In their book Vintage Church Mark Driscoll and Gerry Breshears define the church:
“The local church is a community of regenerated believers who confess Jesus Christ as Lord. In obedience to Scripture they organize under qualified leadership, gather regularly for preaching and worship, observe the biblical sacraments of baptism and Communion, and are unified by the Spirit, are disciplined for holiness, and scatter to fulfill the Great Commandment and the Great Commission as missionaries to the world for God’s glory and their joy.”
This blog concludes eight blogs on five New Testament metaphors that identify the church.
1) The Church is a family.
2) The Church is a structure.
3) The Church is a holy temple.
4) The Church is God’s field.
5) The Church is a body (part 1)
6) The Church is a body (part 2)
7) The Church is a body (pat 3)
Romans 12 is one of the great New Testament chapters on ecclesiology (the study of the church). The heading in my Bible suggests that the subject of Romans 12 is “New Life in Christ.” I love the fact that this chapter, which begins with such a beautiful call to new covenant worship (Romans 12:1-2), describes life in Christ in the context of community. Life redeemed through Jesus is life together.
In his classic text on Christian community called Life Together, Dietrich Bonhoeffer says it this way:
“What determines our brotherhood is what that man is by reason of Christ. Our community with one another consists solely in what Christ has done to both of us. This is true not merely at the beginning, as though in the course of time something else were to be added to our community; it remains so for all the future and to all eternity. I have community with others and I shall continue to have it only through Jesus Christ. The more genuine and the deeper our community becomes, the more will everything else between us recede, the more clearly and purely will Jesus Christ and his work become the one and only thing that is vital between us. We have one another only through Christ, but through Christ we do have one another, wholly, for eternity.”
For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.
- The body of Christ will be diverse and unified by its very nature.
- To be healthy, we must recognize the complementary nature of our uniquely unified and diversified makeup.
- We are members of each other through Christ.
- Christ takes us out of ourselves and gives us to one another.
- The source and center of our unity is Christ.
- Christ must remain supreme for us to grow in unity.
Perhaps the prayer of Jesus for his followers (including those of us today who make up his church) is an appropriate way to end this series of blogs:
When Jesus had spoken these words, he lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do. And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed. “I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world. Yours they were, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. Now they know that everything that you have given me is from you. For I have given them the words that you gave me, and they have received them and have come to know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me. I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours. All mine are yours, and yours are mine, and I am glorified in them. And I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one. While I was with them, I kept them in your name, which you have given me. I have guarded them, and not one of them has been lost except the son of destruction, that the Scripture might be fulfilled. But now I am coming to you, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves. I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth. “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me. Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world. O righteous Father, even though the world does not know you, I know you, and these know that you have sent me. I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.”
 Vintage Church, p. 38.