Sunday, 24 May 2015

The Church or the House of God. ~ Rabqa

The name Church was derived probably from
the Greek kuriakon (i.e., “the Lord’s house”), which was used by ancient authors for the place of Worship. 

In the New Testament, it is the translation of the Greek word ecclesia, which is synonymous with the Hebrew kahal of the Old Testament, both words meaning simply an assembly, the character of which can only be known from the connection in which the word is found. 

There is no clear instance of its being used for a place of meeting or of worship, although in post-apostolic times it early received this meaning. Nor is this word ever used to denote the inhabitants of a country united in the same profession, as when we say the “Church of England,” the “Church of Scotland,” etc.We find the word ecclesia used in the following senses in the New Testament: 

It is translated “assembly” in the ordinary classical sense (Acts 19:32,39.41). 
It denotes the whole body of the redeemed, all those whom the Father has given to Christ, the invisible “catholic” [universal] church [Note: “catholic” in this context means, the universal church, not the Roman Catholic Church.]  ( Eph:5:23-27  we see that as a husband loves his wife so Christ loves His Church. As the Head of the body, Jesus is growing us together to become a glorious Church without spot or wrinkle or any other blemish; a church that is holy & without fault. Does that mean that your church will be perfect? Not yet, but one day when we join Jesus in Heaven, we will be together & will be glorious. 

A few Christians associated together in observing the ordinances of the gospel are an ecclesia (Rom 16:5;) (Col 4:15 NKJ) Greet the brethren who are in Laodicea & Nymphas & the church that is in His House. 

Early Christians worshipped in private homes. Church building as we know them emerged in the third century. Nymphas could be read as Nympha this could designate a woman Pastor of the local house church. 

All the Christians in a particular city, whether they assembled together in one place or in several places for religious worship, were an ecclesia. Thus all the disciples in Antioch, forming several congregations, were one church (Acts 13:1); also we read of the “church of God at Corinth” 

 ( 1 Cor 1:2), This V tells us that all believers are saints & have been set apart & belong to God, & have been placed in Christ & are to grow progressively in holiness. “The church at Jerusalem” in (Acts 8:1), “The church of Ephesus” (Rev 2:1), etc. 

The whole body of professing Christians throughout the world. 

 (1Cor15:9 Here we learn that Paul says that he is the least of the apostles & not worthy because he persecuted the church of God. 
 Gal 1:13-24 Here Paul proves the divine origin of his gospel by relating facts to his pre conversion conduct & his post conversion activities& reading from NLT :

Christ is the visible of the invisible God. He existed before anything was created & is supreme over all creation, for through Him God created everything in the heavenly realms & on earth. He made the things we can see& the things we can't see-such as thrones, kingdoms rulers, & authorities in the unseen world. Everything was created through Him & for Him. He existed before anything else, & holds all creation together. Christ is also the head of the Church, which is His body. He is the beginning, supreme over all who rise from the dead so He is first in everything. For God in all His fullness was pleased to live in Christ, & through Him God reconciled everything to Himself. He made peace with everything in heaven & on earth by means of Christ's blood on the cross. This includes  you who were once away from God. You were His enemies, separated from Him by your evil thoughts & actions. Yet now He has reconciled you to Himself through the death of Christ in His physical body. As a result, He bought you, & you are holy & blameless as you you stand before Him without a single fault. 

Matt 16:18 NKJ Jesus said: & I also say to you that you are Peter, & on this rock I will build My Church, & the gates of Hades shall not prevail against. But you must continue to believe this truth & stand firmly in it. Don't drift away from the assurance you received when you heard the Good News. The Good News has been preached all over the world, & I Paul, have been appointed as God's servant to proclaim it. 

The rock is not Peter as an individual, since Jesus substituted petra, a foundation rock or boulder, for petros, a fragment of the petra. Jesus may have meant that He Himself is the rock which the church is built & that the church is built out of those stones petroi that partake of the nature of the petra by their confession of faith in Him.

The expression gates of Hades means the power of death cannot prevent the advance of the kingdom, nor claim victory over those who belong to God. 

The church visible “consists of all those throughout the world that profess the true religion, together with their children.” It is called “visible” because its members are known and its assemblies are public. Here there is a mixture of “wheat and chaff,” of saints and sinners.   
“God has commanded his people to organise themselves into distinct visible ecclesiastical communities, with constitutions, laws, and officers, badges, ordinances, and discipline, for the great purpose of giving visibility to his kingdom, of making known the gospel of that kingdom, and of gathering in all its elect subjects. 

