What is the Church?
What is the Church?
Words of Faith 4-19-17
Dr. Jeffrey D. Hoy © 2017
Faith Fellowship Church - Melbourne, FL
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1 Corinthians 1
 To the church of God in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be holy, together with all those everywhere who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ--their Lord and ours:
 Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Paul wrote his most difficult letters to the church at Corinth. There was trouble and division there. But if we listen, we will notice that Paul gave a clear picture of what the church is supposed to be about even from the beginning. The Corinthians had somehow missed this part. Sometimes we do, too.
Paul addressed his letter to the ekklesia (ek-klay-see'-ah) in Corinth. The word Paul used comes from the word Greek 'kaleo' meaning "to call." Literally, it means "those called out," but it came also to mean "those assembled." While this word was used among Greek speaking Jews to describe the assembly of people in a synagogue, it was popularized in the ancient world as the distinct name for gatherings of Christian believers.
The word Ekklesia is significant because it helps us understand the nature of God's work among His people. The Ekklesia is a calling away from the world. It is a gathering that is not to be shaped like the world. It is the gathering in which God reshapes His people back to be like Him.
The Ekklesia is clearly distinct from any building. A common error today is that we often identify the word "church" with a certain building. We don't really ever "go to church," rather, we go to where "those called out" are gathering. The church is the people of God who have been "called out" of the world to worship Him and serve Him.
This same gathering of "called out" people also spends a significant amount of life scattered into the community primarily for the purpose of evangelism. The rhythm of church life is one of gathering to be equipped and scattering to be salt and light in a world that is flavorless and dark.
Paul says that this gathering of "called out ones" belongs to God. It is not "ours." It is not communally owned. The church is not a social organization or health club, though there may be social aspects and healthy activities among the gathered. The church is not a center set up to entertain our musical tastes. It is a gathering where we are equipped for acts of service and where we "sing to the Lord" the new song He gives us by His grace. In worship, the church is a gathering of many where there is an audience of One.
The church is God's gathering of people "called out" and "called away" from the world and then scattered with a common purpose of sharing the love of Jesus. One commentator observes that had the Corinthians recognized the ownership of God over His Church, their problems of division might not have existed. Division within the church is never rooted in the desire of God. Church division, like the type that the Corinthians were experiencing, is rooted in the fleshly desires of people to control God's "called out ones" while focused on self.
Paul also defined the church as "those sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be holy.” This does not mean that those in the church have been perfected by the Spirit of God. We are all in a process of being sanctified or made holy. Paul's point is that those in the church have been "set apart" for the holy purposes of God and are called to walk in increasing holiness.
Such "called out people" respond to this call by calling upon the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and mutually surrendering to the Lordship of Jesus. In such a mutual surrender, the church belongs to God, not man, and those who compose the church have been set apart by God as His possession.
All of this is an expression of God's grace and peace. Paul blessed the Corinthians in this way: "Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” It is God's purpose in "calling out" the Ekklesia to lavish His grace and peace upon them. It is the grace of God that brings together the assembly of those called out and it is His peace that is manifested in the lives of those believers. It is the peace of God-- the fruit of His Spirit-- that is scattered into the world by believers who are growing in relationship with Him. It is the peace of God in the lives of believers that draws people to Jesus. Everyone wants that peace.
Father God, I want to be among those called out. Set me apart for Your intention. Help me to get my eyes off of myself and onto You. Thank You for calling me out of the world to be a part of Your church. I want to serve among those who are mutually surrendered to the Lord Jesus Christ. I thank You for the grace of the Lord Jesus. Make me an instrument of You peace so that other may know You. In Jesus' name.