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The Church

Frank Wallace

The church is a wonderful system of blessing. It has come from the hands of Christ according to the purpose and will of God, it is founded upon the Person and work of Christ, is the body of Christ, the dwelling place of God, and is the sphere in which the Holy Spirit operates. All this indicates what a tremendously exalted subject the church is.

In the time at our disposal it is impossible to go into all the wonderful truths connected with this great subject and so I can only say a few words as to some aspects.

The Church - A New Work

"Simon Peter said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto him.... I say 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."   (Matt.16:16,18)

Firstly, what is the meaning of the word 'church'? I suppose if we were to ask ten people at random on the street they would reply, 'It is along the road there. It is a building solely used for religious purposes, and there are different churches in the city and they have different names but they are all churches'. I suppose nearly everyone would give that reply, but we must not be governed in our thinking by what is the usual idea of a church, we must be governed by what the Bible says about it because, after all, the Bible is the revealed, infallible word of God, and when God inspired the Bible by His Spirit He chose precise words with a precise meaning to convey truths so that we can understand them in a very simple way.

This word 'ecclesia' or 'church', sometimes translated 'assembly', simply means a number of persons called-out, if you like, 'called-out ones'. Different contexts indicate different thoughts connected with this word. For instance in Acts 7 we read about "the church that was in the wilderness" (v.38), and that is a reference to the nation of Israel. It was called-out from Egypt with a view to moving through the wilderness and eventually possessing the land of promise.

If we turn to Acts 19 we find the word used in another sense, there we find a lawful assembly of citizens gathered together to deal with matters pertaining to the city of Ephesus. This is a political or local idea governing the affairs of the inhabitants.

When we come to the church of God, the church that Jesus speaks about here, we are thinking about something distinctive. It is not connected with the nation of Israel, nor is it connected with the usual idea of an assembly in Gentile nations, what the Lord Jesus is going to build is something entirely new, it had never been in existence before. It is very, very important that we see this.

There are many people today who think that the Christian church is simply an addition to the Jewish church, but the Lord Jesus is indicating here that is not so. If it were He would have said, 'I am going to build something that I can add on to the Jewish faith', but He does not say that, he says, "I will build my church". It was not connected with what had gone before, it was not connected with anything that existed at that time, it was something new, and it was going to be done in the future.

The Church - Distinct from Israel

"Ye also, as living stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Christ Jesus."   (1 Pet.2:5)

I want to point out the difference between Israel's blessing and the church's blessing, and in this connection I want to draw attention to three things.

First of all the nation of Israel's blessing was earthly, their hopes and aspirations were connected with a covenant made with Abraham long before the nation was formed. This blessing was distinctively earthly, it had to do with the land of promise.

Secondly, it was a material form of faith, in that it had material sacrifices, a material building, material clothing, and a material and temporary destiny. Everything connected with their faith was material. Let me explain that. The material sacrifices were the lambs, the goats and the bulls, all these things they offered up. They had the tabernacle that went through the wilderness and the temple that was in the land, both were material buildings. The priests wore a particular form of beautiful clothing which God gave the pattern for, but it was material. Then there was material incense and all this ascended as a form of worship to God. Clearly all these things were material.

Thirdly, the blessing of Israel - as it was material - was  a temporal one. The church's blessing, on the other hand, is eternal.

When you come to the church these three things are entirely different. That is, what they offer up in the way of sacrifice, what they have in the way of a building, what they have in the way of clothing and their destiny are all spiritual. It is all changed when we come to the church. It is not material. 1 Peter 2 tells us that we have a spiritual house, that is, a house that is governed by the Holy Spirit. We are offering up sacrifices that are entirely spiritual, and those sacrifices are centred in Christ. Our clothing is of a spiritual nature, we have it pictured for us in the story of the prodigal son, when he comes back the father says, "Put on him the best robe", that is, the father's eye wants to look at his son in the best possible way, and when we come to the Christian realm it means that our Father, who is the living God, wants to look at us in the best way, and so He looks at us through Christ. We are clothed with the righteousness that Christ secured for us, the righteousness of God, that is how He sees us.

