The Identity of the Church (Part 2)
If we are looking for the church, is it what we view the church to be, or what God views the church to be? What God states is the identity of the church may not be the same view as we think. If we identify the church as what God intended, we will follow the pattern He gave, not one we have adopted ourselves or one someone has adopted for us.
The church belongs exclusively and entirely to Christ (Matthew 16:18; Ephesians 2:19-21), not a board, conference, or secular organization. The church is God’s holy temple. NO one has nor takes ownership or can take pride in establishing it. It is purchased and possessed by Jesus only. WHY? Reading Acts 20:28 and 1 Corinthians 6:19-20, you will understand Jesus purchased it with His blood. This is how it becomes His and why this IS the CHURCH of CHRIST.
Identifying the church as Christ’s removes the idea that the church should be a school, ministry, mediator of civic affairs, or political action group. Since Jesus purchased the church with His blood, no one can say the church is mine or “my church does ________.” The church is about Jesus and what He wants.
In our culture, people come to the church thinking the church exists to meet their personal, immediate needs. People will ask, “What’s your church offer me and my family?” The question should really be, “What do I have to give to the Lord and the body of believers called the church?” The church identified in scripture does not accept every moral or doctrinal change which takes place in religion today. It is not culturally, politically, or economically bound. The church was not established by God to meet the dictates of man. It was not designed to be kidnapped right out of God’s hands and made into a mold of what “I want” a church to be.
The church is God’s means of influencing the world for good. Jesus did not say, “On this rock I will build my Christian nation, school, program...” On this “rock,” Christ would build a body of people who will believe in Him and beat back the gates of hell with a moral standard and doctrine He sent by the Holy Spirit to deliver to the apostles. The apostles would then deliver this message everywhere (Matthew 28:18-20). The church is God’s way of influencing the world for God, not for man. This is why Satan is very busy in luring man away from the church by keeping him busy in other things. If he can succeed, the church will not be an influence for good, because people will think good is determined by all that is in the world.
This is why we need to know and care about Bible authority. Why does that matter? It matters to God. It is of utmost importance to the success of the church. Consider reading 2 Thessalonians 2:13-15. In that passage, scripture is sacred. Apostolic tradition is to be heard, believed, and held. That is what makes a church a Church of Christ. It is the authority found in the apostolic tradition we have no right to change. It is the church Jesus established which views their authority by the oracles of God (1 Peter 4:11) and the word of God (Colossians 3:17). Asking for and considering Bible authority makes all the difference in seeing the church as God sees and wants it rather than wanting a church as we see and want it.
One of the most defining traits of the church Jesus bought with His blood is its ability to triumph for eternity. In Matthew 16:13, a question is asked about Jesus, and the answers about Jesus were as numerous as they are today. Peter said Jesus is THE Christ and Son of THE God (v. 16). Upon that truth, v. 18 says, “the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” Death will not destroy the church. Forces of man will not prevail against it. Those who questioned the apostles, especially Gamaliel, said if this work is of man, death will destroy it, but it is of God, nothing will prevail against it (Acts 5:38-39). All those present agreed.
At the point of Jesus’ resurrection and after His ascension, one would think His absence would hinder or put an end to any thought of the church being established. His ascension is what prompted the process to go forward in Acts 2. From that point on, nothing has prevailed against it. The changes in government powers, rulers, persecutions (Acts 8), environmental hazards, catastrophic events, nor changes in morals have stopped the church from existing. Nothing ever will. It all sets the stage for Jesus’ return. At the point of His return, thousands are anticipating Jesus will establish His kingdom. Some believe it never started. Others believe it failed to endure. Jesus is not coming back to establish anything (2 Peter 3:9-15). He is coming back to take His church to glory with Him. This is why He gave His all for it. He did not leave her here forever, but will come back and get her. Will you be a part of that gathering? It is best you identify His church and be a member of it today.