The church, as described in the Bible is one and yet many things at the same time. There is only one true universal church, but there are many local churches, which are the localized expression of church. There is only one church, but it is described in many different ways. In this short blog, I will attempt to compile all the names and characteristics of the church.
The church is a spiritual Building “…you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. (1 peter 2:5)
The church is a Bride “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. (Ephesians 5:25-27)
The church is a Body “…so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another.” (Romans 12:5)
The church is a Family “For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named” (Ephesians 3:14, 15)
The church is a Flock “And other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they will hear My voice; and there will be one flock and one shepherd.” (John 10:16)
The church is a Tree “I am the vine, you are the branches.” (John 15:5; see also Psalm 1:3 and Romans 11:13-23)
The Church is a Heavenly Race “…But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people…” (1 Peter 2:9)
There are many more metaphors that describe the church, but the aforementioned paint a complete picture. The church is not a corporation or an organization (although we need both). The church is a living, growing and diverse organism and is not confined to a building, for it is the people of God that make up the church.
The church is centered on Christ and without Jesus, there is no church. He is the Head of the body, the Shepherd of the flock, the Husband of the bride, the Cornerstone of the temple, the Root and Trunk of the tree and the Father of the whole family.
To be part of the church, therefore, you must be so connected to the Lord that you have to be IN Christ. Attending church services, praying and reading the Bible may earn you a membership in some local congregations, but only those who believe, follow, obey and love Christ are part of his eternal church.