What is the Church?
In Bible terms, the church is made up of every person who has a personal relationship with Jesus Christ—all those who have received salvation through faith in him.
The word “church” comes from a Greek word, ekklesia, which means “an assembly,” “gathering”, or the “called-out ones”. There are many instances in Scripture where Jesus is referred to as the head of the church, and the church is referred to as the ‘body of Christ.’
“Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it” (1 Corinthians 12:27). We also read that Jesus is “head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy” (Colossians 1:18 NIV).
The New Testament has many names for the church: it is spoken of as God’s building, his planting, his vineyard, his temple, his household, his olive tree, his city, and his people. But with all these illustrations, God does not see different ‘churches’ or denominations, he sees only those who have accepted the good news of the gospel, and who live by faith in him. God primarily identifies those who belong to his church according to the love that they show toward others.: “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:35).
Jesus’ final instructions to his disciples before his ascension are his instructions to his church:
“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:18-20 NIV).
He also reminded them, “…you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8 CEB).
At its most basic, ‘church’ is a word for belonging to Jesus and being in fellowship with all other people who belong to him.
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