Using Correct Terminology (Part 2) - Church


2. Church A. Church n. - III. 10. A congregation of Christians locally organized into a society for religious worship and spiritual purposes, under the direction of one set of spiritual office-bearers. B. A church is a congregation of people (Heb 2:12 c/w Psa 22:22; Act 7:38 c/w Exo 16:2). C. As the previous verses showed, the nation of Israel was God's church under the Old Testament. i. The church was reformed by Christ at His first coming (Heb 9:10). ii. This was the true Reformation. iii. The Protestant reformers reformed the Roman Catholic Church, not God's church. iv. Protestant "churches" are therefore reformed Catholic "churches." D. The word "church" is used in scripture to describe three different things: i. The universal body of the elect for whom Christ died (Eph 5:25-27; Heb 12:22-23 c/w Eph 3:15). a. This church does not and cannot assemble on earth now. b. But it does and will assemble in heaven. ii. The institution of the local church which is God's kingdom on this earth (Mat 16:18-19; Eph 3:21). a. Individual churches come in and out of existence over time. b. But the institution of the local church has not and never will cease. iii. Local congregations of baptized disciples who regularly assemble to worship God (Act 8:1; Act 11:26; Act 14:23; 1Co 1:2; 1Th 1:1). a. This is by far the most common usage of the word "church" in the Bible, and it accounts for nearly every instance of the word. b. Each local church is "the whole church" not part of it (1Co 14:23). c. When more than one local church is under consideration, they are called "churches", not "the church" (Act 9:31; Act 15:41). d. Churches in a particular country or region are called "the churches" of that region, not "the church" of that region. For example: (i) The Bible says, "the churches of Galatia", not "the Galatian church" or "the church in Galatia" (1Co 16:1; Gal 1:2). (ii) The Bible says, "the churches of Asia", not "the Asian church" or "the church in Asia" (1Co 16:19). (iii) The Bible says, "the churches of Macedonia", not "the Macedonian church" or "the church in Macedonia" (2Co 8:1). (iv) The Bible says, "the churches of Judea", not "the Judean church" or "the church in Judea" (Gal 1:22). e. Therefore, we should not refer to churches (even true churches) in America as "the American church" or "the church in America," because to do so is an unbiblical usage of the word "church." f. Nor should we refer to churches (even true churches) in China, Asia, Africa, Europe, or any other country, continent, or region as "the Asian church", etc., or "the church in Asia", etc. E. When we say, "the church" we should only ever be referring to one of three things: i. The universal family of God's elect in heaven and earth. For example: "Christ died for the church." ii. The institution of Christ's church. For example: "Satan has never been able to destroy the church for the last 2000 years." iii. Local congregations of baptized believers which have a lineage going back to Christ and the apostles. For example: "He joined the church today", or "The church excluded a brother today", or "The church is the most important thing in my life." F. When we refer to churches in a certain area, state, country, or continent, we should call them "churches", not "the church." G. We absolutely should not call protestant, charismatic, Pentecostal, mega-churches, etc. "the church" because those organizations are not even true churches, and even if they were, they should not collectively be called "the church." i. For example, we should not say things like: a. "The church has been paganized." b. "The church has gone into apostasy." c. "The church is backslidden." d. "The church is corrupt." e. "The church needs to repent." ii. If you ever hear me utter words like these, you better be very afraid because I will be talking about the Excelsior Springs Church or another true local church. iii. If we want to talk about such organizations which claim to be churches, we should be careful to say things like: a. "These so-called 'churches' have been paganized." b. "Charismatic so-called 'churches' are possessed with a Satanic spirit." c. "These religious entertainment facilities are devoid of truth." d. "The religious organization I grew up in used to sing hymns." iv. The Bible does in one place refer to pagan houses of worship as "churches" (Act 19:37). v. If you do so, make sure you make yourself clear to those who hear you as to what you are referring. H. A church is NOT: i. A physical building (Rom 16:5 & Col 4:15 c/w 1Pe 2:5). a. The building a church meets in should be called a "church building", not a "church." b. Buildings are never called churches in the Bible. ii. A hierarchical organization. iii. A denomination. iv. A congregation whose history traces back to the Catholic "church" (the Protestant "churches"). I. The church is a holy, glorious institution, organization, and body, so let's not degrade it by calling buildings or counterfeit organizations by its blessed name. i. "If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God…" (1Pe 4:11). ii. Let's be careful to use correct Biblical terminology when we speak.
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