What is the ‘church?’

Published 9:30 am Friday, September 22, 2017

Recently I was asked, “What is the church?”
Over the next few weeks we will discuss what the church is according to the Bible. Many people today think that of the church as a building others understand that it is comprised of any religious organization (denomination) worshipping God.
In America, there are hundreds of different churches; each claiming to be Christian; claiming to be the church that Jesus built, or at least a part of it. Most are accepting of other religions that teach doctrines contrary to theirs; by their acceptance they show their approval of religious division. This is not a biblical understanding of the church because the Bible teaches that division is wrong. Let’s consider what the Bible teaches us about the church.
The word “church” comes from the Greek word “ekklesia” which is defined as “an assembly” or “the called-out.” The meaning of “church” is not that of a building but rather those who are called out of sin to live the Christian life. While many identify the church as the building, Paul wrote, “… greet the church that is in their house” (Romans 16:5). According to Paul the church is not some building but rather the body of obedient believers assembled there.
Paul explains that the church is the body of Christ, of which He is the head. “God placed all things under His feet and appointed Him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body…” (Ephesians 1:22-23). The body of Christ, the church, consists of all obedient believers in Jesus Christ from the day of Pentecost until Christ’s return.
The Bible depicts the body of Christ in two ways:
First it is seen in the local sense. By this I mean the local congregations which are part of the Lord’s Church. This is seen in Paul’s descriptive statement in (Gal. 1:2-2), “Paul, an apostle … and all the brothers with me, to the churches in Galatia.” These were all congregations teaching the same doctrine in different places and there was a noticeable absence of any denominated group of worshippers. (Phil. 3:16; 1 Cor. 1:10; 1 Cor. 12:25, Romans 16:1; Acts 14:20-23)
Second the church is seen in a universal sense. It is composed of all those who obediently submit to the commands of Christ as stated in the New Testament. Therefore it contains all who are faithful Christians in any and all regions of the world. (Matt. 16:18; 1 Cor. 16:1-2; 1 Cor. 12:12-13; 2 Cor. 8:1).
The church is not a building or a denomination. The Bible shows the church is the body of Christ composed of all those who have been called out of sin by God’s Word. Members of local congregations make up the universal Church. They are not denominations teaching different doctrines but rather sister congregations teaching the Gospel of Christ.
(Tony Hoss is minister at the Centerview Church of Christ. He can be contacted at 737-2287 or by email at: tmagho1@comcast.net)

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