Category: Christ’s Church


According to the Bible, every Christian has been given at least one spiritual gift to use in service to the body of Christ. “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen” (1 Peter 4:10–11; compare Ephesians 4:11–16). So, ideally, the first step in determining how to serve in the church is for every believer to discover what his/her spiritual gifts are. Usually, the gifts are related to areas in our lives which unmask our greatest strengths—administration, teaching, hospitality, etc. (see Romans 12:6–8; 1 Corinthians 12:4–11, 28).

There is a difference between the Body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:12–13) and the local church Christians attend for corporate worship (Hebrews 10:25). But there is no difference in how Christians ought to use their spiritual gifts, because serving God is a twenty-four-hour proposition, not a Sunday-only enterprise. For example, if one has the gift of exhortation (encouraging people to be all God desires), the blessing of the gift should not be limited to the local body of believers. All Christians everywhere should be serving God in their local churches and looking for opportunities to serve outside the walls of a church building (2 Corinthians 9:12–13). It may be difficult to discover which spiritual gift(s) God has bestowed, but it’s better to serve anywhere there is a need than nowhere at all (Romans 12:11). Often, the discovery of gifts becomes more clear in the doing—as we serve in various jobs, we learn what we are good at and what we have a heart for (1 Chronicles 28:9).

Every local congregation has more needs than willing workers; this was true in Christ’s day and is still true today (Matthew 9:37). It’s never a problem to find a need in the local church. From evangelizing the community (which all Christians are called to do, Mark 16:15) to cleaning the bathrooms, there is always plenty of work to be done. It is good to inquire of the church leadership. Have a conversation with the pastor and elders about what jobs are open and how they may or may not be suited for you.

Here are a few examples of positions of service in local congregations:
• Sunday School and Bible study teachers (once vetted)
• Children and youth leaders
• Administrators
• Janitors and maintenance workers to upkeep the building and grounds
• Transportation workers for those unable to drive or for children
• Outreach workers
• Choir members and/or gifted vocalists
• Musicians
• Music directors, song leaders, etc.

Every member of every church should be serving in some way, and every member of every church should also not forget the most important way to serve one another, which is by love (Galatians 5:14). Serving one another by love may mean offering to babysit while a young couple has a night out, preparing a meal for a family struck by illness, visiting an elderly widow who can’t get out of the house, or just taking time to pick up a phone and say, “I was thinking about you today.” Christians may busy themselves in tasks of service like the ones listed above, but endless performing, if there is no love involved, is meaningless (1 Corinthians 13:1–3). As we go about serving God and others, let us do so with a spirit of humbleness and brotherly love (Philippians 2:1–4).

Any service that reflects Jesus’ love is “Christian service.” From giving a cup of water (Mark 9:41) to dying for someone (John 15:13), there are as many types of Christian service as there are needs in the world. Very few involve activity within the four walls of the church.

The Bible gives some specific examples of Christian service: show hospitality to strangers (Hebrews 13:2), remember those in prison (Matthew 25:36), provide for the needy (Matthew 25:35), and mentor others (Titus 2:2-8). Some examples speak to our day-to-day living: care for children (Matthew 18:5), tend families (Titus 2:5), treat employees fairly (Colossians 4:1), deal honestly with customers (Leviticus 19:36), and be diligent with employers’ resources (Matthew 25:14-30). As long as the act is done “in Jesus’ name”—that is, it is motivated by the love of Jesus—it is Christian service.

There are thousands of organizations outside the church committed to serving others. Homeless shelters, housing builders, and food banks always need volunteers and donations. Internationally, organizations like Compassion International provide food, clothing, and education for children in sometimes dangerous situations. Other ministries provide water, micro-loans, or resources such as farm animals to enable the child’s family to generate their own income.

The world outside the walls of the church offers many opportunities for those specifically educated in theology. Chaplains serve hospitals, military bases, and shipping ports. Foreign missionaries travel overseas to plant churches and train indigenous pastors. Parachurch ministries provide biblical guidance for families and others in need. And internet ministries like Got Questions are always in need of those who can explain the truth of God in a loving, easy-to-understand way.

