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The Church

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In these two diagrams, the Church is the “big change” in the heavenly realms. Mankind is now divided into two: a) the a redeemed humanity which is seated in heavenly realms with Christ and b) an unredeemed humanity which is under the power of angels and demons. In Acts 19 the ineffectiveness of Jewish exorcism compared with Christian exorcism is made very obvious in the dramatic accounts of the sons of Sceva.

(Acts 19:11-17 NKJV)  Now God worked unusual miracles by the hands of Paul, {12} so that even handkerchiefs or aprons were brought from his body to the sick, and the diseases left them and the evil spirits went out of them. {13} Then some of the itinerant Jewish exorcists took it upon themselves to call the name of the Lord Jesus over those who had evil spirits, saying, "We exorcise you by the Jesus whom Paul preaches." {14} Also there were seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, who did so. {15} And the evil spirit answered and said, "Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are you?" {16} Then the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, overpowered them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded. {17} This became known both to all Jews and Greeks dwelling in Ephesus; and fear fell on them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was magnified.

Thus the Jews though superior to the Gentiles, did not possess the power that Christians possess. That is because they are still under the old order, they are not a new creation and have not been seated in heavenly realms with Christ. Thus non-Christians cannot cast out demons effectively, nor do they possess the (often unused) authority that Christians possess.

The Church is thus not just a building, nor is it just a group of people or even an organization or a community. The Church is a powerful spiritual mystery, a new reality, a spiritually empowered and mightily blessed group of eternal beings seated in heaven with Christ. Here is a rather complicated passage that spells this out:

(Ephesians 3:6-10 NIV)  This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus. {7} I became a servant of this gospel by the gift of God's grace given me through the working of his power. {8} Although I am less than the least of all God's people, this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, {9} and to make plain to everyone the administration of this mystery, which for ages past was kept hidden in God, who created all things. {10} His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms,

In verse 10 we see that the church is God’s way of bearing witness to Himself in the heavenly realms.  Earlier in Ephesians Paul makes clear that we are a heavenly people: (Ephesians 2:6-7 NIV)  And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, {7} in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.

In verse 6 we see that t he church is God’s “big surprise”, His mystery. No-one expected such a huge alteration in the nature of spiritual reality. It was a surprise for Christ to dwell in human hearts (Colossians 1:25-27) or Gentiles to enter the Kingdom (Ephesians 3:6).  The Church not only declares God’s wisdom but is Christ’s body and the “fullness” or completion of Christ! (Ephesians 1:22-23 NIV)  And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, {23} which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way. (Colossians 1:18-19 NIV)  And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. {19} For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him,

The point for spiritual warfare is this. The Church is POWERFUL, it is Christ’s heavenly body, and wields His authority, wears God’s armor (Ephesians 6:10-18) and is capable of “pulling down strongholds” (2 Corinthians 10:3-5). In the end Satan shall be crushed under our feet (Romans 16:20) and it is the saints, through the word of their testimony and the blood of Jesus that shall cats Satan down to earth (Revelations 12:1-11). The saints will judge angels and the world (1 Corinthians 6:2,3). To grasp this a bit more and to get a handle on our spiritual authority we shall look at the change-over period between the Old and New Tesaments.