There are many different ideas about what comprises the Church. Some see a building as a church. Some see multi-organizational groups as a church. The Bible puts forward a clear, focused picture of the identity of Christ’s Church. We live in a climate of denominational ecumenism and anti-biblical fellowship. God wants us to understand the nature of the one, true Church, so that we can truly live with Him forever.
In this series of articles, we are considering what the Church is, what it is not, and its function. In these first three articles, we will see that the Church is “called out”, obedient, and those for whom Jesus died.
Obedience is a defining mark of a Christian. In Acts 2:1, 41-47 many are “added to the church” primarily because they received the word and were baptized. Romans 6:17 says, “But thanks be to our God that you were the slaves of sin, but you have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered.” Part and parcel of being a Christian is involved in faith-based action.
The Word is the “Seed” of the Church. Mark 4:1-14 plainly states that the Word of God is a Seed. Because the Word is a Seed, there is to be an effect from that Seed. If you plant a Seed, and nothing grows, it is rarely the fault of the Seed itself. The fault is either the GROUND it is planted into, or the CARE of the ground in which the seed has been planted. In application, we learn that the different grounds are people, and the one sowing the seed is God. Thus, we can understand the parable of the Sower to contain the elements of God’s action as well as man’s action in the salvation process. There is God’s part (Grace, Forgiveness, Mercy, etc.), and there is Man’s part (Faith, Repentance, Baptism, etc.). Both of these elements involve an effort of “doing” that many seem to disbelieve. We are often encouraged not to hold to the standard of obedience that God has set. If only it was unbelievers alone who were encouraging such disregard for God’s authority and Kingship!
The effect of the Seed (The Word) upon us is dependent upon our hearts. Note which ground in Mark 4:15-20 is successful with the seed. One can be baptized, and be a member of a church, but still not be a citizen of the kingdom. Note also in Mark 4:11, “…Unto you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God”. The Kingdom is the true existence for baptized believers. In 2 Thessalonians 2:13-14, Paul writes, “But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth: Whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Our salvation process is not hearing and believing only, but hearing, believing, and obeying! Being those who are “called out” implies a LACK of action; God has provided the inheritance, and we receive it. However, if I refuse to respond to the promise of this inheritance by obeying my King, it means I am not of the “called out” to begin with, and that I am still a sinner. -Steven McCrary