Most people understand that the church is an important part of Christianity. They may not be aware of the specific Scriptures that speak of the church, but they have seen enough buildings and organizations to know that at least part of Christianity involves the church. Trying to understand the idea of Christ’s church with all the different denominations and organizations around, however, can be extremely difficult. Churches are run and organized in different ways; some claim to be the true church, others think all churches are fine. Many people fall into despair, thinking that they cannot figure out much of anything about the church!
We should not fear, however; if we return to the Scriptures, we can see what God has revealed regarding Christ’s church.
Christ’s church is one. The Scriptures make it clear that the Church of Christ is one entity, an universal assembly that will come together on the last day, representing all the saved in Christ (Matthew 16:18, Ephesians 4:4-6; 5:22-33). Those who make up that universal body will assemble in local congregations of God’s people (1 Corinthians 1:2, etc.). This unity is more than skin-deep; Jesus says that His followers should be one as He and His Father are one (John 17:22), and Paul establishes that there should be no divisions in the church, and that all should have the same judgment (1 Corinthians 1:10).
Christ’s church has Christ as its head. Paul, in Ephesians 5:23, considers the church to be the body of Christ, having Christ as its head. The New Testament does speak of Apostles who existed in the first century and who were given authority to bind and loose what had been bound and loosed in Heaven (cf. Matthew 18:18), and elders charged to oversee and shepherd a local church (1 Peter 5:1-4); there is no other head, however, than Christ. While mankind may vest authority in a system of bishops, a denominational organization, or some other sort of person or system, Christ’s church has Christ as its head.
Christ’s church looks to Christ and follows Him. We expect our bodies to heed the commands coming from the brain and to follow them; we would be in difficult straits if our bodies stopped following the brain’s commands. Likewise, a church will show that it is Christ’s when it looks to Christ and follows Him, just as a body naturally follows its head (Ephesians 5:23). This requires a church to follow Christ according to His will as revealed in the Scriptures and to follow no other plan (Colossians 3:17, 2 Timothy 3:16-17).
In truth, Christ’s church in all ways belongs to Him. We seek to represent Christ’s church with each of us striving to follow His word and to do His will. We seek others who recognize that they also need to follow Christ according to His will, and we can share in association and help each other get to Heaven. Christ has but one body; we strive to be the type of believers whom Christ recognizes and knows, and whom He intends to save on the last day (Matthew 7:21-23; 25:31-46). We hope that you are now better able to identify Christ’s church, and be willing to consider His truth and be fully obedient to Him. We would love to assist you in joining Christ’s church at any time!
Ethan R. Longhenry