The Christian & Church
Many Christians today view their Christianity as a personal relationship with God. Most would see that this relationship has some implications for how they should live.
However, many Christians don’t realize how this most important relationship with God necessitates a number of secondary personal relationships, the relationships that Christ establishes between us and his body, the Church.
Many might think a person is narrow-minded if he said, “I might question the salvation of a person who calls themselves a Christian, yet he/she is not a member in good standing of a local church where they attend faithfully.”
What do you think?
What is a Christian?
A Christian is someone first and foremost, who has been forgiven of their sin and has been reconciled to God the Father through Jesus Christ. This salvation takes place when a person repents of their sins and places their faith in the perfect life, substitutionary death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
A Christian is someone who, by virtue of his reconciliation with God, has been reconciled to God’s people.
It is no surprise that Jesus said that “all the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments”:
love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind and love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:34–40). The two commandments go together.
Can one really address the question “What is a Christian?” without ending up in a conversation about the church, at least, from a Biblical perspective?
When a person becomes a Christian, they do not just join a local church because it’s a good habit for growing in spiritual maturity.
They are to join because it’s the expression of what Christ has made them, a member of the body of Christ.
Being united to Christ means being united to every Christian. The universal union must be given a living, breathing existence in a local church.
Hebrews 10:23-25 Let us hold fast to the profession of our faith without wavering (for He is faithful who promised), 24 and let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works, 25 not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.
The Church is People, Not Just a Place
“Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her” (Eph. 5:25). He didn’t give Himself up for a place, but for a people.
When God constituted the people of Israel, He organized them into a visible nation and placed upon them a sober and sacred obligation to be in corporate worship before Him. A person in Christ is called to participate in the fellowship of other Christians and in the worship of God according to the precepts of Christ. That physical fellowship of believers before God is the church.
The author of Hebrews (Hebrews 12:18-24) is speaking here of the church and the experience of the church universal. He reminds us of the NEW situation that has come to pass with the triumph of Christ and that things have changed since the days of the Old Testament. He says that ‘you don’t come to that mountain that was covered with darkness and with thunder and lightning, that was a place of abject terror.’
The author says that is not what we are doing when we go to church. NOW, when we attend church, we’re entering into heaven itself, where Christ has gone in His ascension. As our high priest, He has entered into the heavenly sanctuary once for all and has ripped apart this veil of separation that previously prohibited direct access for us into the immediate presence of God.
Christians ought to assemble in local gatherings here on earth. Apparently this privilege and responsibility was not immediately obvious to some of the early Christians since they still needed to be exhorted not to forsake ‘the assembling of themselves together.’ (Hebrews 10:25)
Ephesians 5:25-32 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for it 5:27 that He might present it to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that it should be holy and without blemish. 5:29 For no man ever yet hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, even as the Lord the church. 5:31 “For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.” 5:32 This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church.
Here in Ephesians, Paul gives us a clear picture of what Christ has done for us and he uses the analogy of a loving husband to display what Christ has done, and what our response should be.
The church (people who have committed their life to Christ) is the bride. Should a loving bride ever have any contact with her spouse? Of course. Why then would we ever think it is okay for a professing Christian to not have a consistent relationship with the church, nor to make any specific commitment? The church is not a place only, but a people.
Let’s Remember! Christ initiated the Church, not man. Let’s not miss all He has for us.