It is too easy for us to criticize “the church.” Often accusations, failings or moral ills are leveled against the church without the accuser ever defining “the church” other than just some generalized amorphous blob of a Christian term. If one wants to speak to the issues involving American Evangelicalism, or Southern Baptists, or the PCA then there are many things that can be said and rightly criticized or praised. However, in our anti-authoritarian age “the church” has been slandered against and named for every social ill that could possibly be imagined. It’s an easy target that has been stripped of any stigma to slander carelessly and is seen even by Christians to be sophisticated. Many of the things leveled against her are not what the church should even meddle in anyway. I wrote about that here. What we need is a shift in focus on what the church is before we so freely bad mouth her. The church is not man’s idea, it is God’s. Below are 25 indicative statements (meaning they are what God says the church is, not what we must do or make the church be). This is far from a complete list, and of course distinctions must be made between the local, universal, visible and invisible church. However, before you choose to freely malign the church, you better be careful to think the same things about the church that Christ does of her. We must ask, “Do I view and treat the church the same way that Christ views and treats her?” This is what he says of the church:
1. The church is built by Jesus and will never have hell overcome it (Matt 16:18).
2. The church has the power to bind and loose and declare sinning members as non-Christian (Matt 18:17-18).
3. God has made us members of one body (Rom 12:4-5).
4. God has given various gifts to the church to build itself up (Rom 12:6-10).
5. The church is composed of those sanctified in Christ Jesus (1 Cor 1:2).
6. The church can judge and purge evil people from them (1 Cor 5:12).
7. The church are those that are gathered, not merely invisible (1 Cor 11:18).
8. The church is empowered by the Holy Spirit (1 Cor 12:4-12).
9. The Spirit forms the church from a diversity of members (1 Cor 12:13-14).
10. The Spirit forms the church with those of differing functions (1 Cor 12:15-20).
11. Christ, who is ruler over all, is head of the church (Eph 1:22).
12. Through the church the manifold wisdom of God is known (Eph 3:10).
13. God receives glory in the church (Eph 3:21).
14. God has given unity to the church according to his Spirit (Eph 4:1-7).
15. God has gave apostles, evangelists, shepherds, teachers and others for the good of the church (Eph 4:11-13).
16. Christ relates to the church as a husband does to a wife (Eph 5:23).
17. The church submits to Christ and is the model of marital submission (Eph 5:24).
18. Christ gave up his life for the church (Eph 5:25).
19. Christ will present the church to himself in splendor without any blemishes (Eph 5:27).
20. Christ nourishes and cherishes the church (Eph 5:29).
21. Christ loves the church as one flesh & the reality that earthly marriage points to (Eph 5:30-32).
22. Christ has formed his church as composed of saints, overseers, and deacons (Phil 1:1).
23. Christ who will be preeminent above all, shows his kingdom rule in the church (Col 1:18).
24. God has ordained overseers to manage his church (1 Tim 3:5).
25. The church is the household of God and is the pillar and buttress of the truth (1 Tim 3:15).
And a bonus: