The term "church" translated from the Greek word ekklesia appears in the New Testament more than one hundred times. It is generally translated into English by the word "church." Literally, it means "the called out." When the term "church" is used in connection with Christ as in "church of Christ" (Rom. 16:16), we have the "called out" of (belonging to) Christ. Therefore, the phrase church of Christ simply means the called out ones belonging to Christ. Such people are called by the gospel out of the world of darkness into the glorious light of the kingdom of God. (Romans 1:16; Colossians 1:13; 2 Thessalonians 2:14; 1 Peter 2:9). The various designations given to the church in teh Scriptures emphasize its nature and characteristics.
Jesus said to Peter, "And I say also unto thee, that thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates hell shall not prevail against it." (Matthew 16:18) Christ established the church on the first Pentecost following the Lord's resurrection. (Acts 2:1-47) From that time forward it was always spoken of as a reality. (Acts 2:47)
The church and the kingdom signify one and the same body. Jesus said to Peter, "And I say also unto thee, that thou are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against. And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven." (Matthew 16:18-19) The "church" and "kingdom" are here used interchangeably. From Luke 22:17-30, coupled with Acts 20:7 and 1 Corinthians 11:20-24, it is evident that the church and kingdom are one and the same. Jesus said that the Lord's Supper would be observed in His kingdom, but it was actually observed in the church. Therefore, we must admit that the church and the kingdom are the same or else charge the apostles with taking the Lord's Supper in the wrong body. The apostles were to partake of the Lord's Supper in the kingdom but they ate it in the church.
Peter said, "Ye also, as living stones, are built up a spiritual house." (1 Peter 2:5) Paul said, "Ye are God's husbandry, God's building." (1 Corinthians 3:9) The church is sometimes referred to as a building, and yet it is not a material structure. (Acts 7:48; Ephesians 2:19-21) The church of our Lord is a spiritual house.
The Family of God
Paul wrote, "But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth." (1 Timothy 3:15) The term house signifies "household" or family. We read that Cornelius "feared God with all his house." (Acts 10:2) The Philippian jailor was told to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ "with all thy house." (Acts 16:31, 33)
In conversion a person is "born again." (John 3:5) Thus, by a rebirth a person becomes a child of God, and by the same process, he becomes a member of God's household or family. Men may join denominations but if one enters the family of God it must be by a new birth.
The Body of Christ
Numerous passages make it clear that when the New Testament speaks of the body of Christ reference is not made to His physical body but to His spiritual body, which is His church. "And hath put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be the head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him that filleth all in all." (Ephesians 1:22-23) "And He is the head of the body, the church; who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence." (Col. 1:18)
All who are obedient are added by the Lord to His church. (Acts 2:41, 47) A beautiful picture of the church is set out in the New Testament. All of these different pictures are used to set forth the same body. Jesus came into the world to establish one and only one body through which to save a lost and dying world.
The church at Glen Willow Rd. in Avondale is a local body of Christ. We invite you to investigate a church of Christ near where you live.