Since the suspension of the physical social gathering of people in places of worship, some people may think that the church has been shut down. It’s therefore important for us to understand the meaning of the term “Church”. What most people refer to as Church is simply the building or the Sanctuary where they gather.
The Greek word for Church is ekklesia and it means a meeting of a people who are “called out” and summoned together. In the NT, it primarily refers to the congregation of God’s people in Christ, who come together as citizens of God’s Kingdom for the purpose of worshiping God.
Ephesians 2:19 NKJV
“Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God,”
This means that these people have been called out from one dominion or kingdom into God’s Kingdom. They have been called out of the kingdom of darkness into His wonderful light (1 Peter 2:9). Therefore the Church is the people who gather or meet at a given place, mostly in a building (Sanctuary) that people call Church.
The word Church can refer to a local church (assembly) or the universal Church.
“If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector. Matthew 18:17 NIV
“When they came to Jerusalem, they were welcomed by the church and the apostles and elders, to whom they reported everything God had done through them. Acts15:4 (NIV)
“Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood.” Acts 20:28 (NIV)
1. The Church is the people of God or the company of redeemed believers.
This is was made possible by Christ’s death on the cross. (1 Peter 1:18-19)
These people are pilgrims people, no longer belonging to this earth (Heb. 13:12-14). Their first function is to stand as community in a living, personal relationship with God.
2. The Church is the people called out of the world and into God’s Kingdom
Separation from the world is inherent to the Church’s nature and is rewarded by having the Lord as one’s God and Father.
“What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.” Therefore, “Come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you.” And, “I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.” 2 Corinthians 6:16-18 (NIV)
3. The Church is the temple of God and of the Holy Spirit
(1 Cor. 3:16, 2 Cor. 6:14 – 7:1)
This truth about the Church demands separation from unrighteousness and from worldly immorality. “Therefore, since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God.” 2 Corinthians 7:1 (NIV)
Apostle Paul makes it unmistakably clear that one cannot claim God’s promises listed in 6:16-18 without a life of separation and holiness. This explains why some believers have lost their Christian joy, divine protection, answers to prayers, and the sense of God’s fatherly presence. To compromise with the world is to lose God’s presence and promises.
I would argue for each of us to really examine our personal life… Are you walking in full obedience to God? Are there areas you may have compromised, thereby negating the promises of God in your own life? God is just, and you cannot claim his promises or blessing while at the same time you’re not walking in obedience to His Word. There’s a lot of truth in the saying that, “Your blessings are on the other side of your obedience.” And remember; partial obedience is DISOBEDIENCE!
4. The Church is the body of Christ.
“Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ himself? Shall I then take the members of Christ and unite them with a prostitute? Never! Do you not know that he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body? For it is said, “The two will become one flesh.” 1 Corinthians 6:15-16 (NIV)
This image indicates that no true Church exists apart from vital union of the members with Christ. The head of the body is Christ. (See also 1 Cor. 12:12-27, Eph 1:22, 4:15, 5:23, Col 1:18). And as members of one body, we need each other, every part is important and has a function and hence each should endeavour to function as required. And in order to this to happen, we must remain connected with each other and especially with the head, Christ. Just as a part of the body cannot live when cut off the body, a believer who disconnects slowly dies off. Don’t allow yourself to die by disconnecting from the rest of the body, we belong together.
5. The Church is the bride of Christ
“I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy. I promised you to one husband, to Christ, so that I might present you as a pure virgin to him.”2 Corinthians11:2NIV
“Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready. Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear.” (Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of God’s holy people.) Then the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!” And he added, “These are the true words of God.”” Revelation19:7-9NIV (see also Eph 5:22-27)
This marriage image emphasizes the devotion and faithfulness of the Church to Christ, as well as Christ’s love for and intimacy with His Church. As a bride of Christ, are you satisfied with your level of faithfulness? And faithfulness is required in all areas, is there areas you need to work on?