What is the church?

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The Church, the Body of Christ, is the community of all who believe in Jesus Christ and in whom the Holy Spirit dwells. The Church's mission is to preach the gospel, to teach all that Christ has commanded, to baptize and feed the flock. In fulfillment of this mission, the Church, guided by the Holy Spirit, uses the Bible as a guide and is constantly guided by Jesus Christ, their living head (1, Kor 12,13, Rom 8,9, Mt28,19-20, Kol 1,18, Eph 1,22).

The church as a sacred assembly

"... the church is not created by a gathering of people who share the same opinions, but by a divine calling [assembly] ..." (Barth, 1958: 136). From a modern perspective, one speaks of church when people with similar beliefs meet for worship and instruction. However, strictly speaking, this is not a Biblical perspective.

Christ said he would build his church and that the gates of hell would not overwhelm them (Mt 16,16-18). It is not the church of men, but it is the church of Christ, "the church of the living God" (1Tim 3,15), and local churches are "churches of Christ" (Rom 16,16).

Therefore, the church fulfills a divine purpose. It is God's will that we should "not leave our meetings, as some do" (Heb. 10,25). The church is not optional, as some may think; it is God's desire for Christians to gather.

The Greek term for church, which also corresponds to the Hebrew names for assembly, is ekklesia, and refers to a group of people called out for a purpose. God has always been involved in creating communities of believers. It is God who gathers people in the church.

In the New Testament, the words church [or church] are used to refer to house churches [house churches] as we would call them today (Rom 16,5, 1Kor 16,19, Phil 2), municipalities (Rom 16,23, 2Kor 1,1, 1Th 1,1), communities which cover an entire area (Apg 9,31, 1Kor 16,19, Gal 1,2), and also to describe the entire community of believers in the known world.Community and togetherness

Church means participation in the communion of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Christians are called to the fellowship of His Son (1Kor 1,9), the Holy Spirit (Phil 2,1) with the Father (1Joh 1,3), so that as we walk in the light of Christ, we "have fellowship with one another" (1Joh 1,7).

Those who accept Christ are anxious to "maintain unity in the Spirit through the bond of peace" (Eph 4,3). Although there is diversity among believers, their togetherness is stronger than any differences. This message is emphasized by one of the most important metaphors used for the Church: that the Church is the "Body of Christ" (Rom 12,5, 1Kor 10,16, 12,17, Eph 3,6, 5,30, Kol 1,18).

The original disciples came from different backgrounds and probably did not feel naturally attracted to fellowship with each other. God calls believers from all walks of life to spiritual togetherness.

Believers are "among themselves members" within the universal or universal community of the Church (1Kor 12,27, Rom 12,5), and this individuality need not threaten our unity, for "we are all baptized by one Spirit" (1Kor 12,13).

Obedient believers, however, cause no division by bickering and stubbornly insisting on their point of view; rather, they honor each member, so that "no division in the body" is, but the "members in the same way take care of each other" (1Kor 12,25).

"The Church is ... an organism sharing the same life - the life of Christ - (Jinkins 2001: 219).
Paul also compares the church to "a dwelling of God in the Spirit". He says believers are "intertwined" in a building that "grows into a holy temple in the Lord" (Eph 2,19-22). He points to 1. Corinthians 3,16 and 2. Corinthians 6,16 also on the idea that the church is the temple of God. Similarly, Peter compares the church to a "spiritual house" in which believers form a "royal priesthood, a holy people" (1Pt 2,5.9). The family as a metaphor for the church

From the beginning, the church was often referred to as a kind of spiritual family and functioned as such. Believers are called "brothers" and "sisters" (Rom 16,1, 1Kor 7,15, 1T in 5,1-2, Jak 2,15).

Through sin, we are separated from God's purpose for ourselves, and each one of us becomes, spiritually speaking, lonely and fatherless. God's desire is to "bring the lonely ones home" (Ps 68,7) to bring those who are alienated from the mind into the communion of the Church, which is the "household of God" (Eph 2,19).
In this "household [family] of faith" (Gal 6,10), believers can be nourished in a safe environment and transformed into the image of Christ, because the church that is also above Jerusalem (the city of peace) (see also Offb 21,10 ), "Our Mother's All" (Gal 4,26).

