Formation. The Church was anticipated by the Lord Jesus Christ in Mat 16:13–18, but the formation of the Church did not take place until the coming of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the power who makes possible the formation of the Church (Joh 7:37–39; Joh 14–16; Act 1:8, Act 19:1–7).
Nature. The Church is a spiritual organism—not a physical or human organization. The first chapter of Ephesians is one of the clearest, most concise, and most accurate explanations in the Bible of what the Church is really all about. At the moment of salvation, every believer is baptized by the Holy Spirit into union with Christ. Water baptism is a physical picture of this spiritual event that has taken place (1Co 12:13). This is why the Church is a spiritual organism, not a human organization. People who have never believed in Jesus Christ are not part of the Church, even though they may be part of a church organization. People who have believed in Jesus Christ are part of the Church whether they attend a local church or not. The local church is the geographic assembly of saints. While the Body of Christ is made up of every believer, all believers cannot be in the same place at the same time. Therefore, believers gather into local churches for the purposes laid out in passages such as Heb 10:25, Heb 13:7–17, and Eph 4:11–16.
Function. The two-fold mission of the Church is evangelism and edification (Mat 28:19–20). At salvation, through the power of the Holy Spirit, every believer is given a unique spiritual gift for the purpose of accomplishing God’s plan (1Co 12:4–31). Though there are different gifts, there is no such thing as superiority or inferiority in the Church. Every believer is given all spiritual blessings and has equal opportunity and provision to achieve spiritual greatness.
Necessity. Apart from involvement in the local church, no believer can achieve the greatness in the Body of Christ for which he or she was designed by God. The local church is the training ground—the classroom for spiritual advance, and there is no spiritual greatness without spiritual advance. The local church is the place where the Word of God is taught, and there is no spiritual greatness apart from the understanding and application of the Word of God. The local church is the place of preparation for service, and there is no spiritual greatness apart from service. Therefore, no local church—no greatness. Heb 10:25–31 speaks of the sin of disassociation with the local church and shows God’s attitude toward believers who have no time for the local church.