The worship that we have is not material incense, but it is spiritual prayers, spiritual worship, all centred in Christ, and that ascends to our God. Now this clearly indicates the great distinction between Israel and the church.

  • The church's blessing is heavenly not earthly;
  • the church's blessing is spiritual not material; and
  • the church's blessing is eternal not temporary like Israel.

So there you see the clear distinction between the church and Israel. It is very important to see this distinction and to maintain it because, since the days of Constantine the blessing of Israel and the blessing of the church have been entirely mixed up; but the Bible does not mix things up, it is men who do, but we want to be clear and distinct as to what the church means.

Let us emphasise this again, the blessing of Israel is of a material character, but the blessing of the church is of a spiritual nature. The church is not a building consisting of stones and girders and wood and glass with bells and whatever else you like to think about, the church is a collection of persons called-out from Judaism and from the Gentile nations to form a dwelling place for God to form the body of Christ. If we keep this distinction in mind all the time I think it will be a great help for us.

The Foundation of the Church

"Peter.... lifted up his voice and said unto them... Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know: him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain: whom God hath raised up...... being by the right hand of God exalted...... Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ."   (Acts 2:14-36)

Following on from the statement in Matthew 16 we have to ask, when did the Lord Jesus begin to build? Immediately after the Lord said these words the statement is made that "from that time forth began Jesus began to show unto his disciples how that he must go unto Jerusalem and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes and be killed and be raised again the third day" (v.21). Immediately He spoke about the church He spoke about the means by which it would be brought into being, so when we turn over to Acts 2 we find the formation of the church.

In the portion that we read in Matthew 16 the Lord Jesus replied to Peter when Peter made a wonderful confession of His Person, "thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God", saying,

"upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it".

The Lord Jesus indicated very early that the church would meet the attack of Satan, the administration of hell in all the power that that represents, and we only need to read church history to know something of the awful attack that Satan has levelled against the church right up to the present moment. It is continually under attack. It is the great desire of Satan to stamp out all those who form the church and all that the church stands for. Praise God that after two thousand years he has not been successful.

The Lord says,

"upon this rock I will build my church".

The Popish claim would tell us that this was Peter, the first Pope, and upon Peter the church began to be built. Well, we believe that is totally false, and we will demonstrate this in a moment. When we turn to chapter 2 of the Acts of the Apostles, Peter, to whom the Lord addressed these words, stood up before a vast crowd and what did he say? Did he say, 'I am Peter, the first disciple, upon me the Lord Jesus has promised the church will be built'? Not for a moment. He presented Christ, He presented the Lord Jesus as the Son of the living God. He told the audience about what the Lord Jesus did, how He lived a wonderful life well pleasing to God, how He died on the cross, how He rose out from amongst the dead, and how God placed Him in the highest place in glory. That is what Peter preached. There is not a word about himself; not a single thing, and when he preached later on in the house of a Gentile soldier, Cornelius, he preached exactly the same thing. That is why, when Paul writes his letters, he says the church is "built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets" (Eph.2:20), that is, the ministry of the apostles and prophets, and their ministry was Christ.

So in Acts 2 we see the church being formed. There were the disciples, the ones whom the Lord had chosen to be with him, and Peter standing up in the midst of them, preaching Christ, and it says three thousand souls were saved and they were added at that particular moment. There we see the growth of the infant church.

Who belongs to the Church?

"Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptised every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the Holy Ghost... And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved" (Acts 2:38, 47)

Now then, what kind of persons were added to the church? Three thousand persons who heard the ministry of Christ, who repented of their evil lives and of their refusing of the Messiah and who accepted the message they heard, they received the gift of the Holy Spirit and were added to the Lord and added to the church. There is the material that the Lord Jesus is building.

Paul in writing about men building, said he himself was a master builder who laid a very, very good foundation (1 Cor.3:10), and the foundation is the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God; there is not any other foundation (v.11). 'But,' says Paul, 'you labourers, you men who work for the kingdom, who work for the church, do not build with false material' (vv.12-15). There is a danger that the church in our hands will be subject to failure, but not in the hands of the divine Builder. "I will build", said the Lord Jesus, and the material He uses is the very best material, the material that will stand the test, that is, saved persons (1 Pet.2:5).

