The word "church" is derived from the Greek Word "kuriakos" which means "belonging to the Lord." It is found in 1 Corinthians 11:20 and Revelation 1:10.
When ye come together therefore into one place, this is not to eat the Lord's supper. (1 Corinthians 11:20, KJV)
I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet, (Revelation 1:10, KJV)
Both uses of "Lord's" above is the word "kuriakos." The Scottish word "Kirk" is derived from this word and so is the English word "church." This is why the King James translators used the word "church" because it conveys the meaning of "belonging to the Lord." Now this means only those who are truly saved are the church and not anyone who just joins a visible assembly. One must be born again to belong to the eternal church of God.
The general Greek word behind "church, assembly, and congregation" in the New Testament is the word "ekklesia" which means a "called out assembly." The church is the living organism which Christ came to redeem, and which has the mandate for sending forth the gospel. We will take a biblical look at what the church is and you may be surprised because differences exist between what we conceive the church to be and what the Bible says it is. The church is thought of in two different manners:
1. The Invisible Church - This constitutes all the believers which are spread throughout the world and that are not gathered into a local assembly or a single place.
2. The Visible Church - This is the local assembly which we see on Sunday morning. It is called the visible church because we can physically see the people gathered.
Symbol of the Church in the Old Testament
In Acts 7:38, while Stephen was giving his discourse about the history of Israel, he included the statement, "The church in the wilderness." Stephen was telling us that the Israelites were a called out assembly and this may easily be borne out by a study of Exodus. They were called out of Egypt. This represents the Christians being called out of the kingdom of Satan and placed into the kingdom of God, which is the church. Egypt, in the Bible, is a symbol of the world system. Moses was a symbol or type of Christ. As Moses led the Israelites out of bondage, Christ leads us out of the bondage of sin and Satan. So from this we conclude that the nation of Israel typified the church in the New Testament. The land of Canaan, which was known as the Promised Land, was a symbol of the kingdom of God.
Some of the Biblical Names for the Church
1. The Body of Christ - Ephesians 1:22-23
2. The Pearl of Great Price - Matthew 13:45-46
3. The Flock of God - Isaiah 40:11; 1 Peter 5:2
4. The House of God - 1 Timothy 3:15
5. The Household of God - Ephesians 2:19 (family)
6. The Bride of Christ - Revelation 19:7
7. A Great Multitude - Revelation 7:9
8. Israel of God - Galatians 6:16
9. Assembly of the Saints - Psalm 89:7
10. Assembly of the Upright - Psalm 111:1
11. The Heavenly Family - Ephesians 3:15
12. God's Building; God's Husbandry - 1 Corinthians 3:9
13. The Holy City - Hebrews 12:12
14. Pillar and Ground of the Truth - 1 Timothy 4:15
Concerns about the Local Church
1. Not everyone who belongs to a church is saved - Matthew 13:24-30, 36-40 - In modern times the church has let down its spiritual guard and allows anyone to be a member, whether they are Christians or not. Those in the church who are unsaved are represented by the tares. Those who are saved are represented by the wheat. Christ allows both to exist in the same congregation but on the last day, as He states in vs 30 and 39-40, He will separate them. The wheat (Christians) will go into the barn (heaven) and the tares (unbelievers) will be cast into hell.
2. Many times Christ's goal and the church's goal are not the same. In some churches there is a goal set just to feed the hungry and focus on social problems. This should not be the focus of the church, however, it may be part of their ministry but it should not be the main emphasis. The sending forth of the gospel is to be the main emphasis of the church as stated in Matthew 28:19-20.
3. By joining a good Bible believing church, (there are churches who do not believe the Bible so beware) you will be able to grow rapidly and properly in your Christian walk. So look for a good church when you begin your search. If you can find a good home Bible Study in someone's home, try to attend as this will help you in your growth. If you are unable to find a good church in your area but there are good house churches, then by all means attend. The early church met in homes. If you attend a home church, make sure you get their doctrinal statement as some have started house churches and they have turned into cults as the leaders have no spiritual discernment.
4. God designed the local church for the born again Christian only and not for the unbeliever. They may attend but are not to have any positions of leadership. The weekly meetings are for believers to be strengthened and ministered to so they can go out into the world
and fulfill the Great Commission.