Will You Change the Sign?

When conducting personal Bible studies with those who have not yet obeyed the gospel of Jesus Christ, I’ll often ask about a store nearby that the student is familiar with.  When student affirms he or she is familiar with the store, I ask about the name, “Why is that store named that?”  “I don’t know,” is the usual answer.  “Well, I don’t like that name,” I’ll say.  “I will buy the paint and I am giving you permission to go and paint over that sign and put your name on that store,” I will say to the student.  The student will often reply, “No!  I can’t do that.”  “Why not,” I’ll ask.  Their reply: “Because that store does not belong to me.”  I’ll answer, “But I am giving you permission.”  “Oh no.  That store does not belong to you, either,” is the reply given. 

This exercise is given to demonstrate that we understand this principle of ownership and authority concerning a store down the street, but often fail to understand this concerning the Lord’s church. 

“Who owns the church?”  Acts 20:28 says, “Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.”  Jesus was God in the flesh.  And it was His pure and undefiled blood that purchased the church of Christ. 

“Who is the bridegroom of the church?”  1 Corinthians 11:2 Paul was writing to the church when he said, “For I am jealous for you with godly jealousy. For I have betrothed you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.”  In Revelation 21:2, John wrote of the church, “Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.”  Whose name should a bride wear? 

“Whose body is the church?”  Can there be any doubt?  In Ephesians 1:22-23 the Bible says, “And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.”  To bring this point home; “Whose name does your body wear?”  Would it be okay for someone to change your body’s name without your express permission?  (Col. 1:18, 24 and 1 Cor. 12:13 teach the same truth.) 

“Who is the head of the church?”  Ephesians 5:23 says, “For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body.”  Can the body of Christ have two heads? 

“Who built the church?”  It was our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, the one who has all authority in heaven and on earth, who said, “And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it” (Mat. 16:18).  “Whose church did He say He would build?” 

When I insist that the student go and repaint the sign on the store, the student always refuses to do as I asked.  Why?  Because the student understands the principle of ownership and authority.  How is it that when it comes to a secular store we understand this.  But when it comes to the church of our Lord Jesus Christ, so many in the world do not understand? 

“Greet one another with a holy kiss. The churches of Christ greet you” (Rom. 16:16).  “For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named” (Eph. 3:14, 15). 

“Will you change the name on the Lord’s church?”