What is the CHURCH? There are confusing answers to this question in Christendom. Some say, it is that building with the tall steeple. Some say it is the denomination, which my ancestors belonged to. There is only one place where we can find the correct answer and that is the Bible.
Let us consider the DEFINITION of the word, Church. According to Strong’s Greek dictionary the word is “Ekklesia” which means, an “out-calling.” It is used 118 times in the Bible - 115 times it is translated, “Church” and 3 time it is translated “assembly.”
There are two aspects of the Church - The Universal Church and the local assembly. Church in the singular usually refers to the universal Church, which includes all believers from the day of Pentecost in Acts chapter two until the Rapture of the Church, which may be soon. Today is the “day of grace,” the Church age, the time of in gathering. The universal Church includes all believers who have fallen asleep, those alive today and those yet to be saved before the Rapture.
Churches in the plural refer to local gatherings of believers in a given location and are called “assemblies.” - When we hear the term, “The Church Militant” it refers to all true believers, alive in the world today.
We conclude the Church is a redeemed peoples not a building or a denomination. Before Paul was converted, he “persecuted the Church.” Gal. 1:13 - Again Paul told the elders from Ephesus, to “feed the Church.” Acts 20:28
The ORIGIN of the Church dates back to a past eternity. God chose the believers in the Church, before the foundation of the world. They were to be holy and without blame before Him in love. Eph. 1:4 - God has made the believers, “accepted in the Beloved (Christ).” This is all according to God’s will, and for His praise and glory. Eph. 1:5,6 - The Church was predicted by the Lord Jesus when He said to His disciples, “Upon this Rock, I will build My Church.” Mt. 16:18 - the Holy Spirit who was sent into this world to Spirit Baptize all believers into the body of Christ established the building on the day of Pentecost.
The Church was hidden from the view of Old Testament saints but the “Mystery of the
Church,” was revealed to Paul in the New Testament. Eph. 5:32 - 1Pe. 1:10-12
Now we can look back and see many beautiful types (Word pictures) of Christ and His bride the Church. Examples are, Adam and Eve - Isaac and Rebecca.
Consider the MISSION of the Church. To glorify God, by showing forth His Excellencies through worship, prayer and a godly life. 1Pe. 2:9 - The Church is to edify itself, corporately by developing and using the spiritual gifts God has given to the Church. Eph. 4:12-16 - Individually when we, “grow in grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ.” 2Pe. 3:18 - The Church is to, “purify itself” through God’s provision of sanctification. This may be the result of the Father’s pruning, chastening ministry. John 15:2 - Self-discipline will avoid the Father’s chastening hand. 1Co. 11:28-31-This could involve Church discipline when self-discipline is unheeded. 1Co. 5 - God’s ultimate goal for this sanctifying ministry is, for the Church to one day be presented to Him, “Without spot, holy and blameless,” Eph. 5:26,27 - Another mission for the Church is to, “contend for the faith.” The Church is the custodian of the truth. Jude 1:3 - The Church is in the world as “lights” to evangelize. Each assembly is a “lamp-stand” to display the light of the Gospel in a specific location. Re. 1:12,13 - Finally the believers of the Church is “salt” to retard and restrain the evil corruption in the world. Col. 4:6 - 2Th. 2:7
What is the DESTINY of the Church? The imminent return of Christ, called the “Rapture” will complete the in gathering of the “called out ones.” Following this will be the “Bema” the Judgment Seat of Christ and then the Marriage Supper of the Lamb, taking place in heaven.
MEMBERSHIP in the Universal Church is by new birth through faith in Christ. Fellowship is in the local assembly is by reception and involvement.
There are three figures of the Church in Ephesians. (Body/Bride/Building)
Each suggests. (1) A unique commencement. (2) A divinely controlled course. (3) A final consummation.
**3 Jo. 1:2 - John wished for Gaius to prosper in soul and body.
**Ac. 9:31 - A healthy environment in the early church.
(1) They had
rest from the enemies. (2) They were
(3) They were, “walking in the
fear of the Lord.
(4) They found
comfort in the Holy Spirit. (5) They “
1. We desire growth in our assembly.
(1) Spiritual growth must precede numerical growth.
2. Carnal programs can produce a Mega-church.
(1) Brass band/Hollywood style entertainment/drama.
(2) A mega-church on Sunday morning and a handful at the prayer- meeting.
3, A. W. Tozer said, “You win them too, what you win them with”
(1)Rock music, entertainment, and social activity more attractive than the spiritual.
(2) He spoke of “converted cowboys not too converted”
4. The way we count converts. (1) By their profession of faith. (2) When they are baptized. (3) And when they are in happy fellowship in the assembly.
5. Shepherds are called to feed the sheep, not entertain the goats.
6. Hindrances to avoid, (Carnality/Complacency/Compromise/Confusion)
(1) “I looked for the world, and found it in the Church”
(2) Laodicea; “left your first love” - “lukewarm...I will spue thee...” Re. 3:16
(a) “You say, I am rich...I say you are wretched” Re. 3:17
(b) “Behold I stand at the door and knock” Re. 3:20
DANGERS In The Assemblies
1. The devil without, the flesh within and the world all around.
2. The enemy is trying to destroy what is precious to the Lord.
(1) In Galatia, the devil introduced false teachers and a false gospel.
