Category Archives: Bible Study



“And the church is his body; it is made full and complete by Christ, who fills all things everywhere with himself.”

Ephesians 1:23 NLT

What is our view of the church? It all depends on our perspective.

Sadly, our understanding of “the church” is coloured by our personal experience. Many, like me, have enjoyed a fragment of the true family of God, where love, harmony, and peace have been taught and fostered by a shepherd who leads by example and does not usurp Jesus’ position as head of the church.

Others have become disillusioned with the church and walked away because of the business-like, sterile, programme-orientated institution of their local church rather than the living organism of Jesus’ body, patterned for us in the New Testament, that it is intended to be.

The church is a mystery. It is the vitally alive, growing and maturing body of Jesus Christ. It is made up of people from every nation who have been born again into the Kingdom of God by the power of the Holy Spirit.

The church is one world-wide body, united through faith in Jesus as Lord, across the globe and across the generations. It is not subject to doctrinal or denominational differences. It has a simple mandate from Jesus, to believe in Him and to love one another. These are the distinguishing characteristics of the true Church, and the witness to the world that the Father sent Jesus to be the Saviour of the world.

The Apostle Paul paints three word-pictures of the church that give us a clearer understanding of what Jesus intends His church to be as it lives in the world as His witness before He returns to claim His people for eternal life with Him.

THE CHURCH IS A BODY – its function

Jesus gave His disciples the first clue to the nature of the church.

“Then a teacher of the law came to him and said, “Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.” Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”

Matthew 8:19-20 NIV

Many Bible scholars have misunderstood this passage because they do not understand the way of Hebrew thought. This is not about the cost of following Jesus. He was not poor. He was a rabbi who was well supported by the people, especially a group of faithful and wealthy women. Judas kept the group’s money bag from which he stole, according to John, so, there must have been money available to take care of their needs.

In Hebrew thought, Jesus referred the places where creatures multiply. Foxes and birds reproduce in dens and nests. They don’t live in them. Jesus, as the head, did not yet have a body from which He would reproduce Himself. After Pentecost, when the church was born, Jesus, as the head, would multiply Himself through His body to build His church until it is complete before His return.

The purpose of Jesus’ body is to be one with the Godhead and with one another. This unity is to reveal to the world the unity of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit so that the world would believe in Jesus.

“I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in me through their message. I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one—as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me.”

John 17:20-21 NLT

A body has a multiplicity of unique individual parts that function together in perfect harmony to produce a living organism. So it is with the body of Jesus. However, without a brain, the systems that make up the body cannot function efficiently, and the body will die. Without Jesus as the living head of His church, His body is nothing but a sterile, non-reproducing organisation.

The picture of the church as a body speaks of a living, functioning, reproducing organism of head and body in perfect unity and harmony powered by the Holy Spirit. The members of the body lovingly serve one another, build one another up, and reproduce Jesus in the lives of others.


The second picture of the church is a building made of living stones, an individual and corporate temple in which God dwells by His Spirit.

A temple is a place of worship, place of sacrifice, a place of service, and a place of submission of heart, will and life to God who reigns from the inside. It hosts God who makes His dwelling in the inner shrine of our hearts.

The sacrifices of the New Covenant are neither animal, nor blood. Jesus has shed His own blood to take away the sin of the world and reconcile us to the Father. The sacrifices we offer in the New Covenant are acts of worship that express the attitudes of our hearts.

Everything we do in our everyday lives, no matter how simple or mundane, expresses our love and gratitude to God for His grace and goodness to us.

“So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”

1 Corinthians 10:31 NLT

As God’s temple, we offer the sacrifices of


“Therefore, let us offer through Jesus a continual sacrifice of praise to God, proclaiming our allegiance to his name….”

Good works

“… And don’t forget to do good and to share with those in need. These are the sacrifices that please God.”

Hebrews 13:15-16 NLT


“At the moment I have all I need—and more! I am generously supplied with the gifts you sent me with Epaphroditus. They are a sweet-smelling sacrifice that is acceptable and pleasing to God.”

Philippians 4:18 NLT

A repentant heart

You do not desire a sacrifice, or I would offer one. You do not want a burnt offering. The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit. You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God.

Psalms 51:16-17 NLT


A “bride” speaks of togetherness, companionship, and intimacy in a permanent, unbreakable union for an entire lifetime. Jesus came to earth to seek His bride. All who believe in Him are His beloved and betrothed bride awaiting the day when He returns to claim her as His own forever.

The betrothal period is an important part of the bride’s preparation for her wedding day. She has two tasks to do to prepare for that day.

