under a special agreement with
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Lesson 11: God's Great Plan
Even before God created the first man, Adam, God had a great plan. God knew that Adam and Eve would disobey Him. He knew that men would rebel against Him. He knew that Adam would produce a race of sinners. But God had a great plan.
What did God plan? God planned to send His Son into the world to die for our sins and rise again to be our great Savior. God planned to save people out of Adam's sinful family and to unite them into one spiritual body called "the Church."
"The Church" is people, not a building.
When you hear the word "church," you probably think of a building. Perhaps you think of a beautiful building with a tall steeple, a pulpit and pews or chairs inside. But this is not "the church" that God speaks about in His Word. This is only a church building.
What is "the church"? The word "church" as it is used in the Bible refers to a group of people, not a building. It is speaking of believers—those who have trusted Christ as their Savior.
"The Church" is the Body of Christ.
The church is more than just a vast number of people who have been redeemed by Christ. The Bible says that the Church is "the Body of Christ." God has called out from Adam's sinful race a people for Himself, and He has united them into one spiritual body—the Body of Christ. The Bible says,
"For as we have many members in one body ... So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another." Romans 12:4-5
Christ is the Head of the Body.
A body must have a head. Christ Himself is the Head of the Church, which is His Body. Speaking of Christ, the Bible says,
"[God] has put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be the Head over all things to the church, which is His body...." Ephesians 1:22-23
We who have trusted Christ as our Savior are members of Christ's Body—the Church. He is the Head of the Body and we are all members of the one body of Christ.
Before the apostle Paul was saved, he was a very religious man named Saul. He thought that Jesus Christ was a false teacher who claimed to be the Son of God. He thought Jesus was deceiving people. Saul wanted to stamp out this new religion. He hated Christians. He went into their homes, arrested them and had them thrown into prison.
One day as Saul was on his way to Damascus to arrest Christians, he was struck down by the brightest light he had ever seen. He fell to the ground and he heard a voice from Heaven saying, "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?"
Saul said, "Who are you, Lord?" The Lord answered, "I am Jesus whom you are persecuting." The Lord Jesus was in Heaven, yet He said, "You are persecuting Me," because Saul was persecuting the believers who were His spiritual body here on earth.
Saul was wonderfully saved and he became the great apostle Paul who wrote so much of the New Testament. Speaking of himself and all other believers, Paul wrote,
"For we are members of His body, of His flesh, and of His bones … This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church." Ephesians 5:30, 32
When did the Church come into being?
The Church came into being on the Day of Pentecost. The Church had been in God's mind from eternity past, but it was formed on the Day of Pentecost.
The word "pente" means "fifty." The Day of Pentecost came exactly 50 days after the resurrection of the Lord Jesus.
Before He went back to Heaven, the Lord Jesus had told His disciples to go into all the world and to preach the gospel to every person. But He also told them to wait for the coming of the Holy Spirit.
On the Day of Pentecost, 120 disciples were gathered in the upper room of a house in Jerusalem. They were praying and waiting for the coming of the Holy Spirit.
Suddenly, there was a sound from Heaven like a mighty rushing wind. It filled the room where they were sitting. "Tongues of fire" sat on each of the disciples. They were all filled with the Holy Spirit.
Something else happened—the Church was formed! On the Day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit united the 120 believers into one spiritual body—the Body of Christ.
Through the Holy Spirit, the disciples were united to each other and to the glorified Lord Jesus as their Head. Before this, they were 120 separate, individual believers, but now they were "the Church"—the spiritual Body of Christ. The Bible says,
"For by one Spirit are we [all believers] baptized [put] into one Body…." 1 Corinthians 12:13
On that day, the gospel was preached and 3,000 people believed on the Lord Jesus and were saved. The Holy Spirit put these new believers into the Body of Christ. After this, others were saved daily, and they too were added to the Body of Christ. The Bible says,
"And believers were the more [increasingly] added to the Lord, multitudes both of men and women." Acts 5:14
Now, whenever a person believes on the Lord Jesus, he is saved, and immediately put into the Body of Christ by the Holy Spirit.
All believers are members of the one Body of Christ.
At first the Church was composed entirely of Jewish believers. Later on the gospel was preached to the Gentiles, those who were not of the Jewish race. Many of them believed and were added to the Church, the spiritual Body of Christ. The Jewish and Gentile believers were made one in Christ.
This was a marvelous thing! Why? Because of the hatred that existed between the Jews and Gentiles. Each considered themselves better than the other.
How did God deal with this hatred between Jews and Gentiles? He dealt with it by the cross! All believers, both Jews and Gentiles, were "crucified with Christ." Of the Jewish and Gentile believers, God made "one new Man"—Jesus Christ is the Head and all believers form His spiritual Body. The Bible says,
"For He [Christ] is our peace, who has made both one … for to make in Himself of two One New Man, so making peace." Ephesians 2:14-15
God has made all believers one Body in Christ. This is the very opposite of what we are by nature. The life we all received from Adam is a life that is selfish and self-centered.
What happened when God saved us?
He put us in Christ on the cross. We were crucified with Him. In Christ I died to my old life of selfishness and independence. Through my resurrection with Christ I have become, not only a new person in Christ, but a member of the one Body of Christ.
There are seven mighty bonds which unite all true believers.
The Bible tells us that there are seven mighty bonds which unite all true believers—those who have been born again of the Spirit of God:
"There is one body, and one Spirit, even as you are called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all." Ephesians 4:4–6
There is ONE BODY
Every person who has received Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior is a member of the Body of Christ. Christ has only one Body, and all believers are members of His one Body.
Regardless of the color of a person's skin, regardless of his race or nationality, regardless of his social standing, regardless of whether he is rich or poor, if he is a child of God, he is a member of the Body of Christ and one with all who have been born again. The Bible says,
"For as we have many members in one body.... So we, being many, are one Body in Christ, and every one members one of another." Romans 12:4-5
There is ONE SPIRIT
Every believer has the Holy Spirit dwelling in him. Because the Holy Spirit is one Spirit, He makes us one with all other believers. The Bible says,
"…he that is joined to the Lord is one spirit." 1 Corinthians 6:17
There is ONE HOPE
Every believer has the same hope—the hope of being with the Lord forever in glory. This hope is certain because Christ is living in us. The Bible says,
"When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall you also appear with Him in glory." Colossians 3:4
There is ONE LORD
There is only one Lord—the Lord Jesus Christ. All who serve Him are serving the same Lord and are one in Him.
There is ONE FAITH
True believers may differ on some matters, but there is one faith which they all have in common—the faith that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and that He died for their sins and rose again from the grave. This is the faith through which every child of God is saved. The Bible says,
"For you are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. " Galatians 3:26
There is ONE BAPTISM
Every believer has been baptized into the Body of Christ. This is not the work of man, but the work of the Holy Spirit by which all who believe on the Lord Jesus are made members of His Body. The Bible says,
"For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one Body…." 1 Corinthians 12:13a
There is ONE GOD and FATHER
There is only one true God—the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. All who have been born again are members of His family and have the same Heavenly Father.
Out of the sinful, self-centered race of Adam, God has brought forth the Church, the Body of Christ. Christ is the Head and all believers are members of the one body of Christ. Through the Church, God is making known His great wisdom and power.
"Father, I believe and now see that I am not only a new person in Christ, but I am also a member of the Body of Christ. Help me to see that the Body of Christ is one and that all true believers are members of that same one Body."