What Is The Church?

Edward N. Melott

The above question, "What is the church?" may appear to be of little importance to some, perhaps of no importance to others! The popular "religious" slogans (not found in the Bible) demonstrate this by reducing the church to a building with stained glass windows and a pulpit rather than the people for whom Jesus died. "Give me the Man and not the Plan" or "Jesus, yes, but the church, no" are daring examples of the massive Biblical ignorance in the world today regarding Christ and His church. Jesus has exalted the church as a thing of beauty and great importance - as His bride (Ephesians 5:23-25) and as His spiritual body (Ephesians 1:22-23; 4:4; Colossians 1:18).

The word "church" is translated from the Greek word ekklesia from ek, "out of," and klesis, "a calling," hence "the called out!" From out of what is the church of Christ called? Sinners are called out of a life of sin unto a life of salvation and righteousness. Our Lord profoundly stated, "I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance" (Luke 5:32). In a revealing list of sins, the apostle Paul ended by saying, "And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God" (1 Corinthians 6:9-11). Sinners are called "out of darkness into His marvelous light" (1 Peter 2:9-10). Sincere, truth-seeking souls are called out of denominationalism into the one true church (1 Corinthians 1:10-13; 3:1-6). Therefore, every sinner is called out of whatever he may be engaged in that is contrary to Christianity into the realm of faithful service to God!

The church about which we read on the pages of the Bible is not a denomination! The church of Christ is not, never has been, and never will be a denomination! It existed long before any denomination was established. In fact, every denomination could be destroyed, and the New Testament church would still exist. The word denomination means "the act of naming, a class or kind, etc." (Webster's). Denominationalism has for one of its meanings "division into denominations" (Webster's). Inherent in these definitions are false concepts about religion. (1) The concept of naming the church. If the church has a name, it must be God-given and found only on the pages of His Word (Romans 16:16), (2) Division, which is basically the creed of denominationalism. Division is sternly rebuked and definitely condemned in the Bible (1 Corinthians 1:10-13; John 17:20-21). Denominationalism is, therefore, not a part of the New Testament church but is most assuredly opposed to it!

Only the saved are members of the church, and only members of the church will be saved today. Those who were faithful in the Patriarchal age and those who were faithful in the Mosaic dispensation who were not members of the church, will be saved based upon their obedience in the time and law under which they lived and contingent only upon the blood of Christ (Hebrews 9:15). Those, however, mentally capable ones living on this side of the cross must be members of the Lord's church to be saved from their sins. Luke recorded, "Praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved" (Acts 2:47). Jesus purchased the church with His own blood (Acts 20:28). If one can be saved outside of the church, he can be saved without the blood of Christ! By what, then, can one be saved, if not by Jesus' blood? Paul answered, "In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace" (Ephesians 1:7). In like manner, John answered, "And from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler over the kings of the earth. To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood" (Revelation 1:5).

Jesus is the "Savior of the body" (Ephesians 5:23). "What is the body, Paul?" The church (Ephesians 1:22-23; Colossians 1:18). "How many bodies are there, Paul?" One! (Ephesians 4:4). We implore you to become a member of the one church of our Lord, the only place of salvation.


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