The Call of the Church part V

Our call as disciples of Christ is to be the Church God has meant for us to be. 

And our call as a church is to make known the wisdom of God in His rich variety (Ephesians 3:10)

Intrigued by this common mission and the great variety of kinds of churches that have developed during the centuries, I wrote my Senior Seminar Paper at Great Lakes Christian College on which marks could be called the essential marks of the church.

I identified five of them.

1. Community

2. Presence of the Holy Spirit

3. Discipleship.

4.  Separation.

There is one other final mark to address. God’s story to redeem a fallen world involves the participation of his chosen people in this mission.

God promised Abraham that he would become a blessing to all the other nations. Israel received Torah to set the example and teach the ways of God to their neighbors. The disciples received the commission to go and make disciples teaching to obey Jesus’ commands. The church is the means through which God makes visible his message of reconciliation to the world.

Gerard Lohfink speaking about the characteristic signs of the New Testament period church, states:

"What distinguishes those communities is not their moral integrity or the power of their faith, still less their unanimity. Nevertheless, Paul calls them “the saints” in the introductions to his letters, “the called,” “God’s beloved,” “Sanctified in Christ Jesus,” the “ekklesia of God.” He thus expresses the conviction that what is crucial is not the mistakes that are made; there will always be those. Theological foolishness is also not decisive; there will never be a lack of that. Not even sin or guilt are the most important things; however dreadful they often are; they can be forgiven.                                      

What is decisive after all, and everything depends on it, is that the community knows that God has called it to make the divine plan visible and to be a place of reconciliation in the world as the body of Christ."[1]

If the church does not view itself as a minority within the wider society, missionary marks cannot be present.[2] 

What makes it fundamental is that to deny the duty of Christians to call people to follow Jesus and be members of his covenant people is affirming that wholeness before God is possible on other grounds other than the movement of God in Jesus. This would be apostasy.[3]


[1] Gerhard Lohfink, Does God need the church? (Collegeville: The Order of St. Benedict, 1999), 264.

[2] John H Yoder, Theology of Mission: A Believers Church Perspective, (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2014) 189.

[3] John H Yoder, Theology of Mission: A Believers Church Perspective, (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2014) 192.

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