Three Reasons Why God’s Church is Unlimited

Jan 27, 2015 1477

bodyofchristPerspective is an amazing thing. As Neil Armstrong gazed in wonder at the earth from space, he is reported to have reflected that, “[i]t suddenly struck me that that tiny pea, pretty and blue, was the Earth. I put up my thumb and shut one eye, and my thumb blotted out the planet Earth. I didn’t feel like a giant. I felt very, very small.” [1] Perhaps the perspective that we often have about God’s church is too small, because we are limited in our natural perception of space and time. Perhaps God wants us to see the bigger picture.

Here are three reasons why I believe that God’s church is unlimited:

1. Because it extends throughout heaven and earth, and throughout the universe.

The New Testament teaches us clearly that God’s church is not limited to this earth at all, and that the body of Christ is much larger than we often think. Paul is referring to the church when he writes of that Christ has “made peace” and “reconciled all things to Himself” “through the blood of His cross… whether things on earth or things in heaven.”[2] The picture that the New Testament gives us is of God’s church as being a community that extends throughout the universe. It is a church that stretches far beyond the boundaries of this planet, and whose extent in space, or even time, is beyond our comprehension.

Paul, for example, develops this idea in the book of Hebrews. In chapter 12, he compares the mountain of Sinai where God communed with His people with the reality of the church. He writes that we have not come to that earthly mountain, but, rather, “to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to myriads of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the Judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect.” (Heb. 12:22–23.)

2. Because it cannot be limited to any one denomination

When we thing of churches, too often we think of different denominations. Different Christian communities have been a great blessing to the church of God in different ways, but none of them can ever claim to encompass God’s church within themselves.

Christianity began at a time when there were no denominations or different churches. There was just Christianity. The essential New Testament criteria for belonging to the God’s church are very simple:

everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. – Acts 2:21 (CEB)

through Jesus everyone who believes is put in right relationship with God. – Acts 13:39 (CEB)

The church you choose to belong to here on earth is an important decision, and you must carefully consider the teachings of the Bible and the guidance of the Holy Spirit in these matters. But more important than anything else is to know that ultimately, you belong foremost to Christ and to Christ alone, and it is because of that simple fact that you will love and serve within his community here on earth.

3) Because it receives sinners

God’s church is unlimited because it does what Jesus Christ did when he walked on earth, and that is to welcome sinners. Not ex-sinners, not reformed sinners, not sanctified sinners, but just as the verse says:

This man receives sinners (Luke 15:2).

Jesus didn’t just welcome sinners. He even ate and socialized them! Jesus went all the way to show that he really meant it, and he wanted his followers to mean it as well.

God’s church is big, very big… in fact it’s unlimited!

That you and I have been called to belong to such a community, through the blood of Jesus Christ, is really an gift beyond measure! When the apostle Paul thought about it, it led him to exclaim,

[f]or this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. (Eph 3:14–15.)

Let us then, indeed bow our knees. And then let us get up, and walk worthy of His calling.

– Eliezer Gonzalez

[1] Quoted in Carolyn Collins Petersen and John C. Brandt, Visions of Cosmos, New York: Cambridge University Press, 2003, 50.

[2] Col. 1:20; see v.25; See also Eph. 2:15–21.

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