Sábado, 23 de Setembro de 2023
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What is the Church?

The church is the community of believers in Christ (Eph 1.1), acquired, established, protected, built and directed by him (Mt 16:18, Acts 20:28), that gathers to worship the Triune God (Acts 13.1-2), with support firmly to revealed truth (1 Tim 3:15), observing the ordinances of the Lord (baptism and supper), nurturing a loving, uplifting and pure communion between brothers (Acts 2.42-47) and proclaim salvation to the world (1 Peter 2.9), all with the ultimate purpose of promoting the glory of God (Eph 3:21).

The church can also be defined as the group of elected assembled and organized in a particular locality (1 Peter 1.1), taking the Bible as ultimate authority (2 Tim 3:16) and under the influence of the Holy Spirit, promotes geographic expansion, numerical and cultural the Kingdom of God in this world (Acts 9:31).

Some Caveats:

1. The church is not a religious building

A popular and commonplace way of understanding the word "church", it refers to a building with architectural features and religious decorations. This, however, is not the meaning of the word "church" in the New Testament. Here its meaning is simply assembly of believers, without any indication of the physical location where the assembly meets.

2. The biblical church has a temple considered sacred place

In the Old Testament there was the Jewish temple where worshipers held their cultic acts (Ps 5.7). But in the New Testament there is no construction which can be regarded as a sacred place of worship. The temples in the NT are the community of the saved (1 Cor 3.16-17, 2 Corinthians 6:16, Ephesians 2:22, 1 Peter 2.5) and the bodies of believers, where the Holy Spirit dwells (1 Cor 6:19). Jesus himself taught during his earthly ministry that the time to worship God in a holy place was over (John 4.21-24). Therefore, the believers of the early church were not concerned with the construction of shrines and usually met in homes (Acts 20:20, Romans 16.5, Col. 4:15).

3. Not all communities are evangelical churches in the biblical sense

The name "church" is used by many groups that have nothing to do with this institution built by the Lord Jesus Christ. For church is indeed a community has to basically be composed of true believers, which is not the case in most groups that present themselves as evangelicals (See above for definitions of church). These, in most cases, are formed by people interested in miracles, healings and material blessings, never worry about the forgiveness of sins and life of holiness as opposed to the world. The Lord Jesus himself said that the Day of Judgment people will reject well (Mt 7.21-23).

4. No church can present itself as the only true

The church of Christ is spread throughout the world in numerous local nuclei of different sizes, each with peculiar and features belonging to different denominations. To the extent that these communities announce salvation in Christ alone, ie, the biblical gospel, they are all true. When, however, a particular community presents itself as the only valid one, it is despising God's saving work through other churches in millions of hearts around the world. Worse, such a church will fall into the error of seeing as an additional way to heaven, beyond the only way is Jesus Christ (John 14.6). This will make it a cult, because in most cases the heretical sects present themselves only as holders of the keys of heaven, being impossible, according to them, unless someone is not part of their movement.

5. No church can present itself as the best among all others

Local churches are somewhat different in their mode of operation, details relating to worship, different emphases and other issues. However, none can be presented as the best among all the others, because this attitude shows contempt for what God has done in numerous existing local churches and reveals a blind pride, unable to see their own imperfections and defects (Rev. 3:17). Moreover, the believer who is convinced that belongs to the best church there is hardly able to adapt to another if you have to move. Your attitude will be compared and depreciation in the face of the new church and this may lead you to the abandonment of the communion of saints, which the Bible condemns (Hebrews 10:25, 1 John 1.7). Therefore every Christian must recognize the intrinsic value of the church throughout the world, never considering that that member is as superior to others and rejecting this attitude as sinful.

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