What Is The Church? Affirming our Ecclesiology

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Developing a Great Commission mindset will require a major reformation in the way we think about and do church. For too long the church has been identified by it's outward forms. Church attendance statistics warn us that if we do not re-discover the spiritual, organic and transformational nature of the church in this generation, we will become even more marginalized than we are and less effective in reaching the next generation. The history of the Church in Europe stands as a warning to us: it is possible for us to lose our lampstand should we fail to heed the clear, historic, and prophetic warning of Christ (Revelation 2:5)!

This reformation will not begin with a new ecclesiology but with a return to the basics of what we already profess to be true concerning the Church and the work of the Holy Spirit. In this lesson we will re-visit what we already know and believe. As we discuss each of these truths, let us ask one penetrating question: What specific, credible evidence is there in my life and ministry that I believe the following things to be true?

What is the Church? Is it buildings or is it people? Is your picture of the Church this?

Most pastors are trained to see their church in the natural:

Reconciling the Natural with the Spiritual

  1. Priority =spirit over flesh (Romans 8).
  2. Strategy = usespiritual tools and weapons to reconcile the natural with the spiritual(Galatians 4).
  3. Balance = manwas made to function in both the spiritual and natural realms (Genesis3:8). or this?

These things are important, but they are natural. When we use natural things to build the church we are building with shadows!

  1. Numbers
  2. Programs
  3. Services
  4. Sound Systems
  5. Committees
  6. Departments
  7. Buildings
  8. Finances
  9. Location
  10. Meetings
  11. Maintenance
  12. Events

The primary nature of the Church is spiritual and eternal. Seeing the Church in it's primary nature will require us to see spiritual things.

Seeing Spiritual Things

  • We must be bornagain.
  • We must befilled with the Holy Spirit.
  • We must bespiritually mature.
  • We must have aspiritual mind (or awareness).
  • Natural thingsare (1) visible and (2) temporary.
  • Spiritual thingsare (1) invisible and (2) eternal.
  • Natural thingshave natural power.
  • Spiritual thingshave spiritual power.

The Nature of the Church

  1. Universal the Church consists of all those who, in this age, have been born of the Spirit of God and have been baptized into the one Body of Christ by the one Spirit.
  2. Local the only division the Bible uses for the Church is for local and regional geographic distinctions (thechurch at Antiochor the church that meets in their house).
  3. Denominationsare a historic development in the Church in response to specific moves ofthe Holy Spirit. Denominations are not wrong; denominationalism is wrong.

Jesus Christ is Building His Church

  1. The Church isnot the result of human effort (Matthew 16:16-19).
  2. Jesus isbuilding His Church according to a specified set of patterns.
    1. Thesepatterns are pictures designed to reveal the Church to men.
    2. Individuallythey are not a complete picture of the Church; collectively they are onepattern.
  3. The building ofthe Church
    1. JesusChrist is the builder of His Church (Matthew 16:16-19).
    2. Heis building His Church on the revelation contained in Peters confessionof faith (Matthew 16:16).
    3. Jesusis building His Church on the foundation of the apostles and prophets(Ephesians 2:20), which refers to the whole body of inspired writings.These writings have as their purpose the revelation of Jesus Christ tomen (John 5:39).
  4. The Church andrevelation
    1. Theonly true foundation for the Church is the revelation of Jesus Christ asthe Son of God (1 Corinthians 3:11).
    2. Thisand all revelation is a work which can only be done by the Spirit of Godand not by men (1 Corinthians 2:1-16).
    3. Thus,we conclude that the Church of Jesus Christ, universally and locally, isnot the work of man but of God. The nature, work, structure, and life ofthe Church ought to reflect this truth.
  5. The mystery ofthe Church
    1. Amystery in the Scriptures is something that is hidden or covered andmust be revealed. It cannot be understood in a rational sense but must bereceived by faith (John 15:15; 1 Corinthians 2:10-14).
    2. Afoundational mystery of God is Christ in you, the hope of glory.(Colossians 1:24-29)
    3. Paulcalls the Church the fellowship of the mystery the fellowship ofChrist in you. (Ephesians 3:8-12)
  6. Conclusion
    1. Fromthis we can safely say the Churchof Jesus Christ is not a building, a denomination, a ministry, a method, adoctrinal position, an organization, a dispensation, or an institution.
    2. TheChurch of Jesus Christ is people the people of God transformed by theHoly Spirit.
    3. Theword Church in the Greek is ekklesia, ek meaning out of andkaleo meaning called. Ekklesia (or ecclesia) describes the Churchin it's relationship to the world: the called out ones have been calledout of the world.
  7. John 17:11-18shows the believers relationship to the world.
    1. Weare in the World.
    2. Weare not of the World.
    3. Weare sent to the World.
  8. Several thingswill result from this relationship:
    1. Persecution(2 Timothy 3:12)
    2. Friendshipwith God (James 4:4)
    3. OvercomingPower (1 John 5:4-5)
    4. Fellowshipwith Gods People (1 John 1:1-4)

Do you see your church the way Jesus sees your church? You cannot see your church the way Jesus sees it until you have seen His Church the way He sees it!

