Monday, January 13, 2020

Cultural-ishtianity: What the Church IS

This series of articles entitled, "Cultural-isthtianity," is taking a look at how our culture, particularly here in the west, has influenced how the Church responds to issues of our day and time.  Sadly, the Church continues to bend more and more towards what the culture deems to be acceptable and less and less toward what God's Word says and commands.

In my last article, I spent sometime talking about what the Church is NOT.  Now that we have looked at what the Church is NOT, let’s briefly look at what the Church IS, according to God’s Word.

The word:  "Church"
The English word, “church,” comes from the Greek word, ekklesia, which is a compound word:  ek = out and kaleo = call.  The Church of Jesus Christ is, literally, the “called out” ones, those individuals who have been called out of the kingdom of darkness and brought into the kingdom of light by God’s grace alone, through their faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone.  The “Church,” then, is composed of all those who have believed and received Jesus as their Savior.

The “Local” Church 
The local church is a gathering of those who believe in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, who are committed to meet regularly for worship, teaching, fellowship, and prayer, and who help make disciples of other people in their immediate communities.  The location of their meeting is irrelevant as the Church is composed of people, not the location or building in which they gather.  Some local Churches meet in storefronts, some in church buildings, some in local school auditoriums and some in individual homes.

The “Universal” Church:
The universal church consists of all believers, worldwide, whom Christ has saved from the Day of Pentecost until the Rapture (1 Thess. 4:13-18).  Though cultures may vary and languages are different, people from around the world who share in their faith and trust in Jesus Christ as their personal Savior, are all members of the “universal” Church.  “After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude, which no one could count, from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, and palm branches were in their hands; and they cry out with a loud voice, saying, ‘Salvation to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb’” (Rev. 7:9-10).

The Bible uses metaphors to help us understand the uniqueness of the Church.  Let’s, briefly, look at a few of those:

  • The Church, universal, belongs to no one other than Jesus (Matt. 16:18).  
  • The Church is the “body of Christ” and Jesus is the “head” of that body (1 Cor. 12:27; Eph. 4:11-12; Eph. 1:22-23).  
  • The Church is “the family (or household) of God” (Rom. 8:15,23; Eph. 1:5; 2:19; Gal. 6:10;    1 Tim. 3:14-15).
  • The Church is “the temple of God” (Eph. 2:19-22; 1 Cor. 6:19).
  • The Church is “the flock of God” (Acts 20:28; 1 Peter 5:2).
  • The Church is “the pillar and support of the truth” (1 Tim. 3:14-15).
  • The Church is “the bride of Christ” (Rev. 19:7-10; Eph. 5:22-32).

The Church of Jesus is unlike anything else throughout history.  A person can be part of Jesus’ church regardless of age, gender, nationality, location on the planet or political persuasion.  The Church is both local and universal.  The Church belongs to Jesus and no one else.  Herein lies the problem of church splits.  The words, “It’s not your church!” need to be said to those who would stir up strife and conflict. He is the head of His church and believers make up the body.  At the same time, every true believer is the temple of the Holy Spirit.  We are the children of God (1 John 3:1) and the flock of God.  As our Great Shepherd, the members of the Church are protected by and provided for by God Himself.  The Church is the protector and declarer of God’s truths, which are found in the Bible.  Lastly, the Church is the Bride of Christ and one day, she will be united with Him for all eternity at the marriage supper of the Lamb.

One final thought:  No true believer can, or should, ever live life in isolation, away from the rest of the body.  Nowhere in Scripture do we see God encouraging that lifestyle.  Believers are to be joined to one another for fellowship, worship, caring, discipleship, evangelism and prayer.  There are some good local churches out there.  Keep searching until you find one that is true to the Scriptures and sees Jesus as the way, the truth and the life.

May the Lord bless you as you seek to serve Him by serving others in His Church.

By His Grace,
Gary T. Dromi, Ph.D.