Many people (including Christians) have a poor attitude toward the church. Popular slogans such as “I love Jesus but hate religion” make the church seem like an unnecessary hindrance to true Christianity. On top of that, each person has their own opinion about what the church ought to be doing.
The Bible alone tells us the truth about the church. It tells us what the church is as well as its role in the Christian life and the world.
Identity of the Church
The word “church” means “congregation” or “assembly”; it refers to a group of people that gathers together. In the Bible, the church is the assembly of people who gather to worship Jesus. The church is often identified today with a religious building, but this is a mistake. The church is made up of people who worship and obey Jesus as God’s Son.
Peter addresses the church thus: “But you are a chosen people…a people belonging to God…once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God” (1 Peter 2:9-10).
Founding of the Church
Jesus promised to build His church upon Peter’s confession of faith in Him (Matthew 16:18). He founded the church on the Day of Pentecost by pouring out His Spirit and empowering the apostles to preach about His life, death, and resurrection. Those who believed Peter’s sermon repented, were baptized, and became the church (Acts 2:1-41).
Paul says that the church is “built upon the foundation of the apostles…with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone” (Ephesians 2:20).
Fellowship of the Church
What distinguishes the church from any other group of people is how we treat each other. Jesus says, “By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:35). We are told to love (John 13:34), honor (Romans 12:10), accept (Romans 15:7), agree with (1 Corinthians 1:10), serve (Galatians 5:13), bear with (Ephesians 4:2), submit to (Ephesians 5:21), forgive (Colossians 3:13), encourage (Hebrews 3:13), and offer hospitality to (1 Peter 4:9) one another.
The early church cared for each other so much and spent so much time together that they “had everything in common” and “were one in heart and mind” (Acts 2:44; 4:32).
Mission of the Church
Before ascending into heaven, Jesus tells His disciples to “make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19). He promises them: “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses…to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8). The apostles and generations of saints after them have been faithful to preach the gospel to the remotest parts of the earth.
It remains the mission of the church to proclaim Jesus to all who will listen. Let us testify to what He is doing in our lives and through the life of His church!
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