Identifying the Lord’s Church: Conclusion

Identifying the Lord's Church

Many people make the mistake of equating the church with a physical building. Yet as we have gone through this study, we have seen nothing in the New Testament that would indicate that the church is some type of physical structure. However, the New Testament does use a building analogy to describe the church:

So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit” (Ephesians 2:19-22).

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” (1 Peter 2:5).

The Lord’s church is built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets (their teaching contained in Scripture) with Jesus as the cornerstone (everything is built and based upon Him). Christians – individually – are the stones that make up this spiritual house.

Another helpful analogy that Paul used to describe the church is that of a body:

For the body is not one member, but many” (1 Corinthians 12:14).

But now there are many members, but one body” (1 Corinthians 12:20).

Now you are Christ’s body, and individually members of it” (1 Corinthians 12:27).

The church is made of up individuals who work together in carrying out the Lord’s work. Paul wrote elsewhere, “From whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love” (Ephesians 4:16). Each individual in the church is important and necessary and, therefore, needs to be an active part of the body.

We began this study seeking to identify the Lord’s church. We have learned the following:

  1. Jesus built just one church. Therefore, we cannot expect to please Him in just any church that we might choose.
  2. His church is to follow His will. Therefore, those who make up His church need to look to His word for their authority, not to their own opinions.
  3. His church is made up of those who are added by God to the church upon being saved. Therefore, we cannot expect to be saved outside of His church.
  4. His church is to be doing the work He gave it to do. Therefore, we do not need to be adding other works that distract from what He wants His church to be doing.

Therefore, in order to identify the Lord’s church so we can be part of it today, we need to look for the following:

  1. Find a church that teaches that Jesus built just one church. Many churches today, while they certainly would prefer you to join with them, will not say that other churches are not part of the Lord’s church.
  2. Find a church that appeals to the word of God as its only authority. Most churches have written creeds, church councils, or other individuals (pope, pastor, etc.) to which they appeal for authority in addition to or in place of the word of God.
  3. Find a church that teaches God’s plan of salvation. When God added people to the church, He added those who believed that Jesus was the Christ, repented of their sins, and were baptized (Acts 2:37-38, 41, 47). Most churches today teach an incomplete plan of salvation (they exclude baptism). Many teach salvation merely by “faith alone.” As a result, they are not teaching people what they must do to be added to the Lord’s church; they are simply teaching them what to do to be added to their church.
  4. Find a church that is doing the work that the Lord gave the church to do. Most churches have added other works that are beyond the scope of what the Lord has authorized His church to do.

If we will be intent upon looking for these things, we can find a local church that is made up of those who have been added to the Lord’s church and that is engaged in doing the Lord’s work.

Each one of us – individually – can be an active member of the Lord’s church and look forward to the eternal reward in heaven. To do this, we must obey the gospel to be added to the church and then continue in faithful service as members of His church throughout our lives.

The Lord’s church is open to all. Let us take advantage of this great privilege to be part of His kingdom and gain the eternal reward.

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