The Nature and Dynamic of Ministry and The Nature and Purpose of the Church (continued)
The Nature and Purpose of the Church - Part Two
What is the Church? Of course, there are various symbols of the Church. The Church is called "the House of God," it is called a "Temple," it is called "the Body of Christ," it is called "the Bride," and so on. You may ask, "Are these different things?" No, they are only aspects of one thing. Each of those definitions or designations or titles is only a functionary aspect of the Church. The House of God - the place where God lives. The Temple of God - where He is worshiped. The Body of Christ - the vessel of a Personality. The Body of Christ is a function, a many-sided function of the expression of the Personality. The Bride is the expression of the affectional relationship between Christ and the Church. "Christ loved the Church, gave Himself for it ... so ought husbands to love their wives ..." The Bride is the affectional relationship between Christ and His Church. There are all symbols of the one thing, but what is the one thing of which these are but aspects? And that is what we have got to come to, that is where our revision of mentality has to take place.
So, what is the inclusive designation of the Church? "One Man" - You have it in that great Church Letter of Ephesians where "He has broken down the middle wall of partition" between Jew and Gentile (racially the old human division and has made "of the twain one new man," - a New Humanity. It is the aggregate of the New Creation people, men and women, Jews and Gentiles (not remaining as they are naturally, Jews and Gentiles) but just one New Man, one New Humanity: that is the Church! And which humanity is it? That touches on the function: there is the nature.
Oh, do take this to heart, dear friends, for I do not intend to offend anyone, but what is God doing? What is He after? Is He after making a new institution called the Church, a new ecclesiasticism, something that has a denominator among men like the individual denominations or the non-denominations? Is God doing that? Is that what God is doing? (This is where we need a mental revision, a heart revision.) No! He is not in it. No, He is not doing that, He is only with the people, not with the thing. But God is doing in the spiritual way what He did at the beginning. He is saying and proceeding, proceeding with His concept: "Let Us make man, let Us make Man." The Church is the One New Man: - Let Us make a Man, not an institution, or any of these things that the Church is called. God said: "Let us make a Man," and that is what He is doing with you and with me. God is not trying to make of us any of these many things that Christians are called and the names by which they go. He is just getting to work on us to constitute us "the Man."
You remember what we said in the beginning: "He called them (man and woman) - He called them man." Here in this (and sisters, be careful how you take what I am now going to say, for "thee is neither male nor female") it is a Man, that is, it is a Humanity. I cannot explain to you, because I do not know what that Humanity is going to be afterward in glory, but Jesus answering a certain man's question about marriage and repeated marriages, (whose wife a certain woman would be afterward out of all she had married) said, "Ye do err ... in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels." It is a kind of Humanity that is different. Oh, the questions will arise, "Shall I know my husband in heaven, shall I know my wife in heaven?" Yes! But we shall know in a way in which t is far better to know, however precious may have been the human relationships, husband and wife, wife and husbands here - yes, precious very precious; but is it not better when a husband and wife know each other in the Spirit than in the flesh? Is it not lovely when they flow together from one Spirit, one vision, one objective that their united lives manifest Jesus Christ in the home and in the neighborhood? There is something very precious about that.
I had a son, and the Lord took him about three or four years ago; and as my son, we had a good relationship. There was not strife between us as father and son, no difficulty at all. He and I had such spiritual fellowship that I could open my heart to him as fully as I could to anybody, and more than to most people - for he was not only my son, but he was my spiritual friend. Brethren you know what I am talking about. That is how we are going to know, and it will be a better kind of knowing. Do not worry, then, whether you know your husband or your wife. Oh, you will: "Then shall I know, even as I have been known by the Lord."
(continued with # 38 - (The Vocation: The Emanation of Christ)