a graphic of a church building on a page discussing this doctrine would
not go over well considering the Baptist mindset. Buildings are made
up of brick, stone, and wood. Churches are made up of living, breathing,
saved people. You see, God's people are the church! That's
what the Bible says.
|Church: A "Called Out" People
When the apostle Paul addressed
the epistles (letters) he wrote to the various congregations he had established
throughout the world of his day, he referred to them as a "church."
He also referred to a group of congregations in Galatia as "churches."
Each time he used the word "church," it was the Greek word "ecclesia" that
was written in the introductions of those first letters to local assemblies
"Ecclesia" comes from two
Greek words meaning "from" and "Kalea" meaning "to call out."
Thus, the word means "to call from." This word was in common usage
during the time of Christ. It was applied to the assembly of the citizen's
of a city summoned by an individual blowing a horn through the streets.
Christ made use of the word
"ecclesia" for His called out assembly (Matthew 16:18).
This word is used 117 times
in the New Testament. All but five of these times (Acts 7:38; 19:32, 39,
41, and Hebrews 2:12), the reference is to Christ's "ecclesia." Furthermore,
the other 112 uses of the word refer either to a particular assembly on
earth, His General Assembly in Glory, or to the "Church" in an institutional
| "And when
they were come, and had gathered the church together, they rehearsed all
that God had done with them, and how he had opened the door of faith unto
the Gentiles." ~ Acts 14:27
|Church: A Local Assembly of Believers
It is a visible, local, organized,
body of Scripturally baptized believers in Christ associated together by
a covenant of faith and fellowship in the Gospel and whose head is Jesus
Christ. This definition is both found and verified in the example of the
first century Christian church (Acts 2:41&42).
However, the word "church"
is sometimes interpreted to mean the universal body of believers--a kind
of invisible church made up of all Christians. This is not a correct definition
of the word as an ecclesia is local, and visible. How could all of
the believers in the world be accurately described as a called out assembly?
Other misuses of the word
include that of referring to a denomination such as the Methodist Church,
meaning all Methodists. Again, this does not fit the word "ecclesia" in
the Word of God. Also, the word "church" is very commonly referred
to as the meeting house. Since it is believers who form a church,
and not brick or wood, this is an unscriptural use of the word as well.
| "And when
he had found him, he brought him unto Antioch. And it came to pass, that
a whole year they assembled themselves with the church, and taught much
people. And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch."
~ Acts 11:26
|Slippage Questions: The
Doctrine of the Church
"Therefore we ought to
give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any
time we should let them slip." ~ Hebrews 2:1
|Do you believe that it is the saved people
who make up the church as contrasted to the organization, denomination,
building, or any other thing?
|If the church (ecclesia) only exists when
believers gather together, how can you justify the concept of an "invisible"
|Are there any verses in the Bible that
clearly teach an invisible church without taking them out of context or
|Since the church is made up only of believers,
does the church you attend qualify people to make sure they have been born-again
before granting membership?
|Is it the local church body that governs
itself or does the church you attend simply bow to the dictates of the
|If so, what Bible verses would you use
to justify a hierarchy that exercises any authority whatsoever over the
|Do you realize that those who teach the
concept of an "invisible" church are the same ones who promote denominationalism,
thus, causing error in regard to a local church being self-governing?
|Would you be willing to adhere to this
Biblical doctrine even if it meant leaving the church you attend to find
one that supports and teaches it?