Christian Biblical Counsel: CHURCH, THE

Church, Communion of Saints

See also Loving and Serving Others.

1.   The church is one.

Eph. 4:3–6. … endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.

2.   The church is one body with many functions; each member has a purpose.

Rom. 12:4–8. For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another. Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith; or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.

3.   Together, Christians constitute God’s household, in which he lives by his Spirit.

Eph. 2:19–22. Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.

4.   Keep the unity of believers; don’t follow men, but Christ.

1 Cor. 1:10–17.

1 Cor. 1:11–13. For it has been declared to me concerning you, my brethren, by those of Chloe’s household, that there are contentions among you. Now I say this, that each of you says, “I am of Paul,” or “I am of Apollos,” or “I am of Cephas,” or “I am of Christ.” Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?

5.   Gifts of the Spirit differ. Each member must use his or her gifts to serve others.

Eph. 4:11–13. And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ;

1 Cor. 12:1–11.

6.   Each member of the body is necessary. We need one another.

1 Cor. 12:12–31.

7.   Christ is the head of the church, his body.

Eph. 1:20–23.

Eph. 1:22–23. And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.

Eph. 5:23. For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body.

8.   Christ loves the church.

Eph. 5:25. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her.

9.   Attend worship services faithfully.

Heb. 10:25. Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.

10. The psalmist longed for the house of God.

Ps. 84.

11. The meaning of the communion of the saints is beautifully taught in Paul’s letter to Philemon.

The book of Philemon. (Paul writes the letter to his “dear friend and fellow worker” on behalf of Onesimus, urging Philemon to receive him back as a “dear brother.”)

Phm. 10–12. I appeal to you for my son Onesimus, whom I have begotten while in my chains, who once was unprofitable to you, but now is profitable to you and to me. I am sending him back. You therefore receive him, that is, my own heart.

Phm. 15–16. For perhaps he departed for a while for this purpose, that you might receive him forever, no longer as a slave but more than a slave—a beloved brother, especially to me but how much more to you, both in the flesh and in the Lord.

12. Elders are God’s appointed shepherds placed over the flock of Jesus Christ.

Acts 20:28. “Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.”

13. Office bearers must warn the wayward.

Ezek. 33:7–9. “So you, son of man: I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; therefore you shall hear a word from My mouth and warn them for Me. When I say to the wicked, ‘O wicked man, you shall surely die!’ and you do not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at your hand. Nevertheless if you warn the wicked to turn from his way, and he does not turn from his way, he shall die in his iniquity; but you have delivered your soul.”

14. God condemns and warns unfaithful shepherds.

Ezek. 34:1–16.

15. Jesus prays for the church.

John 17:6–26. (Jesus’ high priestly prayer)

16. The church is a great multitude gathered from all nations and tribes.

Rev. 7:9. After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands.[1]

 

 

THE CHURCH

 

Background

 

By definition, the church is the “body of Christ,” that community of the redeemed of which He is the head: “And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence” (Colossians 1:18).

 

The church is nurtured by Christ’s own dynamic life:

 

“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for it, that He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word” (Ephesians 5:25–26).

 

“Christ will come to claim the church as His bride adorned for her husband” (Revelation 21:2), “. . . that He might present it to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that it should be holy and without blemish” (Ephesians 5:27).

 

The church’s birth was confirmed by the coming of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:1–11), who also provides the power for its self-perpetuation through witness to the world (Acts 1:8).

 

The Church Is Both Visible and Invisible

 

• The invisible church is that larger body of believers who, down through the ages, have sincerely trusted Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior: “The Lord knows those who are His” (2 Timothy 2:19). One becomes a member of the invisible church when he or she receives Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior (John 1:12).

 

• The visible church is the present-day universal church, composed of local groups of Christians. In it are both the “wheat and tares” (Matthew 13:25–30)—the truly redeemed, and many who are not.

 

When a person experiences the new birth, he or she becomes a member of the invisible church. He or she should seek to identify immediately with a local church which honors the Lord and His Word, in order to take an active part in worship, fellowship, evangelism, Bible study, and prayer.

 

This is a responsibility which the Bible teaches: “Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching” (Hebrews 10:25, NIV).

 

(Sadly, there have been many churches down through the centuries that have denied “the faith which was once for all delivered” [Jude 3], and which therefore do very little to nurture the believers committed to their care.)

 

Helping Strategy

 

1. Commend the inquirer for his or her interest in the church. We are being obedient to God when we identify with the local church. In church we are seeking the opportunity to worship, fellowship, evangelize, study the Bible, pray, and participate in the Lord’s Supper.

 

2. Becoming a member of a local church does not save us. We identify with a church because we are saved and desire to be obedient. Jesus said, “I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved” (John 10:9). Ask the inquirer if he or she has received Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Share the gospel.

 

3. After trusting Christ, the inquirer should seek to identify immediately with a local church. Suggest that he or she pray for God’s guidance in finding the right church, one which exalts Christ, preaches and teaches the Bible, and evangelizes the lost.

 

4. Once the person becomes a member of a church, faithful attendance is very important.

 

5. He or she should seek a place of service in the church. Opportunities are always available if we offer ourselves in service to God.

 

6. Encourage financial support of the church. Other Christian causes and ministries are worthy of our giving but in order to function and grow, the local church should receive a substantial part of its members’ tithes and offerings.

 

Scripture

 

The book of Acts presents the birth of the church, its early growth, and the people involved. The Epistles were directed to the church and provide guidelines for faith and practice.

 

The Billy Graham Christian Worker’s Handbook; World Wide Publications, 1984, 1996

 


[1] Kruis, J. G. (1994). Quick scripture reference for counseling (electronic ed.). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.

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