I do not want to criticise, but I think everyone here is perfectly aware that in many of the so-called churches today real, committed, born again Christians sit down with unconverted persons claiming to be Christians, and yet they are equally accepted as members of the so-called churches. I am not saying anything outlandish, I am not criticising unduly, I am stating a fact. Those who have belonged to these churches in the past know this very well. That is absolutely wrong.

It is not a question of making a confession of some particular kind or becoming a member because of respectability or for any other reason, the only persons who are joined to the church, the only church, are persons who are saved, that is, their sins are forgiven through faith in Christ and after being forgiven they receive the gift of the Holy Spirit and they are joined to each other and they are joined to Christ in glory in the power of the Spirit. This is the uniform teaching of the New Testament. So to belong knowingly to any company claiming to be a church and to sit down in full so-called 'church membership' with persons who are unconverted is something that ought not to be done.

We have to make allowance for the fact that there might be persons who appear to be Christians but are not, as was the case with Simon the sorcerer in the Acts 8 who was later detected and refused. We are not always in the position to detect who is a real Christian and who is not, the parable of the tares and the wheat growing together is a reminder to us of this (Matt.13:24-30), but what we do know is that when such a person is known not be a live, real, vital, Christian, then such a person ought not to be in fellowship in any known church. Acts 2 emphasises again the vital material that the Lord Jesus builds with, and we only have to refer to 1 Peter 2 to remind our hearts that Christ Himself is a living stone (v.4), and all those who are built upon Him are living stones (v.5a), and they form this wonderful building called "the house of God".

Again we have to emphasise that the house of God in the New Testament is not a material building, the house of God is a collection of persons indwelt by the Holy Spirit connected with Christ in glory where God dwells. Now God is holy, and will not dwell where there is anything that is unholy or anything that is contrary to His mind and will, but God delights to dwell in the midst of those who really belong to Him, His church. In 1 Timothy 3 it is described as "the church of the living God", that is, a collection of persons who belong to the living God in whom He deigns to dwell. That is a very wonderful thing. What a tremendous thing the church of God is!

When we go into a cathedral or some building of that nature instinctively the men take their hats off and there are other marks of respect and reverence that we pay to the building, it is a sort of instinctive feeling that comes upon one, and I suppose in the realm of courtesy it is quite correct, but oh how much more reverence and awe we should feel when we gather together in the way we are gathering together this evening. We are coming into the presence of God, He dwells amongst us, Christ also has vouchsafed His presence to those who gather to His name, "where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them" (Matt.18:20). Should not this create the spirit of awe and reverence in our hearts as we gather together? The surroundings might be very drab and ordinary, but that is not the point, we are not governed by the surroundings, we are governed by the truth of what the Bible says and, if a collection of believers form the house of God in any particular area and they gather together God vouchsafes His presence to them, so does Christ. Oh, how reverential we should be, and not be marked by the spirit of casual outlook on the matter. Here is something that the Bible teaches us that ought to govern our spirits, our hearts, our minds, our actions and all that we are in the presence of such wonderful truths.

These early remarks about the Lord Jesus give us some idea of what the church is in the mind of Christ and how He expects us to react to it, how we are to be governed by it, how we are to be obedient to it, and not to be governed by thoughts of men that perhaps are wholly tradition but do not stand the scrutiny of the word of God.

The Church is the House of the Living God

"These things write I unto you... that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the pillar and ground of the truth."   (1 Tim.3:14-15)

Here Paul is saying in very few words, 'Now Timothy, this must regulate your behaviour'. When? Just when Timothy met with other believers? Why, surely not. All believers form the house of God upon earth at any given moment, so their behaviour must always be consistent with this wonderful truth. In the presentation of the church in the New Testament it has no label of any distinctive character, it is simply the church of the living God, I mean it has no name that man has given to it, it has this wonderful, high and glorious title, "the church of the living God" given by God. And this is to regulate our behaviour.

Down through the history of the church various attempts have been made to destroy this. People have thought and said, 'Oh, yes, be very respectable and sanctimonious and pious when we come into a large building reserved for religious purposes, yes, we will behave ourselves then, we must do, it is the proper thing to do, the respectable thing to do, but after the services are all over, does it really matter how we behave? We can do what we like'. The word of God does not say that. Paul says, 'Timothy, I want you to understand how you ought to behave yourself in this wonderful company, the church of the living God'. There is a behaviour that is proper to belonging to this church.

