September 20, 2005

What is a Church? By Don Fortner

Baptists have constantly debated the meaning of the word "church", or assembly, for the last century. Their debate, I fear, has done much harm to the kingdom of our Lord and to the honor of His name. A church of Christ is much more than a congregation of men assembled together for the purpose of promoting a creed and continuing the ordinances. If we are a true church of Christ, we have much stronger ties than the waters of baptism produce.

Every true local assembly is a miniature of the church universal, as described by Paul in Ephesians chapter 2, verses 11-22. A true church is a "habitation of God through the Spirit". It is important that we, as believers, be properly immersed, observe the Lord's Supper, and hold to a sound creed. But, this is the question of great concern, "Are we a habitation of God?" If not, all these other things are mere vanities of religious ritualism!

A church is a family, united by the blood of Christ. A church is a body, with Christ as its head. A church is a kingdom, under the dominion of Christ. A church is a brotherhood, established in the love of Christ. A church is a temple, built upon Christ, the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets.

It is our desire that the Savior's promise will be constantly fulfilled to us as a church of Christ – "Where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them." Christ's presence is the one thing we must have! Are we a habitation of God through the Spirit? Let us walk in love, "Endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace." Let us be careful that we "Grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby we are sealed unto the day of redemption. By Donald Fortner