The idea of God calling out a group of people from the world for His divine purpose seems to overwhelm the minds of many. In our world, denominationalism is the norm and Scriptural accuracy is seen as legalism. Still, we must care about what the church of Christ is. Never mind what men say about the church, it only matters what God and His Word say about the church. The church of Christ is the most unique institution on the planet. Let’s examine the Scriptures concerning what the church of Christ is.
Those who understand the church of Christ must respect its eternality. The church of Christ was not founded during the restoration movement, nor did it break off of Protestant Christianity. The church of Christ was in the eternal mind of God before the foundation of the world (Eph. 1:4; 2 Tim. 1:9; Tit. 1:2). The fact that God has always desired to save men through the church of Christ should highlight its importance to us. The church is also eternal in that it will never be destroyed (Dan. 2:44; Heb. 12:28). Though the world and all of its kingdoms will fall into obscurity and fade away, the church of Christ will never know this fate. The church of Christ is not a modern invention of man or something thought of in recent years; it is eternal.
The exclusivity of Christ’s church will surprise no true student of the Bible. God has always dealt with His people in specific covenant relationships. The church is no different (Ex. 19:5-6; 1 Pet. 2:9). The word most often translated “church” in the New Testament is ekklesia, meaning a group of individuals called out to a separate assembly. The church is called out by God to be those who do His will. The church is exclusive in that it is also singular in nature. When Jesus promised to build His church, He only mentioned one (Mt. 16:18-19). The church of Christ is the body of Christ, and the New Testament testifies that there is only one body (1 Cor. 12:20; Eph. 1:21-23; 4:4; Col. 1:18). The church is not a collection of all professed believers and members of denominations worldwide. The church is comprised of those who obey the gospel according to the New Testament pattern and are thus part of the one church mentioned in the New Testament (Jn. 17:20-21; Acts 2:37-47; Rom. 6:17). The saved are all in this exclusive group (Eph. 5:23), and there are no saved outside of this group.
Men start different “churches” for different reasons today. I am not sure how much it costs to build a “church,” but I am sure that no man living can afford the church of Christ. The church of Christ is too expensive for even the richest man’s budget. Jesus promised to build a church, and He did so on the first Pentecost following His resurrection (Mt. 16:18; Acts 2). When Jesus was on the cross, not only was He dying for the sins of the world, He was also purchasing the church (Mt. 26:28; 1 Jn. 2:1-2). Jesus was on the cross at the spiritual cash register paying the for the church with His own blood (Acts 20:28). Few people buy things with blood today, and no blood is as precious and pure as that which flowed from Jesus Christ. Do not hold a cheap view of the church, because it did not come at a cheap price.
Escaping the Wrath of God
The church of Christ will be delivered up to the Father by the Son (1 Cor. 15:24). Christ will present His church to the Father without spot, wrinkle, or blemish (Eph. 5:25-27). The only people in the world who can be sure they will escape the wrath of God are those who are members of the church of Christ (cf. Rom.1:18-ff). The wrath of God will come upon the disobedient and those who have not obeyed the gospel of Christ (2 Thess. 1:7-9). To escape the wrath that will destroy the adversaries of God, one must be in the body of Christ on that fateful day. This is not spiritual arrogance, but spiritual accuracy. “Church of Christ” is not mentioned here in a denominational sense, but in the Biblical sense. The church of Christ is the group of people cleansed of their sins. They stand before God washed in the blood of the lamb, and as a result do not fear His wrath towards sin (Rev. 7:13-17).
What is the church of Christ? The church of Christ is eternal, exclusive, expensive, and will escape the wrath of God. Though often misunderstood, the church of Christ is cherished in heaven and loved on earth by those who grasp her worth.