The nature of the church is heavenly, and the main significance of this is that the church is under Christ’s authority, submitting to no other person but Christ and His authority alone. It is vitally necessary for us as believers in Christ to know the nature of the church.
According to the New Testament, the church is not merely a group of believers who are regenerated by God and now are grouped as “the church”; the church is much more than this.
The church is divine, the church is of Christ and in Christ (“Christly”), the church is in resurrection and of resurrection (“resurrectionly”), and the church is in the heavens and of heavens (heavenly).
The church is of God: the church not only belongs to God but she also possesses the nature of God. The church is divine and human – the church is composed of believers, but these believers have God’s divine nature to live God and express God (2 Pet. 1:4).
The church is “Christly”, that is, the church is of Christ and in Christ; in the church there is only the element of Christ (Rom. 16:16). This means that everything besides Christ has no place in the church. As Paul said, in the church as the one new man there’s no Jew, Greek, Gentile, barbarian, Scythian, etc – but Christ is all and in all.
In the church life today Christ needs to be all the saints and in all the saints; He needs to fill us, renew us, saturate us, transform us into His image, and conform us to Himself, until we all look like Christ and express Christ to be His corporate expression.
Just as Eve came out of Adam and was constituted uniquely of the element of Adam, so the church came out of Christ and is constituted uniquely of the element of Christ.
The church is “resurrectionly”, that is, the church is an entity absolutely in resurrection. Many unbelievers don’t understand what the church is because the church is not in the natural realm or in the old creation; the church is a new creation created in Christ’s resurrection and by the resurrected Christ!
The church today is constituted with and exists by the resurrection life of Christ; no matter how much Satan attacks through the gates of Hades (the many forms of death), the church endures death and overcomes death, coming out in resurrection.
Hallelujah! The church is heavenly; this refers to two aspects: the church has been resurrected with Christ and ascended with Him, and the church is under God’s authority.
The Church is Heavenly: the Nature of the Church is to Submit to God’s Authority
The main significance of the church being heavenly is that the church is under God’s authority, and the church submits to God’s authority alone (Matt. 28:18; Dan. 4:26, 34-35).
The nature of the church being heavenly refers mainly to the fact that the church in its nature submits to God’s authority. Heaven, as spoken of in the Bible, strongly implies submission to God’s authority.
The very nature of the church is submission to God’s authority. This means that all believers in Christ are learning to submit to God’s authority.
How can we, rebellious sinners saved by God’s grace, submit to God’s authority? By nature we rebel against God, and by default we choose things He doesn’t, love things He hates, and desire things He doesn’t agree with.
Even in the church life, many times we may live according to our fallen nature and not stay under God’s authority.
All the earthly people are rebellious toward God, for everything on earth is “the serpent’s food”, that is, something for Satan to devour (see Gen. 2-3, God’s curse on the serpent, the devil).
However, Jesus Christ has come as God incarnated, and He brought with Himself the kingdom of God; He submitted to God’s authority in everything, and He came to sow Himself as the seed of the kingdom into His believers.
In His resurrection the Lord Jesus has brought people from earth to the heavens; in His resurrection He has caused those who would not and could not submit to God’s authority to be able to submit to His authority.
All believers in Christ, those regenerated by God in the resurrection of Christ (1 Pet. 1:3) are in Christ, in the church, in the heavens; they are under God’s authority, and their life is a life of learning to submit to God’s authority.
The heavens are where God’s will is done and His kingdom is manifested right now, and through His resurrection we all have been brought into the heaven to live a heavenly life on earth, that is, live a life under God’s authority.
The church being heavenly is not determined by the way we do things in the church, that is, doing things in a scriptural way versus doing them in a worldly way; the church being heavenly refers mainly to the church submitting to God’s authority.
We may follow the Scriptural way of having the apostles appoint the elders (versus electing the elders by vote), but we may still not submit to God’s authority.
We need to realize that the heavens rule, God is on the throne, and all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to the Lord Jesus (Matt. 28:18).
We as believers in Christ and members of the church are under God’s authority, learning to enthrone the Lord daily in our being in all the activities we do, and learning to submit to God’s authority in everything in the church life.
