Christ and the Church

 •  8 min. read  •  grade level: 6
The way in which Christ and the church are linked together in Scripture is indeed wonderful. In Genesis 1 we read, “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them” (vers. 26, 27).
How strikingly different are these words, “And God said, Let its make man in our image, after our likeness,” etc., from all that we have had previously of God's speaking “and it was done. He commanded and it stood fast”! Of light it was, “Let there be light,” and “light was.” “Let there be an expanse,” and-” God made the expanse.” “Let the waters be gathered together,” and “It was so.” Thus was it throughout the five days.
So also on the sixth day. “God said, Let the earth bring forth,” etc., and “it was so.” But when man is to be created, we see, as it were, the Trinity conferring—Father, Son and Holy Ghost— “Let us make.” And further, “in our image, after our likeness; and let them have dominion,” etc. “So God created man... male and female created he them.”
Do we see in this no veiled allusion to Christ, the Second man, the last Adam, in whom “dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily” (Colossians 2:99For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. (Colossians 2:9))? Nor to “the church which is his body the fullness of him that filleth all in all” (Ephesians 1:22, 2322And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, 23Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all. (Ephesians 1:22‑23)), which, in the closing book of the Bible, is represented as “the bride, the Lamb's wife” (21:9)?
The dominion given to Adam we see shared by another in companionship with him. “God blessed them, and God said unto them.... have dominion,” etc. (ver. 28). So it is, when Christ takes the kingdom, we shall be associated with Him. Though called to “endure” now, we then shall “reign with Him” (2 Timothy 2:1212If we suffer, we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny us: (2 Timothy 2:12)).
Then again in Genesis 5 we read, “In the day that God created man, in the likeness of God made he him, male and female created he them, and blessed them, and called their name Adam, in the day when they were created.” Is not this a further foreshadowing of the truth we now know as Christians that “Christ and we through grace are one”?
There will be no difficulty to faith (if to fallen man's reason) in understanding still more. “And the Lord God said, It is not good that man should be alone. I will make him an help-meet for him” (Genesis 2:1818And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him. (Genesis 2:18)). The love that had blessed with so much had further good in store, and that in the form of one who should be worthy of the object of such love and goodness.
How was this to be brought about? “And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept,” reminding us, firstly, of what Jesus said in Psalm 22:1515My strength is dried up like a potsherd; and my tongue cleaveth to my jaws; and thou hast brought me into the dust of death. (Psalm 22:15), “Thou hast brought me into the dust of death”; and secondly, as to the laying down of His life, “No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father” (John 10:1818No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father. (John 10:18)). “The cup which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it?” He went down into the dust of death, but rose again.
“He took one of his ribs and closed up the flesh instead thereof, and the rib which the Lord God had taken from man builded he a woman” (ver 22). So in Ephesians, saints now are said to have been made alive together with Christ. The same almighty power that raised Christ from the dead, is the power that has wrought in quickening us who were dead in our trespasses and our sins. “God, who is rich in mercy, for His great love wherewith he loved us even when we were dead in trespasses, quickened us together with Christ” (1:19, 20; 2:4, 5). But further. The Lord God “brought her unto the man. And Adam said, This is now bone of my bone, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of man.” So speaking of the great mystery—Christ and the church—the Holy Spirit, through the apostle Paul (in Ephesians 5:3030For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. (Ephesians 5:30)), tells us “we are members of his body, [of his flesh and of his bones].” We have thought then of His love in the past-” Christ also loved the church and gave himself for it” —a collective love which we do well to rest in, and which in no way impairs the enjoyment of the individual love of Galatians 2:2020I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20), “The Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” What is the operation of that love now as regards the church? “That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word.” Do we thus yield ourselves to Him to be washed, and do we seek to be obedient to Him in all things? It is a day that reminds us of the last verse of that sad book, The Judges, “In those days there was no king in Israel; every man did that which was right in his own eyes”; all authority was set aside. But we have no such excuse, for God hath made Him “both Lord and Christ” (Acts 2:3636Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ. (Acts 2:36)), and, “He is head over all things, to the church” (Ephesians 1:2222And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, (Ephesians 1:22)). We are set apart by the Spirit “unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:22Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied. (1 Peter 1:2)), and nothing absolves us from this obligation. But what is the object of Christ's love, for the future-” That he might present it to himself”; not, to another; not, here, to display it to the world, but, “TO HIMSELF,” “a glorious church.” Yes, not a church in shame, but glorious, “not having spot or wrinkle, or any such thing,” but that it should be “holy and blameless” (Ephesians 1:4; 5:274According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: (Ephesians 1:4)
27That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. (Ephesians 5:27)
). Is it not delightful to think that such will be the church, in that day, “brought” to Him, worthy of Him, and which He will own as “taken out of” Himself, for we are now “members of his body.” We may, however, dwell a little more on the future of “the bride, the Lamb's wife,” as recorded in the word. In the eternal state, in the scene of the new heaven and the new earth, with its new conditions, with the first heaven and the first earth passed away, we have an unfading picture of surpassing loveliness, “the holy city” (not, the “great city,” Babylon was that) “coming down from God” —from God Himself! Oh, what purity she must have! “Out of heaven” —no earthly one this. “Prepared as a bride adorned for her husband!” Let us ponder these last four words and ask ourselves if in the light of them we could hear the thought of indifference to His wishes now! Thank God SHE will be for HIM then. Oh, her place in the coming day!-” the tabernacle of God,” where He Himself dwells, truly with men. And their blessing? Immense! “He will dwell with them (not, visit, as in Eden), and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them their God.” But this “holy city, new Jerusalem,” is the bride, the Lamb's wife—the tabernacle of God—His dwelling-place. Well, “He that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new” (21:5). The enemy cannot upset nor enter in, as in Eden. He will be in “the lake of fire.” And God commits Himself to it, for it is added, “Write, for these words are true and faithful.” Is there one who has read of this time of eternal blessing with God—Jesus could dry up tears when on earth, but here it is God, God Himself, wiping away every tear; “And there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain” —and who would not like to be in it, yea, in the best part of it-the church's part? Well, what does God say? Does He not make you welcome to it? For He adds, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely.” God does not offer you less than Christ. He is the fountain. Jesus may offer “the water of life” also freely, and He does, and in the widest way, in the closing chapter of the book, “Whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely” (ver. 17). But God presents His Son, and the blessing along with Him-” This is the record that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in His Son.” May both reader and writer ever be in the enjoyment of it! And remembering that the Lord Jesus is both Head of the church and the fullness of the gospel, may we be found in fullest sympathy with both!
W. N. T.