Do You Know What The “Church” Is ?
Is the “church” a building? Is the “church” a group of people” Exactly what is the “church”? Many people really don’t understand what is being referred to, by the term “the church”. I believe that the majority of people think “the church” refers to the building that people come together in for worship.
But that is not what the “church” is. At least that is not what God says that the “church” is. As a matter of fact, The word “church” is an incorrect translation of the original Greek New Testament. The Greek word used here is “ekklesia” which means “A calling out”, in the sense of people who have been “called out” of the world, and added to God’s “congregation” of followers. These “called out” people, make up His “assembly”. And so the word “ekklesia” really means a “congregation”, or an “assembly” of God’s people.
We’re told in Colossians 1:18, “He also is the head of the body, the church, and He is the beginning, the first-born from the dead, so that He might come to have first place in everything.” So we see that the “church” is His “spiritual body”. And now, we’ll go right to the word of God, the bible, to answer that question, “What is the church?”
Here’s the first verse of scripture that we will look at…
Mathew 16:18 “And I also say to you, that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My “church” (or My congregation)
We see right away that the “church” is something that belongs to Jesus. And as I’ve already said, a more perfect translation for the word “church”, would actually be, “congregation”, or “assembly”. That’s really what the original Greek word means. And so I’ll use that wording as we go through this study. Just remember that every time I use the words “congregation”, or “assembly”, I’m referring to the word that our English bibles translates as “church”.
Jesus said, “..upon this rock I will build MY congregation”. We see here that Jesus said His congregation would be built upon this rock! What rock was He talking about? Was Peter the rock? Is Christ’s assembly built upon Peter?
Well the answer to that is No, Peter was not the rock that Jesus was referring to. To see what Jesus referred to, we need to go back to verse 13, when Jesus asked His disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” And they answered and said, “Some say John the Baptist, and others, Elijah, but still others, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets”.
Then Jesus asked in verse 15, “But who do you say that I am?” And Peter answered and said, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God!”
And Jesus said to Peter, “Blessed are you Simon, son of Jonah, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven”.
That was verse 17, now we come to verse 18 again, where Jesus said, “And I say to you, that you are Peter..” and we need to pause here to get the meaning of that. The names of people in those days always had a meaning, and the name Peter meant “a piece of rock”.
A Stone, a Piece of Rock, and a Ledge Rock
There’s another Greek word that means a stone, that word is pronounced, lee’thos. It simply means a stone. But Peter’s name means, “a piece of rock, larger than a stone”. So we’re going up in size you see, from a stone to a piece of a rock. Now Jesus says, “..you are Peter..” meaning a piece of a rock, but then Jesus uses yet another word when He said, “..and upon this Rock, I will build My congregation”.
The word Jesus used here, which is translated “Rock” means “a mass of rock”, “a ledge rock”. And so we have gone up in size again. From a stone, to a piece of rock, to a ledge rock! Here’s the point to all this. Jesus was making a comparison. He said to Peter, your name means a piece of rock, but I am going to build My church, upon a “ledge rock”. And the ledge rock that Jesus is referring to, is that “Truth” that Peter had just stated, that “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God!”
That’s quite a statement, and it’s also the “Truth” that the whole bible is based upon, and that our very salvation is based upon. The “Fact” that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God! There’s no more important “Fact”, and no more important “Truth”, than that.
That Jesus is the Christ! Our faith, and our hope, and our salvation, depends, upon that truth, and that truth is the “Ledge Rock” that Jesus’ called out assembly is built upon! Jesus said, “Thou art Peter, but upon this “Ledge Rock”, that I am the Christ, that’s what I will build My assembly of people upon”
And so Christ did, He built His congregation upon the true confession, the true fact, that He is the Christ, the Son of the living God.
And the apostle John wrote in Jn 20:31,“And these have been written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and believing, you may have life in His name”.
The “Church”, or “Congregation”, is Built On Jesus Christ
Christ’s congregation is not built upon a mere man, but rather, it is built upon the Truth of God, that Jesus is the Christ.
