We believe and teach that in the current era, commencing at Pentecost (Acts 2), Christ is building His Church (Matthew 16:18). All who place their faith in Jesus Christ are immediately placed by the Holy Spirit into this one, united spiritual body (1 Corinthians 12:12-13). The Church, of which Christ is the Head (Ephesians 1:22; Colossians 1:18), is variously depicted as His Body (Romans 12:5; 1 Corinthians 12:13), His Bride (2 Corinthians 11:2), a building, spiritual house, or sanctuary (1 Corinthians 3:9, 16-17; 6:19; 2 Corinthians 6:16; Ephesians 2:20-22; Colossians 2:7; 1 Peter 2:5), branches of which He is the life source (John 15:1-8), the flock of the Shepherd (John 10:11; 1 Peter 2:25), etc. This Church exists both universally (i.e., the total number of genuine disciples throughout church history) and locally (i.e., historically in localized assemblies).
Although salvation is bestowed and appropriated individually, the scriptural focus is always upon the corporate Body within which the individual is to be a complementary, contributing member (Romans 12:3-8; l Corinthians 12:4-27). Christ establishes and oversees this unity and diversity in order that the local church might become the main context for worship and service, and a springboard for evangelism (Ephesians 4:1-16). The primary overarching purpose of the Church, whether viewed from the local perspective or the universal, is to glorify God (Ephesians 1:3-14, 3:21; 1 Peter 4:11).
The Scriptures establish two categories of office within the Church: Elders (also designated overseers or bishops, and pastor-teachers), and Deacons to lead and serve the flock under Christ (Philippians 1:1). Those who serve in these capacities must be qualified biblically (1 Timothy 3:1-13; Titus 1:5-9; 1 Peter 5:1-5). The elders (overseers/pastor-teachers) who have been given a divinely delegated authority are especially accountable for the spiritual welfare of their Master’s flock. He will judge not only them and their guidance of His sheep but also the flock’s expected submission to their spiritual direction (Hebrews 13:7, 17).
Within the context of its assembled fellowship (Acts 20:7; 1 Corinthians 14:19, 23, 28-35; Hebrews 10:24-25) the primary ordinances of believers’ baptism (Matthew 28:16-20; Romans 6:1-14) and the Lord’s Supper (i.e., Communion, breaking of bread) (1 Corinthians 10:14-22; 11:17-34) are to be perpetuated. Christian baptism by immersion (Acts 8:36-39) is the solemn and beautiful testimony of a believer showing forth his faith in the crucified, buried, and risen Savior, and his union with Him in death to sin and resurrection to a new life (Romans 6:1-11). It is also a sign of fellowship and identification with the visible body of Christ (Acts 2:41-42).
The Lord’s Supper calls our attention to the atonement of Christ (1 Corinthians 11:28-32). This worship service is one in which we look back to the finished work of Christ and also forward to the consummation of our redemption (Matthew 26:26-30; 1 Corinthians 10:16; 11:23-30; 2 Peter 2:3-13). We also teach that whereas the elements of communion are only representative of the flesh and blood of Christ, the Lord’s Supper is nevertheless an actual communion with the risen Christ who is present in a unique way, fellowshipping with His people (1 Corinthians 10:16).
Each local church is independent or autonomous in status, although there should be occasions of interdependence among local assemblies of the same mindset and loyalty to the Lord and His Word (Acts 15:19-31; Romans 15:26-27).
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