What is the True Church?
In This Lesson You Will Study
- What Does Church Mean?
- What Does the True Church Do?
- Why Belong to a Church?
- What’s Happening to the Church?
WHAT DOES CHURCH MEAN?
The word “church” has several meanings:
Those Who Belong to Christ
Jesus said, “I will build my church.” The word He used means “called out ones.” Christ calls us out to follow Him. We leave our old life of sin and become members of that great body of called out ones who recognize Jesus as their Head. This is the true Church. Only God knows who all of its members are. Many of them are already in heaven.
Colossians 1:18. He is the head of his body, the church; he is the source of the body’s life.
Romans 12:5. Though we are many, we are one body in union with Christ, and we are all joined to each other as different parts of one body.
The Local Church
In any community those who share the same faith in Christ get together regularly to worship Him, just as they did in Bible times. They form a local church and work together for the Lord.
Matthew 18:20. For where two or three come together in my name, I am there with them.
Colossians 4:15. Give our best wishes to the brothers in Laodicea, and to Nympha and the church that meets in her house.
National Church or Denomination
A national church, or denomination, is an organization of many local churches. They help one another and can do much more for the Lord by working together than they could separately. They publish literature, train ministers, open up new churches, and operate schools and orphanages.
The leaders of the national church or denomination help the local churches with their problems, as the apostles did in Bible times.
Acts 15:6, 23, 41. The apostles and the elders met together to consider this question. . . . They sent the following letter . . . . He went through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches.
Different denominations have been formed because of the differences in belief about the right form of worship, the best form of church organization, and the meaning of certain parts of the Bible. However, many denominations agree on the most important points, and they cooperate in work and worship.
The word church also means a building where God’s people meet together. Whether it is large or small, richly decorated or simple in form is not important. What really matters is God’s presence there.
What Does The Church Do?
Church here and in Part 3 refers to the body of Christ as it works through local and national churches.
The True Church Loves God and Lives for Him
God wants us to love Him fully and completely. He made us so that we could be His children, enjoy His love, and love Him too. The church meets with God in worship. Together and individually its members express their love to God in prayer, praise, music, giving, Christian service, and obedience to His commands.
The True Church Tells the World About Jesus
Every Christian should tell his family and friends how they can be saved. The Holy Spirit helps us take the gospel message to every part of the world. We work together to do this.
The True Church Teaches God’s Word
The church uses every way it can to teach its members the truth and train them to follow Jesus.
Matthew 28:19, 20. Go, then, to all peoples everywhere and make them my disciples; baptize them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teach them to obey everything I have commanded you.
The Church Cares for Its Members
The church provides for the spiritual growth of its members by meeting regularly for worship, Bible study, fellowship, and Christian service. The church gives counsel and help to those who have problems. It does what it can for those who are in need, both members and non-members.
Why Belong To A Church?
Because You Need the Church
God has placed people in the church to help you and teach you. In this way He meets your spiritual needs.
Ephesians 4:11, 12. He appointed some to be . . . evangelists, others to be pastors and teachers. He did this to prepare all God’s people for the work of Christian service, to build up the body of Christ.
You should not join a church with the idea of getting it to help you with money, food, or other material needs. As you put God first in your life, He will see that all your needs are met.
Because the Church Needs You
Every part of the body has its work to do. There is work for you as a member of the body of Christ. By itself, a finger is not useful. It must join with the hand to become useful. Likewise, you must take your place in the church and let God use you to help others.
Romans 12:4, 6. We have many parts in the one body, and all these parts have different functions. So we are to use our different gifts in accordance with the grace that God has given us.
Because You Can Serve God Better in the Church
When you are baptized in water and join a church, this is a good testimony to others as well as an act of obedience and dedication to God.
You serve God also by giving to His cause. You can do this best through a church. It administers the money carefully, paying the expenses for taking the gospel to the local community and to many other places. Because someone gave, you heard the gospel. Because you give, others hear and are saved.
2 Corinthians 9:6, 7. Remember this: the man who plants a few seeds will have a small crop; the one who plants many seeds will have a large crop. Each one should give, then, as he has decided, not with regret or out of a sense of duty; for God loves the one who gives gladly.
You have many opportunities for Christian service in the church: praying, witnessing, giving out literature, singing, teaching, preaching, and taking others to church. Even your faithful attendance pleases God and encourages others.
Hebrews 10:25. Let us not give up the habit of meeting together, as some are doing. Instead, let us encourage one another, all the more since you see that the Day of the Lord is coming near.
What’s Happening To The Church
Centuries of Warfare
Ever since Jesus Christ founded His church, Satan has been fighting against it. The church is battling to rescue souls from his lies and deceptions.
Ephesians 6:12. We are not fighting against human beings, but against the wicked spiritual forces.
1 Peter 5:8. Be alert, be on the watch! For your enemy, the Devil, roams around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.
Satan’s Strategy and Weapons
Satan tries to separate Christians from Christ so that he can defeat the church. His main strategies are persecution, deception, and temptation.
He uses people to persecute and kill Christians. He infiltrates the church with false teachers and blinds some of its leaders with unbelief. He tempts Christians to sin so that they become weak and powerless. He tries to make them doubt God and neglect their relationship with Him.
The Church’s Strategy and Weapons
Our defense is to stay in touch with our Commander in Chief, the Lord Jesus Christ. Our main weapons are prayer, faith, and the Word of God. The Holy Spirit, who is stronger than Satan, gives us the strength and power to defeat him.
Ephesians 6:10, 11. Build up your strength in union with the Lord and by means of his mighty power. Put on all the armor that God gives you, so that you will stand up against the Devil’s evil tricks.
The Victory of the Church
Through the ages persecution has purified the church and made it grow. The Holy Spirit has sent waves of revival to deliver her from sin and false teachings. We may have to suffer now, but soon the war will be over. Satan will be defeated, and the church will reign forever with Christ.
Matthew 16:18. I will build my church, and not even death will ever be able to overcome it.
Romans 8:37. In all these things we have complete victory through him who loved us! Your Part in It All In this war every Christian is a soldier.
2 Timothy 2:3. Take your part in suffering, as a loyal soldier of Christ.
Revelation 2:10. Don’t be afraid of anything . . . . Be faithful to me, even if it means death, and I will give you life as your prize of victory.