(2) In Corinth, the flesh was the obstacle.
(3) In the contemporary Church, the world is taking its toll.
3. Satan wont succeed, “the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” Mt. 16:18
I. THE DANGER OF SPIRITUAL PRIDE:
1. We have no monopoly on truth, just a commitment to the truth.
2. Its not, “Assembly truths” its “New Testament Church truth.”
3. We love all Christians, but not all the systems in Christendom.
II. THE DANGER OF PROFESSIONALISM:
1. The world’s standards are not the yardstick for God’s servants.
(1) Natural talent.
(2) Academic training.
(3) Social status.
(4) Business success.
(5) Bank account.
2. A good message leaves us talking about the Lord, not the preacher.
(1) John the Baptists, audience abandoned him to follow the Lord. Joh. 1:36,37
3. Natural advantages are good but not, criteria for the ministry.
(1) A “gift of gab” is not a spiritual gift.
III. THE DANGER OF LEGALISM:
1. Rules aren’t ruled out, but unbiblical rules are.
2. Tradition, is good only if it is Biblical.
3. Personal preference must give way to Bible truth.
(1) Be willing to change if it is Biblical and for the good of the Church.
4. The same flesh that demands legalism incites division.
IV. THE DANGER OF FAMILIARITY:
1. The holiness of God does not allow for a loose tongue.
(1) The fear of God requires reverential respect.
2. The Lord is worthy of His full title, “Lord Jesus Christ”
1. Commitment is the key to personal and assembly growth.
Seed Thoughts & Sermon Starters
What We Believe
I. The Scriptures
The Bible, 66 books, in the New and Old Testament, is divinely inspired. 2Pe. 1:21 - It is infallible and inerrant. It is the supreme standard for human conduct, creeds and religious beliefs. 2Ti. 3:16,17
We believe in one true God, a Trinity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit, equal in all things as to eternity, omnipotence, omniscience, omnipresence, and immutability (Mt. 28:19 - 2Cor. 13:14)
We believe in the virgin birth of Christ. (Luke 1:26-35) – We believe in His absolute impeccability. (2Cor. 5:21 - 1Peter 2:22 - 1John 3:5) We believe in His vicarious death. (Ro; 5:6-8) We believe He bodily rose from the dead. (Ro. 4:25 – Lu. 24:36-40) We believe in His visible ascension. (Lu. 24:50-51) We believe He is presently enthronement. (Heb. 1:3) We believe in His High Priestly Ministry and Advocacy. (Heb. 7:25-26 - 1Jo. 2:1) And His Second Coming to the air and earth (1Th. 4:15-18 - 2Th. 1:7-10)
We believe in the total depravity of man through the fall of Adam in Eden’s Garden (Gen. 3 – Rom. 5:12-19) His absolute helplessness to please God in his unregenerate condition (Rom. 3:9-19 – Rom. 8:8)
We believe in the love of God to the entire world, (John 3:16) And for the necessity of the new birth through the Word and Spirit of God. (John. 3:3-7 - 1 Pet. 1:23-25) Human works and merit is useless to obtain salvation. (Rom. 4:5 - Eph. 2:8-9 - Titus 3:5) In the finished work of Christ there is complete and eternal atonement for sin. (John. 19:30 – Heb. 9:26 – Heb. 10:12) Salvation is by grace alone through faith. (Eph. 2:8-9 - Acts 16:30-31) Because our justification is complete in the blood of Christ, the believer has present possession of eternal life and assurance of salvation. The true believer has eternal security in Christ. (John 10:28-30 - Romans 8:35-39)
We believe in the rapture of the Church at the coming of Christ to the air (I Corinthians 15:51-57; I Thessalonians 4:13-18). The revelation of Christ will be at His coming, to the earth prior to the setting up of His millennial kingdom (2Thes. 1:6-10). The personal literal reign of Christ over the earth will be for one thousand years. (1Cor. 15:24-28 – Rev. 19:11-20 – Rev. 20:4)
VII. Resurrection Of The Dead
We believe that all the dead will be raised by the power of Christ. The resurrection of all believers will be at the coming of Christ to the air, followed by the review of their life and works. (Luke. 14:14 - John 5:28-29 – Rom. 14:10-12 - 1Cor. 3:11-15 - 1Cor. 15:22-23) The unsaved dead, who went immediately at death to the place of torment, will be resurrected at the Great White Throne Judgment and there be judged and consigned to the Lake of Fire to endure eternal punishment (Luke 16:19-31 - John 5:28-29 – Mat. 25:46 - Rev. 20:11-15)
VIII. The Ordinances
All believers should be baptized by immersion, and we seek to teach this truth. (This, however, is not the door to the Church or an absolute condition of fellowship) We believe that all Christians should obey the Lord in observing the Lord’s Supper. The early Christians did this the first day of the week, and we follow this practice in keeping the Lord’s Supper each week (Mat. 28:19 -Acts 2:41-42 - Acts 18:8 - Acts 20:7 - 1Cor. 11:23-32)
IX. Priesthood Of All Believers
We believe that all believers are priests, and have equal access and divine right to draw near to God in the Holiest, and offer up spiritual sacrifices, apart altogether from human authorization or appointment. The sisters as well as the brethren are priests, but they do not minister audibly. (Heb. 10:19-22 – Heb. 13:15 - 1Peter 2:5)
X. Life And Walk Of Believers
We believe that all Christians should, through appreciation to Christ, and for what He has done for them, live a godly life in true separation from sin and the world, seeking to win others to the Savior who died for them. This can be accomplished only by surrender to the Holy Spirit and utilize His power in our lives. (2Cor. 6:14-18 - 2Cor. 7:1 - Titus 2:11-14)
Notes & Quotes
Observing the Lord’s faithfulness inspires our faith in spite of our failures and weakness.
