Characteristics of a Biblical Church

Jesus Christ is the One who established the church, having pur­chased it with "His own blood" (Acts 20:28). He is the "rock" upon which the church is built, and He calls it "My church" (Matt. 16:18). Because the church belongs to Jesus Christ and He is its head, it is very important that every local church be patterned after the teaching of God's Word.

Tragically, in these days, many churches organize themselves in a manner that appeals to the carnal world surrounding them. The emphasis is often placed upon "seeker sensitive" worship, patterned after the fleshly desires of men rather than the teaching of the Scripture. This worldly church that Jesus said would characterize the last days is described by our Lord in Revelation 3:14-19.

The characteristics of the true church are clearly revealed in 1 Timothy 3:15—"But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth." The apostle Paul was concerned that believers understand how they ought to behave themselves in the church. He first reminds believers that the church is the "house of God." We must be very careful not to bring into the house of God the things of the world. Many believers, and sadly many church leaders, have forgotten that the church is the "house of God," and they show little respect for the holiness of the true owner of "the house." The question that demands an answer is not "Does the service appeal to the desires of the people?" but rather, "Do the ministries in the church please God?"

Second, the apostle Paul instructs us that the church is "the pillar and ground of the truth." The church has the responsibility of guard­ing, protecting and teaching sound biblical doctrine. Men, women and children need to be thoroughly taught and grounded in the deep doctrinal truths of the Word of God.

Like those in Corinth, many believers today remain as babes, not having the desire for the deep doctrinal food of God's Word. It should be our desire to be obedient to God's Word, recognizing that the true biblical church is "the house of God." We should desire to "behave" ourselves as His children ought to in His house. As we gather, we must desire to please Jesus, for it is His church. Rather than teaching aimed at tickling carnal ears, we should purpose to faithfully instruct men, women and children in the meat of God's Word.

— By Pastor Mark Cowles, Highway Bible Church, Placerville, CA. Mark Cowles is a contributor to Feature: A Daily Bible Study Guide.