In Matthew 16:18 it is written that Jesus made this promise: "And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." Jesus loved the church (Ephesians 5:25), and with His blood He purchased it (Acts 20:28). While people today speak about the church in many different ways, we are interested to know the answer to this question: How is the church of the living God described in the Bible?
The church is called "the kingdom of God" or "the kingdom of Christ." This shows its form of government, that it is a monarchy with the Lord Jesus as its King. Daniel prophesied of the church, saying that it was "a kingdom which shall never be destroyed" (Daniel 2:44). John the Baptizer, Jesus, the twelve apostles, and at least seventy other disciples all preached about the coming of the church, saying, "The kingdom of heaven is at hand." We noted above that Jesus promised to build His church (Matthew 16:19). In the next verse we read that Jesus referred to the church as the kingdom, saying, "And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven. . ." (16:19). Paul reminded the saints in Colosse that God had translated them into the kingdom of His dear Son (Colossians 1:13). Into which kingdom had He translated them? The church.
In the Bible the church is called "the house of God." This shows that the church is the family of God for He is the Father of all those that are in the church. Members of His church are His children, and the relationship that they have one to another is that of brothers and sisters (Galatians 3:26; 6:1). Paul directly called the church the house of God: "But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth" (1 Timothy 3:15). Those who are in the Christ are in "the household of God" (Ephesians 2:19). The Bible declares that Jesus is the "high priest over the house of God" (Hebrews 10:21). But Jesus is head of and rules over the church. Thus, Jesus is the high priest over the church, which is Godís house or family on earth.
The Bible also describes the church as "the body of Christ." "And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all" (Ephesians 1:22,23). Calling the church the body shows the unity of the church, with all members working together for the good of the body (1 Corinthians 12:12-27). Because Jesus is the head of the church, then it is to be in subjection to Him in all things (Ephesians 5:24). The Bible plainly says, "There is one body" (Ephesians 4:4), so since the body is the church, then there is one church that belongs to and was bought by Christ. How many spiritual bodies does Jesus have? Only one. How many churches? The answer is the same!
In the New Testament we also read of the church as "the temple of God." The apostle Paul said that the church "groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord" (Ephesians 2:20). While the Holy Spirit said that the physical body of Christians is the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19), in the same epistle through Paul He said to all the church at Corinth, "Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you" (3:16)? He later again wrote to them, "Ye are the temple of the living God" (2 Corinthians 6:16). The church is thus God's temple. In the Old Testament, the temple was a place of worship, God's dwelling, and holiness. Today, acceptable worship is given to God only in the church. The church is not a physical building, but the kingdom of priests who offer up spiritual sacrifices to God by the Christ (1 Peter 2:5). Today God dwells in the church (that is, in His children) (2 Corinthians 6:16). And, it is in the church that God's people are made holy or sanctified, acting as "obedient children" (1 Peter 1:14).
In other New Testament passages the God of heaven describes His church as a "vineyard" (Matthew 20:1,2), "the church of God" (1 Corinthians 1:2), and "the churches of Christ" (Romans 16:16). When we speak about the true church of the Lord, let us be certain that we describe it or refer to it only in the same manner that the Lord Himself does in the Bible.
-- Roger D. Campbell



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