WHAT IS THE CHURCH? 

 The Bible teaches  that  the church is a New Testament organization. The word "church" is not found in the Old Testament. There is a reference made to the church in the wilderness but this is not in the same context the church of the New Testament. The word "church" is translated from the Greek ekklesia, meaning "called-out" or "assembly." The "church in the wilderness" consisted of those called out of physical Egypt; the New Testament church are those called out of the spiritual Egypt of false belief and practice dominating this world .

 

      The church that Jesus Christ founded and built was established on the first Pentecost after the resurrection of Christ which record is given in the book of Acts chapter 2. It is essential that people understand what the church is as they seek to become Christians. 

 

But now the people believed Philip’s message of Good News concerning the Kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ. As a result, many men and women were baptized. (Acts 4:12). We learn of the amazing way that God used Philip in the city of Samaria as he shared the Good News (the gospel message that Jesus died, was buried and resurrected), concerning Kingdom of God (the church that was built by Christ) and the name of Jesus (things pertaining to the authority of Christ). 

 

If it wasn't important for people to hear and know about the Kingdom of God certainly Philip would not have included it along with the Gospel message and things relative to the name or authority of Jesus Christ. Too many today seem to think that the subject or teaching of the kingdom of God (The church) is simply an optional "add on" for later. This may explain why some people either do not value the church as they should when they get baptized or able to return to man-made (denominational) churches after baptism. 

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This Is Our Program Suggested Study Guide 

Sixth Study -The Church found in your Bible

1. Does the church consist of Christians? 

 Ephesians 5:23     

1. Christ is the head of the church, His body. This is the group that He is also the Savior of. In other words, to be among the people who will be saved we need to be in the church found in the Bible. Let's be very clear! The church is NOT the building but the people that Jesus has added to His church (or body) upon obeying His plan of salvation. In the Bible  we find that the church (Christians) met in various places: 

1.They met in the Temple (until it was destroyed):

So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart (Acts 2:46a).

2. They met in rented rooms:

And He said to them, “Behold, when you have entered the city, a man will meet you carrying a pitcher of water; follow him into the house which he enters. Then you shall say to the master of the house, ‘The Teacher says to you, “Where is the guest room where I may eat the Passover with My disciples?”’ Then he will show you a large, furnished upper room; there make ready” (Luke 22:10-12). 

Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a Sabbath day’s journey. And when they had entered, they went up into the upper room where they were staying (Acts 1:12-13a). 

3. They met in homes: 

…and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart (Acts 2:46b).

Likewise greet the church that is in their house (Rom 16:5).

The churches of Asia greet you. Aquila and Priscilla greet you heartily in the Lord, with the church that is in their house (1 Cor 16:19).

to the beloved Apphia, Archippus our fellow soldier, and to the church in your house (Philemon 2).

 4. And they met in schools:

But when some were hardened and did not believe, but spoke evil of the Way before the multitude, he departed from them and withdrew the disciples, reasoning daily in the school of Tyrannus (Acts 19:9). 

As you can see the church is not the build so they met in various "spaces" and places. None of these places or spaces that they met in were considered SACRED. Today many Christians meet in what we call "church buildings" but they are no sacred either since God does not dwell in building made by human hands! 

"God, who made the world and everything in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands." (Acts 17:24). “However, the Most High does not dwell in temples made with hands, as the prophet says:" (Acts 17:48). We have the liberty to have church buildings today but we must understand and be clear that it is just a meeting place. We 

Discuss: How can not having a proper understanding about "spaces" and "places" cause the church to become misguided and distracted today?

                                                                        When we:

  • Think we have to "act" holy or more holy when we come into the church building. 

  • As church leaders budget more for buildings than for the work (evangelism) of the church

  • When make the building the "selling" point for why people should come to worship rather than the gospel

  • When we limit our ministries to the four walls of the church building

  • When our vision and faith is limited to our church budgets and other church assets 

  

 I Corinthians 12:12-27

1. In a body all the parts of the body need each other. There is Biblically no such thing as a "Long Ranger Christian". We enter the body through the one spirit we receive at baptism. What is the significance of describing the church as a body? The parts of the body are vitally dependent upon each other, but what will happen to the finger? It will die, in the same way a Christian needs to stay a part of the body. 

2. How should we function in the church? 

Ephesians 4:11-16 

 We need to be in the church, so that the leaders (verses 11) can prepare or equip God's people (Christians) do the work of the ministry (verse 12). In other words, we need to be available to be prepared to do the work of the church (bring others to Christ, helping brothers and sisters grow, serving, etc..) If the church is operating as intended the leaders will prepare the people to do the work. Leaders must lead from the front as a shepherd go before the sheep. A good leader will not expect or demand others to do or be what they are not doing. If a church is not evangelistic look at the Leadership! How evangelistic is the leadership? Leaders can not do everything this is why they are in position to prepare others to carry out the work of the ministry. We are have a responsiblity to respect them, listen to them and work with them to the glory of God!!Every member should  be a functioning part of the church to do our part of building the body up in numbers and maturity (verse 16). Understand that every member will not work at the same pace. 