The world is in desperate need of Christians willing to show the love of Christ through their actions. Jesus said the second greatest commandment was to love others—not sentimentally, but tangibly. Every action performed out of kindness, powered by the understanding of Christ and His love, is Christian service.

Christian missions is following Christ’s call: sharing the Gospel with the lost world through God’s wisdom and strength.

Christian missions is obeying Christ
After Christ’s death and resurrection, He commanded the disciples to share the Gospel, the message of His redemption. “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20).

This Great Commission applies to Christians today. Rather than a burden, obeying His call brings joy and reward in heaven. We should fulfill our mission not out of duty but love: “For the love of Christ controls us, having concluded this, that one died for all, therefore all died; and He died for all, that they who live should no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf. . . . Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ, and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation” (2 Corinthians 5:14-21).

God could convert everyone using a blinding light and the voice of Christ as He did with the apostle Paul. Instead, He gives Christians the mission of reconciliation (Acts 1:8-9). He works through us, calling sinners to turn to Christ in repentance and faith.

Christian missions is sharing Christ
Our mission is proclaiming Christ as the only way to abundant, eternal life. Whom do we tell? Jesus made it clear that Christians are to reach out to “all the nations” (Matthew 28:19). Instead of countries, he was referring to people groups, those ethnic cultures without a Gospel witness.

Christian missions, however, is not limited to overseas ministry. While believers should faithfully support those who go to the unreached, all Christians have the mission to share Christ on the home field with family, friends, coworkers, and the community.

The Christian mission of sharing Christ does not end with a sinner’s salvation. The commission was to make disciples – not immature believers. Thus, Christian missions involves not only evangelism but also discipleship.

Christian missions is relying on Christ
Sharing the Gospel humbly, boldly, and passionately is our Christian mission. But we cannot do it alone. While our mission is sharing Christ, the power and results come from the Lord. He gives us the wisdom, strength, and desire to witness! Through our witness, He works repentance and faith in the sinner’s heart (2 Corinthians 5:20-21).

Although it is God’s work, Christians are responsible to understand the Gospel and have a strong relationship with Christ. Such a relationship guards them from hypocrisy. “But sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence; and keep a good conscience so that in the thing in which you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. (1 Peter 3:15-16). Jesus assured that suffering would accompany missions, but God uses it for good.

In sum, Christian missions is obeying Christ, sharing Christ, and relying on Christ. Specifically, God sends missionaries through the support of the church to the unreached. All Christians, however, have the mission of reconciliation. The Lord works through them to rescue the lost. What greater mission can one answer?

In the New Testament, the word usually translated “serve” is the Greek word diakoneo, which literally means “through the dirt.” It refers to an attendant, a waiter, or one who ministers to another. From this word we get the English word “deacon.” We first see the word “deacon” used this way in the book of Acts. “And the twelve summoned the full number of the disciples and said, “It is not right that we should give up preaching the word of God to serve tables” (Acts 6:2). The men who were giving themselves to feeding the flock by preaching and teaching realized that it wasn’t right for them to leave those activities to wait tables, so they found some other men who were willing to serve, and put them in place to minister to the church’s physical needs while the elders or pastors ministered to their spiritual needs. It was a better use of the resources they were given, and a better use of everyone’s gifts. It also got more people involved in serving and helping one another.

Today, for the biblical church, these roles are essentially the same. Elders and pastors are to “preach the word…reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching” (2 Timothy 4:2), and deacons are to be appointed to take care of everything else. In a modern church, this might include taking on administrative or organizational tasks, ushering, being responsible for building maintenance, or volunteering to be the church treasurer. It depends on the need and the gifts of the available men.

