WHAT IS THE CHURCH?
The 2000 Baptist Faith and Message that we adhere to at Calvary Baptist Church defines the church as this: "An autonomous local congregation of baptized believers, associated by covenant in the faith and fellowship of the gospel; observing the two ordinances of Christ, governed by His laws, exercising the gifts, rights, and privileges invested in them by His Word, and seeking to extend the gospel to the ends of the earth." I want to unpack the key elements of this definition.
A. Autonomous Local Congregation
We have all heard that the church is not a building; that it does not matter where you worship and so on and so forth. And that is true. Every believer is part of Christ's Church. When the rapture occurs, we are all going to go together. Denominations will not matter at that point. But Southern Baptist define it as an autonomous (autonomous meaning independent, self governing, self ruling) local congregation and the reason for that is, we believe that is the correct interpretation from Scripture. 114 times church (ekklesia) is used in the New Testament. Almost every time it is used it is referring to a local assembly of believers. The only exception of that is it is plural in a few cases
where the Bible has grouped a few separate churches together. It is never used to designate a body or an organization as a whole. The church that the Bible speaks of is what is going in Allentown, FL at Calvary Baptist Church. That's why you will never hear the term The Southern Baptist Church but you will hear Southern Baptist Churches.
B. Baptized Believers
An autonomous local congregation of what - baptized believers. And this is a shock to some people. Yes the church is for believers. Acts 2:41 describes the church as being made up of those that gladly receive His Word. Acts 2:44 states the church is for those that believe. Acts 2:47 tells us the church is made up of those that is saved.
Yes, I would love for every lost person in Allentown to walk through that door every Sunday but one, that's never going to happen, and two, even if it did, that would be a danger to this church. It is the responsibility of the church members to go out and witness. It is our responsibility as a church to go get these folks. A sign by the road saying welcome is not going to cut it. We come to church to be equipped, to be edified, for what, the work of the ministry, Ephesians 5:12. So let me ask you this. Are you doing your part, on and off the court? Are you coming to church to get equipped, to be edified by His holy Word so that you can faithfully witness and evangelize during the week?
Church, get that first part right, come to church for the right reasons and the second part, being a testimony of Christ will naturally flow out of the first part. Get the first part, and when that second part gets right, they will come through that door, because you played a part in their life. You told them about Jesus or you are simply a living testimony of Christ. Calvary Baptist Church is not merely an organization. We are a gospel church that has been changed by the spirit, 1 Cor. 6:11. We are indwelt by the Holy Spirit, Romans 8:14 and brought together by that same Spirit, Eph. 4:3-4. We are a divine institution, a divine creation made by the hands of a holy God. We are not a lodge, we are not a civic club, we are however, a New Testament church created by Christ Himself. The importance of the Church cannot be overstated. It is that which God purchased with the blood of His Own Son, Acts 20:28. It is that which Christ loves, nourishes, and cherishes, Eph. 5:25, 29. And that which Christ shall present to Himself blameless in all her glory one day. Eph 5:27, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish.
Calvary Baptist Church of Allentown Fl.