Scriptures

What Is The Church?

Introduction

The Origin of the Church

God is the originator of the church, according to His eternal purpose in Christ.

‘According to his eternal purpose that he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord. In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence.’ Ephesians 3:11-12

He foretold of the church in the Old Testament, indicating that He’d establish it during the reign of Rome.

‘In the last days the mountain of the LORD’s temple will be established as the highest of the mountains; it will be exalted above the hills, and peoples will stream to it. Many nations will come and say, ‘Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the temple of the God of Jacob. He will teach us his ways, so that we may walk in his paths.’ The law will go out from Zion, the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. He will judge between many peoples and will settle disputes for strong nations far and wide. They will beat their swords into ploughshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore.’ Micah 4:1-3

‘Your Majesty looked, and there before you stood a large statue—an enormous, dazzling statue, awesome in appearance. The head of the statue was made of pure gold, its chest and arms of silver, its belly and thighs of bronze, its legs of iron, its feet partly of iron and partly of baked clay. While you were watching, a rock was cut out, but not by human hands. It struck the statue on its feet of iron and clay and smashed them. Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver and the gold were all broken to pieces and became like chaff on a threshing floor in the summer. The wind swept them away without leaving a trace. But the rock that struck the statue became a huge mountain and filled the whole earth. “This was the dream, and now we will interpret it to the king. Your Majesty, you are the king of kings. The God of heaven has given you dominion and power and might and glory; in your hands he has placed all mankind and the beasts of the field and the birds in the sky. Wherever they live, he has made you ruler over them all. You are that head of gold. ‘After you, another kingdom will arise, inferior to yours. Next, a third kingdom, one of bronze, will rule over the whole earth. Finally, there will be a fourth kingdom, strong as iron—for iron breaks and smashes everything—and as iron breaks things to pieces, so it will crush and break all the others. Just as you saw that the feet and toes were partly of baked clay and partly of iron, so this will be a divided kingdom; yet it will have some of the strength of iron in it, even as you saw iron mixed with clay. As the toes were partly iron and partly clay, so this kingdom will be partly strong and partly brittle. And just as you saw the iron mixed with baked clay, so the people will be a mixture and will not remain united, any more than iron mixes with clay. ‘In the time of those kings, the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed, nor will it be left to another people. It will crush all those kingdoms and bring them to an end, but it will itself endure forever. This is the meaning of the vision of the rock cut out of a mountain, but not by human hands—a rock that broke the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver and the gold to pieces. ‘The great God has shown the king what will take place in the future. The dream is true and its interpretation is trustworthy.’ Daniel 2:31-45

During the reign of Rome, the church began on Pentecost, a few days after Jesus ascended into heaven.

‘Then they gathered around him and asked him, ‘Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?’ He said to them: ‘It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.’ Acts 1:6-8

‘When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.’ Acts 2:1-4

The Church is the Called Out Body

The word ‘church’ is translated from the Greek work ekklesia, denoting a called out body of people. God calls us out of the world of sin through the gospel.

‘He called you to this through our gospel, that you might share in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.’ 2 Thessalonians 2:14

The church is composed of people who respond to God’s call. The word church is used in two ways. ‘Church’ can be used in reference to all Christians, or a specific congregation.

Jesus uses ‘church’ both ways. In Matthew, Jesus promises to build His church, speaking of Christians everywhere who would respond to the gospel call.

‘And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.’ Matthew 16:18

In Matthew, Jesus uses the word ‘church’ regarding Christians in a local congregation.

‘If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.’ Matthew 18:17

Membership in the Church

On Pentecost, people asked Peter what they should do. He told them to repent and be baptized for the remission of their sins.

‘Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.’ Acts 2:38

The people who obeyed the gospel received the gift of the Holy Spirit, they were saved, and added to the church by the Lord.

‘With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, ‘Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.’ Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day’. Acts 2:40-41

‘And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.’ Acts 2:47

They were baptized into the body of Christ by the Spirit.

‘For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free’. 1 Corinthians 12:13

They were born again, born of water and Spirit.

‘Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.’ ‘How can someone be born when they are old?’ Nicodemus asked. ‘Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!’ Jesus answered, ‘Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit.’ John 3:3-5

The Church is God’s Kingdom

The word kingdom denotes the domain of the king. God rules over the church; therefore, it is His kingdom. We must be born again to see the kingdom of God.

