The church is not a human institution; it is not of human origin or preservation. God has instituted, gathered, ruled, and maintained the church - it is His church. All regenerated sinners are united with Jesus Christ as their Head, but in Him, they are also united with each other; they form a body of believers - the church.
The Greek word for "church" in the New Testament is "ekklesia," which means to "callout" or "call to." God's church, His people, are "called out" from the world and are "called to" worship and serve the Lord. God calls them by His Word and Spirit. The two Hebrew words for "church" in the Old Testament convey similar thoughts. "Kahal" means "to call" and "edhah" denotes "to appoint." The church is "called from" serving Satan and "appointed to" serving God.
The word "church" (ekklesia) is used in various ways in the New Testament. In each case, however, this word means' 'believers in Christ," not "church buildings." The chart on the following page provides examples of the four New Testament uses of this term.
Church - A distinct body of believers sharing a common faith in God and His Word
Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the affliction of Christ in my flesh for His body's sake, which is the Church.
- Colossians 1:24
And hath put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be the head over all things to the Church,
Which is His body, the fulness of Him that filleth all in all.
- Ephesians 1:22-23
Take heed therefore unto youselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the Church of God, which He hath purchased with His own blood.
- Acts 20:28
Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the Church, and gave Himself for it.