Her first task is to separate herself from all other men. No longer must she be alert to the invitation of other “hopefuls”. Her role as Jesus’ betrothed is to focus all her attention on her “heavenly lover”.

Her second function is to prepare her wedding gown. Her bridegroom has given her His spotless robe of righteousness bought with His own blood.

“God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”

2 Corinthians 5:21 NIV

The bride’s task is to adorn her gown with the good works that are the fruit of His righteousness.

“Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready. Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear.” (Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of God’s holy people.)”

Revelation 19:7-8 NIV

What are the” good works” we are to do to adorn our wedding gown? In obedience to the Holy Spirit, we are to use our spiritual gifts to serve and built up the body of Christ until we reach unity and maturity in Christ and conformity to His image.

So, Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.”

Ephesians 4:11-13 NIV

So, we see that Jesus’ church is not an organisation running programmes to keep God’s people busy. It is a living organism made up of believers, who do life together, worship together, and live in intimate communion with Jesus, eagerly awaiting His coming to consummate an eternal union with Himself and to live in God’s forever family.



“Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in Him because of the woman’s testimony, ‘He told me everything I ever did’…They said to the woman, ‘We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Saviour of the world.’” John 4:39,42 (NIV).

Once again John, the writer, drove home his point that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God and that his readers would believe through the record of those who believed through their encounters with Him. The Samaritan woman was the first-fruits of a harvest of villagers from Sychar. Her testimony startled them because she was so different from the woman who slunk out to draw water in the middle of the day because of her shame.

That was enough to alert the people that something radical had happened to her and aroused their curiosity to find out who had influenced her so dramatically. They rushed out to meet them man and, when they heard Him, they urged Him to extend His visit so that they could hear more of the words that quenched thirst and brought new life to their hearts.

Two days in Sychar with the Samaritan villagers was enough to convince them that Jesus was the Messiah. It was her testimony that aroused their curiosity, but it was His words that convinced them that He was, indeed, the Messiah and awakened faith that brought peace and changed their lives as well.

This whole episode must have left the disciples reeling and made a deep impression on them. At least it did to John because it was one of the encounters he included in his story to awaken faith in his readers.

There are many aspects to this story that lifts Jesus above all other human beings. He was totally un-self-absorbed. His human weariness did not hinder Him from recognising the woman’s need and reaching out to her. He was not locked into the racial prejudice of His people. He saw her, not as a Samaritan woman but as a thirsty person who needed to know the truth.

He was not put off by her ignorance and her efforts to dodge her guilt. He kept bringing her back to the issues she had to face. He was not embarrassed to expose her sin, but He did it without judgment or condemnation. He simply stated the fact and left her to deal with it. The fact that He let her know that He knew without condemnation, cracked the nut open and she was won.

The change in her attitude and behaviour must have been so remarkable that her fellow villagers were deeply impressed. Surely it is the evidence of a changed life as much as the words we speak that reveal the truth about who Jesus is. Only Jesus can remove the guilt of our sin and give us the peace that comes from forgiveness of sin and reconciliation to God.



And God spoke all these words: “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.” Exodus 20:1, 2

Dr Bill Bright, founder of “Campus Crusade for Christ”, formulated a simple way of witnessing to people about Jesus. It is called the Four Spiritual Laws and begins with “God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life”. Unfortunately, what follows is a very narrow view of God’s plan.

What is God’s plan for His people? It began with one man, Abraham, who became a family which became a large group of people during their stay in Egypt. Pharaoh was afraid that the Israelites would join Egypt’s enemies and attack them, so he made them slaves. When they were demoralised and helpless, God stepped in and, through Moses, led them out of slavery into freedom.

God’s plan was to “marry” them and to teach them how to live with Him and with each other in a marriage bond. He told them His plan through Moses, in the language of courtship and marriage to show them how He wanted to relate to them and them to Him.

There were 5 stages in the Hebrew courtship and marriage protocol. During their courtship, when the man was sure he wanted to marry the woman, he would tell her “lachah” which meant “I want to make you mine”. God told the Israelites through Moses before He rescued them from slavery: “I will free you from being slaves to them …I will take you as my own people and I will be your God.” Exodus 6:6,7.

The next step was to confirm his choice, telling her “segulah” which meant “I want to make you my treasured possess.” In Exodus 19:5, God told Israel, at the foot of Mount Sinai, “Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all the nations you will be my treasured possession.” This is wedding talk!

The third step took place three days before the man’s formal proposal of marriage. He would tell her to prepare herself by washing – “mikvah” – to make herself ready. In Exodus 19:10 God instructs Moses, “Go to the people and consecrate them today and tomorrow, have them wash their clothes and be ready by the third day…” Again, wedding talk!