The shadows of the Old Testament reflected, but were no substitute for, the reality. Religious ritual is very complicated and confusing, and leaves the heart empty. The reality of the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ fills the heart with peace and joy. (Not ritual but reality)
Consecration is when Christ has full control over the believers’ body, so they become organs for the expression of nothing but Him.
“Ye are bought with a price; be not ye the servants of men.” - Because we are redeemed we should disown and reject every authority that conflicts with that of Christ.
The most miserable man on the face of the earth is the Christian who is trying to enjoy both worlds.
If you leave out the truth of the coming of the Lord Jesus, you miss a power for holiness that God has given to us. (1John 3:3)
Christ is like a magnet, so He draws us into the heavens away from the world.
There is a larger blessing than forgiveness, that is, Christ. We will never be satisfied until we are under the power and shadow of His love.
The measure of our love indicates our usefulness. “...Though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor... and have not charity... it profits me nothing.” (1Cor. 13:3)
We are invited to come to Him in prayer with thanksgiving. He loves to hear our cry and knows it is the expression of our love and confidence in Him.
Oh, to be taken out of ourselves and be altogether lost in the affections and aims of the Father and the Son. When self disappears, we can be completely occupied with Him.
When the cross is applied, it crucifies two things: self and the world; consequently, there cannot be the least attraction between the two.
When the world’s knowledge enters the head, it exalts me. When heavenly wisdom, which is Christ, enters the heart, it humbles me.
What think ye of Christ? Mat. 22:42
Who do men say that I am? Mat. 16:13
The correct answer to this question has eternal consequences. The Pharisees answered, ‘the son of David.’ The people saw Him as John the Baptist or one of the prophets. Peter said, ‘thou art the Christ the Son of the living God.’ Mt. 16:16
The sinner comes to know Him as
my Savior and Lord. The believer sees Him as “the chief among ten thousand” - and “altogether lovely.” - When the initial
Meeting with Him is genuine, the heart will long for unbroken communion for the rest of ones life. Meditate on Him as the Man of Calvary who proved His infinite love: On the Man at God’s right hand, who is honored and exalted. With Thomas we behold the wounds in His body and cry out, “my Lord and my God.”
For by grace are ye saved through faith, and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Eph. 2:8
Someone has said there will be,
three wonders in heaven.
FIRST: To meet someone whom I thought would never be there. He did so many things I assumed were off-limits for a Christian. And he didn’t belong to the fellowship I considered Biblical.
SECOND: To miss seeing someone whom I thought would surely be there. He was such a good living friend and neighbor and went to church regularly. Apparently, he was religious but lost.
THIRD: The wander of wanders, that, I am there. After reflecting on a life of failure, I have to conclude, it has to be nothing but the grace of God.
And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved. Acts 2:47
And they continued steadfastly. Acts 2:42
When it is the Lord that adds members to the Church, they are real and will continue. Man can introduce programs that will attract numbers, but many will prove to be, “Sunday morning only Christians.” - Are they new converts, or dissatisfied transfers from other congregations? If the numbers and enthusiasm is as great at the assembly prayer meeting as it is on Sunday morning, you have a healthy, spiritual assembly.
Questions & Answers
QUESTION - They told us to, “Go to the church of your choice on Sunday.” - There are so many churches in Christendom, how can I be sure I have made the right choice?
ANSWER - Yes it is confusing without divine intervention. We are grateful that God has given us His Holy Bible to instruct us in these choices. The same Bible that showed us the way of salvation will guide us in our decisions in life. It is not, ‘go to the church of your choice,’ but go to the gathering or fellowship of His choice. Remember, as a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ you are already a member of the Church. What you need now is fellowship with Christians who seek to follow the Scripture in every detail of life. For one thing a Biblical New Testament assembly will meet in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and not in the name of a man who started the denomination. There are many other things to consider, including the practice of believers baptism by immersion and observing the Lord’s Supper every first day of the week.