Matthew 16:13-19, Mark 8:27-30, Luke 9:18-20, Ephesians 1:22, Ephesians 4:15, Colossians 1:18
Summary: Jesus Christ is the Head of the Church, and no one else (Matthew 16:13-19). We have strayed from what the Scriptures teach us about the church’s purpose and responsibilities and allowed the world and our opinions to take precedence over what we are to be and do.
When we hear the word “church,” most of us immediately think of a building or membership in a particular denomination, each with a standard of beliefs and guidelines for worship, order, Scripture, and sermons. The problem is that far too many people also see the church as a symbol of religious oppression, or that the idea of faith and belief have no place in a sophisticated society. Reason, logic, and the deity of science have allegedly made these things relics of a bygone “racist” “colonial” era, or whatever terms are relevant in the minds of a secular public.
Those of us who claim to follow Jesus Christ and the Bible have not helped, as there are too many tales of dissension, dislike, “church splits” over what ends up being trivial, or that one church in town has a bad habit of running off pastors. We then learned of cover-ups by denominational leaders concerning sexual abuse and other crimes that were never addressed and have only recently come to light. It is little wonder that our light and salt have become dim, burnt out altogether, and ending up totally unfit to bear the name of Christ (Matthew 5:13; Mark 9:50; Luke 14:34).
If you have walked with the LORD for any length of time, you’re probably aware of these problems and troubles. Perhaps you might wonder what we are really to be and do as Jesus commands and expects. We need to return to the basics of the church’s origins and purpose defined in the word of God, and nothing else. The first issue to address is where the word “church” originated. It comes from the Greek term “EKKLESIA,” meaning “called out,” originally referring to a gathering of citizens to discuss the affairs of state. In the Greek translation of the Hebrew Scriptures known as the Septuagint (LXX), it referred to “the gathering of the people of Israel, or what came to be known as the synagogue.
After the birth of the church, which was established through the death, burial, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ, it was then empowered by the Holy Spirit to start its primary work of spreading the Gospel, beginning in the very city where Jesus had been put to death (Acts, Chapters 1-4). The “called out ones” (EKKLESIA) came to mean the whole company of “professed believers,” or those who had been redeemed in Christ (Matthew 16:18; Acts 20:28; Ephesians 1:22, 5:23; Galatians 1:13; 1 Thessalonians 1:1; 2 Thessalonians 1:1; 1 Timothy 3:5).
The verb “EK” or “out of” is a small verb of Greek grammar, yet it has a grand meaning and is worthy of our attention. We are “called out” by the Lord Jesus Christ to turn away from a life of sin and to come to Him for true rest and peace (Matthew 11:28-30; John 10:28-30, 14:6). When we come to Him, wretched and stained with sin and confess Him as Lord (Acts 4:12,16:32; Romans 10:9-10, 13), we become a member of His body, “called out” to serve Him and not allow the things of the world to draw us away from His will and direction (1John 2:15-17).
We are also “called out” from the deadness and formality of “religion” that the world tries to use to gain peace or appeasement of their particular deity, performing works that are futile and will not earn anyone true salvation that is offered by the Lord Jesus (Isaiah 53:6, 64:6: John 14:6; Acts 4:12; 16:31; Romans 5:9, 8:37-39; Ephesians 2:8-9). It’s interesting to know that the Greek term “TEREO” when used with the term “EK” means “KEPT OUT OF.” These two words are used in Revelation 3:10, where the Lord Jesus gives the faithful church at Philadelphia a promise of deliverance: “Because you have kept my command to persevere, I also will KEEP YOU” (TEREO EK) from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world to test those who dwell upon the earth” (NKJV).
So, what does this imply for us today? Are we going to be part of that promise as well, or do we continue to endure increasing hostility and trouble?
In his commentary on the book of Revelation and sermons dealing with the last days, the noted pastor and teacher John MacArthur declared this verse to be a “pre-tribulation rapture passage.” He, along with other like-minded pastors, teachers, and fellow believers, is convinced that this verse, in addition to John 14:1-3; 1 Corinthians 15:51-58, and 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, all refer to the prophetic event known as the Rapture of the church. This is the sudden “snatching up” of the true “called out ones” by the Lord Jesus Christ, both living and dead, to meet Him in the air, where we will be with Him for all time.
The Rapture could take place at any moment. Are you ready? Are you a true follower of Jesus Christ and part of the “called out” who have trusted in Him alone for salvation and the promise of eternal life? If not, the first step is to admit that you are a sinner and cannot save yourself. Then, believe with all your heart, soul, and mind that Jesus Christ is Lord and that God has raised Him from the dead. Finally, confess Him as Lord, trusting in Him alone to save you from your sins (Romans 10:9-10, 13).
When you do that, you become part of the “called out” body who will be with Him forever. You will be a citizen of the new heaven and earth He promised in accordance with the Scriptures (Revelation 21:1-17, Chapter 22). We want you to be part of the family, so what are you waiting for? The family reunion is about to get started, and for that I say, “Come quickly, Lord Jesus. Amen.”
My book The Scope of Biblical Prophecy is now available at: www.parsonsporch.com. It is a general look at the role and importance of Bible prophecy, the importance of correct interpretation of the Scriptures, the varied ways of how the last days events are to occur, and that in the end, Jesus wins.
Donald was born and reared in the authentic “Cajun Country” of southern Louisiana. He is a graduate of Louisiana College (B.A. in History Education/ Biblical Studies, 1984), New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary (M.Div. In Christian Education, 1994), and Andersonville Baptist Seminary (Doctor of Ministry, Biblical Exposition, 2000). He has been in the Gospel ministry since 1986, serving as an evangelist, interim and supply pastor, hospital and rescue mission chaplain, high school and college teacher, and pastor in churches in Louisiana and Oklahoma.
In 2018, he began to devote his time to the rich field of internet and social media evangelism and outreach. In 2021 he became a member of the Oklahoma Conference of Southern Baptist Evangelists, using his skills as a writer to contribute articles and sermons to websites such as Rapture Ready, Sermon Central, and Inspirational Christian Blogs. He also writes Bible studies and curricula for churches in southeast and central Asia and Africa, the locations of which are anonymous. He can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org for inquiries, information, and speaking/preaching engagements. A copy of his resume is also available upon request.