Let’s establish some basic foundational truths
1. THE CHURCH DOES NOT SAVE…. THE CHURCH IS THE SAVED, ALL OF THE SAVED. Outside the church one is not saved. Remember in Acts 2:38, 41, 47, that those who gladly received the words spoken by the apostle Peter, repented of their sins and were immersed into Christ, were forgiven and received the gift of God’s Holy Spirit… these were added to the church.
2. THE CHURCH BELONGS TO JESUS, since He bought and paid the price for “her” (Acts 20:28).
3. THE CHURCH IS NOT A BUILDING with a name on a sign outside.
4. THE CHURCH IS COMPOSED OF THE SAVED… ALL THE SAVED!
5. THE CHURCH DID NOT HAVE AN OFFICIAL NAME. The names which are found on church buildings, are denominational, and the result of differences and division. Jesus prayed for unity in His people, not denominations.
The nature of the church is seen in phrases used to describe relationships with the Head of the church… JESUS, with God, each other, and even with the world.
FAMILY OF GOD
When you were born, you didn’t waddle down to the waiting room and choose a
family! You were born into a family! You “belonged” from birth to that family. When you are “born again” you are born into ‘a family,’ God’s family. You will have brothers and sisters you may not even know… simply because they too were “born” into that family. God our Father has been “adding” people to His family since the day of Pentecost. He only adds those that are saved, (Acts 2:47).
Paul says, “but if I am delayed, I write so you may know how you ought to
conduct yourself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar
and ground of the truth, (I Timothy 3:15). While the church doesn’t save, (Jesus saves), it is the FAMILY OF THE SAVED. The concept of ‘family’, is used to convey ‘relationship’ which Christians have primarily with God thru Jesus, and therefore with everyone else who has this relationship. This is why Christians call each other ‘brother’ and ‘sister’.
BODY OF CHRIST
Referring to the authority of Christ, Paul writes, “And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way”(Ephesians 1:22-23). In Ephesians 4:4 he says, “…. there is one body…” (This means that there is one church, which is his body.) This is not said to be offensive… but to cause you to think. When a baby is born, does it matter which family he belongs to? Of course… there’s just one for that child… the one he is born into.) Paul says in Ephesians 5:23, “For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior.” The head (Christ), directs, and preserves, and instructs the body. The saved are members of that body – the church. No building is as beautiful as that.
Important!!! If you loose a member of your physical body, and the importance of
each member becomes very apparent. Same with the church, the body of Christ.
KINGDOM (RULE) OF GOD
Christians are children in His family, members of the body of Christ, are servants in His
kingdom (under His Covenant rule). Paul says in Colossians 1:13, “For he has rescued us from the dominion (RULE) of darkness and brought us into the kingdom (RULE) of the Son he loves” (Colossians 1:13).
*** We no longer belong to “king” Satan, nor do we listen to his demands. We don’t march to the beat of his drums. So in regards to the world… those who are under this special rule of King Jesus, are to be DIFFERENT from the world (Romans 12:1-2), INVOLVED IN A SPIRITUAL WAR AGAINST THIS WORLD (James 4:1; I Peter 2:11; I John 2:15-17; Revelation 19:11) and thus we are to wear SPIRITUAL ARMOR (Ephesians 6:10-18).
It’s important not only to note that we are now under His special rule, but that it is a rule
of LOVE and GRACE. He loves His people tremendously, and continues to bless and forgive and help them. God (Jesus) is King, the church is His Covenant people, His word is the ‘guide book’. John says, “and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood” (Revelation 1:5). (Thus not only is Jesus King of all kings… He is our KING.)
“THE CHURCH” (Colossians 1:18), This is the word in Greek, “ekklesia” and means “called out. It was in the New Testament times used of any assemblies called out for a specific purpose, but it came to be used of God’s people. “Called out ones,” The idea is that God’s people are those called out of the world to be different… like Jesus.
