What is the church Christ established

Jesus promised to build his church. "…Upon this rock I will build my church…," Jesus promised (Matt. 16: 18). Jesus did build his church or kingdom (Acts 5: 11, Col. 1: 13). We read of the origin and growth of Jesus’ church in the Book of Acts (Acts 2: 14-47, 5: 11, 14, 14: 23, see Isa. 2: 2).

     The term church (ekklesia, Greek). The word translated church is a compound word, "ek, out of, and klesis, a calling" (Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, by W. E. Vine). When "church" is spiritually used the idea is that of a called out people. Indeed, the gospel "calls" people out of "the world" (2 Thes. 2: 14, I Jn. 2: 15, 16). "Church" has a number of nuances in the New Testament but the two most common are the universal and local concepts.

The church universal has no geographic location, organization, or work, as such (see Matt. 16: 18, notice the singular use). The church universal is simply the saved of all the earth (Eph. 5: 27). In this respect, there is only "one body" or church (Eph. 4: 4). The Lord adds one to his church by means of water baptism (Gal. 3: 26, 27, Acts 2: 47, KJV).

     The Local church. The local church is God’s people in a given geographic location who have banded themselves together to constitute the local church and to perform the work assigned to the local church (Acts 9: 26). Hence, we read of the "church of God which is at Corinth" (I Cor. 1: 2).

Unlike the church universal, the local church has geographic location, organization, and work (I Tim. 3: 15, see vss. 1-14). The baptized believer who is walking in the light must "join" the local church (Acts 9: 26, 27).

Each local church is to have "Bishops…and deacons" (Phili. 1" 1, Acts 14: 23). These men must meet certain qualifications (I Tim. 3: 1-13, Tit. 1: 5-11, the pastoral system of government is not taught in the New Testament).

The church Jesus built knew nothing of governing boards or overseeing churches. Man later introduced these innovations. Each local church was autonomous or self-governing (Acts 14: 23, I Pet. 5: 1-3,).

     Designations pertaining to Jesus’ church. The Lord’s church did not wear human names (human names such as Lutheran, etc. were introduced by man centuries after 30 AD, Acts 2,). As a matter of fact, the church wore no names at all. Instead, we find certain descriptive designations such as ""the churches of Christ""(Rom. 16: 16, see also Col. 1: 13, 18, Acts 20: 28). We must remember, denominationalism was nonexistent in the First Century, there was only Jesus church (see I Cor. 1: 10-13).

The church submitted to Jesus’ headship and authority. Jesus, not man, any man or men, is the head of his church (Eph. 1: 22, 23). That which governs the church and that which she teaches is the word of God, the "doctrine of Christ" (2 Jn. 9-11, Gal. 2: 14). She shuns and repudiates human creeds and traditions (Mk. 7: 6-13).

     The plan of salvation is presented by Jesus’ church. The early church taught belief, repentance, confession of Christ’s deity, and water baptism for the remission of sin (Acts 16: 30, 31, 17: 30, 31, Rom. 10: 9, 10, and Acts 2: 38,)

     The work of the early church. The work of Jesus’ church was manifestly the edification of the saints and the preaching of the gospel to the lost (Eph. 4: 16, I Tim. 3: 15). When there was a financial need, the church relieved needy saints (I Cor. 16: 1, 2).

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Author: jfm

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