Is Christ Divided?
The modern religious world is divided. Many religious organizations view themselves as all part of Christianity. However, each is its own separate organization possessing distinctive names, doctrines and practices. How does this compare with the description of the Lord’s church as revealed in the New Testament? Something is wrong when there are several different religious organizations all claiming to be the church of Christ.
One Way To Heaven
In the tabernacle, there was a sacred place behind a curtain called the “Holiest of All” (Hebrews 9:3). The ark of the covenant with its mercy seat was placed within that “Most Holy Place.” According to God’s law, once a year the high priest went alone with the blood of an animal to sprinkle it upon the mercy seat for the sins of the nation (Leviticus 16:3, 34; Hebrews 9:7). God promised to meet with the high priest above the mercy seat (Exodus 25:22; Leviticus 16:2). Things under the old law served as a copy and shadow of the heavenly things and of the good things to come (Hebrews 8:5: 10:1). While the first tabernacle remained standing, the way into the Holiest was not made manifest (Hebrews 9:8).
Jesus, our High Priest, came to make the Holiest of All accessible to mankind, entering once into heaven with His own blood to obtain eternal redemption (Hebrews 9:11-12). “For Christ has not entered the holy place made with hands, which are copies of the true, but into heaven itself now to appear in the presence of God for us” (9:24).
Jesus Is King
Jesus explained to Pilate that His servants did not fight to prevent Him from being taken by the Jews because His kingdom is not of this world. Pilate asked, “Are you a king then?” (John 18:37). “Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this cause I was born and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth.”” Jesus testified that He is the heavenly Father’s anointed King.
The prophets David and Isaiah proclaimed God’s promises to place the seed of David upon an eternal throne to rule an everlasting kingdom (II Samuel 7:12-13; Isaiah 9:6-7). The angel Gabriel prepared Mary for the birth of Jesus by telling her that “God will give Him the throne of His father David … and He will reign …” (Luke 1:32-33). After the birth of Jesus, wise men from the East came later looking for Him. They asked Jews, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews?” (Luke 2:1-2). Priests and scribes answered them based upon a prophecy written by Micah, foretelling of a ruler who would shepherd God’s people (2:5-6). The accusation Pontius Pilate had written in Hebrew, Greek and Latin, and placed above the crucified Jesus was “JESUS OF NAZARETH, THE KING OF THE JEWS” (John 19:19-20). That was not coincidence.
Jesus, the Servant of God
Throughout time Almighty God has chosen men, and even nations sometimes, to be instruments and vessels of His heavenly will. They served to accomplish His purposes. For example, God’s servants the prophets proclaimed the message of God daily (Jeremiah 7:25). King Cyrus of Persia was God’s servant, too. God called him His shepherd, who was raised up to play a significant role in the remnant of Israel rebuilding Jerusalem and the temple (Isaiah 44:28; cf. II Chronicles 36:22, 23). There is one servant, though, who stands far above all of God’s servants – past, present and future. He surpasses them all in his calling, in his mission and in his glory. He is the Man Jesus of Nazareth, who is the Son of God.
Jesus took the form of a servant. Being in the form of God and equal with God, Jesus “made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a servant, and coming in the likeness of men” (Philippians 2:6-7). Although Jesus is Deity as the Son of God, He willingly became the servant of God to serve men. The word “form” should be understood as “nature of.” In this context it does not mean outward appearance or shape. The Divine One who possesses the very nature of Deity voluntarily clothed Himself with the nature of a servant. Jesus put on all the qualities and characteristics of a servant or slave. By doing His Father’s will, Jesus placed Himself at the service of mankind. “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:45). The purpose of a servant is to serve, to do for others. Jesus’ service entailed even paying the ransom for others with His own physical life. Now He did not cease to be Deity when He came to the earth, but He did manifest the nature of God in the nature of a servant.
The Church's One Foundation
The Lord Jesus Christ made this promise, “…On this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.” (Matthew 16:18). The spiritual construction of the church is founded upon the truth that Jesus is the Anointed One and the Son of the living God. Before Jesus died, He already had plans to establish His church.
What God accomplished in Christ was according to His eternal purpose (Ephesians 3:11). The church was and is an intricate part of God’s eternal plan (v. 10). Paul was sent out to preach “the fellowship of the mystery” (v. 9). What is that fellowship of the mystery? “That the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ through the gospel” (v. 6). Jesus reconciles men to God in one body through the cross (Ephesians 2:16). That one body of the reconciled is the body of Christ, which is His church (Ephesians 1:22, 23).