The Church in Bristol
Christ is our life; the church is our living!

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God’s Will: the Church

      "The economy of the mystery is…in order that now to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenlies the multifarious wisdom of God might be made known through the church, according to the eternal purpose which He made in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Eph. 3:9-11)

      God’s will—for which all things were created (Rev. 4:11), in which is His good pleasure (Eph. 1:5), and from which came His eternal council, counsel, purpose, and economy as the plan to fulfil His purpose (vv. 10-11; 3:9-11)—is to have the church (Matt. 16:18) as the Body of Christ (Eph. 1:22-23), consummating in the New Jerusalem (Rev. 21:2).

      To God, the church is exceedingly precious: it is the goal of His eternal economy, which He made within Himself in eternity past for the fulfillment of His heart's desire (Eph. 3:9-10; 1:4-5); it is His good pleasure, the means for Him to head up all things in Christ to consummate the New Jerusalem (1:9-10); and it is the object of His love, which He obtained at the cost of His own blood (Acts 20:28) for Christ to have His counterpart (Eph. 5:32; Rev. 21:2).

      As such a treasure to God’s heart, the revelation of the church in the New Testament is both rich and profound. In the book of Ephesians alone, the church is revealed as the Body of Christ (1:22-23), the new man (2:15), the kingdom of God (2:19), the household of God (2:19), the dwelling place (holy temple) of God (2:21-22), the bride, the wife, of Christ (5:23-32), and the warrior (6:10-20).

      Furthermore, the New Testament reveals the church as the kingdom of the heavens, the treasure hidden in the field, and the pearl of great value (Matt. 13:44-46); the Lord's flock, the Father's house, the Son's vine, and the Spirit's child (John 10:16; 14-16); the wonderful 'Me', the universal God-man 'Jesus' (Acts 9:4); God's cultivated land, God's building, and 'the Christ', the 'coorporate Christ' (1 Cor. 3:9; 12:12); and God's new creation (Gal. 6:15; 2 Cor. 5:17), and even the first fruit of God's new creation (James 1:18).

      Not only so, the church is also God's masterpiece (Eph. 2:10), the mystery of Christ (3:4), the great mystery (5:32), the fullness of Christ (1:23) becoming the fullness of God (3:19), and the four-in-one organism of the Triune God (4:4-6); the house of God, the pillar and base of the truth, and the mystery of godliness as God manifested in the flesh (1 Tim. 3:15-16); the holy and royal priesthood, the chosen race, the holy nation, and God’s unique possession (1 Pet. 2:5, 9; Titus 2:14); and Mount Zion, the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and the church of the firstborn (Heb. 12:22-23).

      Finally, in the book of Revelation, the church is revealed as the testimony of Jesus (Rev. 1:2), the golden lampstand (v. 20), the wife and armies of the Lamb (19:7, 14), and ultimately, the miniature and foretaste of the New Jerusalem (21:2; 22:1-2), which will be the ultimate consummation of the processed and consummated Triune God united, mingled, and incorporated with His chosen, redeemed, regenerated, renewed, transformed, built-up, conformed, and glorified tripartite elect, as the Spirit and the bride (v. 17), to be an universal couple and the mutual abode of God and man (21:3, 22) for the corporate expression of the Triune God in and through humanity unto eternity (v. 11).

      Such a heavenly, spiritual, mystical, and divine-human entity—the church as the Body of Christ, the organism of the Triune God—takes the unique attribute of the Divine Trinity, that is, the attribute of oneness, as its own unique and essential attribute (John 17:21-22; Eph. 4:4-6). Hence, the church as the Body of Christ can never be divided and its genuine expression must be one both universally and locally (1 Cor. 1:10-13; Eph. 4:4-6). Therefore, while existing universally beyond space and time as the one unique universal church in the heavenlies (Matt. 16:18; Eph. 1:22-23), the church must also be expressed locally in space and time as the church in any given city on earth (Rev. 1:4, 11) to be the local expression of the universal Body of Christ (Matt. 18:17; 1 Cor. 1:2). In fact, the church as the Body of Christ needs the local churches for its practical existence and function so that the Body of Christ may be built up in reality, actuality, and practicality through the local churches for the fulfilment of God's eternal economy (Eph. 1:9-11; 3:9-11; 4:12-16).

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