What makes up a church? Some would say that a church is just a group of people who meet in a home, pray together, discuss biblical topics, and fellowship (this is a popular movement). They see no need for the public assembly of the saints (as we see throughout scripture - just read Acts - oh, and almost every book in the New Testament that follows. If home fellowship groups met in the early church, they always did with the church at large (Acts 2:46, 12:12, 20:8, 20:20).
Some say there is no need for preaching anymore. After all, we don't need someone telling us what to do anymore since we are all post-modern and can think for ourselves? Right? Well, the Biblical church always has a preacher proclaiming the word of God. Not just the mercy and grace scriptures, but also for discipline, correction and reproof (2 Timothy 3:16). How will they hear without a preacher (Romans 10:14)? The real church has a preacher. This, is the "air-war". Sending out the word of God. The "ground-war" happens after this. Almost every chapter in the book of Acts has someone preaching - Stephen, Peter, Paul. This preaching must be Jesus and Gospel centered. The OT points toward Christ (the Messiah), the Gospels speak of Christ (his ministry and life), and the books that follow in the NT refer back to his saving act on the cross and how to build his church. We must preach ALL of the Bible and ALL of its doctrines, not the doctrines of man or those that please itching ears (2 Timothy 3-4). Some preachers don't preach sin anymore. Some don't preach anything offensive. The word is offensive - in a good way. Paul writes, “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” (1 Cor. 1:18)
The Cross is Offensive. Preaching it is offensive. It is offensive today. It was offensive in Jesus' day. It was an instrument of execution. It was the equivilent of our electric chair. But it is the way to salvation. It must be preached.
So to be a church, the church must have consistent, preaching on the Sabbath.
The church must also administer the sacraments - baptism and the Lord's Supper.
Baptism must be observed by immersion and not by dipping or sprinkling. This must follow salvation (not for salvation). It is necessary to be called a disciple because it is a biblical command. It is the first step of obedience after salvation. (Romans 6:3-4; Acts 8:26-40). Jesus himself was baptized. (Matthew 3:13-17). Correct, biblical baptism is needed to be a church. Sprinkling or the choice of baptism is not the biblical method.
While baptism is a one time act, communion should be observed more frequently. Communion (The Lord's Supper) must also be administered correctly. We observe Communion because the Lord told us to. We are to obey His commands:
And when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, "This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me." 1 Corinthians 11:24 In observing Communion we are remembering Christ and all that He has done for us in his life, death and resurrection. It is for examining ourselves, participating in the Church body and Christ's death - his body and blood. The bread and juice are not the real body and blood of Jesus, but symbols. We should do it because Jesus did it with His disciples and commanded us to do the same (Matthew 14:22-24; 26:26-28).
So the real church should have preaching and sacraments. Part 2 coming soon - we have to discuss repentance, fellowship, ministry and much more.