The Perfect Church
by Bernie Parsons
The Perfect Church:
The Perfect Church:
The Church that I See In The Bible
By Bernie Parsons
Presented to the Load church of Christ 07/25/2004
People tell me that they are looking for the perfect church. They try one denomination after another, looking for one that suits them. Even in the churches of Christ we find those who float from one congregation to another, looking for their perfect church.
How does one define "the perfect church"? It means different things to different people. Some are looking for a place where people believe much as they do on certain key issues. Others are looking for a place with lots of outside activities for their kids, or for themselves. Some seek a place with a charismatic preacher.
Most of these poor lost searchers have a distorted image of what the perfect church is. What about you? Would you recognize the perfect church if you saw it?
Let me pose a different questiondo you even know what a church is? The word rendered church in the King James Version of the Bible, is from the Greek word ekklesia. Ekklesia means "called out assembly". So, when we say church, think ekklesia, or called out assembly.
Now, when we say, the church of Christ, we are saying the called out assembly of Christ, which makes sense. Its what we are. Its who we are. We are Christs called out assembly, His holy body.
That is why I resist using the phrase as a title for our group of believers. It is not presented in the scriptures as a title, but as a description of who we are, and denotes to whom this called out assembly belongs. It would be just as proper for us to call ourselves the called out assembly of Christ, as to call ourselves the church of Christ.
When I write the description of our group of believers, I do not spell the "c" in church with a capital letter. If you do, it becomes a title. The sign in front of this building says, "The church of Christ assembles here." When brother Quiller Johnson approached me over 30 years ago to come here and preach, after others had abandoned this congregation, I suggested that wording. I would like to suggest that when you get a new sign, that you keep the wording, and that you spell church with a small letter "c". It tells people what goes on here, and who meets here. It is a gathering of the Lords called out assembly.
Luke 17:20-21 "And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you."
We often remark in the churches of Christ that the Kingdom of God and the church are interchangeable. In one sense, this is true. In another sense, that is an incomplete statement. We could say that the state of Kentucky and the United States of America are interchangeable. They are, in the sense that if you are in Kentucky, you are in the USA. On the other hand, you could be in the USA and not be in Kentucky.
So it is with the church and the kingdom. The church is a part of the kingdom, but not the entire Kingdom of God. God rules the universe, all of heaven and earth. The churchthe called out assembly of Godis His kingdom here on earth. As Jesus was about to found His called out assembly here on the earth, He said that the Kingdom of God was near.
John 18:36 "Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence."
Luke 16:16 "The law and the prophets were until John: since that time the kingdom of God is preached, and every man presseth into it."
Mark 9:1 "And he said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That there be some of them that stand here, which shall not taste of death, till they have seen the kingdom of God come with power."
The church is the outpost of heaven on earth, the embassy of heaven, so to speak. Yet, the capital, the headquarters, is in heaven.
Galatians 4:26 "But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all."
Revelation 3:12 "Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name."
Hebrews 12: 22-28 " But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel.
"See that ye refuse not him that speaketh. For if they escaped not who refused him that spake on earth, much more shall not we escape, if we turn away from him that speaketh from heaven: Whose voice then shook the earth: but now he hath promised, saying, Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven. And this word, Yet once more, signifieth the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that are made, that those things which cannot be shaken may remain.
"28": Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear:"
We see, then, that the Kingdom of Heaven has as its capitol the New Jerusalem in heaven, not here on earth. Jesus sits in that capitol city at the right hand of God, our Creator. He is the head of the called-out assembly that He established here on earth, the beachhead, as it were, for the Kingdom of Heaven.
Matthew 16: 13-18 "When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am? And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets.
"He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.
"And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it."
Colossians 1: 12-20 "Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins: Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.
"And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence. For it pleased the Father that in him should all fullness dwell; And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven."
Our head, Christ, is in heaventhe New Jerusalem, headquartersand we are the body of Christ on earth. The body is His called-out assembly, or church. When the Lord adds us to His called-out assembly, then we are translated into His kingdom.
I think that we can all agree so far. Let us return to our question: "Where can I find the perfect church?" We now have a better understanding of the question. "Where can I find the called out assemblythe ekklesia, the bodyof Christ?"
We might readily answer, "The Church of Christ!" As in capital "C" in church. Yet, is it not possible for someone to nail a sign over the door that reads "Church of Christ", yet not do the things which our head, Christ, has asked us to do? So, thats not the correct answer. My answer is, "In the Bible." If you want to find the perfect church, look in the perfect book.
James1:25 "But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed."
The law of freedom that is in Christ Jesus is where we find perfection. Where do you and I find that law of liberty today? Is it not in the Holy Scriptures?
Hebrews 5:8-9 "Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him;"
Jesus, the perfect Lamb of God, authored our eternal salvation.
1 Peter 1:17-20 "And if ye call on the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man's work, pass the time of your sojourning here in fear: Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you,"
That is why God said, in:
Matthew 17:5 " This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him."
John 6:63-68 "It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life. But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray him. And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father. From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him. Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away? Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life."
God says that we are to hear Jesus, and Jesus said that the words that He spoke are life. We find His words in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John--the gospel of Jesus Christ.
This gospel is further witnessed by the Holy Spirit in the apostles of Christ.
1 John 5:6 "This is he that came by water and blood, even Jesus Christ; not by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit that beareth witness, because the Spirit is truth."
We find this witnessing by the Holy Spirit recorded in Acts through Revelation.
Who was our perfect sacrifice, the perfect captain of our salvation? Jesus Christ.
Hebrews 2:9-15 "But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man. For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings. For both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren, Saying, I will declare thy name unto my brethren, in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto thee.
"And again, I will put my trust in him. And again, Behold I and the children which God hath given me. Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage."
We are the called out assembly of Jesus Christ. Christ is perfect, so then the body must work toward perfection.
Matthew5:48 "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect."
John 17:19-23 "And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth. Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me."
We are made perfect when we join with Jesus our Lord, and Head, with God, the Father, our Creator. The perfect church is the one that is the body of Christ. The true body is that one which listens to, and follows the instructions of, the Head.
Ephesians 1:19-23 "And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all."
Christ is the Head of His called-out assembly.
1 John 3:18 "My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth. And hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before him. For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things. Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God. And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight. And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment. And he that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him. And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us."
1 John 2:1-6 "My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world. And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him. He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked."
1 Corinthians 13:8-13 "Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity."
1 John2:5 "But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him."
1 John 4:17-19 "Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love. We love him, because he first loved us."
When we learn the unselfish, unmerited, unending love that Jesus showed us by dying on the cross in our place, then we shall achieve perfection. Where is the perfect called out assembly? Look into the Bible, and you shall find it in the words and the deeds of our Lord Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us. Where is the kingdom of God?
Luke17:21 "Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you."