The Church as a Gift of God
The church is God’s new creation called into being by the Spirit and the Word. This trinitarian conception is a significant token that the church is not simply the outcome of human intention or creation. The Holy Spirit entices the church, as the people of God, into fellowship with one another and into communion with God. So, the church is both the people gathered by Christ and the people who respond to his call. It is the body of which Christ is the head and its members are joined and the body that members join. However, ascendency lies with God rather than humanity. For the church is the gift of the triune God. And because the church is the gift of God, it belongs to God. It is God’s gracious gift.
Furthermore, since the church cannot exist apart from God’s life-giving Word and Spirit, it remains in continual need of the life-sustaining grace conveyed through Word and Spirit. Because the church belongs to God, it cannot exist without God nor by or for itself. Instead, it only exists by and for Spirit and Word as a witness to God’s kingdom and reign in the world. Indeed, the church is the human outworking of the Spirit and Word, and without reliance on them, it will fall into decline and decay. For without the Spirit and Word, there is nothing the church can do that will count for God’s kingdom. Indeed, without the Spirit and Word, the church cannot be the church.