Seeing Your Church in the Spirit Biblical Patterns of the Church

  1. The Creation andMarriage of Adam and Eve (Genesis 2:18-24)
    1. PatternGods purpose forHis people in intimate fellowship
  2. The Tabernacleof Moses (Exodus 39 & 40)
    1. PatternGods work inthe sacrifice of Christ
  3. The Tabernacleof David (1 Chronicles 15 & 16; Acts 15)
    1. PatternGods grace inthe salvation of the Gentiles
  4. The Temple of Solomon (1 Kings 7 &
    1. PatternGods glory revealedthrough His presence in His people
  5. The Temple of Ezekiels Vision (Ezekiel 40-48)
    1. PatternGods priesthood inservice and ministry

The New Testament Names for the Church

  • The Body of Christ (Ephesians 1:22-23)
  • The Temple of God (1 Corinthians 3:16)
  • A Spiritual House (1 Peter 2:5)
  • Mount Zion (Hebrews 12:22; 1 Peter 2:6)
  • The General Assembly (Hebrews 12:23)
  • The Church of the First Born (Hebrews 12:23)
  • The Bride of Christ (Ephesians 5:22-27; Revelation 19:7; 21:2)
  • The Holy City (Hebrews 11:10,16; Revelation 21:2)
  • The New Jerusalem (Revelation 21:2)

All of these names reflect the spiritual and organic nature of the church.

Four Spiritual Contexts of the Church

  1. The Universal Church
    1. APicture of the Kingdom (1 Chronicles 12)
    2. TheHistorical Church (Hebrews 11)
    3. TheChurch Throughout the World (John 17)
  2. The Kingdom of God
    1. GodsPurpose (Genesis 1:26-28)
    2. Reproducingthe Seed (Genesis 12)
    3. GodsPleasure (Genesis 24)
    4. TheSeed Scattered (Genesis 48)
  3. TheGreat Commission
    1. MakingDisciples (Matthew 28:18-20)
    2. PlantingChurches (Matthew 16:13-19)
    3. Reachingthe Nations (Psalm 2:7-8; Acts 1:8)
  4. YourCommunity
    1. GodsRedemptive Purposes (Deuteronomy 32:7-9; Acts 17)
    2. BlessingYour Community (John 3:16-17)
    3. PastoringYour Community.

Analogies of Christ and the Church Christ Church Scripture

  • Head BodyColossians 1:18
  • CornerstoneTempleEphesians 2:20-21
  • Beloved Virgin 2Corinthians 11:2
  • Shepherd Flock 1Peter 5:2-4
  • FirstbornHousehold Ephesians 2:19
  • Bridegroom BrideRevelation 19
  • Creator One NewMan Ephesians 2:15
  • Builder HisChurch Matthew 16:18

There is no New Testament directive concerning the manner in which the local church is to do the things it does. While we have a record of what the early church did, we have no record of how it was done. The first principle of the local church is to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit. By following the leading of the Holy Spirit, every local church will be a unique expression of the Lord Jesus Christ in their community.

Church Membership

The significant thing that identified a person as a Christian in the Book of Acts was that he or she had received the Holy Spirit:

  • Acts 2:37-42Repent and be baptized and you will receive the
  • gift of the HolySpirit.
  • Acts 8:14-17 TheJerusalem church sent Peter and John to Samaria to make sure the Samaritanbelievers received the Holy Spirit.
  • Acts 10:44-48Peter recognized Cornelius was a believer worthy of baptism becauseCornelius had received the Holy Spirit while Peter preached to him.
  • Acts 19:1-7 Paulrecognized that some disciples of Jesus had not yet received the HolySpirit.

Membership in the Church (which was entrance into the community of the Church) was based on the presence of the Holy Spirit in a persons life.

The Church is a community of Spirit-transformed people.


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Posted in Churches/Faith/Religion Post Date 02/16/2017