For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.   For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.   This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church. (Ephesians 5:30-32 AV)


            As we try to identify the Church of our Lord,  we are baffled. We look around at the various denominations and seem to believe that the Church might be there, but there are too many things we know about each of them to fully believe that to be true. So, we think that maybe it is in some outside, nondescript movement,  house churches or some of what we call “cults”. The more we think about it, the more we agree, it is a mystery, indeed.


            As I pondered this “mystery”, it came to me that the Church is in the church; it is in the house churches, the “cults”, and yes, in various religious movements. In short, the Church is in the world where Jesus told it to minister. But this is only part of the mystery. Another aspect of the mystery is how do we identify the Church within the church? As we look about in the Spirit, we find some dead and some alive. The mystery is that the dead ones are the true Church; they are dead to sin, dead to the flesh and crucified with Christ. They are dead to their selfishness, dead to their own desires, dead to the things of the world. Those who are alive, striving for everything they believe to be best for everyone, the most pleasing to all, and most exciting in the prospected outcome. They are the prime movers of the church; they are the ones who establish and maintain all the programs and fit them to the annual budget. They are the ones who are always looking for a more efficient way to attract people to fill the pews. These are the alive ones, and are really dead.


            Another great mystery is from our Lord, who said, ”For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel's, the same shall save it. (Mark 8:35 AV) Here is a key to the mystery of the Church of our Lord. Those who seem to be the dead ones have the true life which will be saved. The ones who are the pushers, who must have things their way, the “live” ones, are really dead in the faith, and are losing their eternal lives.


            If you are one who has not yet died to yourself and given your life over to Jesus Christ, allowing Him to be Lord of your life, please take heed. No matter what innovative ideas you put into action, no matter how energetically you perform, no matter how much time you spend with the church activities, your “life” is really “death”. Your desires to please God and man are futile. Man will commend you to encourage your further performance, and God does not even see the works you do to glorify yourself.   Go to now, ye that say, To day or to morrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain:   Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away. For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that. But now ye rejoice in your boastings: all such rejoicing is evil. Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.” (James 4:13-17 AV)  To do good is to do those things that glorify the Lord, not self. In your selfishness is your sin. When you live to self you are dead in sin. You must repent, be born again, and do those things that glorify God if you wish to live and be part of the Church in the church. This is the mystery of where and who the true Church is; it is those married to Christ who gave His life unselfishly for us all.                            10-09-01