So there you go; the “church” belongs to Jesus, it is His congregation. And it is built upon the most important truth that God has ever revealed! And His congregation is not a building. So what is it?
The bible says in Eph 1:22-23, “And He put all things in subjection under His feet (God put all things under Jesus’ feet), and gave Him as “Head” over all things to the congregation, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.”
Col 1:18 says, “He is also the Head of the body, the congregation..” So we can easily see that the congregation of His people, is Christ’s “body”. And of course the bible is speaking “figuratively” and “Spiritually” here. The congregation is Christ’s Spiritual body. Now let me add one more scripture here,
Romans 8:9, and it says, “But you are no longer in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit if Christ, he does not belong to Him.”
Now you can easily see from that verse, that the Spirit of God, and the Spirit of Christ, are the same thing. And you can also see that those who have the Spirit of God and Christ dwelling in them, are said to no longer be in the flesh, but in the Spirit. So God has told us, through the bible, that the congregation is Christ’s Spiritual body. And God has also told us that if we have His Spirit within us, then we are also in the Spirit.
Now listen please to 1 Pet 2:5, “You also, as living stones, are being built up as a Spiritual house, for a holy priesthood, to offer up Spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God, through Jesus Christ.”
Christians Are living Stones
Christians, are “living stones”, that make up a “spiritual house”, so that they can be a “holy priesthood”, for the purpose of offering up “spiritual sacrifices” to God, through, Jesus Christ.
1 Pet 2:9 says, “But you are a “Chosen Race”, a “Royal Priesthood”, a “Holy Nation”, “A people for God’s own possession”, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who called you out of darkness, into His marvelous light”.
Christians, have been called out of the darkness of this world, into the marvelous light of Christ’s congregation. Jesus told Pontius Pilate, just before His crucifixion..
“My kingdom is not of this world”, and He said, “My kingdom is not of this realm”, Jn 18:36. Jesus’ kingdom is a spiritual kingdom, it’s not of this world. Just like Christians are not of this world; they are no longer in the flesh, but they are in the Spirit, Rom 8:9.
When Jesus said to Peter, “Upon this Rock, I will build My congregation”, He said in the very next sentence (Mat 16:19), “I will give you the keys to the kingdom”.
Listen to that once more.. “Upon this ledge rock, I will build My congregation, and I will give you, the keys to the kingdom”
Jesus was going to build His assembly of believers, and give Peter the keys to the kingdom. It’s quite obvious that the assembly and the kingdom, are one and the same thing. To paraphrase Jesus, He said, “Peter, upon that truth, that I am the Christ, the Son of the living God, which is the ledge rock of the Christian faith, I will build My congregation. And I will give you the privilege, of having the keys to that congregation, My kingdom”.
Peter used those “Keys to the Kingdom”, on the day of Pentecost, when he first preached the terms of salvation in Christ, and the terms of entrance into that kingdom, as recorded in Acts 2:38-39.
And in Acts 2:47, the bible says, “And the Lord was adding to the congregation daily, those who were being saved”. The Lord God Himself, added people to His Son’s assembly, daily, as He was saving them.
What is the “church”?
The “church” is the Spiritual body of Christ, made up of those people that have been called out of this world, and into God’s kingdom, as a result of the Spirit of Christ which is dwelling within them. And how did they get into the congregation of Christ? The assembly that Christ owns? The Lord God Himself added them to it, upon their belief in the ledge rock truth, that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God.
But along with one’s belief in that ledge rock truth, we must add our obedience to the “terms of admission” into His congregation. These “terms”, are also the very terms of salvation, which Peter was privileged to preach on the day of Pentecost, when he said…
“Repent and let each one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ, for the forgiveness of your sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and your children, and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God shall call to Himself” Acts 2;38-39.
The promise is for all of us. And what is the promise? The apostle John wrote in 1 Jn 2:25, “And this is the promise which He Himself made to us; Eternal Life”. Eternal life in the assembly of people who have been called out of this world, and into the marvelous kingdom of His beloved Son.