In the Greek, the word for “church” is ecclesia, which means to be called out of the world and into a gathering of God’s people, to come together around the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. Paul addresses the Church as “those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all who in every place call on the name of Jesus Christ our Lord” (1 Corinthians 1:2).
Paul tells the Church that the local assembly, the local church, is a temple of God, being built unto the glory and honor of the Savior. “Don’t you realize that all of you together are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God lives in you?” (1 Corinthians 3:16, NLT). He told them in 1 Corinthians 6:19 that they are God’s building: “Your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God.” Now he is telling those who belong to a local church that the Holy Spirit is constructing a temple of God with the people of the Church.
God created the Church to be a place of relationships, reinforcement, reconciliation, redemption, rejoicing, and recruitment (John 20:19). When people come to church, we surround them with Jesus’ works and words. At church we establish relationships and give reinforcement. As a church family, we demonstrate that we care by helping others. When Jesus showed His scarred hands, He said, “I also send you”—to do recruitment (John 20:21-23; Mark 16:15; Matthew 28:16-20; Luke 24:44-49; Acts 1:3-8.)
We come to church to be trained, discipled, and serve, to reach out with the Gospel so that others get saved. Church is a place where you can find peace, where reconciliation replaces brokenness. Christ offers redemption. Jesus said, “Peace be with you.” In church, we leave our problems and celebrate our living Savior, rejoicing that He is with us here and hereafter.
The baptism of the Holy Spirit unites in the Church all those who have put their trust in Jesus Christ. Before Pentecost, before Acts 2, it was impossible for Jewish and Gentile and Samaritan believers to get along together. They didn’t have any unity. They had no basis for unity. But the Bible tells us that now, through the gift of God’s Holy Spirit, Jew and Gentile, bond and free, male and female, are all united in one organism called the body of Christ.
We were all baptized into the body of Christ. This is an amazing truth. Out of every tongue and tribe, out of every nation, and out of every country, God has brought together people who have put their trust in Him. And He has made them all part of His one body, the body of Christ, which is going to be forever in heaven, glorifying God.
I have traveled and preached in many places. It’s such an exciting experience to go to a place I’ve never been before and meet people I’ve never seen—and may never see again until heaven. I usually have no clue what church they come from or what their background might be, but we come together around the Word of God and our love for Christ, and we are immediately just like a family—the family of God. Who can explain that instantaneous bond we feel for one another?
You won’t find the same dynamic among any other group. Two Republicans or two Democrats meeting in a café in some European country won’t experience it. Neither will any grouping of unionists, libertarians, carpenters, plumbers, podiatrists, Shriners, environmentalists, agnostics, or atheists. There isn’t anything like that fellowship in all the world. That is the body of Christ in truth—the family of God—and the baptism of the Holy Spirit is what makes it happen.