When we are saved we become members of what the Bible calls ‘the Church’. This is not a denomination or sect. It is made up of every person who has repented and been saved from their sins through the Lord Jesus.
Note: People often confuse the word ‘church’ with a building whereas a church is simply a collection of people. For this some people prefer to use the term ‘assembly’ to give a better idea of Christians gathering together. It doesn’t matter which word is used so long as it is the people and not the building that is being referred to.
What is the Church/Assembly?
The Church (or Assembly) is the collection of every believer in the Lord Jesus who is or who has ever trusted in Him since His death and resurrection. It is characterised by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit which had never happened before (see studies on ‘The Holy Spirit’). The Lord Jesus particularly identifies Himself with the Church as declaring it to made up of His ‘brethren’ and those who make up the Church are the first people to whom has come the privilege of being able to address God as ’Father’. He announced this to Mary Magdalene when he told her to go to “my brethren and say to them, I ascend to my Father and your Father, and to my God and your God.” (John 20:17). The church is also referred to as:
- The Bride of Christ (e.g. Revelation 21:9).
- The Body of Christ (e.g. 1 Corinthians 12:12-13).
- City of the Living God (e.g. Hebrews 12:22).
- The House of Christ (e.g. Hebrews 3:6).
- Household of God (e.g. Ephesians 2:19).
- The New Jerusalem (e.g. Revelation 21:2).
These are given as a few of the names for the Church as there are a number of others. The Church/Assembly is viewed in the New Testament as being a unified entity. We can’t get much closer than being members of the same body.
Who does 'the Church' include?
“The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of the Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of the Christ? Because we, being many, are one loaf, one body; for we all partake of that one loaf” (1 Corinthians 10:16-17).
“And all that believed were together, and had all things common; and sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need.” (Acts 2:44-45).
“But all these things operates the one and the same Spirit, dividing to each in particular according as he pleases. For even as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of the body, being many, are one body, so also is the Christ. For also in the power of one Spirit we have all been baptised into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether bondmen or free, and have all been given to drink of one Spirit. For also the body is not one member but many.” (1 Corinthians 12:11-13).
“But if all were one member, where the body? But now the members are many, and the body one. The eye cannot say to the hand, I have not need of thee; or again, the head to the feet, I have not need of you.” (1 Corinthians 12:19-21).
“That there might be no division in the body, but that the members might have the same concern one for another. And if one member suffer, all the members suffer with [it]; and if one member be glorified, all the members rejoice with it. Now ye are Christ's body, and members in particular.” (1 Corinthians 12:25-27).
“And gave him to be head over all things to the assembly, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.” (Ephesians 1v22-23).
“It has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets in the power of the Spirit, that they who are of the nations should be joint heirs, and a joint body, and joint partakers of his promise in Christ Jesus by the glad tidings.” (Ephesians 3v5-7).
“Using diligence to keep the unity of the Spirit in the uniting bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, as ye have been also called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all, and through all, and in us all.” (Ephesians 4v3-5).
“For no one has ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, even as also the Christ the assembly: for we are members of his body; we are of his flesh, and of his bones.” (Ephesians 5v29-30).
“And he is the head of the body, the assembly; who is the beginning, firstborn from among the dead, that he might have the first place in all things” (Colossians 1v18).
“Let none therefore judge you in meat or in drink, or in matter of feast, or new moon, or sabbaths, which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ.” (Colossians 2v16-18). >
“And let the peace of Christ preside in your hearts, to which also ye have been called in one body, and be thankful.” (Colossians 3v15).
All believers in Christ make up the one body of Christ. That is, every person redeemed and cleansed by His blood. It is of Him, it belongs to Him, He is its only Head and we have been called into that one body which is not earthly but heavenly in origin and character; above earthly religious practices. Any Christian is a member of the Church/Assembly and they have been made a member by virtue of the blood of Christ. No-one can make anyone a member or remove their membership of ‘the Church’.
The members of the Church/ Assembly are brought into this great family. The Lord Jesus says “Verily I say to you, There is no one who has left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake and for the sake of the gospel, that shall not receive a hundredfold now in this time: houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions, and in the coming age life eternal” (Mark 10:29-30). As a result Christians are often referred to as “brothers” and “sisters” or even “brethren” if they are being referred to collectively. The love between them is to be the closeness of the love of a family. They are to be a united and loving unit working for the preservation of each other and the glory of the Lord who is it’s head.