The Church


I. Introduction

A. AIM: To help us better understand what the church really is and to develop within us a deeper appreciation for the church.

B. Several descriptive terms are applied to the church by the writers of the New Testament. These terms set forth the nature of the church. It depends on the angle from which we view it as to which term is used.

C. In this lesson we wish to study the church as the "called-out" body.


II. Discussion of what the church is.

A. The church is not a material building. It is never spoken of in the New Testament as a brick-and-mortar type building.

1. ". . . God dwelleth not in temples made with hands" Acts 17: 24

2. A material building does not have ears, but the church in Jerusalem did (Acts 11: 22).

3. A material building cannot fear, but fear came upon the church in Jerusalem (Acts 5: 11).

4. The church met in a house (Romans 16: 5), but except in a metaphorical way, the church is not spoken of as a house (I Peter 2: 4-5).

B. Meaning of the word "church" considered: the church is people.

1. It is from the Greek word "ekklesia", and means "called out."

2. It literally means a called-out people or group. It is probably referring to the idea of (2 Cor 6:17 KJV) "Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you,"

3. The word "assembly" in Acts 19: 32, 39, is from ekklesia,", and it refers to a frenzied mob.

4. The word "ekklesia" very accurately describes God's people because they have been called out of sin into holiness of living; called out of darkness into light; and called out of the world into the kingdom of God. So the church is an assembly gathered together under the leadership of Christ.

5. The word "church" is used in two senses in the New Testament in referring to God's people.

a. It is used in the universal or brotherhood sense in that it embraces all the saved (Matthew 16: 18; Colossians 1: 18; Ephesians 1: 22; 5:

23, 25).

b. It is used to refer to God's people locally, in the way we would speak of a congregation (I Corinthians 1: 2; I Thessalonians 1: 1)

6. While Christ died for the people who made up the church, he did not die to preserve a building (Ephesians 5: 22-30)

C. Nature of the calling:

1. It is divine because God does the calling (I Peter 5: 10; II Timothy 1: 7-9).

2. Called into one body and thus peace of Christ and fellowship. (I Corinthians 1: 9; Colossians 3: 15)

3. The character of the calling is holy (I Thessalonians 4: 7; II Timothy 1: 9; I Peter 1: 15). It is a heavenly calling (Heb. 3: 1)

4. We are called to be God's children (Romans 9: 25, 26; I John 3: 1)

5. We are called by the Gospel (II Thessalonians 2: 13, 14).


D. Responsibilities of the calling:

1. What is required of the called out? Ephesians 4: 1-3; II Thessalonians 1: 11, 12

2. Discuss I Peter 2: 5, 9. What course is suggested by these verses?

3. Discuss Philippians 3: 13, 14; II Peter 1: 10, 11.


III. Questions and Observations

A. How is the word "church" applied to God's people?

B. Through what medium are we called?

1. Direct operation of the Holy Spirit? Name your verses.

2. Through prayer? Book, chapter, verse?

3. Preaching of gospel? I Corinthians 1: 20-25

C. What is the ultimate hope of our calling? Ephesians 4: 4-6

D. In view of the meaning of the word "church", why should Christians be busy in God's service?



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