Ecclesia is the original word that is translated church in the New Testament. The basic parts of the word translate into, “The Called Out Ones.” The church of Jesus Christ is a group of people who have been called out among the many people in the world by the grace of God.
In the magnificent letter the Apostle Paul wrote to the church in Ephesus we find the most succinct and yet detailed description of what God’s church is in the Bible. Writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit Paul unveils the ecclesia (church) as God’s plan from the beginning of the world, a mystery that has been gloriously unveiled.
A study of this book is very appropriate today for one reason. The evangelical church has preached for over a century the absolute priority and necessity of a personal relationship with God. While of course this is true, the overbalanced teaching on a personal relationship with God and a personal walk with God and a personal devotional life with God has resulted in a very unbiblical result of people making the local church as dispensable in their spiritual life. I do not know how many times I have heard people say, “I can be a spiritual person without belonging to a church.” After all they say, “What’s most important is a personal relationship with God.”
Every Sunday morning on my way to church I pass people walking their dogs in a park, washing their cars and working in their yards. I am confident that if I asked them to go to church they would claim to be Christians and then tell me they do not need to go to church.
When we study the New Testament and especially the Book of Ephesians we recognize that all of the promises are directed to “you” as plural and not “you” as singular. The blessings of salvation are experienced in the context of a local church. It is in this context of relationships with fellow believers we are able to experience God and worship Him as is necessary to be obedient and dedicated followers of Jesus Christ.