What are we Called?
Rather than complicating the matter, it is probably best to just be called Christians – those who follow Christ.1 Other labels found in the Bible include: saints, beloved, sons of God, disciples, etc. Rather than being distracted by label, it is better to focus on the core of our faith. When God’s saints gather together we find them taking the description ‘assembly,’ or ‘group.’2 We might better recognize the traditional term: “church.” Our name before men is less important than our name before God. We ought not name ourselves after man but after God.3 He sees our names for who we really are. His book of life4 can’t be fooled or manipulated by church title or human roster. We are Christians; we are of Christ. There is no higher name or calling.5 As we look at other Christians we see brothers and sisters in Christ.6 We see fellow heirs to His kingdom.7 We see fellow bond servants.8 We see holy ones made whole by Jesus’ blood.9 We see loved ones – those whom God loves and those to whom we ought to devote ourselves.10
Who is the Church?
Each individual is personally a disciple of Christ, yet when disciples gather together the assembly, or church, has specific purposes and God-assigned limitations.11 The church is made up of God’s people.12 He has created a singular assembly of mankind under a new head- Jesus.13 Yet at the same time, there exist groups within that church that consist of Christians in limited time and place. In other words, there are individual churches that meet all over the world.14 Each church is autonomously connected to Jesus without going through each other. These assemblies subscribe to the order which God assigned. It is comprised of members whom God assigns.15 We can put our names on a church registry, but God alone fixes members to His church.
We do the best we can on a limited scale, but have no authority outside of God’s written word. The church is not an authority. The church is not a clergy. The church is a collection of God’s children. Each local body meeting in various geographical and historical locations is part of God’s assembly of saints. Buildings and doors are merely meeting locations. Burn the buildings and the church lives on. Shut the doors and the saints will still gather. Kill the members and the heavenly host expands. Nothing can destroy God’s Kingdom.16
What is the purpose of the Church?
God designed the church for a reason. Fellow saints are powerful instruments of encouragement and proper living.17 When we spend time with believers we are better able to fight the discouragement and temptation with which the adversary is attacking us.18 The church is also able to praise and glorify God in a way individuals cannot. God has given a series of roles and responsibilities to members so that the whole may benefit.19
Since the enemy cannot destroy the church, he has placed effort to construe its purpose in the world’s eyes. Satan tries to demonize the church in the eyes of non-believers. People see churches as cults of secrecy and closed-mindedness and bigotry. God’s church is the opposite. His purpose for the church is to accept all His children,20 to promote knowledge of truth,21 and love neighbor as self.22 Satan then turns to warp the perspective of those who believe. Satan convinces people that the church is for acceptance of all behavior and lifestyles, where people can go to feel good about where they are and what they do. People gather in the name of Christ under the guise of the Lord’s church to praise themselves, to be entertained by performers, and to get a good high. This is not God’s church either. The church is not for self esteem, self validation, or comfort. The church is for praising and thanking a perfect and powerful king,23 being reminded of God’s holiness and love,24 pushing each other to make changes for improvement,25 and studying His words which pierce us through to dominate our self will.26 The church is for edification which brings true joy.27 But our purpose and joy does not come in entertainment, it comes in being challenged to adhere to God’s word.
The Importance of Authority
We could discuss for a lifetime the best way to accomplish the mission and purpose of the church. Be we don’t have to, nor should we. God has already given the church order.28 If we choose to act as a church to accomplish something God doesn’t want the church to accomplish, then we are abusing our head – Jesus. Likewise if we try to accomplish proper goals but in a way not approved or in a way specifically prohibited, then we cannot rightfully call ourselves God’s church. The issue of authority is vital to determining who is the Lord’s Church verses who has fallen to the deception of the enemy. If a church is found by God to be in violation of Jesus’ permission or desires then they are not legitimate. We must remember that Jesus is King.29 He is not on the throne so we can behave however we want.30 His focus and concern is our salvation.31 When we as a church act outside of His will, then we jeopardize our holiness. The church respects its head and authority, and makes all effort to do as He has indicated.
- Acts 11:26 – The disciples were first called Christians in Antioch. WEB
- Acts 5:11 – Great fear came on the whole assembly, and on all who heard these things. WEB
- 1 Corinthians 1:12-15 – Now I mean this, that each one of you says, “I follow Paul,” “I follow Apollos,” “I follow Cephas,” and, “I follow Christ.” Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized into the name of Paul? I thank God that I baptized none of you, except Crispus and Gaius, so that no one should say that I had baptized you into my own name. WEB
- Revelation 3:5 – He who overcomes will be arrayed in white garments, and I will in no way blot his name out of the book of life, and I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels. WEB
- Colossians 1:17-18 – He is before all things, and in him all things are held together. 18He is the head of the body, the assembly, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence. WEB
- Matthew 12:50 – For whoever does the will of my Father who is in heaven, he is my brother, and sister, and mother. WEB
- 1 Peter 3:7 – You husbands, in the same way, live with your wives according to knowledge, giving honor to the woman, as to the weaker vessel, as being also joint heirs of the grace of life; that your prayers may not be hindered. WEB
- Colossians 4:7 – All my affairs will be made known to you by Tychicus, the beloved brother, faithful servant, and fellow bondservant in the Lord. WEB
- 1 John 4:21 – he who loves God should also love his brother. WEB
- Ephesians 1:20-23 – …made him to sit at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule, and authority, and power, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age, but also in that which is to come. He put all things in subjection under his feet, and gave him to be head over all things for the assembly, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all. WEB
- Ephesians 2:19-22 – you are fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God, being built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the chief cornerstone; in whom the whole building, fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord; in whom you also are built together for a habitation of God in the Spirit. WEB
- Hebrews 12:22-23 – But you have come to Mount Zion, and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable multitudes of angels, to the general assembly and assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven WEB
- 2 Thessalonians 1:4 – so that we ourselves boast about you in the assemblies of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and in the afflictions which you endure. WEB
- Romans 8:33 – Who could bring a charge against God’s chosen ones? It is God who justifies. WEB
- Daniel 4:3 – His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and His dominion is from generation to generation. WEB
- Hebrews 10:24-25 – And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another WEB
- Hebrews 3:12-13 – See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. WEB
- 1 Corinthians 12:12-31
- Galatians 3:28 – There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. WEB
- 1 Timothy 3:15 – the house of God, which is the assembly of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth. WEB
- Ephesians 5:25-33
- Ephesians 1:13-14 – having also believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is a pledge of our inheritance, to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of his glory. WEB
- 1 Timothy 1:5 – The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith WEB
- Romans 12:2 – Don’t be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what is the good, well-pleasing, and perfect will of God. WEB
- Hebrews 4:12-13 – For the word of God is living, and active, and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing even to the dividing of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and is able to discern the thoughts and intentions of the heart. There is no creature that is hidden from his sight, but all things are naked and laid open before the eyes of him with whom we have to do. WEB
- 1 Corinthians 14:12 – So also you, since you are zealous for spiritual gifts, seek that you may abound to the building up of the assembly. WEB
- 1 Corinthians 14:33 – For God is not a God of disorder but of peace—as in all the congregations of the Lord’s people. WEB
- Hebrews 2:9 – Jesus, because of the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that by the grace of God he should taste of death for everyone. WEB
- 1 Peter 4:1-2 – Forasmuch then as Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same mind; for he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin; that you no longer should live the rest of your time in the flesh for the lusts of men, but for the will of God. WEB
- Hebrews 7:25 – Therefore he is also able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, seeing that he lives forever to make intercession for them. WEB