The responsibilities of a deacon are not clearly listed or outlined; they are assumed to be everything that does not include the duties of an elder or pastor, which is to preach, teach, and exhort. But qualifications for a deacon’s character are clearly outlined in Scripture. They are to be blameless, the husband of one wife, a good household manager, respectable, honest, not addicted to alcohol and not greedy (1 Timothy 3:8-12). According to the Word, the office of deacon is an honor and a blessing. “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” (1 Timothy 3:13).

The church began on the Day of Pentecost, fifty days after the Passover when Jesus died and rose again. The word translated “church” comes from two Greek words that together mean “called out from the world for God.” The word is used throughout the Bible to mean all believers who have been born again (John 3:3) through faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus (Romans 10:9–10). The word church is synonymous with the term body of Christ (Ephesians 1:22–23; Colossians 1:18) used throughout the New Testament to include everyone who has been adopted into the family of God (John 1:12; Romans 8:15).

The word church first appears in Matthew 16 when Jesus tells Peter, “On this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.” (verse 18). The “rock” here is the statement Peter had made, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (verse 16). That truth about Jesus is the bedrock of the church that has flourished for over two thousand years. Everyone who makes that truth the foundation of his or her own life becomes a member of Jesus’ church (Acts 16:31).

Although the knowledge was present when Peter declared his faith in Christ, the power to put that knowledge into action had not yet come. Jesus’ words, “I will build my church,” were a foretelling of what was about to happen when He sent the Holy Spirit to indwell believers (John 15:26–27; 16:13). Jesus still had to undergo the cross and experience the resurrection. Although the disciples understood in part, the fulfillment of all Jesus had come to do had not yet been completed. After His resurrection Jesus would not allow His followers to begin the work He had given them, to make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:19–20), until the Holy Spirit had come (Acts 1:4–5).

The book of Acts details the beginning of the church and its miraculous spread through the power of the Holy Spirit. Ten days after Jesus ascended back into heaven (Acts 1:9), the Holy Spirit was poured out upon 120 of Jesus’ followers who waited and prayed (Acts 1:15; 2:1–4). The same disciples who had quaked in fear of being identified with Jesus (Mark 14:30, 50) were suddenly empowered to boldly proclaim the gospel of the risen Messiah, validating their message with miraculous signs and wonders (Acts 2:4, 38–41; 3:6–7; 8:7). Thousands of Jews from all parts of the world were in Jerusalem for the Feast of Pentecost. They heard the gospel in their own languages (Acts 2:5–8) and believed (Acts 2:41; 4:4). They were saved and baptized, adding daily to the church. When persecution broke out, the believers scattered, taking the gospel message with them, and the church spread like wildfire to all parts of the known earth (Acts 8:4; 11:19–21).

The start of the church involved Jews in Jerusalem, but the church soon spread to other people groups. The Samaritans were evangelized by Philip in Acts 8. In Acts 10, God gave Peter a vision that helped him understand that the message of salvation was not limited to the Jews but open to anyone who believed (Acts 10:34–35, 45). The salvation of the Ethiopian eunuch (Acts 8:26–39) and the Italian centurion Cornelius (Acts 10) convinced the Jewish believers that God’s church was broader than they had imagined. The miraculous calling of Paul on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:1–19) set the stage for an even greater spread of the gospel to the Gentiles (Romans 15:16; 1 Timothy 2:7).

Jesus’ prophetic words to Peter before the crucifixion have proved true. Though persecution and “the gates of Hades” have railed against it, the church only grows stronger. Revelation 7:9 gives us a glimpse of the church as God designed it to be: “After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb.” The church that Jesus began will continue until the day He comes for us (John 14:3; 1 Thessalonians 4:16–17) and we are united with Him forever as His bride (Ephesians 5:27; 2 Corinthians 11:2; Revelation 19:7).

