The church is comprised of individuals whom God has called out of the world and made his own.

The word ‘church’ [Greek – ekklesia] literally means ‘called out’. Although in common usage ekklesia referred to any assembly of people, there is in the New Testament clear evidence that in reference to the church there is this fundamental concept of being called out of a previous identity and allegiance into a new identity and a new allegiance.

This calling is embedded in the deliberate will and purpose of God:

Romans 8:28 refers to those who are ‘called according to his purpose’ and Ephesians 3:1-13 speaks of the previously hidden ‘eternal purpose’ of God which has been made known and accomplished in and through Jesus Christ – that Jew and Gentile together comprise the people of God.

The New Testament also teaches that those who believe in Jesus Christ have been chosen by God out of the world:

'If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world' (John 15:19).

'... God chose the foolish thngs of the world ... God chose the weak things of the world ... he chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things ...' (1Corinthians 1:26 -29).

'... he chose us in him before the creation of the world' (Ephesians 1:4).

' ... God chose you to be saved through the sancitfying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth' (2Thessalonians 2:13).

' ... you are a chosen people' (1Peter 2:9).

This calling establishes a new allegiance:

Those who comprise the church are called to belong to Jesus Christ [Romans 1:6]. Their allegiance to the world has been severed, they have been given to Jesus Christ by God the Father [John 17:6,24], and commanded to follow Jesus Christ [Matthew 4:21; 1Peter 2:21].

Included in this new allegiance of the church is:

A transfer from the darkness into the light [Ephesians 5:8; 1Peter 2:9]. 

A removal from the kingdom of Satan into the kingdom of Christ [Galatians 1:4; Ephesians 2:2-3; Colossians 1:13].

And a crossing over from death to life [John 5:24; 1Timothy 6:12].

This calling establishes a new relationship with God:

Prior to being called out of the world by God, those he called were not his people: they now are his people [1Peter 2:9-10].

Prior to being called they were the objects of God’s wrath: they are now the recipients of his mercy [Ephesians 2:3-4; 1Peter 2:10 ]; Romans 9:23 ,24].

Prior to his calling they were condemned by God: now they are justified, acquitted, by God [Romans 8:30 ].

Once they were alienated from God by their sin: now they have confident access to God in and through Jesus Christ [Colossians 1:21,22; Ephesians 3:12 ].

All of this is clearly something that God has done. The church is not the result of a human decision or a human action. It exists because of God’s will, God’s purpose, and God’s action. He has called us out from what we once were and made us his own people. In the coming weeks we will be looking further into what it means to be God’s people – to be 'the church'.

Copyright Rosemary Bardsley 2009, 2021