July 6, 2019
In our day, church has fallen out of vogue with the average person. There seems to be a common idea that church is no longer important. But we exalt the idea of "church" and believe that God has chosen to reveal himself and glorify himself by the church!
The church is both an organization and an organism. We know why we aren’t called a Synagogue! We know why we aren’t called a mosque! But, why church? Sure, it’s a biblical word, but so is fellowship, tabernacle, or temple. So why aren’t we called Emmanuel Baptist Fellowship, Emmanuel Baptist Tabernacle, or Emmanuel Baptist Temple? Why don’t we call this Emmanuel Baptist Christian teaching and worship center? After all, we are a center for christian teaching and a place where believers gather for worship. Why have we settled on this one word: CHURCH?
To answer that, we will need to look at several different scriptures. The word, “church” is used 136 times in our New Testament and the plural form, “churches” is found 36 times. It comes from the Greek word, “Ekklesia.” “Ekklesia” means, “a calling out, i.e. (concretely) a popular meeting, especially a religious congregation (Jewish synagogue, or Christian community of members on earth or saints in heaven or both):--assembly, church.” It was a commonly used term in Christ’s day and in the early first century.
In fact, we have a book of the Bible with this word for its’ name: “Ecclesiastes.” Ecclesiastes means “the gatherer, the teacher, or the preacher.” The first verse of the book kind of gives that away!
Ecclesiastes 1:1, “The words of the Preacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem.”
Ecclesiastes records the preaching of a man to all who will gather around him and hear his story. Perhaps you have also heard of the word, “Ecclesiastical…” It has to do with all things, “relating to the Christian Church or its clergy.” All of these words come from the Greek word “Ekklesia” and have to do with “church.”
So, “church” in its most basic form is a called out assembly. The word never refers to a building, though churches often meet in buildings! In the Bible, some churches met in homes (Colossians 4:15, Philemon 1:2), some in synagogues (Acts 13, 18:4-8), and one even met by a riverside (Acts 16:13)! But the word church always referred to the people who gathered there!
Biblically, a church is a group of baptized believers who have voluntarily joined themselves together for the purpose of keeping Christ’s ordinances and reaching the world with the gospel. We are souls who have been called out of the world and called into a fellowship of like-minded people.
Of course we are not against every para-church organization around. There are many missions agencies, college ministries, camps, etc… that have done a lot of good for the kingdom of God. But as we understand the position and power that God has given to the church, we will come to believe that every believer and every ministry should be under the authority of the church of God. God has chosen to work through the church. I won’t answer for anyone but myself, and so, I have chosen to put my life and influence into the ministry of a local church!
A few things about the church:
1. The church is what Jesus gave his life for.
Ephesians 5:25, “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;”
2. The church is the pillar and ground of the truth.
1 Timothy 3:15, “But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.”
3. The gates of hell will not prevail against Christ’s church.
Matthew 16:18, “And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”
4. The church is the assemblage of God’s flock on this earth.
Acts 20:28, “Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.”
5. It is the church that is subject to Jesus Christ in everything so that he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.
Ephesians 5:24-27, “Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.”
6. It is the church that reveals the manifold wisdom of God.
Ephesians 3:10, “To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God,”
7. It is the church that Jesus Christ nourishes and cherishes.
Ephesians 5:29, “For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church:”
8. It is the church that promotes good christian teaching.
1 Corinthians 4:17, “For this cause have I sent unto you Timotheus, who is my beloved son, and faithful in the Lord, who shall bring you into remembrance of my ways which be in Christ, as I teach every where in every church.”
Colossians 4:16, “And when this epistle is read among you, cause that it be read also in the church of the Laodiceans; and that ye likewise read the epistle from Laodicea.”
Pictures of the church
1. The church is pictured in the word of God as the body of Christ
Colossians 1:18, “And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.”
Even though there are many members, there is only one head. We all need to work together in order to accomplish anything.
We must each be submitted to the headship of Jesus and the head will coordinate us to care for other members of the body and reach out to the lost!
2. The church is pictured in the word of God as the bride of Christ
Ephesians 5:22-23, “Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body.”
Christ LOVES the church. He has completely and totally committed himself to the church. He has given his vow to love, comfort, and cherish the church in sickness and in health, in good times and in bad! Just as a man is moved to provide and protect his wife, so Christ is motivated to help us when we call out to him!
Some folks say that they love Jesus but they don’t love the church… Imagine going up to a man and saying, “I really like you, but I don’t like your wife! I like to fellowship with you, but I don’t want to be around your bride!” Do you imagine that you are getting on that man’s good side? I’ll tell you plainly that if anyone says, “Matt, I like you, but I don’t like your bride.” Listen, you aren’t my friend if you talk to me that way! Don’t talk to Jesus that way!
3. The church is pictured in the word of God as the building of God
Ephesians 2:19-22, “Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.”
We are each like a brick in a grand cathedral. We all have a few rough edges, but the mortar of love covers those rough edges and holds us together.
Independently we aren’t much, but together, we are strong!
Jesus lives within the church! 1 Corinthians 3:16, “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?”
4. The church is pictured in the word of God as a branch off of the true vine, Jesus Christ!
John 15:1-6, “I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit. Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.”
We receive spiritual life, health, and vitality and from Jesus Christ! He is the source of all of our spiritual strength and spiritual ability.
Duties of the church
1. Worshipping God
Hebrews 2:12, “Saying, I will declare thy name unto my brethren, in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto thee.”
2. Christian Fellowship / Strengthening the body / Spiritual edification
1 Corinthians 14:12, “Even so ye, forasmuch as ye are zealous of spiritual gifts, seek that ye may excel to the edifying of the church.”
Acts 11:25-26, “Then departed Barnabas to Tarsus, for to seek Saul: And when he had found him, he brought him unto Antioch. And it came to pass, that a whole year they assembled themselves with the church, and taught much people. And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch.”
3. Praying for one another
Acts 12:5, “Peter therefore was kept in prison: but prayer was made without ceasing of the church unto God for him.”
4. Keeping Christ’s ordinances
1 Corinthians 11:1-2, “Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ. Now I praise you, brethren, that ye remember me in all things, and keep the ordinances, as I delivered them to you.
5. Ordaining Christian Ministers
Acts 14:23, “And when they had ordained them elders in every church, and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord, on whom they believed.”
6. World evangelism
Matthew 28:18-20, “And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.”
Revelation 22:17, “And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.”
7. Church discipline
Matthew 18:15-17, “Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.”
8. Pray over and anoint the sick with oil.
James 5:14, “Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord:”
9. It is the church that is charged with relieving those who are widows indeed.
1 Timothy 5:16, “If any man or woman that believeth have widows, let them relieve them, and let not the church be charged; that it may relieve them that are widows indeed.”
We believe that the church is a group of baptized believers who have voluntarily joined themselves together for the purpose of performing the ordinances of Christ and carrying out his great commission. It is in the church that Jesus Christ is doing his greatest work in this world. Next to the Spirit of God and the Scriptures, the church is the greatest spiritual blessing God has given this world.
Many people desire to attend a fellowship or community of believers. God designed the church so we could have christian fellowship and community. Others desire a bridge or a ministry, but God intends for his church to fill in the gap and minister to the lost. Others may desire a house of prayer or temple of worship, but the church is the creation of God for those things.
So, instead of limiting ourselves to one of those above things, we will be all of those things because we will be a church! Those above words may describe us, but not define us! The defining word for what God is going to do through us in Tallmadge, Ohio is, “church.”