Posted by Pastor Szekely on December 16, 2006
What does church mean? Now I know that this one word means different things to different people, but friends, there must be a true meaning, a true definition of church!
First of all, the word church means called-out assembly. I say that a church is a group of born-again, baptized believers called out for a particular purpose. In Matthew 16:18, we know that the Lord Jesus Christ was starting His called-out assembly during the time of the accounts of the Gospel: “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”. By the way: This called-out assembly, this church, was not being built upon Peter! Christ was building His called-out assembly upon Himself! How can I say this? Jesus tells us this in verse 18: (a) Picture it – the Lord looks at Simon and says, “…thou art Peter”. Peter means a piece of rock; pebble. (b) Then the Lord says, “and upon this rock I will build my church….” The word rock in this verse means a mass of rock [makes me think of a big rock – boulder!]. That “Mass of Rock” is the Lord Jesus! He is the Rock! He is building His churches upon Himself, for He is the Chief Corner Stone (Eph 2:20). I can picture the Lord talking with Peter, addressing Peter (the pebble), then pointing to Himself and saying, “and upon this rock I will build my church”! So, a church is a called-out assembly, and churches that Jesus builds are built upon Himself.
Now I need you to know that a church is not a universal body of believers. When a person is saved by the Blood of Christ, that person is born into the family of God. There are believers all over this planet, and that would make us all in one family ~ the family of God. One day we’re headed for a “family reunion” (if you will), but all the family of God does not, and never assembles together at once here on Earth. So the family of God must be different than a church, or churches of God!
How are they different? I’ll explain by illustration: Let’s say you like football, and you’re a fan of the Nebraska Cornhuskers (just work with me on this :)…Both you and I are fans, but you have a ticket to the game and I don’t. You go to the game and I watch it on television. Remember, we’re both fans…but: I am at home watching the game. YOU are at the game, congregated with about 80,000 others in a stadium. See the difference? Both of us are fans ~ we’re both Huskers…But you have assembled with a group of fans and I am at home. When a person is saved, that person is born into the family of God; BUT: when a person is immersed in water – the only proper, scriptural mode – by the onlyproper scriptural authority – a local, true New Testament Church – that person is then placed into a Body of Christ, which is a church = Ephesians 1:22-23; Colossians 1:18,24. [Now I know this may raise some more questions for further discussion, so in the future, I’ll address Baptism…please be patient now while I try to stay on point…thanks!]
So…so far: A church is a called-out assembly – it’s always visible and has a locale – it’s not a universal, mystical body; it is a Body of Christ, and these groups of congregated people [born-again, baptized believers, called out for a particular purpose] are being built – not on some man, but upon Christ Himself. NOTE: There were other assemblies, other groups of people gathered together for different reasons in Jesus’ time. This is why the Lord made the distinction by saying, “I will build my church”…Christ would have His called-out assembly!
Why did Christ want His own called-out assembly?
Stay tuned…that’s next!