Bible churches are those which profess to adhere to the Bible as their standard of faith and practice. However, they are of no particular Christian denomination (non-denominational), so there is no formal prescribed belief system to govern them. Any church in any denomination, as well as any non-denominational church, can use the words “Bible Church” in their name, and therefore, each one would need to be examined for their particular beliefs and practices. Some Bible churches originate from denominational pastors or groups who find themselves differing from the traditions within their denomination, and therefore, Bible churches may closely resemble the denomination they came from (with slight differences in emphasis and tradition).

There seems to be a common theme among many of the non-denominational Bible churches which stems from the fact that they emphasize Bible teaching. Bible churches usually believe that God is One and that He has a triune nature of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. They believe and preach the God-ordained Lordship of Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world. Bible churches usually believe the core Christian foundation doctrines of salvation by faith in Christ alone, redemption through the death, burial, resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ, the renewing of the mind by the Word of God, and the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit. Bible churches tend to emphasize Christian service, discipleship, and fellowship as necessary for a believer’s spiritual maturity. They believe in the coming return of Jesus Christ, the Day of Judgment, the thousand-year reign of Christ, eternal life for those who believe, and eternal hell for those who do not. Bible churches usually practice the common Christian ordinances of baptism in water and communion, the singing of songs and hymns, and teaching and preaching from the Bible with the purpose of life application. They are usually interested in the great commission of the Lord Jesus Christ—the spreading of the gospel for the salvation of people’s souls with a heavy emphasis on making disciples. Thus, Bible churches are considered Evangelical.

Bible churches do not usually believe, or at least do not teach nor emphasize from the New Testament, the baptism in the Holy Spirit as modern Pentecostals describe it, with the patterned evidence of speaking in tongues as it happened in the book of Acts. Bible churches are not considered full gospel, Pentecostal, or charismatic; they do not believe in the gifts of the Spirit as being those of supernatural power for signs, wonders, and miracles through believers today. They do not usually emphasize divine healing and miracles or the laying on of hands for healing, believing that the biblical pattern of miracles and healings ceased, either at the completion of the biblical canon or with the death of the apostles.

Again, because each Bible church is unique, each one would need to be viewed distinctly. For anyone who is searching for a home church, here are four good principles for choosing the right one: 1) Choose a church where the Bible is taught rightly and thoroughly (2 Timothy 3:16, 17). 2) Choose a church where the people strive to love and serve one another. 3) Choose a church where the pastor is genuine and seems to love his people. 4) Seek God’s wisdom (James 1:5) and will in prayer for a church home, and choose the church of God’s leading.

There are four places in the New Testament that refer to the “holy kiss”—Romans 16:16; 1 Corinthians 16:20; 2 Corinthians 13:12; and 1 Thessalonians 5:26. In each instance, the Greek words denote a kiss which is sacred—physically pure and morally blameless. It was a common custom in most nations for people to kiss each other at meeting or parting to display their love, sincere affection, and friendship for each other. The kiss is called “holy” to distinguish it from a sexual one and from a hypocritical and deceitful one, such as Joab gave to Amasa (2 Samuel 20:9) or such as Judas gave to Jesus when he cried, “Hail Rabbi,” and betrayed Him into the hands of His enemies (Matthew 26:49).

In New Testament times, the holy kiss was a sign of greeting, much like the modern handshake. For Christians, it further expressed brotherly love and unity. The holy kiss was especially precious to the new believers during the early church years, because they were often outcasts from their own families because of their new faith. These new believers gloried in the new spiritual kinship they had found among other Christians. Furthermore, the holy kiss from a Jewish Christian to a Gentile believer was evidence that the Gentiles were accepted fully into Christian fellowship, despite the teachings of the Judaizers, those who would return to the Mosaic law as their source of justification. So prominent were these false teachers in the early church that they even temporarily drew such a prominent Christian as Peter into their web of deceit (Galatians 2:11-13). The holy kiss between the Jewish and Gentile believers was done righteously in recognition that all believers are brothers and sisters in the family of God.

Whether or not the holy kiss should be a tradition we carry on today is not clear in Scripture. Whether or not our salutations to our brothers and sisters in Christ include the holy kiss, the important thing is that our greetings spring from real love and friendship, be characterized by sincerity, and represent true Christian fellowship.

