What is the church?

Published 9:25 am Friday, September 29, 2017

Today we continue our discussion concerning the church. “Church” means different things to different people. For many, their understanding of the church is determined by societal influence. The result is a distorted understanding of the church. Modern day perception of the church drives many people away from religion altogether.
To some the church is related to a physical structure; as they enter into the cathedral or sanctuary they feel as if they can sense the presence of God which is not present elsewhere. Some see the church as a benevolent society which specializes in feeding, clothing and helping needy. To others the church is a social organization which bestows social benefits to its members. Some religions are rooted in political organization while others are solely invested in raising money to carry on their works. These misconceptions of what the Church is, has led many to believe that the church is of human origin. This also explains the religious division among the churches in our time. However, even the casual Bible student knows man did not build the church and that division was never the plan of God. Jesus built His church (Matt. 16:18) and prayed for unity within it (John 17:21).
What is the church scripturally speaking? The church in the Greek means, “the called out.” The church is people not a building. In fact for the first 350 years Christians did not own “church buildings.” Those who are part of the church have been “called out of the world.” Basically the church is a group of people who by God’s standard are holy and set apart from the world. Acts 2:47 teaches us that God adds the saved to it.
Today we describe people in many ways (man, woman, father, husband, or citizen). To help the first century Christians understand the church, God used many descriptive metaphors to describe it; and each metaphor gives us a different explanation. The church is described as: 1. A household (1 Tim. 3:15), Christ is the husbandman of it; 2. A kingdom (Col. 1:13), Christ is its king and all members are His subjects under His law and domain; 3. A priesthood and a royal generation (1 Peter 2:9), as such we are to offer to God what He commands; 4. A temple of God (1 Cor. 3:17, Eph. 2:19-22), therefore must not allow ourselves to be contaminated by sin; 5. Christians (1 Peter 4:16), thus we must be Christ like; 6. As the church of God or church of Christ (Rom. 16:16, Acts 20:28), thus we are His possession. Other terms are used including: disciples, servants flock, army wife and bride.
Basically, the church is a collection of people who are obedient to God, people working together who are commissioned to spread the Word of God (Matt. 28:18-20), and to do so in unity (Eph. 4:1-6). To be continued.
(Tony Hoss is minister at the Centerview Church of Christ, Elizabethton. To contact him, call 423-737-2287 or e-mail: tmagho1@comcast.net)

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