Holding to Truth

holding to truth in love for the building up of the Body of Christ

What is the Church? Only What is Out of Christ

What is the Church?What is the church? When you hear the word “church,” what do you think of? 

I’m afraid that with many the initial thought of “church” is a physical building. With others it might be some religious rituals or organization. Yet others might consider it to be a gathering of people who believe in the Lord and are saved.

But what does the Bible reveal concerning the church?  That is, what is the church according to the heart’s desire of God?

To see what the church is according to God’s heart, in His eternal plan, we really need to go back to the beginning. We need to view the church from God’s view, before sin entered.

So in this post we’ll go back to the beginning to see what the church is according to God’s desire in Genesis 2.

When Paul addressed the proper marriage life in Ephesians 5, he referred back to the first mention of marriage in the Bible in Genesis 2. He compares the union of Adam and Eve to the mysterious union of Christ and the church (Eph. 5:31-32).

From Paul’s word  in Genesis 2 we can see that Eve is type, a picture, of what the church should be according to God’s eternal plan.

Adam is a type of Christ

 Romans 5:14 clearly says, “Adam…who is a type of Him who was to come [Christ].”

First Corinthians 15 also compares Adam with Christ.  Verses 45 says, ‘So also it is written, “The first man, Adam, became a living soul”; the last Adam [Christ] became a life-giving Spirit. Verse 47 says that “the second man is out of heaven.” That is, He is Christ.

Eve came out of Adam

As Adam typifies Christ, his wife Eve, typifies the church. But how was Eve produced?

Genesis 2:18-23 points out that God put Adam into a deep sleep, signifying Christ’s death. God opened up Adam’s side and took a rib signifying the eternal life of Christ. With that rib from Adam’s side, God built the woman, Adam’s counterpart.

So Adam could say of Eve,

“This is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh. This one shall be called Woman because out of Man this one was taken.”  (Gen. 2:23).

In The Glorious Church, Watchman Nee said,

“We must remember that Eve was formed  out of a rib taken from Adam; therefore, Eve was a constituent of Adam. This means that the church comes out of Christ. Only that which is out of Christ can be the church. Anything that is not of Christ is not the church.” (p. 27)

The church comes out of Christ

We might consider that the church  is simply a group of saved “people” who gather together to worship the Lord. However, this is not what the church is intrinsically. This definitely is not the deeper meaning of the church revealed in Genesis 2.  The church revealed there has nothing of the natural element, the man of clay, but only that which is “out of Adam.”

Nothing that is out of us  can be called the church.

First Corinthians 10:17  confirms this point by saying,

“Seeing that there is one bread, we who are many are one Body; for we all partake of the one bread.”

On the one hand, the one bread signifies Christ who presented Himself to us as true bread (John 6:33-35). On the other hand, the one bread signifies the one Body of Christ–one loaf corporately.  How do we become that one bread, Christ’s Body the church? By partaking of the one bread, Christ.

Nee continues,

“The church is only that portion which has been taken out of Christ….The church is the Christ in you, the Christ in him, and the Christ in all the Christians around the world put together. Our natural man has nothing to do with the church. The only part of us which is related to the church is the part of the loaf which we have eaten.” (pp. 28-29)

This word continues to resonate in my being, “If it is not Christ, it is not the church.” Consider, if we bring even the best things of our natural life into the church, they will eventually cause a problem. Our eloquence, our knowledge, our management abilities or organizational skills may all seem useful to us. But without the dealing of the cross they will become a foreign element in the Body of Christ and become a big problem.

No longer I who live but Christ

 Galatians 2:20,  a golden verse,  beloved to many believers says,

“I am crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me…”

 I believe that many of us appreciate this verse mainly in connection with our personal living to the Lord. But actually, the greater importance of this living is not for our personal victory or maturity, but that Christ can gain His counterpart, His Eve, His bride, who is  “bone of His bones, and flesh of His flesh.”

Apart from such a reality, Christ can not have His Body to express Him or His bride to match Him for His eternal marriage.

Later Nee says,

“The vital issue of our new birth is just this: Repentance does not make us a part of the church; neither does our confession of sins nor our faith. Only the life which Christ has imparted to us makes us a part of the church. The basis of our being a part of the church is our new birth, since it is then that Christ imparts Himself to us. Therefore, there is a need for us to live, behave, and act according to this life, the life of Christ. God cannot do anything more for us than to impart His Son into us that we may share the life of Christ.” (p. 31)

May we simply respond to the Lord and pray,

“Lord, thank you for showing me that the church is not a religious organization or even a group of Your believers but only that which comes out of You.  Lord, I praise you that You have not only redeemed me from my sinful condition, but have imparted into me Your eternal life. Teach me to continually live, behave, and act according to Your life in me. Lord, make me a living member of Your organic Body, the church.”

If you’ve been enlightened by a point from this post, I hope that you’ll take a moment to reply with a comment.

References and Further Resources:

About Tom Smith

Hi. My name is Tom Smith. I'm the writer behind Holding to Truth in Love, and I love the Lord Jesus and His life-giving Word. Please feel free to send me an e-mail through the contact page if you have any questions. I hope you'd take a moment to subscribe to the Holding to Truth blog. Then you'll be sure not to miss a post. Thanks!

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