2010 Changes are in bold dark red type
Chapter 2: Church of the Living God
Scripture uses various expressions to describe the church, such as "the church of God" (Acts 20: 28), "the body of Christ" (Ephesians 4: 12), and "the church of the living God" (I Timothy 3: 15).
To belong to the church of God is a unique and soul-satisfying privilege. It is God's purpose to gather out a people from the far corners of the earth to bind them into one body, the body of Christ, of which He is the living head. All who are children of God in Christ Jesus are members of this body, and in this relationship they may enjoy fellowship with each other and fellowship also with their Lord.
The Bible uses the word church in at least two senses: a general sense applying to the church in all the world (Matt. 16: 18; I Cor. 12: 28) and a particular sense applying to the church in a city or a province, such as to those at Rome (Romans 1: 6, 7), Corinth (I Cor. 1: 2), and Thessalonica (I Thess. 1: 1) and of Galatia ( I Cor. 16: 1), Asia (I Cor. 16: 19), Syria and Cilicia (Acts 15: 41).
Christ being the head of the Church and its living Lord, has a deep love for the members of His body. In the church He is to be glorified (Eph. 3: 21). Through the church He will reveal the "maniford wisdom of God" (Eph. 3: 10). Day by day he nourishes the church (Eph. 5: 29), and His longing desire is to make of it "a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish." (Eph. 5: 27 )
No Wall of Partition
Christ sought by precept and example to teach the truth that with God there was to be no dividing wall between Israel and the other nations (John 4: 4-42, 10: 16; Luke 9: 51-56; Matt. 15: 21-28). The apostle Paul writes, "The Gentiles should be fellow heirs, of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ through the gospel" (Eph. 3: 6).
Nor is there to be among Christ's followers any preference of caste or nationality or race or color, for all are of one blood. The elect of God are a universal brotherhood, a new humanity, "all one in Christ Jesus" (Gal. 3: 28).
Christ came to this earth with a message of mercy and forgiveness. He laid the foundation for a religion by which Jew and Gentile, black and white, free and bond, are linked together in one common brotherhood, recognized as equal in the sight of God. The Savior has a boundless love for every human being." 7T 225.
"No distinction on account of nationality, race, or caste is recognized by God. He is the Maker of all mankind. All men are of one family by creation, and all are one through redemption. Christ came to demolish every wall of partition, to throw open every compartment of the temple, that every soul may have free access to God . . . In Christ there is neither Jew nor Greek, bond or free. All are brought nigh by His precious blood." - COL 386.
Supreme Object of Christ's Regard
Those in Christ's service who are called to leadership are to "take care of the church" (1 Tim. 3: 5), to "shephard the church of God" Acts 20: 28), and to show "concern for all the churches" (2 Cor. 11: 28).
"I testify to my brethren and sister that the church of Christ, enfeebled and defective as it may be, is the only object on earth on which He bestows His supreme regard. While He extend to all tthe world His invitation to come to Him and be saved, He commissions His angels to render divine help to every soul that cometh to Him in repentance and contrition, and he comes personally by His Holy Spirit into the midst of His church." - TM 15
As the bride of Christ and the supreme object of His regard, the church is expected in all its functions to represent the order and character of the divine.
"At this time the church is to put on her beautiful garments - 'Christ our righteousness' There are clear, decided distinctions to be restored and exemplified to the world in holding aloft the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus. The beauty of holiness is to appear in its native luster in contrast with the deformity and darkness of the disloyal, those who have revolted from the law of God. Thus we acknowledge God, and recognize His law, the foundation of His government in heaven and throughout His earthly dominions. His authority should be kept distinct and plain before the world, and no laws are to be acknowledged that come in collision with the laws of Jehovah. If in definace of God's arrangements the world is allowed to influence our decisions or our actions, the purpose of God is defeated. However specious the pretext, if the church waver here, there is written against her in the books of heaven a betrayal of the most sacred trust, and treachery to the kingdom of Christ. The church is firmly and decidedly to hold her principles before the whole heavenly universe and the kingdoms of the world; steadfast fidelity in maintaining the honor and sacredness of the law of God will attract the notice and admiration of even the world, and many will, by the good works which they shall behold, be led to glorify our father in heaven." TM 16, 17
The apostle Peter writes, "But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light." (1 Peter 2: 9 ).
Complete in Christ
"The Lord has provided His church with capabilities and blessings, that they may present to the world an image of His own sufficiency, and that His church may be complete in Him, a continual representation of another, even the eternal world, of laws that are higher than eartly laws. His church is to be a temple built after the divine similitude, and the angelic architect has brought his golden measuring rod from heaven, that every stone may be hewed and squared by the divine measurement and polished to shine as an emblem of heaven, radiating in all directions the bright, clear beams of the Sun of Righteousness . . .
The Lord is making experiments on human hearts thfough the exhibition of His mercy and abundant grace. He is effecting transformations so amazing that Satan, with all his triumphant boasting, with all his confederacy of evil united against God and the laws of His government, stands viewing them as a fortress impregnable to his sophistries and delusions. They are to him an incomprehensible mystery. the angels of God, seraphim and cherubim, the powers commissioned to cooperate with human agencies, look on with astonishment and joy that fallen men, once children of wrath, are through the training of Christ developing characters after the divine similitude, to be the sons and daughters of God, to act an important part in the occupations and pleasures of heaven.
"To His church, Christ has given ample facilities, that He may receive a large revenue of glory from His redeemed, purchased possession. The church, being endowed with the righteousness of Christ, in His depository, in which the wealth of His mercy, His love, His grace, is to appear in full and final display . . .
"In their untainted purity and spotless perfection, Christ looks upon His people as the reward of all His suffering, His humiliation, and His love, and the supplement of His glory - - Christ, the great center from which radiates all glory. "Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb.'" - TM 17 - 19
The church is committed to the foregoing principles of the spiritual unity of Christ's church. By the peace and power which Christ's righteousness brings, the church pledges to conquer every barrier that sin has erected between human beings.
Continue to Chapter 3: Organization and Authority
Return to Church Manual page