Chapter 5: SHE HAS
JESUS AS HER ONLY HEAD
by Howard Winters
In Colossians, chapter 1, Paul
depicts Christ as the redeemer (14), the creator (15-17), and the head of the
church (18). He concludes, "That in all things he might have the preeminence.
For it pleased the Father that in him should all fullness dwell" (18,19).
Other Scriptures also make
clear the fact that Christ is the head of the church (Ephesians 1:22,23; 4:15;
5:23; Colossians 2:10). This means that he is the source of her life (all things
are from him) and that he rules over her with divine authority. For this reason,
every member of the body must be in subjection to him (col. 2:19). To make
application of this grand fact, let us notice:
A DIVINE HEAD
The church has a divine head,
Jesus Christ her Lord. This simply means that Christ rules over her. The church
is not a monstrosity - it is not a many-headed body. It is one body with one
head. Christ does not share his rule or authority with man. This being true, it
follows then with all the force that reason, logic, and Scripture can have, that
the church has no human head. Any man who claims to be the head of the church,
either in heaven or on earth, makes a false claim and seizes for himself a
prerogative that belongs to Christ alone. Christ is not only the divine head of
the church, he is her only head.
A DIVINE BODY
Christ is the head of the
church, which is his body (Col. 1:18; Eph. 1:22-23). It would be an incongruity
for a human body to have a divine head, or vice versa . The conclusion is
therefore inevitable that the church is a divine institution. The church is
divine because she was conceived in the mind of God (Eph. 3:10, 11), foretold by
the prophets (Isaiah 2:2-4), built by Jesus (Matthew 16: 16-18), purchased with
his blood (Acts 20:28), and constructed under the immediate direction of the
Holy Spirit working through the apostles of Christ (Acts 2). This divine
institution is made up of all the saved (Acts 2:47); has for her mission the
salvation of lost souls (Mark 16: 15-16; and God's divine law, as revealed in
the New Testament, is her only rule of conduct (2 Timothy 3:16, 17). Every
member of the Lord's church is a member of a divine institution.
This should be contrasted with
modern denominations, which are human in origin, name, doctrine, organization,
and practice, have human heads, and are ruled by human laws.
A DIVINE PRACTICE
Since the church follows only
the instructions given by her divine head (through his divine word), all her
practices are divine. The way of God is far above the ways of man (Isa. 55:8,9)
and it is not in man to direct his own steps (Jeremiah 10:23). This means that
every action must be directed by the Scriptures - every act must be an
authorized act (Col. 3:17). Paul stated this principle clearly when he said,
"Prove all things; hold fast that which is good" (1 Thessalonians 5:21). This
simply means that if a thing cannot be proven (by the Scriptures), it cannot be
practiced. If one holds fast only proven things, then it necessarily
follows that he must reject everything not proven. All directions must come from
No council, synod, convention,
or creed of men can establish the standard for the Lord's church. To recognize
Jesus as head is to follow his directions; and to follow his directions results
in divine practice.
"Jesus Christ the same
yesterday, and today, and forever" (Hebrews 13:8). The church therefore never
changes heads. She functions under the same head, the same authority, century
after century. When Pope John XXIII died, I wrote the following four lines for
our weekly church bulletin:
Pope John Twenty-three is
And the Roman church is without a head;
But let me say, with all that in me lies,
The head of the Lord's church never dies.
Poetry that decidedly is not; truth it most certainly is.
Because Christ is the head of
the body, which is the church, Christ and the church are inseparably joined
together. Christ works through his body and the body does the work of Christ
(cf. 1 Corinthians 12:12-27; Eph. 4:11-15; 1 Peter 4:8-11). This makes it
impossible to reject the body without also rejecting the head, "From which all
the body by joints and bands having nourishment ministered, and knit together,
increaseth with the increase of God" (Co. 2:19). Christ cannot be received apart
from his body.
Christ is the head of the
church, her ruler, her authority, her director. If one desires to have Christ as
his head he must be in the church, the church which is his body. And he must
follow the directions given by the head. If one loves the Lord, if he respects
him as the head of the church, why would he want to be in anything else?
How could he be in anything else Scripturally? To be in another body would be to
have another head.
Do the Scriptures teach that
Jesus is the head, and the only head, of the church? What is the
significance of this?
Why is it vital to have a
divine rather than a human head?
How may we know that the church
is a divine institution?
Who is the divine source of
authority for the church and how does he exercise that authority today?
Why is a divine head (who never
dies) superior to a human head?
May one reject the body without
rejecting the head?