Pulpit Today Sermons

by Robert D Pace

The Nature of the Church

1 Peter 2:9


There’s never been a group of people comparable to the assemblage called, the Church. It’s human history’s most glorious institution, as it was ordained by God the Father’s wisdom; it was redeemed by God the Son, and; it has been anointed, favored, and sealed by God the Holy Spirit. Though its mortal membership renders it imperfect, nothing compares with it. Despite its shortcomings, they are more than capitulated by the grace of God!

When you look closely at the church’s distinctions, you’ll find that all are attributed to Jesus Christ. For example, let’s consider several blessings that Christ granted to the Church:

As an institution, the Church is unsurpassed in protection so long as the earth endures! Jesus said in Matthew 16:18  “on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.” I have a question: If Satan and the powers of hell cannot defeat the Church, what chance do all the armies of the world have in defeating it?

Second, the Bible discloses that the Church is unsurpassed in spiritual power. Jesus said in Luke 10:19, “I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you.”

Next, the Church is unsurpassed in spiritual blessings. In Psalm 132:15–16 God says, “I will bless her with abundant provisions; her poor will I satisfy with food. (16) I will clothe her priests with salvation, and her saints will ever sing for joy.”

Fourth, the Church is unsurpassed in the Lord’s attentiveness. Psalm 4:3 says “ . . . the LORD has set apart the godly for himself; the LORD will hear when I call to him.”

These distinctions cannot be ascribed to another institution on our planet. Christ has not invested Wall Street with this security. Government isn’t promised such prowess; Enterprise isn’t guaranteed such prosperity. The Church alone is imbued with these unsurpassed blessings! . . . Before continuing this message I want to take a moment to define the meaning of the Church.

(Definition) The New Testament word Church (“ekklesia”) means, “the called out ones.” The Church is comprised of people ransomed (“called out”) from the ranks of the world (Satan’s kingdom) and then given entrance into God’s kingdom.

(Transition) Yes, the Church of the Living God operates with pronounced favor from its Creator. And, from here on we will examine the various designations that the Bible uses to describe the Church’s nature. The first designation given to the Church is a term found in Ephesians 1:22–23 called “The Body of Christ.”

I. The Body of Christ

Ephesians 1:22–23 says: “And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, (23) which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.”

This expression, “The Body of Christ,” divulges more meaning to the Church’s purpose, position, and character than any other designation in Scripture. And several things should be noted about this title, “the Body of Christ.”

1. First, it identifies the Church’s oneness with Christ. The Believer’s oneness with Christ is a profound mystery! Paul speaks of him being “in Christ” and Christ being “in him.” But here he tells us, in Ephesians 1, that the corporate Church is a  mysterious extension of Christ’s Body on Earth. With Jesus as the Head, Believers are the individual members of his body. We are the hands, feet, eyes, ears, and arms of his body. What a profound consideration!

2. Second, the phrase, “The Body of Christ,” expresses the Believer’s codependency to each other. Each member of Christ’s body on Earth is vital to the Church’s overall welfare. The Church cannot truly prosper without cooperation of member-to-member. That’s why, by the Lord’s wisdom, he sovereignly situates each member into the “Body of Christ.” And in so doing, it benefits everyone.

(Example) Maybe you feel insignificant and that your gifts and abilities aren’t much use to the Church. Perhaps you feel like a small eye-lid. Well, during a dust storm or sand storm, an eye-lid is the most important member of the human body! So don’t ever depreciate your place in the Kingdom of God. The Holy Spirit needs and desires to use every gift he has “set” in the Church—from a toe to an ear!

3. Third, the phrase, “The Body of Christ” illustrates the need for unity in the Church. There’s no way the Church can properly function without unity among its members. hat’s why dissension so frequently splits and undermines Churches. It debilitates the Body.

