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The Church

Updated: Nov 21

In some of my earlier memories of church, I remember my mother having to drag me to church. Who wanted to get up early on a Sunday morning, miss out on quality playtime, just to go sit and be still in church? I would have much rather jumped on my bike and took off with my friends. This, though, is not who we were, as I was told many times, we went to church. Looking back, today I am glad that my mother drugged me to church and did not give up when I was very resistant.



Considering church, one of the things people have the tendency to do is to focus on the Sunday morning assembly. For many, this may be all that we think the church is. Often when we consider church we may say things such as; “We are going to church.” or we may think of a place or a location such as, “The church is located at ...” For many, the church is a building, it’s a location, it’s something we do.


One of the things I hope we have learned through the pandemic is that there is more to church than the Sunday morning worship assembly. Saying this, I am not saying that our meeting together on Sunday mornings is not necessary or that it is not important, it is! Scripture teaches this was the practice of the early church (ref. Acts 20: 7), to meet on the first day of the week. However, this is not all that church is. In many ways, though, I believe we have regulated church or what we may think of church to Sunday morning assembly, a place, or something we do.


I Will Build My Church


When Jesus came to Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” (ref. Matt. 16:13). Their answer revealed the many different thoughts and opinions about who Jesus was.


Matthew 16: 14 (English Standard Version)

And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”


During the life of Jesus, there were many different thoughts and opinions about who he was. As Jesus continues, he asks his disciples a more direct question. “But who do you say that I am?” (ref. Matt. 16: 15). To which Peter, inspired by the Spirit of God, answers You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” (ref. Matt. 16:15). Peter, in his answer, declares the truth of who Jesus is. And it’s on this truthful confession of who Jesus is that Jesus responds And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” (ref. Matt. 16: 18).


Just as there are many different thoughts and opinions about who Jesus is, today there are many different opinions and thoughts about what the church is. Amid all the confusion, if we apply ourselves to God’s word, we can understand his truth. Jesus said I will build my church. What was Jesus talking about building?


The Assembled


As mentioned, often when people think of church, we think of a building or a place. Church is something "we go to” or Church is something we “do”. However, if we look at the word, "church", we find it means more than something we do or a place we go to.


In Greek, the word for church is ekklésia. This word is used 114 times in the New Testament. It’s translated as, assembly, congregation, and also translated church. Of the 114 times, it is used in the New Testament, 108 times it is translated as “church” or “churches”.


For example:


1 Corinthians 1: 2

To the church [ekklésia] of God that is in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints together with all those who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours


Matthew 16: 18

And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, [ekklésia] and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.


This word means, a calling out, an assembly, or a meeting of assembly [1] I think this is important and helpful because it helps in shaping and understanding the church and what the church is. The church is not a building or a location, it is a called-out assembly of people. Who are we as the Lord’s church? People set apart, called out, for His purpose. The apostle Peter would say this:


1 Peter 2: 9

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.


Who Are Those Called Out?


The church is those who have been called out, a people for his own possession, as Jesus stated, I will build my church. And it is Jesus who adds people to his church.


Acts 2: 47

praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.


It’s important to understand that people do not add other people to the church. It is the Lord who adds people to his church. Therefore, if we desire to be part of his church, among those who have been called out, we need to listen to and follow his word.


Jesus instructed his disciples:


Matthew 28: 18

And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.


Jesus instructed his disciples to go and make disciples of all nations. A disciple is a student, a learner. [2] A disciple of Jesus is someone who is a follower of Jesus. Peter declared that Jesus is Lord and Christ (ref. Acts 2: 36). Disciples of Jesus both believe and confess Jesus as Lord of their lives and Jesus God’s Anointed (Christ).


Peter, teaching all Jesus commanded, also taught that people are to repent and be baptized for the forgiveness of sins.


Acts 2: 38

And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.


To repent is to change my mind. But more so, in the Bible, it is to change my mind in reference to the will of God. I surrender my will to follow the will of Christ so that I am no longer a slave to sin but am a servant of Christ (ref. Rom. 6: 16-18).


Those who are called out are those who are baptized. Baptism, as we see in the New Testament is an immersion in water. The apostle Paul speaks of being buried with Christ in baptism, and as Christ was raised from the dead we too are raised to walk in newness of life (ref. Rom. 6: 1-14).


From every nation, those who listen to and follow the instruction of the Lord are added to his church. They are called out, separated from sin. They are “...a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” (ref. 1 Peter 2: 9)


Notes:

Scripture references from The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016. Print.


1. Souter, Alexander. A Pocket Lexicon to the Greek New Testament 1917 : 75–76. Print.

2. Nässelqvist, Dan. “Disciple.” Ed. John D. Barry et al. The Lexham Bible Dictionary 2016 : n. pag. Print.


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