Today, many people think of a church as simply a building where those who believe in God and Jesus Christ might come to worship. In fact, even the 1828 Webster’s Dictionary defines a church as “a house consecrated to the worship of God, among Christians; the Lords house.” The Webster’s Dictionary also defines a church as a “collective body of Christians, or those who profess to believe in Christ, and acknowledge him to be the Savior of mankind. A particular number of [Christians], united under one form of ecclesiastical government, in one creed, and using the same ritual ceremonies; as the English church.”
These definitions however are somewhat lacking when compared against the Scriptural definition of the Church, which is the body or bride of Christ. [Ephesians 5:21-32]. For the Church not only consists of those men and women who have made a covenant with God by sacrifice, the sacrifice of that old man of sin, but it is also built upon the rock of revelation that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God. [Matthew 16:13-18]. And it is through the authority of the Church that individuals enter into this covenant and thereby witness unto the Father that they will be a living testimony of Christ. [2 Corinthians 3:1-3]. Or as Peter wrote, “If so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious. To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious, Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.” [1 Peter 2:3-5].
The Church is not merely a building of physical stones, but it is a spiritual entity, a living body that is governed by the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Again, the Scriptures refer to the Church as the bride of Christ [Ephesians 5:32 and John 3:29], while Jesus is frequently referred to as the bridegroom [Matthew 9:15, Matthew 25:1-12, and John 3:29]. It is through this holy union, which is likened unto a marriage between a man and a woman, that men and women are born into the Kingdom of God by the covenant of baptism, both of the water and the Spirit. This spiritual house does not only contain members, but priesthood as well, with each office comprising of its own unique callings, responsibilities, and gifts. [Ephesians 2:13-22, Ephesians 4:11-16, and 1 Corinthians 12:27-31]. The Church of God is both organized and structured with the sole purpose of building the Kingdom so that the will of the Father will be done on earth as it is in heaven. [Matthew 6:33 and Matthew 5:13-16].
Scriptures to Consider
Matthew 16:13-18 (KJV)
16:13 When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am? 16:14 And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets. 16:15 He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? 16:16 And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.
16:17 And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. 16:18 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.
Ephesians 1:19-23 (KJV)
1:19 And what is the exceeding greatness of His power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of His mighty power, 1:20 Which He wrought in Christ, when He raised him from the dead, and set Him at His own right hand in the heavenly places, 1:21 Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: 1:22 And hath put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be the head over all things to the church, 1:23 Which is His body, the fullness of Him that filleth all in all.
Ephesians 2:13-22 (KJV)
2:13 But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. 2:14 For He is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; 2:15 Having abolished in His flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in Himself of twain one new man, so making peace; 2:16 And that He might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby: 2:17 And came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh. 2:18 For through Him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.
2:19 Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; 2:20 And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief corner stone; 2:21 In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: 2:22 In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.
1 Peter 2:1-5 (KJV)
2:1 Wherefore laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings, 2:2 As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby: 2:3 If so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious. 2:4 To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious, 2:5 Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.
2 Corinthians 3:1-3 (KJV)
3:1 Do we begin again to commend ourselves? or need we, as some others, epistles of commendation to you, or letters of commendation from you? 3:2 Ye are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read of all men: 3:3 Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart.
Ephesians 4:1-16 (KJV)
4:1 I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, 4:2 With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; 4:3 Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4:4 There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; 4:5 One Lord, one faith, one baptism, 4:6 One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. 4:7 But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ.
4:8 Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men. 4:9 (Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth? 4:10 He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.)
4:11 And he [Jesus Christ] gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; 4:12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: 4:13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: 4:14 That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; 4:15 But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: 4:16 From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.
1 Corinthians 12:27-31 (KJV)
12:27 Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular. 12:28 And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues. 12:29 Are all apostles? are all prophets? are all teachers? are all workers of miracles? 12:30 Have all the gifts of healing? do all speak with tongues? do all interpret? 12:31 But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way.
Matthew 6:33 (KJV)
6:33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.
Matthew 5:13-16 (KJV)
5:13 Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men. 5:14 Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. 5:15 Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. 5:16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.