In Matthew 16:18 the Lord Jesus told the apostle Peter, “On this rock (the confession of Christ) I will build my church” (NKJV). Many believe the church began in the Old Testament, but this verse teaches us that the Lord Jesus would build it in the FUTURE. The word “church” is the Greek word “ecclesia” which means “a called out company.” Up until this time, there were many “individual believers,” but the day would come when the Lord Jesus would UNITE all believers into ONE COMPANY called the church. After the Lord’s death and resurrection He met with His disciples and He commanded them to stay in Jerusalem “to wait for the Promise of the Father…for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now” (Acts 1:4-5). The Lord then ascended to heaven and the disciples assembled together and waited for the Holy Spirit to come (Acts 1:9-14).

In Acts chapter 2 (40 days after the Lord’s ascension) the Holy Spirit came and the church was born! In Acts 2:1, 2, 4 we read, “When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing might wind, and it filled the whole house…and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit.” One may be thinking, “How do we know that the baptism of the Holy Spirit resulted in the formation of the church?” 1st Corinthians 12:13 provides the answer: “For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body.” Some may also ask, “How do we know that the “one body” spoken of here is the “church?” Ephesians 1:22-23 declares, “And He (God the Father) put all things under His (Christ’s) 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.”

Peter preached the gospel that day to many Jews attending the feast and verse 41 informs us, “Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about THREE THOUSAND SOULS WERE ADDED TO THEM.” This “called out company” grew by 3,000 souls after one short gospel meeting! We then read that “they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread and in prayers.” Again, the “church” is made up of individual believers who are now “one body,” and thus they continue in happy fellowship together. Verse 47 goes on to teach us that the church would continue to grow: “And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.” Every time someone believed on Christ as their Savior they were immediately “added to the church,” and there are STILL souls being added to the church today.

The church is looked at in three ways in Scripture. We already saw in Ephesians 1:22-23 that the church is “the body of Christ.” The main thought in connection with the “one body” is that of MINISTRY, with each member of the body being given a spiritual gift for the edifying of the whole body (see 1st Corinthians 12 and Ephesians 4:1-16). The church is also called the “house of God” in 1st Timothy 3:15, “I write so that you may know how you ought to conduct yourself in THE HOUSE OF GOD, WHICH IS THE CHURCH OF THE LIVING GOD, the pillar and ground of the truth.” The “house of God” speaks of ORDER, as well as WORSHIP (see 1st Peter 2:5). And lastly, the church is the “bride of Christ,” as intimated in 2nd Corinthians 11:2: “For I have betrothed you to one husband that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.” The marriage relationship on earth is a picture of this (see Ephesians 5:22-32); it clearly illustrates the INTIMATE RELATIONSHIP between Christ and the church.

We will only add one more thought to our short meditation. The church is a “heavenly company” with “heavenly blessings.” The apostle Paul confirms this in Ephesians 1:3, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ.” After the last soul is saved to complete the church, the Lord will come and take His bride home to heaven where she will enjoy these blessings forever with her heavenly Bridegroom (see John 14:1-2; John 17:24; 1st Thessalonians 4:13-18; 1st Peter 1:3-4 and Revelation 19:7-9). Every believer longs for their Lord’s return, as seen in the closing words of our Bible, “He who testifies to these things says, ‘Sure I am coming quickly.’ Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus!” (233.5) (DO)