The fourth step was to draw up a marriage contract, called a “ketubah”, setting up the boundaries within which they would relate to each other in a way acceptable to both of them The ketubah dealt with all the aspects of living together and was witnessed and signed by the couple’s fathers. The “Ten Commandments” is a 10-word ketubah setting out God’s requirements for living with His people in the intimacy of a marriage relationship.

The final step was the marriage ceremony under a canopy called the “chuppah” which represented the presence of God, and the consummation of their marriage in the bridal chamber prepared by the bridegroom.

The ketubah forms the heart of this relationship.



“For yours is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.” (Matthew 6: Footnote)

Hebrew people always thought in circles. A thought would begin with God, for example, be developed and then go back to God, closing the circle where it began. Paul uses this construction in his wonderful doxology in Romans 11:33- 36, especially verse 36, “…for from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever! Amen. “

Although this is not part of the original text, this same literary construction summarises and takes us back to the first thought in this prayer. Jesus began with “Our Father who is in heaven” … focussing our attention on God as our Originator and Source. We become aware of the presence of the One to whom we pray and acknowledge that He is as near to us as our breath. He teaches us that prayer is much more about God than about us. We must fix our gaze on Him and recognise that He wants us to experience His life within the bigger picture of His kingdom and His will for the whole earth and not just for us.

As we feed on His word through our daily “gathering of manna” and through the weekly ministry of our spiritual head, we will be fortified with the knowledge of the truth. In turn, the truth will guard our minds against the devil’s deception and design to lure us back into the belief that real life is about looking after ourselves as number one.

The way to keep the lines of communication open between ourselves and God is to keep short accounts with those who hurt or offend us. God cannot forgive us if we refuse to forgive the debts of others, He will not be merciful to those who refuse to show mercy.

We need His grace and His Spirit to keep our attention on Him first and not on our own needs and wants. Our biggest enemy is the evil eye in ourselves and not the devil who can tempt us but not make us do what we do not choose to do. Hence, we are dependent on God’s strength to keep us from yielding to our own lusts.

As we allow His light to shine through us, putting others before ourselves, and sharing our abundance with those in need, we will experience God’s ever-increasing glory in our lives, by revealing God’s love to others by what we say and do.

It’s all about awareness of and dependence on Him first.  He will take care of our needs as we place our attention on what He cares about and values first – the display of His splendour to the world that does not know Him. He desires that His rule be extended across the whole earth for the sake of His name and for the good of His creation. Imagine how the world would change if we prayed like this!



“During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, He offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save Him from death, and He was heard because of His reverent submission. Although He was a son, He learned obedience from what He suffered…” Hebrews 5:7, 8a.

There is a thread running through this whole episode. Satan was gunning for the unity between Jesus and the Father. He was trying to break the oneness between them so that he could create a new alliance, just as he did with Adam. If he could get Jesus on his side by manipulating Him into submission to his will, he would secure man’s position as lost and hell-bound forever. He would one-up God and be declared the winner, taking mankind into alienation from God forever.

God’s experiment with a free creature made in His image to be one with Him and to be the objects and recipients of His love, would have failed and, once again, God would have been left alone with no-one outside Himself to share His wealth and His life.

What an enormous responsibility rested on Jesus’ shoulders and what a prize for the winner! What was the pivot on which it all turned? Jesus was so steeped in God’s Word that it was not an experiment for Him to trust God. What He had to deal with was the subtlety of Satan’s lies. To Jesus, obedience to God’s Word was non-negotiable but He had to apply it to His situation with wisdom and truth. The ultimate choice was, “For me?” or “For God? Is this about me or is this about God?”

The same self-giving relationship that flowed in the Trinity before Jesus came to earth, flowed between the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit during His earthly life. Jesus was a vulnerable human being but, by trusting the Father’s Word, He was learning to be righteous in situations just like this. This was the first of many tests that qualified Him to be the perfect sacrifice by earning a righteousness that He could give to all who follow Him.

We often think that the verse I have quoted above refers to Jesus’ prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane and that His desire to be saved from death refers to His death on the cross. I think it is far more than that. He risked everything by becoming a man. He was born innocent but not righteous. Like Adam, He had to learn to be righteous through obedience to His Father. Adam lost his innocence early in his life because he chose his own will over God’s will. Jesus learned obedience and earned His righteousness by obeying and trusting the Father. Had He only once acted on His own initiative, He would have been as lost as Adam was. He was saved from eternal death by His submission to the Father and qualified to be our Saviour. We have a great Saviour!