Now, we would need to have a long time at our disposal to go over all the teaching that we find in the New Testament as to how this behaviour is practised but you will agree with me that, if this company is called-out to be the dwelling place of God, the greatest rectitude of behaviour is necessary. There is to be holiness, freedom from sin and freedom from the things which are evil and dishonouring to the name of Christ. How early in the church's history was there an attack of this kind. In Acts chapter 5 we find a man and his wife in collusion, they told lies and were hypocrites, and this was not the proper behaviour that belonged to the church. In chapter 6 there was as murmuring about the way the funds were dispersed for the benefit of widows and it caused concern. Satan was attacking the church again through this biased prejudice on the part of some. So we find these attacks from the very beginning and since then, of course, attacks of the worst possible kind have been levelled at this great company, the church of the living God.

'Now,' says Paul, 'It is the pillar and ground of the truth'. This is one of the features that belong to the church of the living God, it is to uphold and maintain the truth. Pilate said cynically to the Lord Jesus, "What is truth?" (John 18:38). It was not a thing that governed those Roman politicians, instead they were governed by compromise, everything that promoted the power of Rome was permissible, and if it meant denying and trampling truth underfoot then that was all right. What is truth? All that is seen personally in Christ is truth, all that flows out from Him for the teaching of the church today, and every jot and tittle of the New Testament that we have is for the direction and encouragement of those who belong to the church. The church is also the custodian of the truth, the church, not the Church of England, or the Church of Scotland, or the Roman Catholic Church, or the Methodist Church, or the 'brethren' Church, or any other kind of church, the church, composed of every true believer is the custodian of the truth.

Recently we have had the sad spectacle of a very prominent member of a church who publicly denies the incarnation of the Son of God, the virgin birth and the resurrection. This is not the first time this has been done by prominent members of the church. Down through the ages various high dignitaries in the church have denied fundamental truths, have torn pieces out of the Bible and said they were myths. Others in a more subtle way have said, 'This portion of the word of God is not really necessary for us, it is out of date, old fashioned, obsolete, we can dispense with it'. And if we listened to these attacks and followed their instructions we would have nothing left of our Bible except two covers. All the truth of the Bible has been denied in some way or another, and yet the church is the custodian of the truth.

Are these deniers real, vital members of the church? It is a very, very open question indeed. Do people have any living faith with the Son of God in glory when they can deny His virgin birth, truth so plainly stated in the word of God that no intelligent person can possibly deny it? If they deny it it is because they desire to deny it and dispense with it because it does not suit their reasoning. How sad, and yet again I say, that all the people who belong to the church of the living God are responsible to obey what the New Testament teaches concerning that church. We cannot say that this does not fit in to our particular way of thinking, or our particular way of gathering, we must be governed by all the Bible says or not at all. If we substitute our imagination, our organisation, our reasoning, then we are thinking that we are better than the Spirit of God. The Spirit of God is supreme in wisdom and has supplied us with directions for gathering together, for functioning, for our outreach to the world and for our behaviour in the world. All things pertaining to the church and its activity upon earth is stated for us in the word of God. Are we wiser than the Holy Spirit? Are we wiser than Christ? Are we more intelligent than God? If He has given the word of God to us surely that is to be our supreme guide.

How are we to understand and interpret the Bible? Well, we are not to twist and wrest scriptures to give them a 'private' interpretation, particularly for our particular company, the interpretation we need is the plain, straightforward presentation of the word of God in all matters pertaining to the church and it is so wide a matter that we cannot possibly go into it. But I want to say this, all the teaching that we find in the New Testament has its centre in Christ, His glories, which are multiple, His greatness, His humanity, His deity, and all the great things connected with Him. Oh, how wonderful He is, and if you find a professing church which does not make much of Christ it has sadly missed the mark. The Spirit of God, who operates in the church, desires to make much of Him (John 15:26), and thank God we know something of this in practice. Many believers do, and they all form the true church, and wherever the Spirit of God has free exercise, wherever believers are not governed by human ideas and organisation and wherever the Holy Spirit has freedom there will be a marvellous presentation of Christ.

