
3. The church is a worshipping community
4. When the church gathers together, the priority is serving God
5. The Holy Spirit works in the church
6. The Body of Christ
7. Mission

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