What limitations does the Church of Jesus Christ have on it?
Think for a moment about what a limitation is. It is a restriction. It is a no trespassing sign. Since our creation God has placed “limits” on what we are to do as creatures. The first examples we are given is found in the beginning.
- God taught the man what was good. He taught that we are communal creatures. He placed specific restrictions on the type of lifelong intimate relationships we are to have. Identifying that it was not good for man to be alone, God crafted from the man that He created a woman comparable to him. The woman, who becomes the man’s wife is to be his helpmate. The woman is a gift given to men to complement them. They are both created equal in their status as God’s image bearers. This sacred union was joined together to produce children, something God has likewise given as a blessing. Which means that parents are always mom and dad, nothing else.
- God taught the man (and his wife through him) what their responsibility was as image bearers. They were to rule in God’s stead (i.e., exercise dominion) over the earth, and over its creatures. They were to tend the earth and keep (protect) what God had given as an inheritance.
- God taught the man (and his wife through him) what was good for food. They were given every green plant, herb and fruit from trees, bushes and vines for their food. In the beginning there was no death, and so all creatures that had the breath of life in them were vegetarian. All that the earth produced, either naturally or through cultivation was given to feed the man, the woman and their offspring.
- God taught the man (and his wife through him) the way of life and death. Here is the evidence of a verbal restriction; a no trespassing sign. Faithful obedience was the measure of continued relationship between God and mankind, mankind and the creatures under him/her, and the earth itself. Blessing following humility; whereas, cursing followed pride. (cf. Gen 1-3).
And so, we see that from the very beginning God has placed necessary limitations on His creatures. We are created free within the bonds of our Maker. We are restricted to go beyond the boundaries He has imposed.
Now look back at the question: “What limitations does the Church of Jesus Christ have on it?”
The second thing we ought to notice about this question is the word “of.” The Church is “of” Jesus Christ. What does that mean? It means that the Church (the saints and not the building, or the denomination, or the theological strain) is the possession of Jesus Christ. That is what the word “of” denotes, possessive power. That power and authority belongs to Christ Jesus alone. Thus, He is rightly identified as the “head” of the Church. Which is also why the Church is called His body.
Jesus Christ is the sole owner of the Church (again, we are talking about people here not structures), for we are His creation, His workmanship (Eph 2.10). His life purchased us (Psa 74.2; Acts 20.28; Rev 5.9). His righteousness made us (2Cor 5.21). His holiness set us apart (2Tim 1.9; Rev 20.6).
Of course, I haven’t answered the question yet. But I would imagine that you already know the answer. The limitations that the Church of Jesus Christ has on it are what He has determined as necessary. The Church of Jesus Christ is being conformed into the image of the One and Only Son of God (Rom 8.29). The Church of Jesus Christ, therefore, is to think Christ’s thoughts after Him (1Cor 2.16). So, in order to answer the question regarding limitations we must ask ourselves: “How did we learn Christ” (Eph 4.20)?
Don’t worry you don’t have to think hard over this, if you haven’t figured it out yet. If we are to know our limitations. If we are to understand our restrictions. If we are to properly define our freedoms in this life, then we must learn to not go beyond what is written (1Cor 4.6). We must “abide in [His] word” (John 8.31) in order to “know the truth” (John 8.32). For it is His Word that sets us apart from the world’s way of thinking and acting (John 17.17).
“All that God does He does through His executive, who is His agent [Heb 1.1-3]. God does what He does by speaking the Word, and the Word is with Him and the Word is God [John 1.1-3]. The divine action cannot therefore be silent, cannot be wordless.
Christians are therefore, of necessity, people of the Word. They are people of the Word in the first instance because they are followers of Jesus, and Jesus is the Spoken Word. They are people of the Word in the second place because God has been pleased, in every age, to give verbal expression of His will to His prophets, with clear instructions to write it down [see Exod 17.14; 34.27; Jer 36.2, 28]. And in the third instance, God speaks to us daily in ever blade of grass, every breeze, every driveway pebble, and every crab nebula. Day after day pours forth speech, and night after night the knowledge increases. God speaks [cf. Rom 1.19-20; Psa 19.1-6].”[i]
The question we need to answer is do we listen to what God says? If so, then we will not only know the necessary limitations He has placed on us as His creatures, as members of Christ’s Church, but we will listen (i.e., faithfully seek to obey).
Question 2’s response forthcoming…
[i] Doug Wilson, Mere Fundamentalism: The Apostles’ Creed and the Romance of Orthodoxy (Moscow, ID: Canon Press, 2018), loc 815-821, Kindle Edition. Note to reader: the bold, bracketed sections were examples found in the Scriptures that validate the point that Wilson is making in his comments. They are not meant to be exhaustive, but are given so that the reader might begin a search into such things.