“And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” (Matthew 16:18)
This is the first devotion in the series “The Church.” The primary focus in the first point of this series is an explanation of The Definition of the word “church.” There will be three devotions under The Definition; wherein will be the answers to three questions: What is it? Where is it? and Who is it? This devotion, Part One of The Definition, answers the first question: “What is the Church?”
The term “church” is almost a lost word as to its true definition in the 21st Century in America among Christians. Whereas, one hundred years ago the word “church” was a household word among Christian people; and it was fully understood that the church was a place of instruction and worship of God in truth and in Spirit. There are many reasons for the lack of the knowledge of the definition of the word “church” in the Christian communities of America today.
The primary reason for this lack of knowledge is the lack of the power of the testimony of Jesus Christ in today’s church living in its members, as to the value of experiencing a “personal and intimate” relationship with Jesus Christ through regeneration by the Holy Spirit. Therefore, the “so-called church” of today is so compromised by the world’s philosophy of being “politically correct,” so as not to offend, by naming the standard of holiness and order and separation that distinguishes a true church from a false church. Therefore, the true church is so diluted with every wind of doctrine in trying to please the mass of the membership – which the majority of the membership is of the flesh (and not born from above; so not of the Spirit) – so now, the church is not known as the Bride of Christ, or as The Body of Christ, or as the Temple of Christ; but as the organization called by name only, “the church,” that fits all beliefs. So, with the incorporating of pleasing the flesh so as to have large numbers, and never drawing a line between what is holiness and what is sin; never explaining the Doctrines of Christ, never offending anyone’s belief, even if it is wrong; is the condition of many, if not most of the modern so-called church today.
Therefore, anything goes in the modern church; so as to be appealing to all and not ever offending any. The church is no longer a city set on a hill so that all can hear and see a clear and distinct sound of the Gospel of Jesus Christ flowing from the pulpit, and from the daily walk of holiness and of peace of its members. That which in the past clearly identified a group of people meeting together as a Church of Jesus Christ has lost its way in its message, in its power, and in it being the pillar and ground of truth. So much so, that the lines which once distinguished it to be a place of hope, of salvation, of refuge, and of peace; have now come to be “just another organization” to acquire money and position. Many of today see the so-called church as a sham, and a deceiver of the simple people. Many, who go to church Sunday after Sunday, have no perception of the spiritual value of the Church of Jesus Christ. To many, the church is their way to escape hell, and to promote their standing in the community.
Who is at fault for the powerless church of today in America? Every God-fearing church member can assume part of the blame for allowing the world to affect them in every facet of life; which has led them to personal compromise of the truth. However, the man of God, the pastor, is the man charged by God to preach the Word (2 Tim. 4:2), and to stand in the “gap” (Ezek. 22:30), and to preach the “whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:27). For it is the man of God that is charged with the “overseer-ship” of the flock of God (1 Peter 5:2; Heb. 13:7, 17); the pastor’s main focus is to “feed the sheep.” The church is where the sheep feed; and it is what they are fed that causes the sheep to grow or to die (Eph. 4:11-16). Oh, Men of God, Pastors, the responsibility lies at your door to preach and teach the Word of God in its purity and sincerity, and in the power of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 2:1-8). You must preach the “whole counsel of God.”
But, the question is: ‘How do we get back to the uncompromised preaching of the Cross of Christ without fear and favor of men?’ The answer is to go back to the basics. First, the pastor has to know that he has been separated by the Grace of God to preach the Gospel (Gal. 1:15-16). Second, that he has been ordained by the elders (the presbytery; 1 Tim. 4:14) to preach the Gospel (2 Tim. 2:2b); that in fact he has been invested with the authority of God, and witnessed by the presbytery (other ordained men of God); called by God to a particular church (Acts 16:9-10; 14:23). Thirdly, the pastor and the people have to know the rule of the pastor in the truth (Heb. 13:7, 17) over the flock of God (1 Peter 5:2-3). Fourthly, the pastor has to know that he is to please God and not man (Gal. 1:10); that the Gospel he preaches came from God and not man (Gal. 1:11-12,16b); and the Gospel he preaches is the “wisdom of God,” and not his own opinion or what he thinks the Word says or means (1 Cor. 2:1-8). Fifthly, the pastor must understand his role is a “Seed sower” and “a waterer of the Seed,” and that only God gives the “increase” (1 Cor. 3:6). And lastly, the pastor is to be an example to the flock (1 Peter 5:2b-3).
The first lesson in the “basics” is to define the Greek Word that is translated in the KJV as “church.” It is the time to re-visit the foundation of Christ’s Church for the 21st Century Christian, to make sure that every child of God knows the value of the House of God.
The Definition of the Word translated Church:
- Greek word “̓κκλησία”; Eng. “ekklēsia” #1577
- Literally: “a calling out of” (ek=out of as to source) (klesis= a call (kaleo))
- Thayer’s Definition: of “ekklesia” (translated 3 times as “assembly”)
- A gathering of citizens called out from their homes into some public place, an assembly (Acts 19:25,32)
- An assembly of the people convened at the public place of the council for the purpose of deliberating (Acts 19:39)
- The assembly of the Israelites (Acts 7:38)
- Any gathering or throng of men assembled by chance, tumultuously (Acts 19:41)
- In a Christian sense: #1577 Gr. Wd. “̓κκλησία” Eng. “ekklēsia” (translated 80 times in the singular as “church”; and 34 times in the plural as “churches”)
- An assembly of Christians gathered for worship in a religious meeting.
