Summary: There are a lot of churches out there to choose from. Jesus only promised to build one, He only bled for one, He only died for one and He is the head of only one. Since Jesus established only one, how can we be sure we are members of that one church?
Recognizing the Church (You can be sure part 2)
Jesus promised to build only one church. Matthew 16:18, "and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it." Jesus shed His blood and died for only one church. Ephesians 5:25, "Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it", [Singular]. Christ only purchased one church with His blood, Acts 20:28, "Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood." And Christ is the head of and the savior of only one church. Ephesians 5:22-24, "Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body." The body of Christ is the church. Since Christ only built, bled for, died for, rules and saves one church then doesn't it make sense that we must be a part of that church and no other?
OK, so if I am not a follower of Christ and I want to be, then how do I find one? Or, am I trying to live for Christ and I want to know if the one I am associated with now is the church Jesus built, bled for, died for, rules and saves? How do I recognize it when I see it? What does it look like? Where can I find it? How do I join it? The purpose of this lesson is to help us and others who may not know, learn to determine what the Lord's church is and how to determine if it is a genuine, authentic new testament church.
The short answer to this question is that it needs to look just like the church Jesus built, bled for, died for, rules and saves as it appears in the new testament. It makes perfect sense that if we are a member of the new testament church that worshiped, lived, taught and believed as it appears in the scripture then we will be in the church that Jesus built, bled for, died for, rules and saves. In short, a church that looks and acts just like the church of the new testament must be the church of the new testament. A church which looks and acts just like the church that Jesus built, bled for, died for, rules and saves must be the church of Jesus Christ.
Not only does this make perfect sense, it is also a Biblical way of approaching this. In 1 Thessalonians 2:13-14 Paul wrote, "For this reason we also thank God without ceasing, because when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you welcomed it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which also effectively works in you who believe. 14 For you, brethren, became imitators of the churches of God which are in Judea in Christ Jesus." The church in Thessalonica patterned itself after the churches in Judea and Paul was thankful for that and he praised them for it. The application for us is that we can do the same thing by examining the church of the new testament and using it, we can imitate it in the same fashion and know beyond any doubt whatsoever that we are in the church Jesus built, bled for, died for, rules and saves.
What is the New Testament church?
The Bible was written in a language known today as Koine Greek. In the first century, this was the language of the common man on the street in this period of history. The Greek word for 'church' is pronounced 'Ekklesia'. This word has two distinct meanings depending on the context in which it is used. The word 'Ekklesia' does not automatically have a religious association at all. This word is used to describe a mob of people who were upset with Paul's teachings in Acts 19, verses 32, 39 and 41. In this context, the word Ekklesia is translated as an assembly in KJV. Therefore the word carries the meaning of an assembly of people in some contexts. It can mean as assembly of Christians or just a general assembly of people for any given reason. In Romans 16:16 we have an example of this word being used to represent individual assemblies of Christians. "...The churches of Christ greet you" (NKJV).
This word is also used in scripture to represent the one universal body of Christ. In Colossians 1:24, Paul wrote, "I now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up in my flesh what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ, for the sake of His body [singular], which is the church [Ekklesia]" There is only one body of Christ, or church [Ekklesia] and individual assemblies of the one church are also called churches [Ekklesia]. The context is used to determine which meaning of the word applies.