And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent.
Colossians 1:18 – Scripture of the Day (March 6, 2014)
Some have the wrong idea about the ownership of the church.
Before going further, let me clarify that I’m not one of those radicals who will strain at the gnat of condemning those who refer to their local congregation as “my church” (as in, the church of which they are a member) by shouting at them, “It’s not YOUR church! It’s Jesus’ church!” After all, if we want to be consistent, let’s remember that Paul did call the gospel both “the gospel of God” (Rom. 1:1) AND “my gospel” (Rom. 2:16). What’s good for the goose is good for the gander. In other words, if it’s inherently wrong to refer to something that the Bible cites as belonging to God as also belonging to oneself, then God should not have inspired Paul to refer to God’s gospel as his own. Let’s also remember that Paul was inspired to warn about those who have “an unhealthy craving for controversy and for quarrels about words, which produce envy, dissension, slander, evil suspicions, and constant friction among people who are depraved in mind and deprived of the truth…” (1 Tim. 6:4-5). Think about that for a minute…
That said, we must not forget that Jesus is in fact the head of his body, the church. He purchased the church with his own blood (Acts 20:28). The church is made up of those who have been spiritually resurrected via baptism into the body of Christ (Rom. 6:3-5; 1 Cor. 12:13), but Christ is “the firstborn from the dead” (cf. 1 Cor. 15:20-23). Through his death and resurrection he laid the groundwork for our own spiritual death to sin and resurrection to a new life. Thus, it is fitting and proper that in everything in the church he “be preeminent.”
This is why we are commanded to do everything in his name (Col. 3:17), which is more than just something we say (as in, “In Jesus’ name, Amen.”) Christ foretold of those who would be condemned who sincerely thought they were doing things in his name but in reality weren’t…because they weren’t obeying the will of his Father (Matt. 7:21-27). The only true revelation of the will of Christ is found in the New Testament (Heb. 8:7-13). It is therefore to the New Testament where we must go to find the will of our Leader, the Head of his Body of which we are blessed and privileged to be a part by his grace.
How are we saved? Go to the New Testament to reveal what the Head says about it (Mark 16:16).
How are we to worship? The Head says to worship “in spirit and truth” (John 4:24), which refers to spiritual worship based on the commands of the truth found in his Word (John 17:17). What we read of in the New Testament is what we are to do concerning worship (Acts 2:42; 1 Cor. 11:23ff; 1 Cor. 16:1-2; Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16).
How is the church to be organized? What does the Head say in his Word? (Phil. 1:1; Acts 20:28-32; Eph. 4:11-12; 1 Thess. 5:11-13; 1 Tim. 3:1-13; Tit. 1:5-9; Heb. 13:17; 1 Pet. 5:1-4)
Are we to go beyond what the Head says? No (Gal. 1:6-9; Rev. 22:18-19). What if we decide to do so anyway? Then despite what we might say or even sincerely think, Jesus is not truly the Head of the church of which we are a part. He is not truly our Lord (Luke 6:46), and we are not truly a part of his church.