What is the Church?
The Church is such a big aspect of our lives as Christians, we see it in a huge variety of forms and set ups, with different denominations and aspect that some people seem to like and other don’t. Is the church the individual organisations or a collective? Some church’s seem to be succeeding and other receding. We need to know how the church is and why the church functions in the way it does? We need to be ready and open to see where Christ wants to move the Church and how it was intended to be.
Firstly God is committed to gathering his people together, we can see this is scripture:
(Check out Deuteronomy 5 v 22, Numbers 14 v 1-10, Leviticus 16 v 1 – 10, Nehemiah 8 v 1-8, Acts 19 v 32)
We can see this right from Mount Sinai in Exodus 19 through to Acts 23 in the early church after Christ’s death and resurrection.
The Church is shown as a place where believers meet and a place where they allow space for God to speak through his word to them, with praise as an overflowing result.
Two different ways we can look at the church and ways the church is shown in the bible are…
- As the Local Church
This is the more general use of the word ‘church’ in the New testament is in the context of the local assembly of saints where the Lordship of Christ is recognised.
2. As the Universal Church
In it’s most comprehensive sense, the Church is the complete body of believers of all time, whether in heaven or on earth.
We can easily find non-believers in the Local church, Church goers who have never fully accepted Jesus and don’t have a relationship, also we can find Christians who struggle massively because they may be part of the universal church but are not plugged into a local church and therefore are really struggling in there walk of faith.
There are many pictures and metaphors in the bible of the church, One body with many parts, is shown in 1 Corinthians 12, with Jesus at the head of the church and the body being built up, showing unity in the church and the necessity for all part of the body to complete there role otherwise the whole body will suffer. Christ being the cornerstone for the church found in Ephesians 2. One other great example of the church is Christ marriage to the church shown in Ephesians 5 v 25 – 33, Christ is the loving husband and bridegroom, we are the bride being brought together with Christ.
The Nicene Creed statement of orthodox faith (Council of Nicea 325) says:
‘We believe in one holy catholic apostolic church’
- One – We are called to be one united church, maybe with variety but accepting of all and knowing that Christ is at the centre of all a church should do.
- Holy – We should be a distinctive church, set up part from worldly actions, not separate from all in the world but living with a distinctive outset on life that only Christ can bring.
- Catholic – This speaks of the universal nature of church, revelations talks about a diverse set of believe who will join together in one song, we are a universal church, accepting of all.
- Apostolic – We should be a church based the teaching of Christ through his work in the bible as well as the teaching of the apostles. We should be centre on Christ and his word.
There is a number of makes we shovel look out for as an indication of an authentic church.
- One that is faithful in preaching the word of God – The bible is key to discovering more about God and learning from him. It should be placed at the centre of any church meetings in the bible sense.
- A church that administers sacraments (outwards signs of inwards grace e.g. communion, baptism)
- A church that is faithful in exercising discipline. God is a God of order as well as almighty power, and God has given the church the ability to be ordered, to regulator ethical issues and to keep the doctrine. The church also promotes spiritual edification within the church.
Some other marks we can see are:
- Love – We love the lord (Luke 10 v 27) and each other (John13 v 35).
- Worship – We clearly see worship in a Gods word and therefore it’s a great thing in a church.
- Witness – We should be a church who are witnessing to one another and people outside the church, a desire to share the joy we know with all.
The church is a complex thing and we must keep striving together to get back to where God wants his Church to be, to be the hands and feet of Christ in this world, for his Glory.
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This post was written by Pete Oram, an intern at Gold Hill and one of the leaders in our youth ministry and online assistants.
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