You might say, 'I have heard it all before. I have heard the same things over and over again.' What you are hearing is the voice of the Spirit insisting that these things might be maintained, and if our enjoyment of these things is not what it should be then it is time we were examining our hearts and our minds, that is where the trouble lies. The Spirit of God will continually present Christ to us in His glory and His Person and in His work and in all that He does; Christ is in the centre of this wonderful company, and not only that, but the Spirit of God will lead us to understand something of the greatness of God. Oh, how marvellous that creatures like ourselves can be empowered by the Spirit to know something about God, the living God, the Creator, great Almighty God and supremely God revealed as the Father! What wonderful nearness we have to Him! Oh, how marvellous that believers who belong to this church learn these things, which are continually reiterated by the Spirit. We are such dim scholars that these things have to be put before us again and again lest we forget them, but I believe the insistent voice of the Spirit is telling us these things over and over again to guarantee that right until the end of the church's history upon earth these are the things that are to be maintained. Praise God for that!

What about other things, politics for example? We are to leave that to the politician, that is his realm, and all other things pertaining to this poor sad world also. 'So,' you say, 'you do not believe in doing good?' Yes, we do, very much so. There is a vast amount of teaching as to doing good. Let me quote a few verses.

  • "But to do good.... forget not" (Heb.13:16),
  • "Do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith" (Gal.6:10), and finally w
  • e are to be "zealous of good works" (Tit.2:14).

Yes, we believe in good works, but we believe those good works should be performed under the guidance and help of the Holy Spirit so that we know that whatever we are doing is being done effectively for God's glory and of course for the benefit of humanity at any given moment. So we believe in doing good. When we gather together to the Lord's name we do not want to hear a long discussion about doing good, we do not want to hear a long discussion about the condition of the world, we want to know about Christ, that is the function of the church. We want to know something about God. That too is the function of the church. Then in other ways we will know how these practical measures are to be carried out by each person, and there is a wide, wide field open to us.

The church, these persons called out from the Jewish and Gentile nations, is this wonderful company where Christ is supreme. He is the Head of the church - the Pope claims that he is head of the church upon earth. By lip service he will tell us about Christ being head of the church, but he will also tell us that Mary is co-Head. What an awful thing, blasphemous utterance! He will tell us that Mary is co-Redemptrix, she had part of the work of Christ upon the cross! Ah, perhaps we do not know the blasphemies that come from Rome. We want to keep clear of it, have no truck with it whatsoever, it is a false church, and sad to see the so-called Protestant churches running helter-skelter after Rome. What a sad sight indeed. Oh, what an evil system it is! I do not want to be occupied with it but these are facts that we must know. It is a blasphemous church, it makes little of Christ, makes much of Mary and makes much of the Pope here upon earth.

We do not need a Pope, nor a Moderator, nor an Archbishop, Christ is the Head of the church. When we hear about leaders in the church they are always in the plural, never in the singular. When any company of believers say they have a leader, and they obey him implicitly without examining what he says as to the word of God, they will be sure to be led into error. Listen to what I am emphasising, it is to guard the unique place Christ has. He is the Head of the body, He is the Son over God's house and the church maintains for Christ the unique glory that belongs to Him. He is competent to order the affairs of the church without our puny help. He is wise enough to direct the church, He possesses supreme intelligence to declare to the church what He wants done and how He wants it done, and He has already done this in His word. So we are thankful that we do not subscribe to human organisations as to the running of the church, this is in the hands of Christ and wherever it remains in His hand then we can be sure of blessing.

The Church - The Body of Christ

"Paul...... unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called saints, with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both their's and ours"   (1 Cor.1:1-2)

"Now ye are [the] body of Christ, and members in particular"   (1 Cor.12:12-14)

In 1 Corinthians 1 we have Paul writing a letter to a company of people in the city of Corinth and he addresses it to "the church of God which is in Corinth". Later on he tells us about the people of that city, he gives a long list of their sins, and then he says to the saints there, 'you were like that once, but you are changed now, you are washed, cleansed, justified and sanctified' (6:9-11).

