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LESSON 1 – CHRIST LOVED THE CHURCH BIBLE STUDY
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LESSON 1 – CHRIST LOVES THE CHURCH
1. The Church which is His Body
Definition of the Church
Origin of the Church
Seven Great Truths Concerning the Church
The Completion and Destiny of the Church
2. The Local Church Defined
3. The Truth of the One Body
4. The Headship of Christ
5. Reception Policy
6. The Holy Spirit in the Church
7. Discipline in the Church
8. Expansion of the Church
9. The Priesthood of Believers
10. Baptism: An Ordinance of the Church
11. The Lord’s Supper: An Ordinance of the Church
12. The Prayer Meeting
13. The Bishops
14. The Deacons
15. The Church’s Finances
16. The Ministry of Women in the Church
17. Let Us Go Forth Unto Him
1. THE CHURCH WHICH IS HIS BODY
“Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her,” (Ephesians 5:25 - Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it). We, too, should love the church and, in a sense, should give ourselves for it. We should sacrificially and devotedly give ourselves in loving, glad service in order that the church on earth might progress, prosper and triumph.
The object of this book is to examine some of the principles of the New Testament governing the character and conduct of the “church which is His body” (Colossians 1:24 - Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body's sake, which is the church). The general approach will be to review the great, unchangeable verities concerning the church universal, and to show how each local assembly is responsible to witness to these truths in life and practice.
At the very outset, it should be emphasized that correctness of church position must never be divorced from correctness of condition. The Christians who comprise a local church must always be themselves a living testimony to the truth. This emphasis will continue throughout these studies.
Turning now to the church universal, we will begin by defining and describing it:
DEFINITION OF THE CHURCH
In the New Testament, the word “church” is a translation of the Greek word “ekklesia,” which means “a called-out company,” “a gathering” or an “assembly.” Stephen used the word to describe Israel as “the congregation [assembly] in the wilderness” (Acts 7:38 - This is he, that was in the church in the wilderness with the angel which spake to him in the mount Sina, and with our fathers: who received the lively oracles to give unto us). The word “ekklesia” is also used in the book of Acts to describe a heathen mob at Ephesus (Acts 19:32 - Some therefore cried one thing, and some another: for the assembly was confused; and the more part knew not wherefore they were come together. Acts 19:39-41 - But if ye enquire anything concerning other matters, it shall be determined in a lawful assembly. For we are in danger to be called in question for this day's uproar, there being no cause whereby we may give an account of this concourse. And when he had thus spoken, he dismissed the assembly) But the most common use of the word in the New Testament is to describe a group of believers in the Lord Jesus Christ. Thus Paul speaks of “the church of God which He purchased with His own blood (Acts 20:28). In his first letter to the Corinthian Christians the great apostle divides the whole world into Jews, Gentiles, and the church of God (1 Corinthians 10:32 - Give none offence, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the church of God). Again, he identifies the church of God as the group of Christian believers whom he persecuted before his conversion (1 Corinthians 15:9 - For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God).
It has often been said that the church is not an organization but an organism. By this is meant that the church is not a lifeless institution but a living unit. It is a fellowship of all those who share the life of Christ and who are linked together in living union by the Holy Spirit. It has been well called “a pure communion of persons without institutional character.”
Many descriptive titles are given to the church in the New Testament, and one of the best ways of arriving at an understanding of the church is to consider the significance of each title:
A FLOCK (John 10:16 - And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd).
The Jewish nation was a fold. The church is a flock. In John 10:16 - And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd the Lord Jesus said, “Other sheep I have which are not of this fold [Israel]: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there will be one flock and one shepherd.” The idea of a flock brings before our minds a group of Christians living together under the loving, tender care of the Good Shepherd— hearing His voice and following Him (John 10:3-4 - To him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out. And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice).
GOD’S HUSBANDRY (1 Corinthians 3:9 - For we are labourers together with God: ye are God's husbandry, ye are God's building).
The church is God’s garden plot in which He purposes to raise fruit for His glory. The thought of fruit bearing is thus brought before us here.
GOD’S BUILDING (1 Corinthians 3:9 - For we are labourers together with God: ye are God's husbandry, ye are God's building).
This expression pictures God as carrying on a building program. He is adding living stones to the church (1 Peter 2:5 - Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ). How important it is that our lives should be devoted to the construction project in which He is so vitally interested!
THE TEMPLE OF GOD (1 Corinthians 3:16 - Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?). The word “temple” immediately brings before us the thought of worship, and reminds us that the only worship on earth that God receives today is from those who are members of the church.
