What is the church?

Last updated on January 15, 2021

What is the church?

The church is the baptised followers of Jesus Christ, called together by Him, led by elders, who come together to worship God, to celebrate the Lord’s Supper, and to hear God’s Word.

The church consists of followers of Jesus Christ. ‘Christian’ is not just a name. As a Christian, you believe that Jesus has washed away your sins (Matthew 26:28) and you are obedient to what Jesus says (Luke 6:46). When members of a church show they do not have faith, or are not willing to obey the Lord, the church disciplines them (Matthew 18:17).

The church consists of baptised people: “For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body” (1 Corinthians 12:13). So baptism is the entrance of the church.

The church is called together by Jesus. Church is not man’s idea, but God’s idea. It is not man’s initiative, but God’s initiative. It is God who builds His church, not man. Therefore church members are called “those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints” (1 Corinthians 1:2).

The church is led by elders. If a church does not have elders, it is still a church but it is an incomplete church (Titus 1:5).

The church comes together. Meeting together as a church is not optional: the Bible expressly commands us not to neglect to meet together (Hebrews 10:25).

The church worships God through prayer (Acts 2:42) and singing (1 Corinthians 14:26).

The church celebrates the Lord’s Supper. The remembrance of Christ’s death for our sins is an important part of our church meetings (Acts 2:42).

The church listens to God’s Word. The apostles’ teaching (Acts 2:42) is important. The way to do this is to read God’s Word, to teach its meaning, and to apply it to the lives of the listeners (1 Timothy 4:13).

In most cases when the Bible talks about church, the local church is meant (e.g. Romans 16:1). The church is meeting together and doing things together. It is one specific group of people called together by God to be His church. At the same time, the Bible also mentions ‘church’ in more general terms, referring to the universal church of all people in all places from all times who have put their trust in Jesus (e.g. Matthew 16:18).

When we become part of the church, we both get a connection with Christ as our head (Ephesians 4:11-16), and with brothers and sisters who are members of His body (Romans 12:5). That is a tremendous privilege, and also a tremendous responsibility!

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