This Mysterious Thing Called the "Church"

St. Olaf Church

St. Olaf ChurchThe “church” is eternally precious to Jesus Christ – He’s passionate about it. What a privilege just to be a part of it! Plenty of people make the mistake of defining the church as a building, a religious institution, or a particular denomination, but the Bible’s definition of church (from the Greek word ekklesia) is “a called out assembly.”

In the Beginning Was the Church?

The church, as an institution, is mysteriously absent from the Old Testament and did not begin on earth until Jesus’ministry. However, the church has always existed in the heart of God. ([youversion]Ephesians 3:1-7[/youversion]; [youversion]Colossians 1:25-27[/youversion]; [youversion]1 Peter 1:10-12[/youversion])

In [youversion]Ephesians 5[/youversion], the Bible tells us that Christ “loved the church, and gave Himself for her!” The Church was foreseen and planned in the heart of God so that He might reach out to us today, to love us, to choose us, to give His Son for us, that He might have a family for Himself!

How the Church Was Born

The common assumption is that the church was born on the Day of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit “arrived,” but the Holy Spirit didn’t arrive on the Day of Pentecost – He was already around. He simply began a new ministry of empowering the church at Jerusalem.

The church was born when Jesus began calling people out to form an assembly around Himself as told in [youversion]John 1:35-51[/youversion]. The first four, Peter, Andrew, James, and John were called alongside Jesus in a series of experiences beginning at the banks of the Jordan and continuing at the sea of Galilee when Jesus asked them to become “fishers of men.”

Why You Can’t Kill the Church

Someday, God’s plan and focus will shift away from the church and His full attention will return to saving and gathering the nation of Israel to Himself. But in the meantime, Jesus has issued a promise to us that the “gates of Hell” (literally the gate of death) will not prevail against the church. That is, death and hell cannot stop the growth and spread of the church throughout the New Testament age. God alone will decide when He is finished with this special institution.

There have been churches throughout the ages since the time of Jesus’ earthly ministry until now. Even in the darkest of ages, in times of heresy and persecution, there have always been churches keeping the faith, celebrating the ordinances, upholding the Scriptures, and spreading the gospel. And so it continues today!

The precious family we find in the church is something planned and prepared for in the heart of God, purchased with the death of Jesus Christ, and planted within culture to love the world and share the good news of Jesus on God’s behalf.

Join the church. Celebrate the church. Serve through the church. BE the church in your community!

photo source: claudio_ar