What Is The Church?
Teaching students the importance of church is vital. In fact, people use the term “church” to mean a couple of different things. Jared Dees says, “We use the word “church” in so many different ways, but it is so important that our young people know that the real meaning of the Church refers to the People of God not just a place we go or a thing we do on Sundays.” Some of us have a bad habit when we discuss “church” as the place we go to on Sunday. When this is done, the lost world could wrongly assume that church is a building rather than people. Yes, people go to a building we call the “church building,” but the people (believers in Christ) are what make up the church.
Wayne Grudem writes, “The church is the community of all true believers for all time. That is, the church is made up of all the men and women who have been, are, or ever will be true believers in Jesus” ( Ephesians 1:22-23). Ultimately, there is one church comprised of a community of believers. In our world, “the one church takes the form of countless local churches, each of which must be viewed as a microcosm, outcropping, and sample of the larger whole” (Grudem). Every Sunday thousands of church buildings open their doors to people so they can come together and worship Jesus. These churches can be locally or globally. Those who are true believers in their church all are a part of the big “C” church. Meaning, those who are believers all over the globe belong to the “invisible” church, thus the big “C” church.
Erik Thoennes describes the invisible church as “the church as God sees it.” It is invisible, to people but not God, because God is the one who knows man’s heart. The Bible says, “The Lord knows those who are his..” (2 Timothy 2:19). God knows those who are true believers and who are a part of the Church.
Marks of the Church
There are some important characteristics of the church. To begin with, preaching God’s Word is a true characteristic of the church. The second characteristic is the ordinances, which are baptism and the Lord’s Supper. These are representative of two activities that are “markers” of the true church of Jesus Christ.
What is the church to do?
The church is all about ministry. For example, ministering to its members, the community, and the world. The foundation for ministry is love for others. Erik Thoennes writes, “Ernest brotherly love should characterize relationships within the church” (Romans 12:10, 1 Tim. 5:1-2, 1 Peter 1:22). Loving God and loving others is a benchmark of what the local church of believers should do. Not to be forgotten, evangelism should be very central to what a church does. For example, believers should be eager to share their faith in Christ with their co-workers, neighbors, loved ones, and community. Thoennes further writes, “Meaningful local church involvement is not an option spiritual discipline; it is the essential context within which believers are intended to find Christ and grow in Him” (Thoennes). Therefore, evangelism is very important in order to obey Christ’s command (Matthew 28: 18-20). Telling others about Jesus is a staple of an evangelistic, gospel-centered church.
“So then, you are no longer slaves and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, growing into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.”
How are you being the “church” to those around you in this unique time?
Have you reached out to your family and friends to see if they need anything?
Are you growing in your faith while having extra time at home?