After much anticipation, our new place of worship is nearing completion.
Lord willing, our first meeting in this new building will be Sunday, May 9. As we look to the start of this new chapter, we are full of excitement for the opportunities that lie ahead. While we loved our old building, our new building is in a much more visible location, and we know that this will help us as we seek to evangelize in the Norman community. Additionally, we know that our new building will provide us with the space needed to suit our growing number.
While we are excited about this new chapter and the opportunities that lie ahead in our new place of worship, we also remember the teachings Jesus Christ gave concerning His church. As we read the New Testament, it is clear that the church is not a building. Instead, the church is the body of believers who are obedient to Jesus and all of His teachings. In fact, the Bible often refers to the church as the body of Christ (Consider I Corinthians 12:27, for example). Unfortunately, many today misunderstand this teaching and think of the church as a building instead of a body of believers.
As we read the New Testament, it is clear that the church is not a building. Instead, the church is the body of believers who are obedient to Jesus and all of His teachings.
Let’s consider a few verses from the Bible to clarify this point.
In Matthew 16:18, Jesus told His apostles that He would build His church and that the gates of Hades would not prevail against it.
In Acts 2:47, we see that those who obeyed the gospel—that is, those who repented and were baptized as we see in Acts 2:38—were added to the church.
Further, in Ephesians 2:19-22, Paul describes the church as a temple made up of believers, founded on the doctrine of the apostles, with Jesus Himself as the chief cornerstone.
There are other verses we could consider, and those verses would point to the same truth outlined in the previous verses: Jesus built His church, and it is not a specific building but is the body of all the faithful. Thus, the Bible teaches that there is one true church, and that this one church is made up of many different congregations. The Norman Church of Christ is just one of the congregations that makes up the church that Jesus built. With this in mind, it’s important for us to understand that, biblically speaking, there is no such thing as a denomination. The Bible never mentions different “types” of churches, nor does the Bible mention any church that is named after anyone other than Christ. Instead, the Bible only speaks of Jesus Christ’s church, sometimes referred to simply as the church or the church of Christ as in Romans 16:16. With this in mind, we should all diligently search for the true church that we learn of in the Bible.
The True Church
The true church of the Bible affords innumerable blessings to its members.
As we see in the New Testament, it is through the church that we establish deep and meaningful connections both with God and with our fellow man. Leading a peaceful life starts with understanding one’s need for the true church of the Bible.
Let’s start first by looking at how the church allows us to have a relationship with God. Earlier, we mentioned Acts chapter 2 and its relation to the church. In verse 38, Peter tells his audience that in order to be saved, they must repent and be baptized. Peter stated that those who take these steps will receive the remission (or removal) of their sins and receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. Anyone who engaged in this act of obedience was added to the church as we see in verse 47. Thus, it is once we are baptized and added to the church that we are truly free from our sins. We cannot enjoy a relationship with God until we have taken this step, as it is our sin that separates us from Him (Isaiah 59:2-3).
We see this same pattern all throughout the book of Acts: individuals hear about Jesus and His gospel, they believe in Him, repent of their sins, and are ultimately baptized so that their sins can be taken away and so that they can enjoy a relationship with God. Notice also Acts 22:16, where Ananias told Saul: Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord. We see in this verse that it was only through baptism that Saul could have his sins washed away. In taking this step, Saul was also added to the church and began his relationship with God. (If you would like more clarification on these verses, or if you have questions about the teaching here, feel free to schedule a study with us on our website and we would be happy to elaborate more on God’s plan for salvation!)
The Church Family
Not only is it through the church that we offer acceptable worship to God, but it is also through the church that we find a loving family that seeks to encourage us and care for us in both our physical and spiritual lives.
In I Corinthians 12, the apostle Paul would mention that since the church is a body, then the church ought to behave like a physical body, taking care of each other and looking out for one another, saying in verse 25 that there should be no schism in the body but that the members should have the same care for one another. Paraphrasing verse 26, Paul states that if one member suffers, then the whole body suffers; but if one member rejoices, then the whole body rejoices. Further, Paul in Philippians 2:3-4 mentioned that the church ought to look out for one another’s needs just as much as we look out for our own needs. The New Testament is full of these “one another” commands for the church. In fact, depending on which translation you read, the New Testament has over 50 of these commands that tell us how we ought to treat our brothers and sisters within the church.
It's up to us!
In summary, we see from the Bible that there is one true church that Jesus built and that it is up to us to make sure we are a part of this body. The church is of the utmost importance because it is where we find salvation and a place to worship God as His word describes. Furthermore, we see that the church is a loving body that encourages its members and helps them in all their needs. Certainly, the church is a blessing that we must all seek out, and thankfully, all are welcome in the Lord’s church—regardless of gender, race, age, and socioeconomic status. If someone is willing to turn their life to God and obey His commands, there is a place for them in the true church of the Bible. We warmly invite you to study with us and join us in our worship services!
All are welcome in the Lord’s church—regardless of gender, race, age, and socioeconomic status. If someone is willing to turn their life to God and obey His commands, there is a place for them in the true church of the Bible.