The Church – Assembly of Believers
The word Church (Gr. ekklēsia) comes from ek, “out,” and kaleō, “to call.” Originally ekklēsia referred to the gathering of citizens called to examine civic matters. In the LXX, the Greek words sunagōgē, “synagogue,” and ekklēsia are both generally used to refer to the “assembly,” or “congregation,” of Israel. As sunagōgē was used to refer to a Jewish gathering, Christians used ekklēsia to refer to their gatherings.
The church doesn’t mean a building or a structure where religious activities take place. Paul wrote, “greet the church that is in their house” (Romans 16:5). Early Christians had no special church buildings. They relied for their meeting places upon the hospitality of members who opened their dwelling places for religious service (Acts 12:12; 1 Corinthians 16:19; Colossians 4:15; Philemon 2). The believers at Rome may have had several gathering places, as shown in Romans 16:14, 15.
The writings of Paul showed that the church is not a denomination but rather the followers of the Lord: “Paul, an apostle (not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father who raised Him from the dead), and all the brethren who are with me, to the churches of Galatia” (Galatians 1:1,2).
It is through the ministry of the Holy Spirit that Christians become part of the body of Christ. “For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free—and have all been made to drink into one Spirit” (1 Corinthians 12:13). The baptism here referred to accompanies baptism by water for the converted believers (Matthew 3:11). Water baptism is useless unless the one being baptized has been converted by the Holy Spirit (John 3:5, 6, 8).
The church is made of all those that accept Christ as their personal Savior (Acts 16:31; Romans 10:9). Believers receive Christ as “the Lord from heaven” (1 Corinthians 15:47), the only Son of God (John 3:16), who is the honored head of the church (Ephesians 5:23) and Lord of all (Acts 10:36). To confess the Lord as Savior doesn’t merely mean verbal profession but more importantly willingness to walk as He walked (1 John 2:6) and obey His commandments (John 14:21; 1 John 2:3, 4).
Christ – The Head
Christ, the Head, is the seat of all authority for the church. The head is the main source of all body functions. Paul wrote, “And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all” (Ephesians 1:22,23). The relationship between the head and the body means more than ruler-ship. It means daily walk with God (Ephesians 4:15, 16; Colossians 2:19).
Paul stressed the concept of unity in the relationship that exists between the head and the body. The analogy of the church and the human body shows that while the body is one and the church is one, both are made up of different parts, each having special gifts and talents (Romans 12:3-8). Although there is a great diversity of gifts, that does not prevent unity. The members carry out their appointed duties as they work together (1 Corinthians 12:12-27).
Christ poured His Spirit and qualities into the church, filling it with holiness. This was given in a good measure in the form of the early rain at the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:4). And this blessing will continue till the end, especially before the second coming in the form of the later rain to evangelize the world (Acts 2:17; Joel 2:23).
In His service,