Page 6 - September 2021 - Truth & Tidings
P. 6

hurch is now a religious word   istics, which can remain and be practiced,
               generally used to refer to a place   sadly, long after the Lord is gone. It is also
        Cof worship. However, when the        true to say that some of the NT letters
        word was used in New Testament times   were written to churches which were no
        (ekklesia in the original Greek language), it   longer readily identifiable as such, due to
        simply meant “gathering,” or “an assem-  their departure from apostolic doctrine
        bly of people.” It wasn’t a religious word.  once practiced by them (the church at
          When people were saved, they gathered   Corinth being an obvious example). Not-
        together as communities of Christians in   withstanding their failures, they were still
        their localities. These were referred to as   addressed as local churches.
        churches by the writers of the NT – e.g.,   If the Lord’s authority is rightly ac-
        the church at Jerusalem (Act 8:1), the   knowledged, then the local church will
        church at Corinth (1Co 1:1), the churches   seek to implement the NT teaching in rela-
        of Galatia (Gal 1:2). The word was used   tion to the gospel, baptism, Lord’s Supper,
        to describe the gathering of people, not   order of gathering, government, use of
        a place or building in which the people   spiritual gift, and various other important
        gathered.                             biblical instructions. In order for a church
          The idea of a person experiencing salva-  to worship, serve and honour the Lord in
        tion and not belonging to a local church is   a locality, adherence to the instruction of
        not found in the NT. Even when a Chris-  the NT is of primary importance.
        tian moved to another city, his church
        often wrote a letter of commendation in   For a Christian, a local church is where
        order for him to be accepted into the lo-  they will experience the Lord’s presence
        cal church in the new location (Act 18:27;   and blessing in a unique way. It is within
        Col 4:10).                            this community of fellow-believers that
          A local church may be large or small,   the Christian will grow in faith, gain
        have different weekly schedules and   spiritual wisdom and understanding,
        other cosmetic differences, but every local   submit to spiritual authority, be given
        church is defined by the presence of the   opportunities to serve the Lord and wor-
        risen Lord Jesus Christ, and not by their   ship, develop meaningful relationships,
        activity or structures (Mat 18:20). It is the   and reach into the locality with the gospel.
        Lord and His promised presence that     Much more could be said about the local
        makes a church different from any other   church from the NT, but there is nothing
        gathering of people or organizations, even   more important than to remember that the
        those of Christians.                  Lord Jesus Christ should be the focal point
          As a result of the Lord’s presence, a local   of every church; everyone and everything
        church should have identifiable character-  should be connected to Him.

        262 TRUTH kTidings   September  2021
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