How did that come about? By subscribing to the rules or regulations of the church? Did it come about by some means of reformation? 'Oh, no,' says Paul, 'by the Spirit and by the name of the Lord Jesus Christ'. In other words they were saved, converted, and in that city of Corinth some were drawn out from the Jewish faith, that is, they left the synagogue, others were drawn away from idolatry, the worshipping of idols, they were all baptised. They were not regenerated by being baptised. In being baptised they were saying, 'We are not going back to the synagogue or to idols, we are finished with them, we have died with Christ and now we want to live for Him. When we meet together we gather to His name, we do not gather to Moses or Jupiter or any other person, but we gather to the name of Christ. Our gathering is dominated by the name of Christ.' This Paul said when he wrote his first letter to "the church of God which is at Corinth" (1:2).

I wonder if Paul were to write such a letter today to the church of God in Bromley, where would it go? That is a good question. In Paul's day there was not any difficulty, there was one little company there and they were all gathered to the name of the Lord Jesus, they were united together, they were one. Paul used the illustration of a human body in chapter 12 to demonstrate the operation of the church, and he says, 'you are members one of another'. A body is never made of units joined together, a leg here and an arm there and different members brought together to make a body. No, the body in the Bible is always presented as one body, a living organism. Now he says, 'You believers in Corinth are just like a body, members one of another', that is, you all need each other, you all work together, you are all governed by the same mind, you have the same will, you are the body of Christ there.

Sad to say it would be very, very difficult to find some company in Bromley where this letter could be delivered for the sad reason that the church of God is no longer one, the testimony of the church of God is all divided up, and it will never be put back together again, not upon earth. There will be one supreme glorious moment when all true believers in Bromley and any other place in the world will be together never again to part, praise God for that, it might be very soon. All true believers await the coming of the Lord. What a marvellous thing, but we believe that in the eye of God, a better eye than ours, He can look down at Bromley (and at any other place in this world) and can see every true believer, everyone that is born again, saved, converted, whatever term you like to use, every person indwelt by the Spirit and see them as His church. They might belong to Methodist, Baptist, all kinds of companies, but primarily, without any of these labels attaching to them they are members of the body of Christ. That is how God sees them, they are stones in His building. That is how He views them, not with these labels upon them, but what they are in His sight as a result of the work of Christ, what they are as a result of the Spirit of God's activities upon them. That is something we have to keep in mind all the time to regulate our thinking in our dealings with each other as believers.

The Church - In a House

"Greet Priscilla and Aquila my helpers in Christ Jesus...... likewise the church that is in their home."   (Rom.16:3,5)

Lastly, in Romans 16 we read about Aquila and Priscilla who had a church "in their house". Well, if we adopted the normal usage of the word they must have had a very large house that they could have a church inside it. But we know of course that that is not the idea at all. In their house a company of people gathered together, a collection of called-out persons met in the house of Aquila and Priscilla and they worshipped the Lord there, they met for prayer, they met to read the word of God, they met to do the things that were pleasing to God and to Christ. I think that would be an honoured kind of house.

Is my house suitable for Christians to come and gather to the name of the Lord? Is your house suitable for Christians to gather to the name of the Lord? Would the situation, the atmosphere in that house be conducive to gathering to the name of the Lord, to worship Him, pray to Him, to conduct all that is proper to a Christian company? This is a very solemn consideration. It was so in the house of Aquila and Priscilla, it was so in the house of Philemon, he too had a church in his house (Phile.2).

So, dear friends, we can see how wonderful this truth is, whether we think of it in its broadest possible context that all over the world in all nations there are people who belong to Christ, or in the smallest context. We have been saved, we belong to Him through His work, oh, how wonderful, and we form the church of God upon earth without any consideration whatever of the various names and titles that we have, because all who belong to Christ are part of the church. When we think of a specific area, whether it be a city, a town or a village, all persons belonging to Christ, really, vitally saved and indwelt by the Spirit, form the church in that place whether it be large or whether it comes down to this small conception of a church in a house, both equally form a church in that particular area.

 If we keep that these things in mind it will guide us in the understanding of various portions of the word of God.