Acts 2:1-41

Mission work isn’t limited to foreign lands. Every church is surrounded by a community—a population of souls who need the Savior. As followers of Jesus, we are called to make disciples (Matthew 28:19-20). So we cannot justify sitting comfortably in a pew while our neighbors struggle without God. The local church is to be a lighthouse for the Lord, and four principles can help its efforts.
First, the church needs a shared vision for carrying out the Great Commission in the community. To be effective disciple-makers, the congregation must be willing to work together. If only the pastor or a small group of church members are interested in this mission, it cannot succeed. Second, proper motivation is necessary. In God’s eyes, right reasons for sharing the gospel include love for Him, love for people, and a desire to be obedient. Third, the appropriate methods must be employed. Every community and situation is different, so no one method works everywhere. The approach used must be based on scriptural principles and directed by the Holy Spirit. Fourth, the church must draw upon the best energy—only through God’s Spirit can members be equipped for effective long-term witnessing to neighbors.
Do you want to be part of a church that spreads the gospel in your community? Then start praying for the congregation and pastor to develop a shared vision and burden for the neighborhood. And commit yourself to getting involved in Scripture-based outreach. Be the spark that lights a fire in fellow Christians’ hearts.

There is one main passage that deals with the priesthood of all believers. It is as follows: “You also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ … But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:5-9).

Old Testament priests were chosen by God, not self-appointed; and they were chosen for a purpose: to serve God with their lives by offering up sacrifices. The priesthood served as a picture or “type” of the coming ministry of Jesus Christ–a picture that was then no longer needed once His sacrifice on the cross was completed. When the thick temple veil that covered the doorway to the Holy of Holies was torn in two by God at the time of Christ’s death (Matthew 27:51), God was indicating that the Old Testament priesthood was no longer necessary. Now people could come directly to God through the great High Priest, Jesus Christ (Hebrews 4:14-16). There are now no earthly mediators between God and man as existed in the Old Testament priesthood (1 Timothy 2:5).

Christ our High Priest has made one sacrifice for sin for all time (Hebrews 10:12), and there is no more sacrifice for sin that can be made (Hebrews 10:26). But as priests once offered other kinds of sacrifices in the temple, so it is clear from 1 Peter 2:5,9 that God has chosen Christians “to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” 1 Peter 2:5-9 speaks of two aspects of the priesthood of the believer. The first is that believers are privileged. To be chosen by God to be a priest was a privilege. All believers have been chosen by God: a “chosen generation…His own special people” (verse 9). In the Old Testament tabernacle and temple, there were places where only the priests could go. Into the Holy of Holies, behind a thick veil, only the High Priest could go, and that only once a year on the Day of Atonement when he made a sin offering on behalf of all of the people. But as mentioned above, because of Jesus’ death upon the cross of Calvary, all believers now have direct access to the throne of God through Jesus Christ our great High Priest (Hebrews 4:14-16). What a privilege to be able to access the very throne of God directly, not through any earthly priest. When Christ returns and the New Jerusalem comes to earth (Revelation 21), believers will see God face-to-face and will serve Him there (Revelation 22:3-4) Again, what a privilege especially for us who were once “not a people” … “without hope” … destined for destruction because of our sin.

The second aspect of the believer’s priesthood is that we are chosen for a purpose: to offer up spiritual sacrifices (see Hebrews 13:15-16 for example), and to proclaim the praises of Him who called us out of darkness into His marvelous light. Thus, by both life (1 Peter 2:5; Titus 2:11-14; Ephesians 2:10) and by word (1 Peter 2:9; 3:15), our purpose is to serve God. As the believer’s body is the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19-20), so God has called us to serve Him from our hearts by first of all offering our lives as living sacrifices (Romans 12:1-2). One day we will be serving God in eternity (Revelation 22:3-4), but not in any temple, for “the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple” (Revelation 21:22). As the Old Testament priesthood was to be free of defilement, as symbolized by being ceremonially clean, so has Christ made us holy positionally before the Father. He calls on us to live holy lives that we might also be a “holy priesthood” (1 Peter 2:5).

