On April 19, 2019 the entire world was shocked by the burning of the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris, France. It was very sad to see the sudden destruction of all of the architecture, artworks and religious relics that were inside the iconic structure. Although buildings for places of worship are important, the Lord’s command is about people and not marble and wood. So what is the Church?
Jesus said “I will build my church…” Mathew 16:18. It is the church of Jesus the Messiah and we are co-laborers together with him. Among the last instructions that Jesus gave to his disciples was for the church to go and make disciples. Jesus has given his followers the blueprint for accomplishing this task, a pattern clearly described out in the book of Acts of the Apostles.
A basic definition of church is “A committed community of Christians that gather together on a regular basis under the care and authority of pastoral leadership. Their purpose is to worship God, pray, care for one another, share the Lord’s supper and baptism and to see disciples raised that will go out into the wider community to share God’s love in word and deed.”
Nearly all of the Apostle Paul’s epistles are written to local first century churches or the pastors/elders of those churches. The Book of Revelation is addressed to seven churches in Asia Minor, modern day Turkey.
In the New Testament we see that the local church is referred to as a flock, a human body, a family or a temple, where the individual believer was a vital member of a larger entity.
For a Christian not to be committed to a local assembly is to put himself out of the protection and blessing that are promised in the Scriptures for all believers. For an unrepentant Christian to be disciplined by the local church because of moral or doctrinal issues while having some negative implications was actually the path to restoration of that individual and a method of keeping heresy (beliefs contrary to Biblical truths) out of the church. (Mathew 18:15-17, 1 Corinthians 5:1-7, 2 Thessalonians 3:14-15)
To be a member of the local Church is a tremendous privilege and responsibility. We know that it takes a family to raise a child to mature adulthood. In the same way, it takes the local church to raise a convert to a mature disciple! In fact, the family and the church are God’s two principle building blocks for creating a loving, stable and redeemed society. That is why the church is important!