Is The Church What It Is, Or What It Does?


Before answering “both,” prove it!  Search the scriptures and provide justification for your answer.  What texts would suggest that the church is what, or who it consists of?  What texts would suggest that the church is what it does?  What are the results of confusing the purpose of the church with the church itself?  

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    1. I cannot answer this question the way you asked for it to be answered. Church is not biblical, it is a red herring to deceive this world. Up until this moment in time, it has done a superior job of doing just that. Until you are ready to face this simple truth and its implications, what else is there to talk about?

    2. 1 Cor 1:2 seems to be one of the best definitions for the church. In fact, reading the first few verses of all the Epistles (the greeting of the letters) provides a clue as to what the Apostle Paul thought the church was–that being the saints–those sanctified in Christ. Throughout the greetings to the Epistles, he seems to use saints and church interchangeably, though not as noticeably so as 1Cor 1:2.

      The seven letters to the seven churches in Rev 1:11 also seems to be written to seven different assemblages of the saints.

      1 Thess 1:1
      Colossians 1:2
      Eph 1:1
      Philippians 1:1
      Gal 1:2

    3. I did a search for “church” and found 76 verses (in the NET) with “church”, but as I scanned through them I caught no hint that the church was related to what it did…rather all references seemed to be talking about “church” as being a gathering together…presumably of believers. Several places implied that the church was not a place but had to be gathered together…and I don’t think the picture was of rebuilding a building after a hurricane! Yes there were at least 3 references to meeting in a house, but the overall implication was that “church” existed in the people rather than the place. Whatever the church did or did not do, it was already the church.

    4. I wonder if that distinction exists. I propose the answer is “both, and more.”

      In Matthew 16:18, I believe the rock Jesus referred to was the acknowledgement of Jesus Christ as Lord and God made by Peter (and all who would follow him). That is both who we are and what we do.

      In Matthew 18:20, two or more gathered in His name represents both identity and action (in His name to me implies “exhibiting His character, not just using His name as a label.”

      In 1 Corinthians 11:17-22 there’s even evidence that we can gather to do church and yet not be His church if our attitudes as expressed toward one another are not right.

      Ephesians 4:11-13 helps us understand that we are growing in our ability to understand and obey.

      Hebrews 10:19-24 provides a summary of why we can gather and what our purpose should be.

      So then, a possible definition of church could be believers gathered to help one other become better at doing what God commands in the way He commanded us to do them.

    5. Tom Schultz,
      I agree 100%. I have a distant for the word “church” because it is clearly a word derived, in order to deceive, by the institutional system (Roman or Anglican) at the time. So yes, the question is not what it does, or where is gathers, but the essence of who He is, in whom are His.

    6. Thank you brother for a wonderfully thought provoking question! Paul said that the body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. We know from the old testament, that the temple was a type and shadow this body, the body of Christ, and that the Life of that body, the very source of it, is the Spirit of Christ, Christ in you the Hope of glory (Col. 1:26) From this description we get the best definition of the church of our Lord, which is Christ living, indwelling, increasing, within the saints who meet in local assemblies of His universal church. So, in this manner, the church is Christ, and what the church does is Christ. SInce the church is a living entity, the living body of Christ, it “is” and “does.” Though there might be quite a bit of difference of opinion on what the church is doing, or should be doing, nonetheless, the church is doing something because people are living beings who do hundreds of things everyday, if not more. The real question is if those actions are coming from the identity of being who you already are in Christ. Since we can act and do so much from not knowing who we are in Christ, this makes what we do vitally important to what, or who we are. There has been a strong push in the church for a very long time that most are not doing enough, and they need to do this or that, everyone having a mission statement, and this and that, which is based on what we do, but with little emphasis on who we are. It puts all the emphasis on what we do, rather than seeing life as it is, actions, what we do, that stem, from the knowledge of who we are. People in their adult years are finding they have spent a whole lifetime doing lots of things that they would not have done, if they would have known who they really are. Living from the indwelling Life of Christ and sharing His Life together is when we grow in knowing who we are in Him, and Him in us, which flows into how we act towards one another. The body of Christ has only One Head Jesus Christ, and when the members discover identity through taking on the mind of Christ together, the body functions in the way of God’s order, and purpose, nourishing itself, increasing, adding to itself. More important than what the church does, is what is the source of being that leads to the doing. Regulating activity to attempting to meet the needs around us does not always mean that that activity is coming from the true source, Christ in you the hope of Glory. Christ never intended his follower to try to save the world apart from knowing Him, and themselves in Him, abiding in Him, which leads to good works, actions of love, and laying your life down for one another, ect… Those who are always looking at the lack of what the church is doing as the greatest motivation for change, saying always that it is not doing enough, I think, they need to look at the source and find the solution there — because our doing, or lack of doing always comes from what we know, or do not know about ourselves. Knowing in greater depths who we are as God’s dear child, helps us to behave as we already are, holy, and blameless before Him, beloved, and forgiven, able to do good works.

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