Let me state my bias up front. I love the church and I am so thankful to be a part of it. Why? I once was lost but was found at church. There I also found faith, fellowship, friendship, family, fruitfulness and a heavenly Father. David confessed one day in the Lord’s house—the church—beats thousands spent as a guest in the house of sin (Psalms 84:10). He could be counted on to be often found at church.
The church is a group of believers, anywhere in the world, that have been called “out of darkness into his marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9). The Bible employs about one hundred metaphors and phrases to portray the “church.” Chief among these is the idea that the church is an ekklesia; the “called out” ones. Other pivotal images depict the church as the Body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:3-8; 12-31). The church is a living organism and “grows as God causes it to grow” (Colossians 2:19). Growth is natural, expected, and deliberate. We continue to develop into our future role as the “Bride of Christ” (John 3:29; Matthew 9:15; Mark 2:19; 2 Corinthians 11:2; Revelation 19:7). We are part of the family (2 Cor. 6:18; John 1:12). There is protection in the church because we are among the flock (Luke 12:32).
The word “church” first appears in Matthew 16:18, “…and on this rock I will build my church” (NIV). The church is called out from the world and called into an assembly (Acts 19:32) for the purpose of fellowship and reaching a lost world. A group of people at any level from local to universal may rightly be called “the church” as demonstrated in the following table:
House Church – Romans 16:5; 1 Corinthians 16:19
Local Church – 1 Corinthians 1:2; 2 Corinthians 1:1; 1 Thessalonians 1:1; Galatians 1:2
Regional Church – Acts 9:31
Universal Church – Ephesians 5:25; 1 Corinthians 12:28
Remember the church is not a building or even a denomination. We are the church! The church is comprised of every believer starting with the birth of the church in Acts 2, throughout the ages, and still propels itself into the twenty-first century.
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