Let's Talk About The Church
What is “The” Church?
Let’s talk about the church. This week I want to explore this not in terms of “a” church” but in terms of “the” church. So, we’re really talking about a big, sweeping, cosmic, theological construct.
In Greek, the word for church is ecclesia. In a literal wooden sense, it means, “those called out from”. It is similar to our word assembly. We are those whom the Lord has called from all nations, tribes, peoples and language to be His people.
“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. “(1 Pet. 2:9 ESV)
“who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works. “(Tit. 2:14 ESV)
We are that possession, that people, the saved of all the earth--God’s elect. That is the church.
The church is built upon the foundations of the apostles and prophets with Christ as the cornerstone. (Cf., Ephesians 2:20) This means we are built on God’s word and the gospel of Jesus Christ.
The church is made up of all those for whom Christ died. Paul told the Ephesian elders, “Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood.” (Acts 20:28 ESV)
The church is His body of which He is the head. “For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior.”
(Eph. 5:23 ESV also cf., Col 1:18, 24)
We are His bride. He gave Himself to save us and sanctify us so that we would be holy and blameless before Him. (Cf. Ephesians 5:22-30)
The church on earth will not be perfect until the new heaven and new earth. Augustine called this “a mixed body.” We are sinners saved by grace. That means we will make mistakes and there will be pretenders in our midst and some who will seem to fall away as a result. We are like the field where an enemy has planted weeds in the crop and only at the judgment will those be revealed and purged.
But, in glory, the church will be all of God’s people, from every nation, in Christ, unified, glorified, and sanctified together forever to the praise of His glory and grace.