What should the church be called?

More correctly, how should we refer to the church in that it does not have a title or proper name? The Apostle Peter stressed, “If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God;…” (1 Peter 4:11). Thus, we are to use Biblical terminology in referring to the church as well as for anything else discussed in the scripture. The church is of God because it has an essential place in His eternal purpose in the salvation of humanity (Ephesians 3:9-11). It should therefore be referred to as belonging to God; and in such passages as First Corinthians 1:2; 2 Corinthians 1:1; and 1 Timothy 3:15 that is exactly how it is used. Two of those references speak of “the church of God,” while the other scripture speaks of “the church of the living God.” These references depict ownership, not a proper name. The Greek word “ekklesia,” that is usually translated as “church” means, “that which is called out of.” The church consists of those called out of sin into the family of God. To speak of the church of God is to depict the church, which is the redeemed, as belonging to God.

To speak of the saints as being the church of Christ is to recognize our Lord and Savior as its redeemer. Our Lord promised to build His church (Matthew 16:18). Hence it is scriptural to speak of the church as the church of Christ. In the first century more than one congregation were called “the churches of Christ” (Romans 16:16). Jesus Christ is the savior of the church because He shed His blood and gave His life for it (Ephesians 5:23, 25).

When the New Testament has reference to the church as being “the church of God” and also as “the church of Christ,” it is not referring to two different institutions. Since the church is the saved (Acts 2:47), it is made-up of those who are in spiritual fellowship with the Godhead. The Godhead consists of the Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit (Colossians 2:8-9; Acts 17:29; Romans 1:20). We cannot have fellowship with one without being in covenant relations with the other two divine persons of the Godhead (2 John 9).

There are other scriptural terms for the church such as: “the house of God” (1 Tim. 3:15; Ephesians 2:19); “the temple of God” (1 Corinthians 3:16-17); “the body of Christ” (1 Corinthians 12:27); and “the kingdom of God” (Romans 14:17).

Man has the tendency to drift away from the inspired Word of God. In doing so, he is inclined to innovate in religious matters in ways not authorized by God in the scriptures. One such obvious area in doing so is by giving unscriptural designations in naming a church after a religious practice, in the name of some person, or by some other terminology not found in the New Testament (Colossians 3:17; 1 Peter 4:11; Acts 4:12).

--Dub Mowery

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