The Christian Church
Many people associate the word “church” with a structure. It might be a magnificent structure or a basic structure where believers meet. The actual churches that we see around us and across the world are, of course, visible and local churches. All believers, everywhere, are referred to as the invisible and global church.
The Church Building?
As the influence of Christianity spread, eventually, buildings dedicated to worship were established and became what we know today as churches. First-century Christians were often persecuted and, as a result, often met in secret usually in homes. Church structures facilitate the role of God’s people, but they do not fulfil it.
The Visible and Invisible Church
The visible and local church is, of course, the physical churches that we see around us and around the world, as well as the members of those churches. The invisible and universal church, however, refers to all believers everywhere and is one church, united in Christ. Everyone in the universal church is a true believer, but such is not necessarily the case with visible or local churches.
What Does the Church Do?
The church is not a building, but a body of believers with a specific nature and purpose. The key to any church are foundations in worship, edification and evangelism. These biblical roles or ministries of the church are foundational to it. Worship is God-centered and Christ-centered. It is not about entertaining Christians with flashy displays or presentations, but In following Christ’s example to love others, the church, too, must seek to make a real difference in the world while not neglecting to share the message of Christ. This means reaching out to a lost world with the Good News about Jesus. Knowing the truth and being able to defend Christianity is also part of the role of the church. If a church fails to fulfil any of these key roles – worship, edification, evangelism – then the church is not functioning as God intends.
Images of the Church
The church is depicted in the Bible in a variety of ways, but we’ll focus on three: the church as the Body of Christ, the People of God, and the Bride of Christ. Christians are the body, and Christ is the head of the church (Ephesians 1:10; 4:15). “I will be their God, and they will be my people,” God declares. The Bride of Christ is another name for the church (2 Corinthians 11:2; Ephesians 5:32; Revelation 19:7; 21:9).
A Church Divided or United?
The visible and local church model also touched on some of the issues and conflicts that might arise in churches. As proof of a lack of unity, critics refer to divides and conflicts among Christians. Christians must acknowledge flaws and, sometimes, un-Christlike behaviour in specific situations. In the grand scheme of things, however, the Christian church has always been together.
“Despite all the terrible disagreements amongst Christians, what they agree on is something fairly enormous and pretty solid: something big enough to blast any of us sky-high if it happens to be true,” writes C.S. Lewis. This “pure” Christianity, or core of unshakeable truths, has and continues to unify Christian congregations over the years.
Making an Eternal Difference
The Christian church is a group of believers united in Christ, not a structure. Its mission is to worship God, nurture and edify believers, and reach out to a hurting world with the gospel’s saving message as well as Christ’s practical compassion and mercy. To that end, ecclesiology is not an ivory-tower academic field divorced from the realities of everyday life. Learning more about the church, on the other hand, enables us to make a meaningful impact in the world, not just now, but forever.
For many Protestant Christians, the Christian Church consists of two parts: the visible church and the unseen church. The “Christian Church” (or Catholic Church) does not relate to a specific Christian sect in this notion of the invisible church, but rather to all persons who have been regenerated. Some Anglicans cling to the branch hypothesis, which states that those Churches that have kept apostolic succession are part of the real Church.
Most English translations of the New Testament employ the word church as a translation of the Ancient Greek word ecclesia, which means “assembly” or “congregation” in the original Greek texts. This phrase is used in two verses of Matthew’s Gospel, as well as passages from Acts of the Apostles and Pauline epistles. The Nicene Creed established the Four Marks of the Church, which are that the Church is one, holy, catholic (global), and apostolic (originating from the apostles).
The Greek word ekklesia refers to the Christian Church in the New Testament (either a particular local group or the whole body of the faithful). The Greek word “is used in the Septuagint to translate the Hebrew word “Qahal” (qahal).
The term “church” derives from the Old English word choice, which is derived from the West Germanic *kirika, which is derived from the Greek kuriak, which means “of the Lord” (possessive form of Kurios). According to some grammarians and scholars, the word’s origins are unknown, although it might be derived from the Anglo-Saxon “Kirke” from Latin “circus” and the Greek “kuklos” for “circle.”
In the first century AD/CE, the Christian Church began in Roman Judea. Non-Jews (Gentiles) were welcomed by Christians without having to fully adopt Jewish practices. The Church was authorized in the Roman empire, and Emperors Constantine I and Theodosius I pushed it as the Roman Empire’s State Church in the fourth century.
Who Is Jesus?
The search for the genuine Jesus has raised questions about the Gospels’ historical accuracy. Jesus was a Jewish preacher and religious leader in the first century. He was captured and convicted by Jewish officials before being handed over to the Roman Empire and crucified on Pontius Pilate’s orders. Most Christians believe he is God’s Son incarnated and the long-awaited messiah.
Christian doctrines include the beliefs that Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit, was born of a virgin named Mary, performed miracles, founded the Christian Church, died by crucifixion as a sacrifice to achieve atonement for sin, rose from the dead, and ascended into Heaven, from where he will return. It asserts that Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit, was born of a virgin named Mary and died by crucifixion as a sacrifice to atone for sin. The great majority of Christians worship Jesus as the incarnation of God the Son, the second of three persons of the Trinity. The Nicene Creed asserts that Jesus will judge the living and the dead either before or after their bodily resurrection, an event tied to the Second Coming of Jesus in Christian eschatology.
Outside of Christianity, Jesus is respected in faiths such as Manichaeism, Islam, and the Bahá’ Faith. Jesus (commonly referred to by his Quranic name s) is regarded as God’s penultimate messenger and messiah in Islam. Muslims believe that Jesus was born of a virgin, but that he was neither God nor God’s son. Judaism denies that Jesus was the Messiah, claiming that he failed to fulfil messianic prophecies.
The idea that Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit and created the Christian Church is one of the Christian teachings. According to the Nicene Creed, Jesus will judge both the living and the dead before or after their bodily resurrection. A limited number of Christian groups reject Trinitarianism as unscriptural in its entirety or in part.
Jesus is also revered outside of Christianity in religions such as Manichaeism, Islam and the Bahá’í Faith. In Islam, Jesus (often referred to by his Quranic name ʿĪsā) is considered the penultimate prophet of God and the messiah. Muslims believe Jesus was born of a virgin but was neither God nor a son of God. Most Muslims do not believe that he was killed or crucified, but that God raised him into Heaven while he was alive. Judaism rejects the belief that Jesus was the awaited Messiah, arguing that he did not fulfil messianic prophecies.
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