The bride of Christ

A beautiful biblical image speaks of the Church as the Bride of Christ. Through symbolism in various scriptures, including the Song of Solomon is played on it. A key passage is Song of Songs 2,10-16, where the bride's lover says her winter time has passed and now the time to sing and enjoy (see also Hebr 2,12), and also where the bride says, "My friend is mine and I am his "(Hl 2,16). The Church belongs to Christ both individually and collectively and belongs to the Church.

Christ is the Bridegroom who "loved the Church and gave Himself up for her," so that she was "a glorious church, with no stains or wrinkles, or anything like that" (Eph. 5,27). This relationship, says Paul, "is a big secret, but I interpret it to Christ and the church" (Eph 5,32).

John takes up this theme in the book of Revelation. The triumphant Christ, the Lamb of God, marries the Bride, the Church (Rev 19,6-9, 21,9-10), and together proclaim the words of life (Rev 21,17).

There are additional metaphors and images that are used to describe the church. The Church is the flock that needs caring shepherds who care for the example of Christ (1Pt 5,1-4); it is a field where workers are needed to plant and water (1Kor 3,6-9); the church and its members are like vines on a vine (Joh 15,5); the church is like an olive tree (Rom 11,17-24).

As a reflection of the present and future kingdom of God, the church is like a mustard seed that grows into a tree where the birds of heaven find refuge (Lk 13,18-19); and like sourdough making its way through the dough of the world (Lk 13,21), etc.The church as a mission

From the beginning, God called certain people to do his work on earth. He sent Abraham, Moses and the prophets. He sent John the Baptist to prepare the way for Jesus Christ. Then he sent Christ himself for our salvation. He also sent his Holy Spirit to establish his church as a tool for the gospel. The church is also sent out into the world. This work of the gospel is fundamental and fulfills Christ's words by which he sent his followers into the world to continue the work he had begun (Joh 17,18-21). That is the meaning of "mission": to be sent by God to fulfill its purpose.

A church is not an end in itself and should not just exist for itself. This can be seen in the New Testament Acts. Throughout the book, spreading the gospel through the proclamation and formation of churches has been a major activity (Act 6,7, 9,31, 14,21, 18,1-11, 1Kor 3,6, etc.).

Paul refers to churches and specific Christians who participate in the "community of the gospel" (Phil 1,5). They fight with him for the gospel (Eph 4,3).
It was the church in Antioch that sent Paul and Barnabas on their missionary journeys (Act 13,1-3).

The community in Thessalonica "became a model for all believers in Macedonia and Achaia". From them "the word of the Lord did not sing in Macedonia and Achaia alone, but in all other places". Their belief in God went beyond their own limits (1Th 1,7-8).

The activities of the church

Paul writes that Timothy should know how to behave "in the house of God, that is the church of the living God, a pillar and a foundation of truth" (1T in 3,15).
Sometimes people may feel that their conception of the truth is more valid than the understanding of the church that God has given them. Is this likely when we remember that the church is the "foundation of truth"? Church is where the truth is established by the teaching of the Word (Joh 17,17).

Reflecting on the "fullness" of Jesus Christ, her living Head, "who fills everything in all" (Eph. 1,22-23), the New Testament Church participates in works of ministry (Acts 6,1-6, Jak 1,17, etc.), to the community (Act 2,44-45, Jud 12, etc.), the execution of ecclesiastical orders (Act 2,41, 18,8, 22,16, 1Kor 10,16-17, 11,26) and worship (Act 2,46-47, Kol 4,16, etc.).

Churches were involved in supporting each other, illustrated by the help given to the church in Jerusalem in a time of food shortages (1Kor 16,1-3). A closer look at the letters of the apostle Paul shows that the communities communicated and were connected. No community existed in isolation.

A study of parish life in the New Testament reveals a pattern of parish accountability to church authority. Each individual church was accountable to the authority of the church outside its immediate pastoral or administrative structure. It can be observed that the New Testament church was a community of local churches held together by collective accountability to the tradition of believing in Christ as taught by the apostles (2Th 3,6, 2Kor 4,13).

conclusion

The Church is the body of Christ and consists of all those who are recognized by God as members of the "communities of saints" (1Kor 14,33). This is significant to the believer, because participation in the church is the means by which the Father preserves us and sustains us until the return of Jesus Christ.

by James Henderson