The Foundations of Belief: Exploring the Core Doctrines of Christianity – the Church

Ephesians 5:25 –Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her,”


It’s commonplace to associate the word “church” with structures and organizations. The word conjures images of everything from marbled cathedrals to hillside chapels. However, Scripture uses the word very differently. The Greek word used in the New Testament for “church” is “ekklēsia” (ἐκκλησία) and comes from the root words “ek” (out of) and “kaleo” (to call). Its primary meaning is an “assembly” or “gathering” of believers who have been appointed, or called out, to the body of Christ and come together for worship, teaching, and evangelism.

Believers are the church, not the buildings or denominations. As Ephesians 5:25 above indicates, Christ died for those chosen as believers, the church, not for the physical cathedrals, chapels, and organizations scattered throughout the world.

Essential Purposes and Problems of the Church

The church has three primary purposes: exalting God, edifying believers, and evangelizing the lost.

  1. Exalting God1 Corinthians 10:31 admonishes, “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” Also, Ephesians 1:12 affirms, “…we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory.”
  2. Edifying Believers: 1 Corinthians 14:26 states, “What then, brothers? When you come together…Let all things be done for building up.” Additionally, Ephesians 4:12 confirms, “to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ.”
    • Regarding edifying believers, it should be understood that the church of Jesus Christ has only two ordinances—adult baptism and the Lord’s Supper.
  3. Evangelizing the Lost: Matthew 28:18-20 announces, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Colossians 3:16 expands on exalting God and edifying believers when it advises, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.” Clearly, the Bible is to be the primary focus as 2 Timothy 2:15 confirms, “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.”

This priority is further enforced in 2 Timothy 4:2, which declares, “Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.” Although this verse clearly exhorts pastors to proclaim the word of God, it is undoubtedly the single most critical casualty of the modern church, which, as Paul explains in 2 Timothy 4:3-4, “For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.”

Disproportionately, preaching the word has often been replaced with non-offensive social justice messages.

Unfortunately, the “seeker-friendly” and “purpose-driven church” approaches have resulted in ineffective evangelism of the lost. In actuality, this type of evangelism comes in the form of easy believism to the point that what really matters is numbers, not actual converts to faith in Christ Jesus. This is reminiscent of Matthew 13:25-26 which warns by parable, “…his enemy came and sowed weeds [false believers] among the wheat and went away. So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared also.” Continuing, Christ explains in Matthew 13:36-40 “…’ The weeds are the sons of the evil one, and the enemy who sowed them is the devil…’”

Christ illuminates the tragic results of this situation in Matthew 7:22-23 where He warns, “On that day [the judgment], many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name and do many mighty works in your name.’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’”

Regrettably, many false believers of the modern church will be so deceived even unto the judgment.”

Does the Gentile Church replace Israel?

It is important to understand the church’s standing relative to God’s chosen people, Israel. Dispensationalism holds that God has distinct plans and purposes for both Israel and the church. Accordingly, the church does not replace Israel in God’s plan, but rather, Israel has a unique and separate role in God’s redemptive plan for the world. Romans 11:25-26 supports this position when it states, “Lest you be wise in your own sight, I do not want you to be unaware of this mystery, brothers: a partial hardening has come upon Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. And in this way all Israel will be saved, as it is written, ‘The Deliverer will come from Zion, he will banish ungodliness from Jacob.’” Additionally, Zechariah 12:10 speaks of a time of reckoning when it states, “And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and pleas for mercy, so that, when they look on me [Christ], on him whom they have pierced, they shall mourn for him, as one mourns for an only child, and weep bitterly over him, as one weeps over a firstborn.”

A literal interpretation of the Bible makes clear that Israel’s rejection of Christ and His Kingdom facilitated the Church age of the Gentiles; however, Israel will be restored when “the fullness of the Gentiles has come in.” This simply refers to the salvation of all Gentiles as chosen by God. As a comfort,  2 Peter 3:9 advises, “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.” In other words, all those God has elected unto salvation will, in fact, receive salvation.

How is the Church to be Governed

The New Testament provides guidance on the form of governing the church through the establishment of elders and deacons. These leaders are responsible for providing spiritual guidance, pastoral care, and organizational leadership to the local congregation. As with any organization, appropriate leadership is the most critical factor in its proper functioning.

The Bible is clear in its teachings. It stipulates a plurality of elders to lead the church as Titus 1:5-9 states: “…appoint elders in every town as I directed you…” Paul further advises in 1 Timothy 5:17, “Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching.” Finally, in the role of service, Deacons are to be established as Paul states in 1 Timothy 3:8-13, “Deacons likewise must be dignified, not double-tongued, not addicted to much wine, not greedy for dishonest gain… For those who serve well as deacons gain a good standing for themselves and also great confidence in the faith that is in Christ Jesus.”

Unfortunately, our modern churches include a mishmash of leadership conventions, including pastor-lead (with zero accountability), congregational rule (the majority wins), and even Trustee positions for those who don’t qualify under the requirements of 1 Timothy and Titus.

Few churches have a plurality of elders with deacons as a leadership platform. The majority simply ignore the instruction of the God of the Bible. It is no wonder that God’s blessing is missing.


How is the Church Attacked

It is obvious that the world hates Christians. From the very beginning, the Church has been attacked. In fact, the persecution was used by God as a means of spreading the gospel. The Bible is not oblivious or blinded by this, and some of the ways this continues to occur are as follows:


False teachings:  Matthew 7:15-16 advises, “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will recognize them by their fruits…” Additionally,  2 Peter 2:1 warns, “But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them…” This is especially conspicuous today with the enthusiastic welcoming of music from false churches like Hillsong, Elevation, and Bethel and false teachings in both the women’s and men’s bible studies from the myriad of popular false prophet authors. Unfortunately, the lack of discernment due to a deficiency in biblical leadership is directly responsible for this influx of Satanic influences.

Overt Persecution:  2 Timothy 3:12 states, “Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” Also, 1 Peter 4:12-13 says, “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings…”

Worldly influences: Romans 12:2: “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” Also, 1 John 2:15-16 warns, “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him…”

Division and disunity:  1 Corinthians 1:10 admonishes, “I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment.”

Compromise: In Galatians 1:10, Paul states, “For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.” In Colossians 2:8, he emphasizes, “See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.”

As discussed in the previous post, these are all elements of the spiritual battle between God and Satan. Although the outcome is known, as Christ declares in  Matthew 16:18, “…I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it,” the constant attacks will have a continuous influence on the people of God.


The Resurrection of the Church

It is interesting to note that the Rapture, which is the next major event on God’s timeline for the end times, is actually the resurrection of the church. This truth is proclaimed in 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 which says, “For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ [deceased church-age believers] will rise first. Then we who are alive [living church-age believers], who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord.” 

It is comforting to note again the caveat of 2 Peter 3:9, which announces, “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.” Thankfully, the opportunity for one’s redemption is still available (for now).

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