THE CHURCH – ITS UNIQUE RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD

The church – all genuine believers from every era and nation, and irrespective of denominational affiliation – exists in a unique relationship with God.

This unique relationship with God is established, from God’s perspective, on the legal basis of the once-for-all-time, sin-bearing, substitutionary death of Jesus Christ, and from the human perspective, through the individual human’s genuine acknowledgement of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

The Bible describes this relationship in a number of ways:

Believers are called by grace and into a grace relationship with God [Romans 5:17 ,21; Galatians 1:6; Ephesians 3:2]. The believer has been rescued from the dominion of darkness where Satan, sin, death and law reigned. Where previously the ‘law of sin and death’ held people in an inescapable necessity to obey the law of God and in an inescapable condemnation because of universal personal failure to obey the law of God, the church [that is, every person who has biblical faith in Jesus Christ] relates to God on the basis of grace and through grace, and never again on the basis of personal keeping of God’s law.

Because of this grace-relationship with God, believers also exist in a relationship of peace with God [Romans 5:1; Colossians 3:15 ]. The just wrath of God against all law-breakers no longer hovers over the believer. The believer’s true guilt in God’s presence has been dealt with and removed. The believer now lives in and enjoys a relationship with God from which guilt, and its accompanying fear of judgment, have been forever removed.

This is because believers are ‘washed’ or ‘clean’ through the blood of Christ, the Word of Christ and the operation of the Spirit of God, and therefore all that impeded a relationship with God has been removed [John 13:10; 15:3; 1Corinthians 6:11; Ephesians 5:26-27; Titus 3:5; Hebrews 10:19-22; Revelation 1:5. See also Colossians 1:22]. This washing or cleansing does not refer to the removal of sin from the individual believer’s ‘heart’, but the erasure of God’s record of the individual’s sin.

Believers are described as ‘in Christ’, and it is only ‘in Christ’ that the church possesses the multifaceted salvation secured by his substitutionary, sin-bearing death [Ephesians 1:3-14]. All of the above belong to the believer, not because of any personal merit or quality, but only because the individual believer, united to Christ through faith, no longer relates to God as an isolated person, but as a person identified with Christ in his substitutionary death – a person who is now ‘hidden with Christ in God’ [Colossians 3:3]. In Christ the believer already possesses every spiritual blessing [Ephesians 1:3].

Thus the church is called into fellowship with the Father and the Son [1Corinthians 1:9; 1John 1:3]. The division and enmity which exists between God and every human being has, for the person who acknowledges Jesus Christ, been overcome and removed by the reconciling death of Jesus Christ. The dividing, separating sin-barrier has been taken away. There is now unity with God, an indissoluble bond, instead of the alienation and separation brought about by sin [Isaiah 59:2].

The church also exists under the headship [authority and protection] of Jesus Christ [Ephesians 1:22 ; 5:23 -32; Colossians 1:18 ], in a relationship of dependence on his protection and submission to his authority.

Copyright Rosemary Bardsley 2009