Read: Acts 6:1–17

Thank God, the Church reasoned among its membership and prevented this issue from dividing it. The Apostles proposed that seven wise, Spirit-filled men oversee these matters. Consequently, the Church grew and prospered because it accepted this apostolic recommendation. That’s why James 5:9 says: “Don’t grumble against each other, brothers, or you will be judged. The Judge is standing at the door.”

When Paul dealt with the divisive issues of the Corinthian Church, he especially urged them to walk in unity. It’s throughout 1 Corinthians! Notice how he pled for unity in chapter one. He said,

“I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought. (11) My brothers, some from Chloe’s household have informed me that there are quarrels among you.”

Paul emphasized the need for Christian harmony seven times in his letters to the Corinthians (1:10–11; 3:3; 11:18; 12:25; 14:1–40; 2 Cor. 12:20). The Apostle knew that it was impossible for the “Body of Christ” to operate in power so long as it argued and disagreed. Always remember something: The Church’s victory does not come by increasing the membership roll! It comes when a church operates in unity! God doesn’t need throngs of people to accomplish his purposes. It’s unity among the brethren that brings forth God’s blessing!

It only took 300 unified men of faith, following Gideon, and they routed an army so large that attempting to number their camels “could no more be counted than the sand on the seashore” (Judges 7:12).

The creation of the Church on the Day of Pentecost was a phenomenon of itself! It took but 120 Spirit-filled, unified Believers to jump-start Christianity and turn the known world upside-down for Christ!

God can do more with two faith-filled Christians in agreement, than a Church of ten thousand disjointed and disgruntled members. The Bible clearly states that God’s blessing resides upon the people of unity!

(Example) Even the world knows the power of cooperation. If American politics has proved anything, it’s that a minority of unified people can legislate contrary to the majority’s pleasure. For years, the pro-abortion proponents, in the minority, have pushed through their agenda in the face of the majority. The LBGTQ  ideologues, cooperating in the minority, have successfully advanced their policies across the United States.

But take note! If the early Christians—far from a majority—evangelized their world impacted their culture, and saw multiplied thousands accept Christ then today’s Christians can do the same!

(Transition) Another designation the Bible ascribes to the Church is “the household of God.” Turn to 1 Timothy 3:15.

II. “The Household of God”

1 Timothy 3:15 say: “If I am delayed, you will know how people ought to conduct themselves in God’s household, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth.”

Paul uses three phrases to define the Church in this verse: “The household of God . . . The Church of the living God . . . [and] The pillar and foundation of truth.” I want to discuss the phrase, “The household of God.”

1. First, this designation identifies the domestic, family relationship Believers share one with another. Paul is telling us that the Church is a family that consists of brothers and sisters and mothers and fathers. And we have been purchased by the precious Blood of Jesus Christ at Calvary.

(Example) How many here have met a stranger, perhaps across the country or out of the country, and then soon discovered they were a Christian? Almost instantly you felt a bond; a kinship to that person. That’s because God has adopted Christians into his household from every state, region, nation, and place on this planet.

And notice how Paul said the “household of God” should treat its fellow family members. 1 Timothy 5:1-2 says: “Do not rebuke an older man harshly, but exhort him as if he were your father. Treat younger men as brothers, (2) older women as mothers, and younger women as sisters, with absolute purity.” God has told us to love and respect one another. And when that happens it brings health and trust within the family.

2. Secondly, and strangely, this designation, “The Household of God,” identifies Church’s residence. Scripture identifies the Church residing two places: Globally and locally. When the Bible refers to the universal Church it includes Believers throughout the earth (Eph. 1:22; Col. 1:18). Spanning the globe east to west, Arctic to Antarctica, a Christian living in the low-lying Everglades of south Florida is spiritually kin to a Christian living among the Alpines of Switzerland.

We’re called to be a loving and caring community. We need to pray, give, and minister to God’s family when needs arise. Paul told Believers to “do good to all men, but especially those of the household of faith.” And that’s exactly what the New Testament Church practiced.

