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TableTalk – The Head of the Church

16/07/2021

The Head of the Church

Savoy: There is no other Head of the Church but the Lord Jesus Christ;

Who is the head of the church? As non-conformists, can we accept that the pope or anyone else on this earth is the head of the church? When we read the Bible we discover that the head of the church is CHRIST! Anyone else is an imposter. Let’s look at what the Bible says about this matter, and there are two particular points we want to consider…

1. The Divine Authority of THE KING. Colossians 1:18 

Only Jesus has the RIGHT to be the head of the church. Here’s why:-

* Because when we see Jesus, we see God! We can’t see God, because God is a spirit. We can’t know what he looks like, although we do know that when he made mankind, he made us in his own image. But we know what Jesus would have looked like. He was a man! Col 1:15 When the first disciples looked at Jesus, they were literally looking at God. John 14:9

* Because when we consider Christ, we can understand why God created everything that exists! Everything stems from him! He is the first-born (the elder brother) of absolutely everything. He has the right of inheritance, and ultimately, everything that was created will be his. Creation was made for Jesus! 1:16  Everything began with Him, everything finds its purpose in Him, everything above and below, everything visible and invisible, all the angels…. Absolutely everything is HIS – including the church.

* Because there has never been a time, when the Son did not exist! 1:17 In its statement of faith, the Nicene Creed states, “I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible; And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Only Begotten Son of God, begotten of his Father before all worlds, God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father; by whom all things were made. So Jesus has always been, and always will be. He created the worlds, and he holds everything together. Including the church!

Now, all of this is an illustration of the relationship between Jesus and the church. He organises the church and he holds it together, just as a head organises the body! 1:18  And that is the purpose of the church, to bring glory to Jesus, not to any man. 19 For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell;

Now, as you can see, – as Head of the Church, the position which only He can hold and exercise, Jesus has complete authority over his church and kingdom. In essence he is ‘a dictator!’ – in the truest sense of the word! But is that a bad thing?

DISCUSS how the absolute authority of Christ in his Church will impact my church life, practice, ministry, worship etc.

Along with his divine authority we see:-

2. The Divine Benevolence of THE KING. Ephesians 1:22 

As the Head of the Church, Jesus has authority over it. But what does Paul mean here, when he says that Paul is ver all things, ‘to the church?’ We know that Christ rules and governs everything – but William Hendriksen posts out here that just as the church exists to exalt Christ, Christ governs the universe in the interests of the church! The rule of Christ is for the benefit of his people! Romans 8:28   Sickness will come, hardship, misery, sorrow, bereavement, death – But in Christ even these things are used for our benefit. Romans 8:35-39  The head of the church bestows upon it his love, care, benevolence .

When we think of Christ’s absolute right to be the head of his church, and the benevolence he bestows upon it, that marks him out as being the direct opposite of most earthly absolute rulers. When we think of earthly dictators, we think of people who exercised their absolute authority to benefit themselves, and to oppress their people. When we see Jesus, we see him as the perfect man, the opposite of those, as one who exercises his mighty power for our benefit.

But why? Why would the church be so blessed by having such a head as Jesus is? Because:-

* The church is HIS BODY. Ephesians 1:23  Those who have been chosen by Him and brought into the true church are likened to the ‘body of Jesus.’ Ephesians 5:28-30  Jesus loves the church, as we would love our own body, and he gave himself for his body. Ephesians 5:25-27

* The church is HIS FULNESS. the fulness of him that filleth all in all. Jesus ‘fills everything!’ But the church is his completeness. You can see the logic in Paul’s words, you can’t have a marriage without a bride and a groom! To think of Christ without his bride the church is inconceivable.

So, Jesus is King, and the head of His church. That leaves the Pope – and of course any other human ‘head’ redundant. So the Savoy Declaration adds quite a lot to make us remember that…nor can the Pope of Rome in any sense be head thereof; but is that antichrist, that man of sin, and son of perdition, that exalteth himself in the Church against Christ, and all that is called God, whom the Lord shall destroy with the brightness of his coming. Why does Savoy target the Pope, and not other earthly pretenders to Christ’s position as head of the church? Because of his claims. The pope claims titles like, ‘the Vicar of Christ.’ The Pope claims infallibility, when only God is infallible. The Pope embodies everything that is contrary to Christ’s kingly headship over his church.

Discuss:

• If Christ is the head of the church, should mere humans accept grand titles denoting high office in the church? What titles do leading ecclesiastical figures use? Read and comment on Matthew 23:8-10 

• Is the church a democracy? Please give reasons for your answer.

• Read the words of Paul, describing the Antichrist and his eventual destruction in 2 Thessalonians 2:3-9 Why would the Puritans have considered that to refer to the Roman pontiff?

• How does a human marriage mirror the relationship between Christ and the church? Ephesians 5:25-27  Can a man be married without a bride? So in what way does a man’s wife make him complete? Is the illustration of marriage a perfect illustration, and if not where or when does it fall short?

© Bob McEvoy July 2021

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