“THE KINGDOM OF HIS DEAR SON” (Col. 1:13) The kingdom we speak of here is that “rule” which was given to and remains with Jesus (Matthew 28:19). The relationship would necessarily be that of Christians being the subjects of the King. Following Jesus is not a burden, it is a privilege.
Here are some other designations and phrases found in the New Testament which are used in reference to the people of God under Jesus.
“CHURCH OF GOD” (Acts 20:28; Galatians 1:13),
“CHURCHES OF CHRIST” (Romans 16:16),
“BODY OF CHRIST” (I Corinthians 12:27),
“FLOCK” (Acts 20:28),
“BRIDE, THE LAMB’S WIFE” (Revelation 21:2,9),
“TEMPLE OF GOD” (I Corinthians 3:16,17,19).
IMPORTANT!!! Again, not one of these designations were used as an “official name” for a ‘church’ sign. These designations all speak in different ways, of the relationship Christians have with God, Jesus, and each other… and in regard to the world (lost).
IS THE CHURCH A DENOMINATION OR COMPOSED OF DENOMINATIONS?
Well, the simple answer is “NO.” There were no denominations back then. Christians, met in each others homes, (Acts 2:41-47). Jesus prayed for unity, (John 17:20-21), not division (I Corinthians 1:10). The word ‘denomination’ refers to a particular group, with a particular name which believes in a particular way of doing things as opposed to others who claim to be Christians. This sets that group apart from others. In Mathematics, it refers to the bottom number of a fraction, which is the amount of times the top number is to be divided into. Therefore, put all this into simple terms, the whole idea of DENOMINATIONALISM IS WRONG, (especially within the body of Christ,
(Read I Corinthians 1:10-13)). We just want to be Christians, and meet where other Christians meet, how about you? When the early church was established on Pentecost, the first thing on the agenda in their “business meeting” was not the choose a NAME! or BUILD A BUILDING!
Look at Acts 2:41-47 “Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. 44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. 46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.”
Look in Acts 6, where the church chose spiritual men to help free the hands of the apostles toevangelize, by taking care of the needy within the church. Traditions, human regulations, names, organizations, robes, titles, creeds, are wrong, and hurt the Savior that died for us…. ALL THEY DO IS DIVIDE. This also explains why people today are so confused, and or turned off at “church”. ALL DENOMINATIONAL NAMES ARE SIMPLY BARRIERS TO THE UNITY THAT JESUS PRAYED FOR AND SHOULD BE REJECTED. JUST BE A CHRISTIAN
Why be a simple New Testament Christian? Planting the “seed of the kingdom” (Luke 8:11), the word of God, we learn: 1.) what the early church was, 2.) how they became disciples, 3.) their worship (which was pretty simple), 4.) their designations, and the relationship to Jesus and each other, 5.) their joy which came from grace, and 6.) their hope because they are the ones Jesus is coming again to take home to be with him.
Why wouldn’t you want to be a part of that?
When we follow their examples, Jesus will add us to His Family, body, kingdom,
church. Call yourself a Christian, (Acts 11:26). You won’t be the only Christian, but you
will be a Christian only.
Then you meet with those who are in the “family of God”.
SOUL WINNING – IS NOT WHAT YOU DO, BUT WHAT YOU ARE! A disciple is a soul winner, a disciple. Say what?! A “soul winner”! Someone who shares their faith, in love, patience, example of changed life, gentleness, and kindness and concern. Why? Why not?! If Christ has changed your life… why not share the good news with others? It is the natural outcome of becoming a Christian.
Look in Acts 8:4 new Christians who were being persecuted for their faith also but still went everywhere sharing Jesus with others. The church grew in a fantastic rate. This is fulfilling the love command of Jesus in Matthew 28:18-20, to go everywhere and share Jesus, make disciples of every nation. It is a world wide goal to reach everyone.
Every believer is a sermon read by all they come into contact with. This affects your life, all of it, your family, your job, your play, your driving. It’s not a game, not a social club where you make business contacts… It is the saved of God.