“And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.” (Eph. 1:22-23)
If a random group of people were asked “what does the word ‘church’ mean to you?”, a varied amount of answers would be forthcoming. To some, it would mean a particular building, to another a particular congregation, such as Catholic, Lutheran, or Baptist. However, we all need to “search the scripture” for the real meaning and especially in this “church age.”
The original word used in Scripture is ecclesia and simply means “a gathering of called out ones.” One of the main distinctions that must be made is between the nation Israel as a “called out group,” and the church of this age called the Body of Christ. When this distinction is made much of the confusion that is prevalent among and in religious groups will disappear.
A wonderful thing to know and believe is that all people who have been saved by God’s grace (Eph. 2:8-9) have been baptized by the Holy Spirit into the church, which is the body of Christ. The body of Christ is not an earthly denomination even though some speak of being members of “the church of Christ,” “the universal (Catholic) church,” “the church of God,” and other names. The true body of Christ is an heavenly organism, not an earthly organization. Some in early times met in houses, others in buildings, but really the real “church” was not the house or building but the believers!
The scripture teaches that the Lord Jesus Christ is the head of the church,
“And he is the head of the body, the church; who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead that in all things he might have the preeminence. For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell;” (Col. 1:18-19)
The head of the church does not sit or live in some ancient city on earth, but He lives in glory! He (Christ) is “far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come.” (Eph. 1:21).
It is a wonderful and assuring truth to know that we are “members” of His church, our names are in heaven’s book, we don’t need men’s “letters” and that we cannot be “excommunicated” or put out of the church! It is also blessed to know that all believers are one in Christ. We are brothers in Christ. This should make all love one another as our Saviour desires.
Yes, the meaning of “church” does make a difference. It makes us to see that we are “complete” in Christ (Col. 2:10) and that our position is in glory. Our salvation is eternal, and our life here on earth can be both satisfying, enjoyable, and useful.