In summary, believers are called “kings and priests” and a “royal priesthood” as a reflection of their privileged status as heirs to the kingdom of the Almighty God and of the Lamb. Because of this privileged closeness with God, no other earthly mediator is necessary. Second, believers are called priests because salvation is not merely “fire insurance,” escape from hell. Rather, believers are called by God to serve Him by offering up spiritual sacrifices, i.e., being a people zealous for good works. As priests of the living God, we are all to give praise to the One who has given us the great gift of His Son’s sacrifice on our behalf, and in response, to share this wonderful grace with others.

Let’s get it right: “There’s but One Church.”

The church is a creation of God (Acts 20:28; 1 Corinthians 3:9, 17; 15:9), founded and owned by Jesus Christ—“I will build My church” (Matthew 16:18)—and directed and energized by the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 10:17; 12:5–27; Romans 12:4–5). Therefore, it is the church’s joy to look to God to explain His design for the church and His mission for it. God’s mission for the church proves to have several parts. First we’ll list them, then summarize them:

1. The mission of the church is to make disciples. Just before Jesus returned to heaven, He commissioned His disciples this way: “Going into all the world, make disciples of all nations by baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to observe everything that I have commanded you” (literal translation of Matthew 28:19–20a). A disciple is a follower, someone who attaches himself to his leader. Therefore, we reason, Jesus sent the church on its mission to acquaint people in every place with Himself. As the church makes disciples, people can admire, worship, trust, follow, and obey Jesus as their Savior and Lord. The church’s members, having become enamored of Jesus Christ, assemble around Him as Master, Leader, Savior, and Friend. Our joyful mission is to put Him on display to every nation. (see: Great CommissionDiscipleship)

2. The mission of the church is to glorify Christ. Paul wrote, “In Christ we were also chosen … in order that we … might be for the praise of His glory” (Ephesians 1:11–12). Part of God’s purpose for the church is to exalt Jesus Christ by the way that the church lives and by what it does. Christ designed His church to represent His supernatural, life-saving work to the world. In His church, Christ shows to the world what a freed and forgiven people can be—people who are satisfied with God as the result of Christ’s joyful, triumphant self-sacrifice. He has planned the church’s values to be His values. He expects its lifestyle to reflect His character (2 Corinthians 6:14—7:1; Ephesians 5:23–32; Colossians 1:13, 18; 1 Timothy 3:15). As the moon reflects the sun, so the church is to reflect the glory of God to a dark world.

3. The mission of the church is to build up the saints. The church is to encourage and comfort its individual members (1 Thessalonians 5:11; 2 Corinthians 13:11). “There should be no division in the body, but . . . its parts should have equal concern for each other” (2 Corinthians 12:25). Jesus is the chief cornerstone, and the church is likened to a building “joined together and [rising] to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in Him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by His Spirit” (Ephesians 2:19–22; see also 4:4–25). Jesus Christ designed His Church to showcase God’s family on earth, so that the pagan world can see how God builds His family around Jesus Christ and how that family cares for one another (see Mark 3:35 and John 13:35).

The mission of the church is to know and love Christ so supremely as to represent Him and His values accurately and vividly to the world and serve people’s deepest needs in the way Christ Himself would meet them. As W. C. Robinson says in Baker’s Dictionary of Theology, “Our Lord Jesus Christ is the sun about which the whole mission of the church revolves. Public worship is the encounter of the risen Redeemer with His people; evangelism is calling men to the Savior; publishing the law of God is proclaiming His lordship; Christian nurture is feeding His lambs and disciplining His flock; ministering to the needs of men is continuing the work of the Great Physician.” The church’s mission is to present Jesus Christ to the world, while He presents to the same world His rescuing work in and through His church.