|The Church An Extension of Christ
by E.H. Jack Sequeira
When the Bible writers wrote the New Testament in the common Greek language of their day, there were no theological words to describe some of the spiritual truths God revealed to them. As a result, they had to use words that the people were familiar with but, at the same time, give them new meanings that conformed to the divine revelation.
For example, one of these words is propitiation or expiation, depending on which translation you have, or, in the New International Version, sacrifice of atonement. A good example is Romans 3:25:
God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forebearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished ...
This word propitiation in Greek is hilastarion and was used to describe sacrifices offered by pagans to appease the anger of their gods. But when the New Testament writers used the same word, they were not referring to any sacrifice we make to appease our angry God but the sacrifice God Himself made in Christ to meet the just demands of His holy law so that He can lawfully justify sinners who believe in Jesus. Verse 26 brings this out. Romans 3:26:
...He did it to demonstrate his justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.
Another word that had a similar problem, and that has to do with this study, is the word church. The Greek word is actually two words put together, ek-klesia, from which we get the English word ecclesiastical. EK means out of and KLESIA means a called people. Put together, this word means a called-out people, the title for this study. This word was used in secular Greek to refer to any group of people who would meet together for a specific purpose. For example, a nominating committee to choose officers for a new term in New Testament times would be called an ekklesia.
But when the New Testament writers used this word ek-klesia to refer to the Church of Christ, they gave it a special meaning that conformed to the truth of the gospel. What was that special meaning? The answer is found in our Scripture reading. John 15:18-19:
If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.
Christians are men and women, young and old, from all races, all cultures, and all walks of life who have one thing in common: they have all responded by faith to the claims of the gospel and have been called out of this world to be citizens of heaven. This is how Peter describes this called-out people. 1 Peter 2:9-10:
But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not recieved mercy, but now you have received mercy.
To understand all the ramifications of what it means to be this called-out people we call the church, we need to understand what the Bible teaches about the two kingdoms: the kingdom of God under Christ and the kingdom of this world under Satan. 1 John 5:19:
We know that we are children of God, and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one.
When Adam fell, he not only passed on to his posterity (to which we all belong) sin, condemnation, and death, but he also handed the dominion of this world to Satan. Luke 4:5-6:
The devil led him up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. And he said to him, I will give you all their authority and splendor, for it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to.
It is for this reason Christ referred to Satan as the prince or lord of this world. He did this on more than one occasion but here is one example. John 14:30:
I will not speak with you much longer, for the prince of this world is coming. He has no hold on me....
Satans kingdom is also referred to as the kingdom of darkness. Luke 22:53:
Every day I was with you in the temple courts, and you did not lay a hand on me. But this is your hour when darkness reigns.
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
And the great tragedy is that all of us, by nature, were born in and belonged to this kingdom of darkness. But the incredible good news of the gospel is that Christ came to deliver us from this world of darkness doomed for destruction. John 1:1-13:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.
There came a man who was sent from God; his name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all men might believe. He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light.
The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husbands will, but born of God.
How did Christ accomplish this most difficult task? In other words, what did it cost Christ to deliver us from Satans kingdom of darkness that is doomed for destruction and bring us into the glorious light of His kingdom? Listen to how Peter answers this question. 1 Peter 1:18-19:
For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.
On the cross, Christ paid the supreme price for our sins, the wages of which is death. Paul tells us in Romans 8:32 that God spared not His own Son but delivered Him up for us all:
He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?
And to the Galatian Christians he told them that Christ came to this world so that we sinners may be delivered from this present evil world into His glorious kingdom of righteousness. Galatians 1:3-5:
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
But what does it mean to be delivered from this present evil world, this world that is groping in darkness? According to the apostle John, this world of darkness is driven by three driving forces all of which are motivated by the principle of self, the fundamental principle of Satans kingdom. 1 John 2:15-17:
Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.
James 1:27; 4:4:
Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. ...You adulterous people, dont you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.
This is what Christians are called-out from. Not this physical world so that we have to live in monasteries as some of the early Christ did, but we are a called-out people from this world of evil dominated by self. Note the prayer of Jesus before He went to the cross. John 17:15-19:
My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified.
This, my dear people, is the cost of discipleship. When God called you to become His child through faith in His Son, He called you and me to die to self, to surrender this self to the cross of Christ and become new creatures in His Son. Luke 9:23-25:
Then he said to them all: If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self?
I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.
Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires.
Unfortunately, not all are willing to pay this price. As a result, the church is made up of two groups of people those who have from the heart surrendered to the cross of Christ and in their innermost being confess that For me to live is Christ, and those who, like Ananias and Sapphira, are pretending to be Christians but they have one leg in the church while the other is still in the world.
But because the heart is deceitful above all things, it is impossible for us humans to tell to which camp others belong. It is so easy to cover up our true motives by our outward behavior. That is why Paul warns us not to judge our fellow men since we cannot read the hearts of others. As Jesus pointed out in the parable of the wheat and tares, we must let God do the shifting out of the true and false believers. Matthew 13:24-30:
Jesus told them another parable: The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared.
The owners servants came to him and said, Sir, didnt you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?
An enemy did this, he replied.
The servants asked him, Do you want us to go and pull them up?
No, he answered, because while you are pulling the weeds, you may root up the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.
But my question to you is, are you truly a called-out person? Or are you still clinging to the world dominated by the principle of self? I cannot stress strongly enough that if you have not fully surrendered your life of sin to the cross you are on very dangerous ground, for Satan will one day pull you out of Christ like he did Judas.
Besides God, only you can read your heart. And that is what God is ultimately concerned about. Give me your heart, that is His plea. Christ, our great High Priest in the heavenly sanctuary, understands your struggles with sin and the flesh. He knows your every weakness and failures, but what He wants is your heart.
Today God is calling to all who claim to be His people, Come out of Babylon, this principle of self. He wants you to glory in nothing else but the cross of Christ so that one day you may share the glory of Christ. He wants each one of us to be truly His called-out people, so that, with the apostle Paul, we can make this confession. Galatians 6:14:
May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.