- A company of Christians, or of those who, hoping for eternal salvation through Jesus Christ, observe their own religious rites, hold their own religious meetings, and manage their own affairs, according to regulations prescribed for the body for order’s sake.
- Those who anywhere, in a city, village, constitute such a company and are united into one body to worship Christ.
- The whole body of Christians scattered throughout the earth.
- The assembly of faithful Christians already dead and received into heaven.
- Summary: Therefore, the church, or the assembly (as pertaining to the believers of Christ) is defined as:
- A group of people regenerated by the Holy Spirit (Rom. 8:14-16); who have publicly confessed Christ as their Substitute, Sacrifice, and Savior from the curse of the Law (Rom. 10:9-10); and have followed the Lord in water immersion to publicly show their spiritual co-participation in the death, burial and resurrection of Christ (Rom. 6:4; 1 Peter 3:21); who meet or assemble from time to time to praise God, to worship God, to pray to God, to hear the Word of God proclaimed, to be discipled, to grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ, and to fellowship not only with Christ, but also with the brethren, to be comforted and refreshed together.
- And as such, practice the Mission and Purpose of the Body of Christ as a witness of the grace, love, and mercy of the Lord Jesus Christ: (Acts 1:8) “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.”
- The true Church of Jesus Christ is the Bride of Christ (Eph. 5:32); is the Body of Christ (Eph. 1:2-23); and is the Dwelling Place of God on the earth (not in a physical building; but in the regenerated children of God who are the citizens of the House of God (1 Cor. 3:16; 6:19)). The “Who” of the Church will be discussed at length in the answer to the third question in a later devotion.
In closing this first devotion, wherein the answer to the question, “What is the Church?” is given; this author does not apologize for beginning this discussion with giving the definition of the Greek Word translated “church” in the KJV. To illustrate the reason for the simplicity of this devotion, is for you the reader to survey your church friends and ask them to define, by the Word of God, the definition of the word “Church.” After your survey, you will fully understand why the pastor in most cases needs to revisit the basics, and get the members on firm ground as to “What the Church is, and What it is not” according to the Written Word of God. For without this understanding of what a church is, and of what a church is not – the spiritual condition of the membership is blurred; the Mission and Purpose of the Church is grossly misunderstood. This gross misunderstanding concerning the nature of the Church of Jesus Christ is one of the reasons why the church is powerless today; and why so many are on the “milk” of the Word and not the “meat” of the Word of God (Heb. 5:11-14). Therefore, the growth to Maturity is stunted and in some cases non-existent; and the church members are not equipped to successfully fight the enemy, the flesh.
The greater problem over the last hundred years is that generation after generation have grown up in the so-called church having been fed briars, and not the green grass of the pasture of truth by the parents and pastors. Man of God, you must take the flock to the Well of Truth to stop the awful slide of the anemic and powerless condition of the people of God. This nation and the home is at a great crossroads – not only in the choice of our President – but more so, because of the form of godliness that the church professes, but denies the power thereof; and the results of this hypocrisy. The only success for this nation, and for the child of God, is to feed upon truth and not on the husks of the lies of this world; and to stand for truth and have the Word of God to be your defense; and to walk in truth and endure in the truth to be a good soldier of Jesus Christ. Since the church of the Living God is the Pillar and Ground of Truth, how great is the responsibility of a child of God now, not tomorrow, but now; to be a witness for Jesus Christ? To be the witness for God, the witness that God commands, the child of God must know how to identify the Church of the Living God and abide therein: (Eph. 3:21) “Unto him (that is, God) be glory in the church by (or in) Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.”
Then, without question, the Church (The House of the Living God, the Pillar and Ground of Truth) is where the “glory” of God is “in” Christ Jesus. This is the place of the pasture of Truth; the place of worship and praise; the place of growth, restoration, power, knowledge, and peace (Ps. 23:1-6).
Child of God, if you are not a member of a true church of God; leave where you are and pray that God will lead you to His House. However, if where you go to church can stand up to the acid test of being a true Body of Christ, as defined in the Written Word of God, then pray for your pastor to teach the Doctrine of Christ and of His Church; and its mission and purpose on this earth. If, and when this happens, there will be a radical change in the movement of this church.
Child of God, we are living the “days of choice;” whether to be for God or against God; and in the “days of testing,” as to your true colors. You must know if you are standing on “The Rock, Christ Jesus”; and if you have on the armour of God to withstand the days ahead.
God instructed the prophet Jerimiah in (Jer. 12:5), “If thou hast run with the footmen, and they have wearied thee, then how canst thou contend with horses? and if in the land of peace, wherein thou trustedst, they wearied thee, then how wilt thou do in the swelling of Jordan?” God said to the prophet Jeremiah: If you were wearied in the small “tests,” and you lived in the land of peace; what are you going to do when the “real test of life or death” (called “the swelling of Jordan”) comes upon you?
Child of God, no one knows what great tests may come to the Christian in America; or when, or if, it will even come – but if it does, your house must be on the Solid Rock, and not on the sinking sand, for you to be counted “a good and faithful servant,” and to endure unto the end. Therefore, make up your mind today, to flee from the false church and to seek with all diligence in prayer to find the true Church, the High Tower, the Refuge for the “born from above” Child of God.