THE BODY OF CHRIST (Ephesians 1:22-23 - And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, Which is his body, the fullness of him that filleth all in all). The body is the vehicle by which a person expresses himself. Thus the body of Christ is the unit through which the Lord chooses to express Himself to the world today. Once this great truth is grasped, a believer will never again think of the church as of minor importance, but will devote himself unreservedly to the best interests of the body of Christ.
A NEW MAN (Ephesians 2:15 - 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). Here the idea of a new creation is prominent. The greatest of all differences among men, that of Jew and Gentile, has been abolished in the church; and God makes of these two peoples one new man.
AN HABITATION OF GOD (Ephesians 2:22 - In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit). This expression conveys the truth that God now dwells in the church rather than in a material tabernacle or temple, as in the Old Testament.
THE BRIDE OF CHRIST (Ephesians 5:25-27 - 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. 2 Corinthians 11:2 - For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.). This view of the church gives prominence to the idea of affection: “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church, and gave Himself for her; that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish.” If Christ loved the church, and gave Himself for it, then obviously the church should be filled with bridal affection for Him.
THE HOUSE OF GOD (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). A house (or household) speaks to us of order and discipline. The thought of order is suggested in 1Timothy 3:15: “that you may know how you ought to conduct yourself in the house of God.” Discipline is suggested in 1 Peter 4:17, “For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God...”
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). In addition to being a support for a building, a pillar was often used in apostolic times for posting public notices. It was a means of proclamation. The word “ground” means a bulwark or a support. Thus the church of God is the unit which He has ordained for proclaiming, supporting, and defending His truth. We may safely say, therefore, that if Christians are to be in the current of God’s will and purposes, they should devote their finest efforts to the expansion and spiritual welfare of the church.
Many boast today that their mission is to preach the Gospel; however, they take a detached view of anything to do with the church. They should notice that the Apostle Paul’s ministry was twofold:
First, to “...preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ” (Ephesians 3:8).
Secondly, “to make all see what is the fellowship of the mystery...” (Ephesians 3:9 - And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ) that is, to ground them in the great truths of the church.
ORIGIN OF THE CHURCH
Great and godly men have differed widely as to the time of the beginning of the church. Many believe that the assembly is a continuation or outgrowth of Israel in the Old Testament. Others maintain stoutly that the church did not exist in the Old Testament, but that it began in the new dispensation of grace. In favour of the latter viewpoint are the following considerations:
In Ephesians 3:4-5 - Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ) Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit, Paul speaks of the church as a mystery “which in other ages was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to His holy apostles and prophets.” Again in verse 9 (Ephesians 3:9 - And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ), he states that the church is a “mystery, which from the beginning of the ages has been hidden in God (See also Colossians 1:26 - Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints. Romans 16:25-26 - Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began, But now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith). Thus the church was a secret, kept by God throughout the Old Testament times, and not revealed until the New Testament apostles and prophets appeared.
• In Matthew 16:18, the Lord Jesus said, “on this rock I will build my church”. In other words, the church was still future at the time He spoke.
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.
• Again in Ephesians 4:8-11, Paul emphasizes that it was the risen, ascended Christ who gave gifts to the church. This argues strongly that if the church existed before His ascension, it would have lacked gifts for its edification.
Ephesians 4:8-11 - Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men. (Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth? He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.) And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;
We believe it is not only possible to show that the church began in the new dispensation, but, more specifically, that it was brought into being on the day of Pentecost:
• The body of Christ is said to have been formed by the baptism of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:13 - 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). Can we determine then when the baptism of the Holy Spirit took place?
• In Acts 1:5, just before the Lord’s ascension, He promised the apostles, “You shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days from now”.
Acts 1:5 - For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.
• On the day of Pentecost, “they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance” (Acts 2:4 - And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance).
• By the time we reach Acts 5:11, the church has definitely come into being, because we read that “great fear came upon all the church ...”
Acts 5:11 - And great fear came upon all the church, and upon as many as heard these things.
These points certainly seem to pinpoint the birthday of the church occurring at Pentecost.
TEST – LESSON 1 - CHRIST LOVES THE CHURCH
TRUE OR FALSE
1. We should love the church and give ourselves for it.
2. Christ loved the church and gave Himself for her
3. On the day of Pentecost, they were not filled with the Holy Spirit.
4. Paul speaks of the church as a mystery.
5. John baptized with water and the Holy Spirit.
Please fill in the blanks with CAPITAL LETTERS
6. ________, love your wives, even as ______ also loved the ______ and gave _______ for it.
7. Preach among the _____ the ______ riches of ______
8. Know ye ____ that ye are the _____ of ___, and that the ____ of God ____ in you?
9. My _____ hear my ______; and there shall be ____ fold, and one ______.
10. Thou art ___, and upon this ___I will build my ___; and the ___ of hell shall not ___l against it.
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