Church – What is it and who is true?
Jesus said he would build His church, and the gates of hell would not prevail against it (Matthew 16:18). The true church is built on the revelation and acknowledgment that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God. Jesus Himself is the foundation for the church. Paul the apostle was one of those through whom Christ built His church. In speaking about the church and the building of it, Paul said, “For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Christ Jesus” (1 Corinthians 3:12). There are plenty of Scriptures in the Psalms which identify the Lord as our “Rock”. Thankfully, the true rock the church is built on is not a man, nor is it a style of music. It is the Lord Jesus himself.
The New Testament Greek word for “church” is ekklesia from which we get words such as “ecclesiastical”. What it actually means is an assembly of people called out. The ekklesia of Jesus Christ is an assembly of people called out from this world. When you accept Jesus as Lord and Savior, Jesus puts you into relationship with others who have done the same. When you gather with them, that is a manifestation of “church”. If you prefer not to gather with other Christians at all, you should seriously question whether Jesus is really your Lord, or whether you just want to please yourself, while claiming the title of “Christian”.
To be sure a group you meet is a true church, you must KNOW the Word of God for yourself. Most importantly, you MUST know what is the good news of Jesus Christ – that through his death and resurrection and living faith in Him, you receive forgiveness and new life as a gift. You ought to see the love of God for one another in the church as well – but remember that some cults practice “love bombing” – a practice of making you feel like the centre of attention and that you can do no wrong – to get you to feel like their group is the place for you. Therefore, knowing God’s word is absolutely vital to identifying a true church. A true church is made up of people who know they actually BELONG to Jesus.
Roman Catholics claim that they represent the one true church which Jesus founded, and that all other churches are basically just religious societies which God does not recognise as “church”, and which cannot truly be agents through which God satisfies the true spiritual thirst of mankind. Catholic doctrine teaches that God’s grace and salvation must come through sacraments which only its “special priests” can administer. For examination of these ideas, please read here. I don’t believe this. It contradicts the experience of hundreds of millions, and indeed, the teachings of the Word of God itself. But to be able to judge that you would need to take the time to read the New Testament for yourself – something I would strongly urge you to do.
For more teaching on the church from a Biblical point of view, see here.
For a discussion on church politics and how to handle some of the bad stuff you may find in most of our Laodicean churches today, see this article on church politics.
There are many good churches in the world, but none of them are perfect. They are all made up of people who still have to deal with sin, such as you and me. My advice to those seeking a church is to find one where the Bible is honored, the power of the Holy Spirit is welcomed and sought after and the leadership is genuinely interested in helping you to use your gifts to serve others.