John 13:34-35

  We must love other disciples as Jesus loved His disciples (to be involved in other disciples lives the way Jesus was involved in their lives). Refer again to points made in the study on disciple.  

Hebrews 10:24-25

1. Assembling with the saints is not an option. Many Christians have develop a habit of not assembling with the saints.In the Bible Christian devoted themselves to the fellowship (Acts 2: 42). They were steadfast in their devotion to spending time with each other. They loved each other and meeting with one another was a joy and sometimes meant the difference between life and death. How do you view assembling with the church? Is it a priority to you? What do you think of a church that five minutes after services the lights are off in the building, doors locked and the parking lot empty? 

2. The purpose we should attend the services of the church is to encourage and be encouraged. In order for people to be equip and equip that must be present to do that. If we are to encourage love and good works we have to be in attendance. 

3. What church should I be a part of?

John 4:23-24

1. We must worship with a church where we can worship in spirit and truth. Could a person continue to to to a church that taught false doctrine? No, no one could worship in truth in that situation. We also need to worship in accordance with His nature (spirit) with reverence, sincerity, and concentration. 

I Timothy 4:16

  We must watch both our life an doctrine closely to be saved. Neither one can be compromised. 

Matthew 15:8-9

   We must worship according to the New Testament doctrine and not traditions of men. 

4. What activity should the church be involved in? 

Acts 2:42-47

   People devoting themselves to the Apostle's teaching, fellowship, breaking of bread (the Lord's Supper), and to prayer. Also notice in the passage the attitudes of unity, selflessness, sincerity, and joy. 

     Matthew 28:18-20

  • Go and make disciples 

  • Baptize them 

  • Teach them to obey all Jesus' commands.

5. Why does the Bible repeatedly says "one another"? 

     The New Testament is full of "one another" commands (Commands regarding the need to build up the church). To implement these commands requires involvement in the lives of other disciples as noted above. It involves more than just attending church on Sunday or even Wednesday. Following is a list of some of these passages: 

Romans 14:19, Romans 15:14, Galatians 5:13, Galatians 6:2, Colossians 3:16, I Thessalonians 4:18, Hebrews 10:24-25, James 5:16, I Peter 4:9, Romans 12:10, Ephesians 4:23, Ephesians 5:21, Colossians 3:13, James 4;11, I Peter 5:5. 

6. How did the New Testament Church Worship? 

Matthew 15:9

We have already learned that God requires that we worship Him is spirit and truth! Now let us analyze it a little further. We addressed the fact that worship is the act of paying homage unto God. We also see that it must be spirit (that means with the proper attitude and frame of mind) and truth (according to the Word of God) 

Many people all over the world approach a "place of worship"  with the proper frame of mind when they engage in worship but have not given much thought to whether what they practice is in the Bible. Jesus said- "But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. The word vain means empty, without use or benefit. Jesus emphatically stated that so many today are worshiping him in vain. 

Acts 2:42     I Corinthians 14:15 -Prayer

We must worship God in Prayer. The early church were committed to prayer. We must pray with spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also..". 

I Corinthians 14:26 - Preaching of the Word

We are to hear the preaching of God's Word in worship. On the Day of Pentecost we see Peter preaching to those about the what God had done to send His Son to die for us and what our response was to it. 

Matthew 26:26      Acts 20:7   -  Communion

We learn from the Bible that the disciples came together on the first day of the week to break bread or communion with the Lord. After Jesus had died and the was established, we find that they continued steadfastly in the apostles doctrine, fellowship, breaking bread and prayers. They did this on the first day of the week. How many has a first day-exactly all of them! Don't worry most churches understand this when it comes to taking up the money (giving) every first day. Why do they not understand this when it comes to communion? 

I Corinthians 16:1-2 - Giving of our Means 

We see in these verses that upon the same day of the week (the first day) that disciples giving of their earnings in order to care for the needy saints. We also know that some of the carious churches sent support to Paul as he preached the gospel from place to place. Evidently, the money given is to be used in order to further the work of the church and to care for those who need care.  Why do so many churches understand this first day (of giving money) to be the FIRST DAY of every week but do not practice this or understand this when it comes to communion? 

Ephesians 5:19   Colossians 3:16 -Singing (Without instruments) 

It is common among religious people to use some kind of instrument of music in worship with singing and we want to consider this matter also in this study. We are to show appreciation to God by praising Him for His goodness and mercy.

 

These Bible verses tell us to SING...Hebrews 13:15 , Matthew 26:30, Mark 14:26, Acts 16:25, Romans 15:9,  I Corinthians 14:15 & 26, Hebrews 2:12, James 5:13. What do you notice in all of these verses that talk about the kind of music that was practiced in the New  Testament? No where in the New Testament do we find any of the disciples or Christians using instrumental music in worship. In each of these cases only singing is mentioned. 

What did you learn most from this lesson? 

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