what-is-churchWhen we started this series on the church, we asked the question, “What is church?”. Over the past six weeks we have not only answered that question, but developed the idea of the church much more. We have answered questions like “What is the difference between the universal and local church?”, “Who is in the church?”, “How should the church worship?”, and  “How should the church interact?”. But let’s be honest, its hard to remember all of that over the course of six weeks. So today I want to recap and give the highlights of this series. So here goes…

What is the church? The church is an assembly of people who believe in Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior (Matt. 16:13-18). It is not a building, location, or place on a map. The church is not a building because buildings do not listen, pray, and cannot be gathered together (Matt. 18:15-17; Acts 12:5, 14:27). So when the church is discussed, we must understand that we are talking about a group of people who are bonded together by their common confession of Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. He is the One who is in charge of their life, because He sacrificed His life for them (Eph. 5:23-30). However, it would be logistically impossible to gather all these people together in one place, which led to our second question…

What is the difference between the Universal and Local church? The universal church is the entire group of people, throughout all time, who confess Jesus as Lord. These are the people of any race, age, time zone, location, and era that have many things in common (Eph. 4:4-6), namely Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. But these believers are told to not forsake assembling together (Heb. 10:24-25)–enter the local church. The local church is simply a localized body of believers who have a common geographic location (Rom. 1:7, 1 Cor. 1:2, Gal. 1:2). So we see the local church is part of the universal church, merely separated by time or location. Which brings us to our third question…

Who is in the church? There are two main parts of the church–the head and the body. The head of the church is Jesus Christ (Eph. 1:22-23). He is the leader, director, master, and essential part of the church. The body, on the other hand, is made up of all believers in Jesus Christ. But even within the body, there are two offices of leadership God established. The first of these offices is leaders (Eph. 4:11-12), also called elders, pastors, and bishops throughout Scripture. The second office is that of servants (Acts 6:1-6), known as deacons. While it is important to recognize these offices and individuals, the church is not complete without the entire body (1 Cor. 12). The very mentioning of differing individuals in the body of Christ led us to our fourth question…

How should the Church interact? There are three main ways the church is called to interact in the Scriptures including: fellowship, service, and unity. Fellowship is the life of the body; it is the members of Christ’s body caring for one another, discipling one another, and spending time together around God’s Word (Acts 2:42, 46; 2 Pet. 1:3; 2 Tim. 3:15-17). Service is the body caring for each other and others. This is the body looking out for others above themselves and keeping their minds set on Christ (Acts 2:45, James 2:14-16, Luke 12:33-34). Unity is how the body interacts toward one another simply because of the unity Christ has accomplished for us all (Acts 2:44, 47; Eph. 4:2-6; 1 Cor. 1:10). Which should always remind us of the answer to question number five…

How does the Church worship? We must understand that the church worships God alone for this is what He demands and deserves (Ex. 20:3-6). It is God alone who is worthy of our worship and He must be the reason we meet every time we get together. The church also worships in spirit and in truth (Jn. 4:23-24). The church must worship passionately and with emotions which have been given by God. But it must worship passionately and emotionally only that which is true (aka God as He has revealed Himself in Scripture). Finally, the church must worship constantly–it cannot be a once a week activity (Rom. 12:1-2). Because our entire lives are sacrifices of worship to God, we came to question number six…

What are the Church’s ordinances? The ordinances are symbolic ceremonies regularly done because they are prescribed by God and because they proclaim the Gospel. There are two such practices for the church: baptism and communion. Baptism is the identifying of oneself with Christ in death to self and sin, and a raising of oneself with Christ (Matt. 28:19; Rom. 6:4). It is proclaiming to the world that you are on Christ’s team. Communion, on the other hand, is a reminder of what Christ has done for us on the cross and a proclamation of that truth until He comes (1 Cor. 11:26). It is the practice of  keeping our minds, hearts, and lives on Christ and giving thanks to Him for His sacrifice.

golgotha-01So there you have it…a quick and concise recap as to what the church is, the difference between the universal and local church, who is in the church, how the church interacts, how the church worships, and what the church’s ordinances are. If you missed any of the series, please click the links above. Otherwise thanks for reading, and I hope it was helpful in forming your understanding of Christ’s body, bride, and institution in the world. Remember Christ gave His life for the church…what are you doing for it?

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