What Does The Bible Say
About The Church
The Bible teaches us that those who have been born again make up the body of Christ which is His church. The church is the main instrument that God is using to accomplish His eternal purposes in the world. The apostle in the book of Hebrews tells us that we are not to be negligent in attending the worship service of the local church. Hebrews 10:25 records, “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the day approaching.” It’s impossible for a follower of Christ to be a faithful disciple if he is not involved in a Bible-believing and Christ-exalting church. It is in the church that we are nourished in our faith and strengthened in our resolve to walk with God.
As believers, we are The Bride of Christ. We are the Army of God. We are the light and salt to a dying world. So apart from the ministry of the local church, the bride is not prepared to meet her husband; the army is not trained for warfare; the light is not kept lit, and the salt loses its saltiness. If we are to be mighty for God in this world, we need His church.
How do we define the church? The word church means a called out body or company. The church is the gathering of the elect of God from all the nations of the earth. By the preaching of the Gospel, the individual members of the church are called out from the world and brought into the fellowship of the body of Christ. Those chosen and called by God’s sovereign grace make up the New Testament Church. Acts 13:48, “Now when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and glorified the word of the Lord, And as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed.”
The church has been described by a number of different terms. It has been called “The Church Militant” to refer to the church on earth active in the fight against the world, the flesh, and the devil. It has been called “The Church Triumphant” to describe the church in heaven having taken its place around the throne of the Lamb of God to worship Him in glory. The church has also been described as “The Visible Church,” which is the local church and “The Invisible Church” which describes the church universal that operates throughout the world. When these verses are used, the local church is being referenced: Acts 5:11, 4:26, and Romans 16:4, When these verses are used the universal church is being referenced: Ephesians. 1:22, 3:10, 21, 5:23, Colossians. 1:18.
The church is the bride of Christ. The Apostle Paul in Ephesians 5:22-33 exhorts husbands and wives on their duties to one another.
“Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. 24 Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything. 25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, 26 that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, 27 that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. 28 So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church. 30 For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones. 31 "For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh." 32 This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church. 33 Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respect her husband.”
This passage uses the analogy of marriage to explain our relationship with Christ. We are married to Christ, and He is our husband. What a special privilege it is to be the Bride of Christ. A bride loves her husband, obeys her husband, honors her husband serves with her husband, cherishes her husband, is loyal to her husband and is faithful to her husband. We, as the church of God, have the duty to be all of these things to the God who has called us and washed us in the blood of His Son.
The church is the dwelling place of God. James, in his letter in chapter four verse five says, “Or do you think that the Scripture says in vain, ‘The Spirit who dwells in us yearns jealously?’”
The church is the temple of God. Paul the apostle wrote to the church at Corinth, “Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are.” I Corinthians. 3:16-17. The life of a believer is the place where the shekinah glory dwells and is manifest. Not only do we have a responsibility to protect the purity of our individual lives, we also have a responsibility to protect the life of the church in which we are joined in membership.
There are three things that make up a biblical church, preaching, the Lord’s supper, and church discipline. No church is true to its biblical calling if these three things: biblical preaching, the Lord’s Supper, and church discipline, are not faithfully observed. Are there other marks or signs of a true church? What things should we expect when we worship with those who claim to be the people of God? Here are eleven important Characteristics of the true Church of Jesus Christ. This is a list I wrote out as I was asking myself what would I want and expect to find in a church if I were looking for a place where my family and I could worship God.
- A biblical church should be known for its love for the Word of God. Acts 17:11 says, “These were more fair-minded than those in Thessolonica, in that they received the Word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so.”
- A biblical church should be known by its love for the doctrines of grace.
- A biblical church should be known by the presence of agape love.
- A biblical church should be known for holy living by its members.
- A biblical church should be known by its obedience to The Great Commission. Matthew 28:18-20, “And Jesus came and spoke to them saying, ‘All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.’ Amen.”
- A biblical church should be known by its understanding of the doctrine of justification by faith alone. Martin Luther believed that justification by faith was the article of a standing or falling church. Justification is the Gospel. A church that has gone astray from the doctrine of justification will go astray in many other areas as well.
- A biblical church should be known by its prayer life.
- A biblical church should be known by its separation from the world. I John 2:15-17, “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.”
- A biblical church should be known by its passion to exalt Christ. To exalt Christ means to praise Him. It means to lift Him up in all that we say and do.
- A biblical church should be known by how it worships God. The Bible is our guide on how to worship. We are to pattern our worship after the instructions and examples that we find in the Word of God.
- A biblical church should be known by the fact it has a faithful pastor. We cannot forget how important this is. A church can have many wonderful things but if it does not have a faithful and godly minister it is not a biblical church.
- What kind of people make up the New Testament Church?
- How important is the church of Jesus Christ?
- How do we define the church?
- What three things are necessary for a church to be a biblical church?
- What kind of things should a church be known for?