(Bible Example) When the Jewish Church in Jerusalem suffered in the first century famine Paul collected a huge offering from the Gentile Churches in Asia Minor. The Gentile offering rescued the Jewish Believers and unified the Church. Loosening your pocketbook for others creates a bonding.

You see, the Church is an organization but it’s also an organism. In structure it’s organizational; but in relationship it’s an organism—a family organism. And a healthy family is homogenous, loving, and nurturing one-to-another.

(Definition) The dictionary defines an organism as “a group of interdependent parts that function for the benefit of the whole.” That describes the Church. The Church is a group of mutually dependent people functioning for the benefit of the whole body. Christ created the Church to house a loving and caring atmosphere.

(Transition) Not only does the Bible call the Church “The Body of Christ” and “the household of God,” it also refers to it as “the church of the living God.”

III. “The Church of the Living God”

There are two implications in this expression:

1. First, the phrase, “the church of the living God,” infers who governs the Church. And it’s governed by almighty God. Note the possessive assertion Christ placed on His Church at Caesarea Philippi when He declared, “I will build my Church, and the gates of hell will not overcome it” (Matt. 16:18). Christ specifically referred to the Church with the possessive pronoun “My.” “I will build “My” Church.”

Thank God, the Church is governed and protected by the omnipotent God. Man doesn’t govern it; a Board of Regents does not govern it; Congress or parliament doesn’t govern it; Angels don’t govern it; God Himself is the Chief Potentate of the Church. The Church’s every command comes through Christ.

The Church’s duty basically involves seven commands: The evangelization of the lost (2CO 5:1820); the discipleship of Believers (MAT 28:19); the fellowship of Believers (ACT 2:42); the worship of God (1PE 2:9); the perpetuation of Christ’s healing and miracle ministry; the ministry of prayer; and the Believer’s call to be the “salt and light” of the world (MAT 5:1316). These commands come only through Christ.

2. Then secondly, the phrase, “Church of the living God,” expresses God’s earthly dwelling-place. Since the beginning of time God’s purpose has been to raise up a people through whom He could dwell, call His own, receive their worship, and display His glory. And this is accomplished through the Church that is on the earth.

In the Old Testament, God dwelled in the tents of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. As Israel grew into twelve tribes the Lord manifested Himself in the midst of Moses’ Tabernacle and then the Temple. But for the past 2,000 years, the worship center’s of the Church have been God’s earthly dwelling-place.

The Church is the primary location where God’s Word and will are revealed.

It’s the primary location where His supernatural power is released (1CO 12:47). Christ healed the sick when He went into God’s house. Throughout Church history signs and wonders have been associated with the Church (Clouds of smoke, fires over sanctuaries, etc).

It’s the primary place of worship (PSA 27:6).

It’s the primary place of prayer (ACT 4:23-31). (Also note Solomon’s prayer at the dedication of the Temple and God’s response to it.)

It’s the primary place for the ministry of the Apostle, Prophet, Evangelist, Pastor and Teacher.

(Transition) The final designation Paul ascribes to the Church here in 2 Timothy 3:15 is “the pillar and foundation of the truth.”

IV. The Pillar And Foundation Of The Truth

This designation expresses the Church’s role in possessing God’s eternal truth in opposition to the enemies of deception and evil. Saints of God, the Church is entrusted with maintaining the standard of truth without compromise.

Folks, some Churches simply don’t preach or believe God’s inerrant Word! They don’t believe in the holy inspiration of Scripture; They explain away Bible miracles; They disavow Christ’s forgiving power; And the virgin birth is sheer fantasy. In Revelation 2, Christ told the heresy-riddled Church at Pergamum that unless they repented He would “fight against them with the sword of . . . [His] mouth” (2:17).

Folks, the Church cannot be the Church without adhering to and heralding its chief constitution—the Bible!


I am so grateful that I’m a member of the greatest institution on the earth. I know that I dwell among special people, with special gifts, with divine love that we share one to another. But most importantly, we have been called to glorify our God and his Son Jesus Christ who birthed the Church. As Peter said, “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” (1 Peter 2:9).