The first priority of every new follower of Jesus Christ is to make a public confession that with sincere faith they have received Jesus as their Lord and Savior.  (See Romans 10:8-11.)

 The second priority is to follow the example of Jesus in Scriptural baptism.

 The third priority is to unite with a Biblical church. 

 An understanding of a Biblical church is essential.

 False Concepts of the Church
 It is common for people to look at a building with a steeple on it and think, “There’s a church.”  It is also common for people to talk about large denominations and refer to them as “the Catholic church”, the “Episcopalian church:, “the Presbyterian church:, the Methodist church, “the Baptist church”, etc.   None of these concepts have a Biblical basis.


The Church Is An Assembly of Christian Believers
The Greek word God chose for church is ecclesia, which literally means “called out ones.”  It referred to people being called out from a community to assemble together and was understood as “a called out assembly”.

The Church As Seen By Man
The word ecclesia occurs 117 times in our New Testament.  On one occasion Israel is referred to as “the church (assembly) in the wilderness.”  (Acts 7:38).  The unruly mob that gathered in the theatre at Ephesus was called an “assembly”.  (Acts19:32
, 41).    Over 100 times “the church” and “churches” refers to a local assembly of called out believers as seen by man.

A local Biblical church is composed of believers who assemble in covenant relationship to fulfill the Biblical purposes of the church taught in the New Testament.  Those purposes are worship, evangelism, discipleship, fellowship, and ministry.

The Church As Seen By God
It is my belief that God sees “the church” in its entirety as composed of those first believers on the day of Pentecost to the last believer of the church age.  I offer the following teaching of Scripture:

1)       Jesus revealed in Matthew 16:18, “Upon this rock I will build My church.”  This indicated the church was yet future.

2)       We are informed in Ephesians 3:9 that the church was a “mystery which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of man, as it is now revealed unto His holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit.”

3)       We are informed in 1st Corinthians 12:13 that “the body of Christ is formed by believers being baptized into His body by the Holy Spirit.”

In Acts 1:5, Jesus indicated Pentecost as the first time believers would receive that baptism.

“. . .You shall be baptized with (or, by) the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” 

4)       In Ephesians 4:8-11 we are informed that it was the risen, ascended Christ who gave the gifts of apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers to the       church.  These offices became operational in local  churches after Pentecost.

5)       The Scriptures describe the church as seen by God: 
Matthew 16:18
, “. . .Upon this rock I will build My church.”

Ephesians 1:22, 23, “And He (God the Father) put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.”

Ephesians 5:25-27, “. . .Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church . . .” 
                 (See also Colossians 1:18, 24; Hebrews 2:12; 12:23

 Only God can see the church in its entirety of every believer called out of the world to His great assembly.  However, all believers are given the “blessed hope” that at the coming of Jesus for His church they will be gathered by rapture and resurrection to that great assembly in the presence of God.  (Titus 2:13, 14).


The Church is Built on Christ and is His Possession
Jesus introduced the church with these words,
              “. . .On this rock I will build My church. . .”  Matthew 16:18.

 We find the true meaning of this statement in 1st Corinthians 3:11,
“For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” 

Take note also that Jesus said, “My church”. 

 Christ is Head of the Church
“And He
(God, the Father) put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.”  Ephesians 1:22, 23.  (See also Ephesians 4:15; 5:23; Colossians 1:18; 2:19).

Christ and His Church are Inseparable
The experience of Saul of Tarsus provides a good illustration of this truth.

Then Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked letters. . .that if he found any who were of the Way. . .he might bring them bound to Jerusalem.  As he approached Damascus a light shone around him from heaven and Jesus spoke, saying, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?”  When Saul asked, “Who are You, Lord?”  The answer came back, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.  It is hard for you to kick against the goads.” 

This clearly confirms that Jesus and the people of His church are one.  To persecute them is to persecute Jesus.


Fulfill The Great Commission
A form of the Great Commission is found in the closing chapters of all four gospels and the first chapter of Acts.  (See Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:15-18;  Luke 24:46-49: John 20:21; Acts 1:8).

The Great Commission to the church is. . .
            Go into all the world
            Make disciples
            Baptize converts
            Teach converts to do all things Christ commanded

Provide Reception for all New Believers
The local church provides the best means for every newly saved person to. . .

Enter into fellowship with loving Christians.
The apostle John wrote, “. . .That which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ.  And these things we write to you that your joy may be full.”  1st John 1:3, 4.

Obtain the best support group it is possible to have.
It is to members of local churches that we find exhortations to “love one another”; “be kind to one another”; “be tenderhearted toward one another”; “encourage one another:; :bear one another’s burdens”, etc. 

(There are 28 different “one another exhortations in all).  Believers who embrace and practice these “one another’s” are on the fast track to becoming more and more like Jesus.  Those believers who receive the benefits of these “one another’s” experience the warm love of the Savior that passes all understanding.

Begin to learn to worship God properly
Jesus has taught us, “. . .The hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him.  God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”  John 4:23, 24.

Grow into personal ministry
A Biblical church will provide teaching that will enable the new Christian to grow spiritually.  They will learn what the Bible teaches and how to put those teachings into practice.  This will open doors for personal ministry to other believers and sharing the witness of salvation through Christ to those who have not yet come to know Jesus as their Savior.

Participation in the best channel of supporting God’s work.
A Biblical church will provide the best means of receiving and accounting of funds. 

A Biblical church will be guided by God’s word to seek the most efficient and effective ways to use those funds to accomplish the purposes God has given for the church.

Jesus loved the church and gave Himself for it.  Every new believer should also love the church, unite with a Biblical church and give themselves to grow spiritually and serve God in it.

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