What is the Church?
But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light.. (1 Pet. 2:9)
The English word "Church" comes from the Greek Kyriakon meaning "of the Lord". The term used in the New Testament, however, is ekklesia (formed of ek, "out", and kaleo, "called"), meaning the "called out". Peter refers to the Church as not a building made up of bricks or stones, not of a place or a physical structure, but as a people who are "called out" of darkness into God's marvellous light. The terms used in this scripture reflect God's vision for His people when He called them out of the slavery of Egypt in the book of Exodus. He said:
Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bare you on eagles' wings, and brought you unto myself. Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine: And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel. (Exo 19:4-6)
Here, in 1 Peter 2:9, the Church is referred to as
1. A Chosen Generation. This is in contrast to the Adamic generation that is considered to be crooked and perverse (Phil. 2:15). This generation is born not of the will of flesh but of the will of God. The Church is an assembly of "born again" believers. It is a generation that is handpicked of God as a special treasure of His own. They have been chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world (Eph.1:4).
2. A Royal Priesthood. The Church is not a religious system of priesthood, laymen, and priestcraft. Every believer in the Body of Christ is a priest unto God. The priesthood of believers is royal, coming from the heritage of Jesus Christ, who descended from David, of the tribe of Judah. It is Melchizedekian; not, Aaronic. The priests bear royal authority of the Kingdom of God.
3. A Holy Nation. The Church is sanctified by the faith of the Gospel, by the blood of Jesus Christ, and by the Holy Spirit. It belongs to God and is set apart and separated from the world by the Cross of Jesus Christ. It is a Nation made up of people who come out of many nations.
4. A Peculiar People. The Church is a special people, who possesses several special distinctives: Christ, the New Covenant, the Promises of God, Eternal Life, Eternal Inheritance. They have an identity that comes from God. They belong to heaven.
The purpose of this being "called out" is to showforth the praises of Him who called us out of darkness into His marvellous light.