Whenever we call, Lord Jesus! we enthrone the Lord in our being. When we call on the name of the Lord, we enthrone Him and are placing ourselves under His authority. Our Christian life should be a “Oh Lord Jesus!”-kind of life, a life of submitting to God’s authority to live a heavenly life on earth.
Lord Jesus, thank You for regenerating us with Your life and nature to bring us into the kingdom of God, under the authority of God. Cause us to realize, Lord, that the nature of the church is heavenly, that is, the church submits to God’s authority. Oh Lord Jesus, we enthrone You in our being. We give You the first place, the preeminence, in all things by faith. We all want to learn to submit to Your throne by living according to the divine nature, the nature of Christ who is the Only One who can submit to God’s throne.
The Church can Represent God to Rule on Earth because the Church Submits to God’s Authority
The nature of the church is heavenly, that is, the nature of the church is to submit to God’s authority. How can we submit to God’s authority? In ourselves we can’t and we don’t even want to, but in our spirit we have Christ, the One who can and wills to submit to God’s authority.
The only way to submit to God’s authority is by exercising our spirit to touch Christ, enjoy Christ, experience Christ, and live Christ; then, spontaneously, we submit to God’s authority.
However, when we depart from God’s authority and do not submit to God’s authority, we lose the nature of the church; we may still be a social gathering of believers who call ourselves “the church”, but unless we submit to God’s authority, we are no longer the church in nature.
When the church is under God’s authority, the church has authority for God. Only those under authority can have authority; if we are under the authority of God as the church, we can bind and loose in His name because we simply reflect what has been bound and loosed in the heavens (Matt. 16:19).
The reason the church is able to represent God to rule over everything on the earth is that the church is heavenly, that is, the nature of the church is to submit to God’s throne.
However, when the church loses its heavenly nature, it immediately falls under the authority of the world. This is the sad history in Christianity, where the church not only is under the authority of the world but also is married to the world and influenced by the world.
We need to come back to the pure revelation in the word of God and maintain the nature of the church, which is spiritual, of resurrection, of God, of Christ, and heavenly. The particular nature of heaven is that it submits to God’s authority; hence, to be heavenly is to have the nature of submitting to God’s authority.
If we as the church submit to God’s authority, we can pray with authority, Lord, may Your kingdom come and may Your will be done, as in the heaven, so also on the earth! (Matt. 6:10)
When we as the church submit to God’s authority, whatever we bind on earth has been bound in the heavens, and whatever we lose on the earth has already been loosed in the heavens.
The reason that the church is able to represent God to rule over everything on the earth is that the church is heavenly, that is, the church is under God’s authority. May we be such ones under God’s authority both in our personal daily life and in the church life, so that we maintain the heavenly nature of the church.
Lord Jesus, we want to maintain the heavenly nature of the church by learning to submit to Your authority both in our personal life and in the church life. Gain the church that You desire, the church that in its nature submits to God’s throne and exercises authority on earth for God to bring in His kingdom to earth. Gain the church that is able to represent God to rule over everything on earth for God, the church that has a heavenly nature! Amen, Lord, make us such ones who as the church submit to Your authority and live out a heavenly life on earth!
References and Hymns on this Topic
- Inspiration: the Word of God, my enjoyment in the ministry, the message by Andrew Yu for this week, and portions from, Three Aspects of the Church, Book 3: The Organization of the Church (Supplementary Messages, ch. 6, by Witness Lee), as quoted in the Holy Word for Morning Revival on, Knowing Life and the Church, msg. 4 (week 4), The Nature of the Church.
- Hymns on this topic:
# Today we must learn to submit to His throne, / How to have a strict life and His government own; / His authority then we’ll be able to share, / o’er the nations to rule with God’s Son as the heir. (Hymns #947)
# And the kingship we must see / With divine authority — / To this rule we’ll all agree, / O glory be to God! / To the Spirit we’ll submit / For the church’s benefit— / This is His prerequisite / In the local churches now. (Hymns #1251)
# In fulness of the seasons / God’s Christ will head up all. / Then all will own His reigning / And worship, great and small. / Such reign in life and glory / The Church e’en now foretastes / And to His rule submitting / Unto His kingdom hastes. (Hymns #941)
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