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Definition

The church is the new covenant people of God, rooted in the promises to Israel and inaugurated by the Holy Spirit, which refers both to all believers in Jesus Christ, both living and dead, and to local gatherings of believers.

Summary

The church is the new covenant people of God. The word church can be used to refer both to all believers, both living and dead (universal church), and to individual local gatherings of believers (local church). The church has its roots in the promises made to God’s people in the Old Testament, particularly that God would bless the world through Abraham’s offspring. While there is continuity between the Old Testament people of God and the church, the church is the community of Jesus, new at Pentecost. As such, the church is the fulfillment of God’s promise to the prophets that he would make a new and better covenant with his people and write his law on their hearts. The mission of the church is the Great Commission (Matt. 28:18–20): to go out into the world with the authority of the risen Christ and make disciples, baptizing them and teaching them to follow Jesus until he returns, all to the glory of God.

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