If you look up the word “church” in the dictionary, you will find the first definition will say something like this: “a building for public and especially Christian worship.” That may be what many people mean by church and that may even been how we often think of it, but that is not the way God thinks of it.
The church by God’s definition is talking about a specific group/body of people who assemble together for a very important purpose and mission. And that is what we are going to talk about today in this article:
- How did the church get started?
- Who are the members of the church?
- What is the mission of the church?
I. THE ORIGIN OF THE CHURCH
A. Started by Jesus Christ
Matthew 16:13–20 13 When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am? 14 And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets. 15 He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? 16 And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. 17 And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. 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. 19 And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. 20 Then charged he his disciples that they should tell no man that he was Jesus the Christ.
- Jesus promised to build His church and that the gates of hell would not prevail against it.
- Notice that the church belongs to Him and He will build it.
- The rock that the church is build on is Christ. Ephesians 2:20 And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;
- Jesus purchased the church with His blood. Acts 20:28 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.
- Jesus loved the church and gave Himself for it. Ephesians 5:22–27 22 Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. 23 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. 24 Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. 25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; 26 That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, 27 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.
The church is God’s idea. Jesus, God’s Son did everything necessary to start the church, build the church, save the church, cleanse the church, and make it beautiful like His bride.
So, we should follow His lead as the head of the church. We love the church as His bride. And we should live our lives in the church as members of His body.
B. Birthed into existence on the Day of Pentecost
The church is only mentioned twice in the gospels – Matthew 16 and Matthew 18. Jesus came and offered Himself to Israel.
As it became clear that Israel had rejected Christ, Jesus teach began to focus more and more on truths that apply directly to the church.
Even though many of the elements of the church were beginning to be in place – the founder, some of the theology, some of the members – the church did not come into existence as the one body of Christ brought together by the Spirit until after the death, burial, resurrection, and ascension of Christ and then the coming of the Spirit.
1 Corinthians 12:12-13 For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. 13 For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.
The Holy Spirit coming into each believer united them to all the other members and makes them one body in Christ.
II. THE MEMBERS OF THE CHURCH
Ephesians 2:11–22 11 Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; 12 That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: 13 But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. 14 For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; 15 Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace; 16 And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby: 17 And came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh. 18 For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father. 19 Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; 20 And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; 21 In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: 22 In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.
The members of the church are those who…
- realise they are sinners separated from a holy God
- realise that Jesus Christ is the one way to be reconciled to God
- believe on Jesus Christ
- and are united to all other believers (whether Jew or Gentile) in one body
Everyone who believes on Christ becomes part of the great “temple” that God is building (his spiritual temple) – Christ the corners stone, the foundation laid by apostles and prophets, and every member built together with them.
- Definition of church (ekklesia) = “called out assembly”
- The church is made up of those who have been called out of this world and called unto Christ.
- This means that the members of the church are both saved through faith in Jesus and baptised by immersion after salvation. Acts 2:41 41 Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.
- Notice that they were “added unto them.”
- Those who answer the call to salvation and want to follow Christ then join up with a local expression of the body of Christ.
- Quite silly to say are part of the “universal church” and not be part of a local church. (Member of the universal gym – need a local church).
- The local church is central to everything that God is doing our work since the cross.
- Acts is about all about God working in the church.
- Romans through 2 Thessalonians are 9 letters to churches
- 1 Tim, 2 Tim, Titus are letters written to church leaders
- The church is an assemble, so no one member is the church.
- The church is what we are when we are together.
If you have believe on Jesus Christ, then you should be baptised and join up with a local church where you can be part of and carry out the mission of the church.
III. The Mission of the Church
A. Build up the believer
The local church provides some great benefits to the believer.
Acts 2:42 And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.
- Teaching (“apostles’ doctrine”) and building up in the faith
Eph 4:11-12 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; 12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:
- Fellowship (“fellowship”) and encouragement Hebrews 10:23–25 23 Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;) 24 And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: 25 Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.
- Breaking of bread – Lord’s supper (remember what Christ did for the church) 1 Corinthians 11:24–26 24 And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. 25 After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me. 26 For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come.
- Prayer (“prayers)
- Exercise gifts Romans 12:4-8 For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office: 5 So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another. 6 Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith; 7 Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching; 8 Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness.
B. Reach the world with the gospel
Acts 2:47 Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.
The local church is not just a place to be taught, encouraged, and to develop and use our gifts; it is to grow and develop every member, so that it can carry out a very important mission.
- Proclaiming the gospel to everyone Mark 16:15 And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.
- Baptising, discipling and teaching those who believe Matthew 28:19–20 19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 20 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.
- Sending them out to reach others with the gospel 2 Timothy 2:2 And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.
- Planting churches who will repeat the process Acts 14:21-23 And when they had preached the gospel to that city, and had taught many, they returned again to Lystra, and to Iconium, and Antioch, 22 Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God. 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.
C. Glorify God
Ephesians 3:20–21 20 Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, 21 Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.
Ultimately, God’s plan for the church is to work in us, to save us, to change us, to bring us into one body, to fill us with love for one another, to use us to to tell the nations about Jesus, so that for all ages Christ will be glorified.
The church is the only institution that will last – all others will eventually cease.
It is the only institution that God has promised to bless. It is not perfect and God is still forming it and perfecting it.
But it is one of the most exciting things to be a part of.
1) Are you a member of a local New Testament church?
2) Are you using your gift in the church?
- The church is here to encourage you and you have a responsible to encourage others.
- You need us and we need you – let us help you develop and find out how you can use your gift.
3) Are you helping a church get the gospel to the nations?
- We are not just a club or a social group.
- We are to be a spiritual army organised to carry out the marching orders of our commander and cheif.
- We need to be taking the wonderful, life-changing message of the gospel.