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Bible Basics

For Smart People
Who Do Not Want To Be Dummies
About God and the Bible

(Parts I, II, III)
By J. George Cover

Lesson 17 - What About Church? (Text Version)

Scripture References: Matthew 16:18; Matthew 18:17; Acts 2:47; Acts 13:1; Acts 20:28; 1 Corinthians 11:22; Ephesians 1:22; 5:23-32; Colossians 1:18; 1 Timothy 3:15, 13; 3 John 9-10; Revelation 22:16

Definition of Church:

The word "church" is not found in the Old Testament. It is a New Testament word and a New Testament institution. The Greek word for church is "ekklesia" = that which is called out. That is the only word for church in the whole Bible.

The Nature of the New Testament Church

  1. It is the Lord's Church of which He is the Head. The real church is the body of Christ on earth. Jesus said, "I will build MY church." It is still under construction. "And He is the head of the body, the church" (Colossians 1:18). For His body's sake, which is the church" (Colossians 1:24).
  2. Only those who are the "called out ones," as the Greek word implies, are a part of that church. (Called out of the world purified and cleansed by His blood to be His own.)
  3. It is the Lord that adds people, who get saved, to the church (Acts 2:47).
  4. The church is more than an organization; it is a living, growing, organism, with the life of Christ within.
  5. Each member is a part of that church and has an important function. "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." Read 1 Corinthians 12:13-31. An individual Christian is not a church but is to function as a part of the church.
  6. God set in the church various gifts and ministries.

    "And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healing, helps, governments, diversities of tongues" (1 Corinthians 12: 28).
    "And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some evangelists; and some pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: That we henceforth be no more children tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive" (Ephesians 4:11-14).

  7. The church needed to choose deacons or men "of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom" to "serve tables" (minister to the material needs of widows) -- to do those tasks so the apostles could give themselves to prayer and ministry of the Word (Acts 6).
  8. There were strict moral and spiritual requirements to qualify to hold office in the church (1 Timothy 3:1-14; Titus 1:59).
  9. There must be discipline in the church, according to Jesus (Matthew 18:17; 2 Thessalonians 3:6.)
  10. The body of believers operated as a church: they worked together as a church; they fellowshipped together, exhorted one another, and prayed together as a church. They were ministered to as a church by those whom God had set in the church to do that. They were persecuted as a church.
  11. Individual, local, churches were established to carry on the work of Christ as a local body of believers. "And so were the churches established in the faith, and increased in number daily" (Acts 16:5).
  12. The churches needed to be edified (strengthened, built up), exhorted, sometimes reproved, instructed.

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