What Makes A Church?
The church in the Bible is not a place you go to, or a building you sit in. It is made up of people; God’s people. It transcends national boundaries, ethnic groups, political alliances, and social strata. With His own blood, Jesus Christ “purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation” (Rev 5:9, NIV). Together, these believers--past, present, and future--constitute the church (Acts 20:28).
A few like-minded people can charter a social organization. But the church is composed of God’s chosen people. As our Lord said, “You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit” (Jn 15:16). Through baptism, the blood of our Lord unites us as members of the church. As the body of Christ, the church is closely related to our salvation.
Christ has given the church the mission to preach and baptize for the forgiveness of sins (Mt 28:18-20). The church takes on Christ’s authority and must bring the gospel to the world. The Lord Jesus also continues His saving work through the sacraments the church administers. And according to Jesus’ commission, the church must bring up the faith of her members by teaching them to obey the Lord’s commands.
By fulfilling her mission, the church prepares for the coming of Christ. The Bible depicts a great wedding banquet for Christ and His bride, the church (Rev 19:7-10). That will be the finale of God’s salvation plan, when the believers will join with the Lord and be with Him forever.
Therefore, to accept the church is to accept Christ, and to be saved is to become a member of the body of Christ, the church. We cannot separate the Savior from His body, and we are not saved apart from the church.
What does it mean to be a member of "the Church"?