Having explained to our friends God’s plan of salvation, soon the subject of “the church” will, and should, come up. We need to be able to explain to our friends the uniqueness of Christ’s church; His plea and purpose.
The question will often be asked, “Where do you go to church?” (or some similar question about church membership), and then, very often, remarks will follow such as, “Well, it really doesn’t matter what church you go to…no church saves you…one church is as good as another…just join the church of your choice….” These sentiments, and others like them, are popular and commonly repeated, but they reveal a lack of understanding regarding what the Bible teaches about the church. Many, though very sincere, simply do not know what the New Testament teaches about the Lord’s body, which is the Lord’s church.
What is “the church”?
Let us first begin with defining what the church is. Many think of “building” when they think of “church.” But that is not what the New Testament means. Help your friends see that the “church” in the Bible (from the original word ekklesia) means the “called out body”; the word means “saved people.” The church is not a physical building, but the saved people of God – those who spiritually belong to God the Father through His Son Jesus Christ.
Who built the church?
Let us stress that the builder of the New Testament church is Jesus Christ Himself! He is the one who promised to build the church (Matthew 16:18). He is the head of the church, and the church is His body (Ephesians 1:22-23; Colossians 1:18).
Throughout history many men have built “their own” churches; but the church of the Bible was built in the first century by the Son of God. It began on the day of Pentecost in the city of Jerusalem in Acts 2. As believers, we mean the church which Jesus built – nothing more, nothing less, and nothing besides.
Is the church important?
Contrary to popular opinion that “the church” is unimportant, the Bible not only teaches that the church Jesus built is important, but that it is essential!
The Bible teaches that Jesus is “the savior of the body” (the church, Ephesians 5:23). What Jesus is going to save is His church – for the church is the saved, and those who are saved are the church! It is completely contrary to Scripture to speak of “saved” and “church” as separate things, for in the Bible they are the same thing!
What about the church?
Having explained to our friends what the New Testament church is and why it is important, we need to set forth the uniqueness of what Christ wants for His church.
We live in a religiously confused and divided world. There are numerous religious denominations, and they continue to multiply; but no modern denomination existed in the first century – none! Christ is pleading for undenominational, New Testament Christianity. He is calling for men and women to abandon all man-made denominations, and be simply Christians, members of the church He built.
Let us carefully explain that we are not pleading for “his church” or “her church” or “your church” or “my church,” but rather we are pleading for Jesus’ church: the New Testament church that Jesus promised and purchased, built and bought.
When men and women heard the simple message of the gospel – the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ – and when they believed and obeyed it, the Lord added them to the one church that Jesus built (Acts 2:47). The same word received in the same way today yields the same result: forgiveness of sin and addition to the Lord’s body.
Ours is a Scriptural, winning, successful plea when properly understood. May God help us adequately explain the beauty of the New Testament church!
By John Brown