Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy Scriptures, concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord, through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations, including you who are called to belong to Jesus Christ, To all those in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 1:1-7).
There is a certain ambiguity that one encounters with every mention of the term “church” at this present time roughly two thousand years after the Apostle Paul penned his letters to the saints dispersed throughout the Roman kingdom. Typically, that ambiguity is solved by the context of the conversation in which the term is mentioned. If one listens in on a conversation and hears the word “church” mentioned in the same sentence with basketball, barbecue chicken, committee meetings, and the like, that person can be pretty certain that the term “church” is to be defined as the building(s) where a certain group of self-identified Christians gather together to participate in various activities. On the other hand, if the term “church” is mentioned in the context of Jesus Christ and his bride, church discipline, holiness, and the like, one can be fairly certain that “church” in that instance is to be defined as the collective saints of God, called by him to holy and blameless before him. There also exists another key identifier, the Church Universal, which is unambiguously the whole of the redeemed, bought by Jesus Christ to be his spotless bride and to dwell with him forever in eternal bliss.
Unfortunately, I believe it is history, not Scripture, that is responsible for the confusion that we now encounter with the term “church” and like a tumor, has attached itself to the word and has usurped the proper meaning and replaced it with an improper one. “What is the big deal?” you might ask, “What impact can the meaning of one word have on the whole of Providential history?” The impact has been great indeed, and I believe that an evaluation of our present definitions of the “church” put beside what the Bible says concerning the church will reveal the gravity of that which we regard as trivial and trite.
For the sake of brevity, I will address our definition of the church with what Scripture says concerning the church on future posts and gauge the significance of our misdefinition:
1. The Church is Called by God
2. The Church is Bought by the Blood of Jesus Christ
3. The Church is the Bride of Christ
4. The Church Is To Be the Holy and Blameless
5. The Church is To Love Its Members