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The Calling and Hope of the Church of God (5 of 11)
Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ; and to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God (Eph. 3:8-9).
Few words are used in as many different senses as the word church, and therefore it behooves us to be careful as to our employment of it. For example:
1. It is used of a particular church, as the Church of Rome, Jerusalem, Antioch, or the Church of England.
2. It is often wrongly used of the ministry, and people speak of this as "entering the church."
3. It is used of a separate assembly meeting for worship in any given building or room, as the Church of England defines it (in the Nineteenth Article of Religion), "a congregation of faithful men, in which the pure Word of God is preached, and the sacraments be duly administered."
4. It is used of the building in which such a congregation meets for worship.
5. It is used of the Church Episcopal, as distinguished from the non-Episcopal (Chapel).
6. It is used of the great body of nominal Christians, bad and good alike, tares and wheat, professors and possessors.
7. It is used of "the blessed company of all faithful people." I need hardly say that this last is the sense in which it is viewed in this chapter, and in which we are now to consider it.
Now this Ephesians passage contains a somewhat difficult construction. The apostle concludes chapter 2 by showing how Jew and Gentile are one body in Christ (2:16), and are "builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit" (2:22). Then chapter 3 begins, "For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Christ for you Gentiles." Then follows a long parenthesis, beginning with verse 2 and not ending until the end of verse 13. He then takes up the thread at verse 14 by repeating ...
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