To belong to the church of God is a unique and soul-satisfying privilege. It is the divine purpose to gather out a people from the far corners of the earth to bind them into one body, the body of Christ, the church, of which He is the living head. All who are children of God in Christ Jesus are members of this body, and in this relationship they may enjoy fellowship with each other, and fellowship also with their Lord and Master.
The church is referred to in the Scriptures by such expressions as "the church of God" (Acts 20:28), "the body of Christ" (Eph. 4:12), "the church of the living God" (1 Tim. 3:15), the last name being the term chosen for the title of this chapter.
The word church is used in the biblical record in at least two senses: in a general sense applying to the church in all the world (Matt. 16:18; 1 Cor. 12:28), and also in a particular sense applying to the church in a city or a province. Observe in the following texts where local churches are mentioned: the church at Rome (Rom. 1:6, 7), the church at Corinth (1 Cor. 1:2), the church at Thessalonica (1 Thess. 1:1). Note also the reference made to provincial churches: the churches of Galatia (1 Cor. 16:1), the churches of Asia (1 Cor. 16:19), the churches of Syria and Cilicia (Acts 15:41).
Christ, being the head of the church and its living Lord, has a deep love for the members of His body. In the church He is to be glorified (Eph. 3:21); through the church He will reveal the "manifold wisdom of God" (Eph. 3:10). Day by day He nourishes the church (Eph. 5:29), and His longing desire is to make of it "a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish" (Eph. 5:27).