‘Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.’ ‘How can someone be born when they are old?’ Nicodemus asked. ‘Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!’ Jesus answered, ‘Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit.’ John 3:3-5

We are born of water when we are baptized and born of the Spirit when we are added to the church, at which time we become a new creature in Christ.

‘Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!’ 2 Corinthians 5:17

Since we believed the good news about the kingdom of God and were baptized.

‘But when they believed Philip as he proclaimed the good news of the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.’ Acts 8:12

We are members of God’s kingdom.

The Church is Christ’s Kingdom

God put all things under Christ’s feet.

‘And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.’ Ephesians 1:22-23

He is Lord of lords and King of kings, having all authority in heaven and on earth.

‘God, the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords’ 1 Timothy 6:15

‘Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.’ Matthew 28:18

Therefore, He rules over the church (kingdom). As Christians, God has rescued us from the domain of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of His Son.

‘For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.’ Colossians 1:13-14

As members of Christ’s kingdom, we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. Later in this epistle, Paul tells us exactly when these things transpire.

‘Having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised up with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions’. Colossians 2:12-13

Therefore, we are added to the kingdom when we are baptized, the time at which we are saved.

The Church is Christ’s Body

Paul tells us the church is the body of Christ, allegorically expressing our relationship to Christ as members of His body.

‘And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.’ Ephesians 1:22-23

Since Christ is the head of the body, the church must be subject to Him in everything.

‘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.’ Colossians 1:18

‘Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.’ Ephesians 5:24

If our congregation isn’t subject to Christ, we’re not His church! As head of the body, Jesus is also the Saviour of the church.

‘For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Saviour.’ Ephesians 5:23

We must be members of His church to be saved. He is the author of eternal salvation to those who obey Him.

‘Once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him’. Hebrews 5:9

He is our Saviour if we obey.

The Church is God’s Household

Paul tells us the church is God’s household, allegorically expressing our relationship to God as His children.

‘I am writing these things to you, hoping to come to you before long; but in case I am delayed, I write so that you will know how one ought to conduct himself in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and support of the truth’. 1 Timothy 3:14-15

Just as Jesus is head of the body, He is over the house of God.

‘But Christ is faithful as the Son over God’s house. And we are his house, if indeed we hold firmly to our confidence and the hope in which we glory’. Hebrews 3:6

Since Jesus is God’s Son, and we are also God’s children, we are Christ’s brethren.

‘Both the one who makes people holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So, Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters’. Hebrews 2:11

We are heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ.

‘Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.’ Romans 8:17

The Church is God’s Temple

Paul tells us the church is God’s temple, allegorically expressing our relationship to God as priests who render spiritual service to Him.

‘What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: ‘I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.’ 2 Corinthians 6:16

And Paul writes to the Ephesians, saying of the church.

‘Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit’. Ephesians 2:20-22

As God’s temple, we are responsible for conducting ourselves properly. Our bodies are members of Christ.

‘Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ himself? Shall I then take the members of Christ and unite them with a prostitute? Never!’ 1 Corinthians 6:15

We are one spirit with the Lord.

‘But whoever is united with the Lord is one with him in spirit.’ 1 Corinthians 6:17

We must glorify God in our body.

‘Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore, honour God with your bodies.’ 1 Corinthians 6:19-20

We are not our own; we’ve been bought with a price.

The Church is the Bride of Christ

Paul tells us the church is Christ’s bride, allegorically expressing our united relationship with Him, as a husband is united to His wife.

‘I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy. I promised you to one husband, to Christ, so that I might present you as a pure virgin to him’. 2 Corinthians 11:2

We are united with Christ when we are baptized.

‘Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his.’ Romans 6:3-5

‘So, my brothers and sisters, you also died to the law through the body of Christ, that you might belong to another, to him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit for God.’ Romans 7:4

Becoming one spirit with Him, baptized into His body by the Holy Spirit.

‘But whoever is united with the Lord is one with him in spirit.’ 1 Corinthians 6:17

‘For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.’ 1 Corinthians 12:13

Most importantly, we will live with Jesus in heaven, united with Him for eternity.

Conclusion

The church is God’s kingdom, Christ’s kingdom, Christ’s body, God’s household, God’s temple, and Christ’s bride. There’s no greater privilege than to be a Christian.

But we also have responsibilities, as people upon whom God has bestowed so many blessings. Let’s make sure we are doing our part, to be the church God ordained from eternity!

DAILY BIBLE VERSE

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest."

Matthew 11:28

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