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The title “head of the church” is not employed to identify Christ as the head of a company or organization. In Colossians 1:18, Paul distinguishes Christ as “the head of the body, the church.” In other words, the living Christ is the Head of a living body—His bride. The church receives all its life from Christ and has no life apart from Him—they are united as one. This union defines Christ as the Head and the church as His body. Like a ventilator constantly filling lungs with oxygen, Christ is relentlessly filling the church’s lungs, imparting spiritual life, gifts, and the power to fulfill His mission on earth. Charles Spurgeon said:

Time creates no separation. The church is always one—one church of the apostles, one church of the reformers, one church of the first century, one church of the latter days, and of this one and only church Jesus Christ is the one and only head.

This description of Christ as the church’s head is vividly illustrated by Paul in Ephesians 5 within the confines of the relationship between a husband and wife. In verse 23, Paul explains Christ’s headship as the type of headship a husband has over his family. The wife who doesn’t fulfill her spiritual responsibility of submission under her husband’s headship causes dysfunction within the family unit. The wife who lovingly responds to her husband’s direction brings honor to her family, her husband, and, most importantly, her Lord. She testifies to the world how the church is to appropriately respond to Christ in submission, honor, and service.

Christ heads His church through godly leaders (Heb. 13:7, 17). Undershepherds and deacons are representatives of Christ’s authority over the church. Paul summarizes the purpose of these shepherds this way: “to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ” (Eph. 4:12). Any authority that leaders of the church possess is a delegated authority from Christ. It is always Christ, and Christ alone, who authoritatively governs His church. Christ also heads His church through His Word and Spirit. The sole responsibility of those given charge over the church is to declare and apply the instructions of Christ as revealed in His written Word. The primary function of a pastor-shepherd is to feed the flock of God by serving them the nourishing food of God’s Word (2 Tim. 3:16–17; 1 Peter 2:2–3). Through teaching and preaching, the Holy Spirit draws people to Christ and nurtures God’s family.

The headship of Christ also encompasses “all things” (Eph. 1:22). Only Christ can protect the church against our adversary the devil, the temptations of our fallen flesh, and the world’s lies. Only Christ can fulfill His promise that the gates of hell will not prevail against it. Only Christ can gather His sheep and enlarge His church. Only Christ can authoritatively head His bride until she is home with Him forever.

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From the September 2022 Issue
Sep 2022 Issue