 Each one of these distinct organised communities which is faithful to the great King is an integral part of the visible church, and all together constitute the ‘catholic’ or universal visible church.” 

A credible profession of the true religion constitutes a person a member of this church. This is “the kingdom of heaven,” whose character and progress are set forth in the parables recorded in Matt 13. 

The dominate theme in Jesus' teaching is the kingdom of God. He presents numerous word-pictures of what this supernatural realm is like. but the kingdom is not merely to be understood with the mind. Rather it is spiritual & to be comprehended & entered into by spiritual means & in practical living. I encourage you to meditate daily on the Word in order to receive the keys of the kingdom. 

The children of all who thus profess the true religion are members of the visible church along with their parents. Children are included in every covenant God ever made with man. They go along with their parents (Gen 9:9-17; 12:1-3,17; EXd 20:5, This V tells us how to getting along with our Heavenly Father & that we will not worship anyone or anything but Him. 

 Deut29:10;13 & again The Lord our God wants for us stand before Him that He may establish His people for Himself, That He may be God to us. Just as He swore to our fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, & Jacob. 

 Peter, on the day of Pentecost, at the beginning of the New Testament dispensation, announces the same great principle. 

“The promise [just as to Abraham and his seed the promises were made] is unto you, and to your children” (Acts 2: 38&39). 

The promise of the Holy Spirit is the promise for every believer in every generation. Peter words clearly extend to every believer in every era & everywhere, full reason to expect the same resources & experience that was afforded the first believers who received the Holy Spirit at the birth of the church. 

The children of believing parents are “holy,” i.e., are “saints,” a title which designates the members of the Christian church (1 Cor 7:14). This V talks of a marriage where one party is a believer & the reason for keeping the marriage together is the holy influence of the believer's life on the unbelieving partner, resulting in the possible salvation on the entire household. 

The invisible Church. 

The church invisible “consists of the whole number of the elect that have been, are, or shall be gathered into one under Christ, the head thereof.” This is a pure society, the church in which Christ dwells. 

It is the body of Christ. it is called “invisible” because the greater part of those who constitute it are already in heaven or are yet unborn, and also because its members still on Earth cannot certainly be distinguished. 
The qualifications of membership in it are internal and are hidden. It is unseen except by Him who “searches the heart.” “The Lord knows those  that are his” (2 Tim 2:19). 

The church to which the attributes, prerogatives, and promises appertaining to Christ’s kingdom belong, is a spiritual body consisting of all true believers, i.e., the church invisible. 

ITS UNITY—God has ever had only one church on Earth. We sometimes speak of the Old Testament Church and of the New Testament church, but they are one and the same. 
The Old Testament church was not to be changed but enlarged (Isa 49:13-23; 60:1-14). When the Jews are at length restored, they will not enter a new church, but will be grafted again into “their own olive tree” (Rom 11:18-24; compare Eph 2:11-22). The apostles did not set up a new organisation. Under their ministry disciples were “added” to the “church” already existing (Acts 2:47). Praising God & having favour with all people. & the lord added to the church daily those who were being saved. 
The book of Acts gives us a clear & vivid picture of how the church should operate. It shows us that we need unity & power of the Holy Spirit, & in the truth & knowledge of the Word, & that we need to constantly reach out to others & help people; In this book we see that when the Holy Spirit is given a free rein in our lives & in the church, there is tremendous growth in the kingdom of God & also in our lives as individuals.   

ITS UNIVERSALITY—It is the “catholic” church; not confined to any particular country or outward organisation, but comprehending all believers throughout the whole world. 
ITS PERPETUITY—It will continue through all ages to the end of the world. It can never be destroyed. It is an “everlasting kingdom.” 
I Corn 12:12 (N L T) The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ 
Promote unity in within the body of Christ. Believe that God places every member in the body as will best serve His purposes. 

1Corn 12:14-17 (N L T)  If the foot should say "I am not part of the body because I am not a hand," That does not make it any less part of the body. & if the ear says "I am not part of the body because I am not an eye" would that make it any less a part of the body? If the whole body were an eye how would we hear? Or if your whole body were an ear how would you smell anything? 

Each member of the body is an individual, so the lesson from the human body are now practically applied to individuals. No one has all the gifts. any order of ranking would contradict the context which is a mix of the gifts, ministries, & activities of the Trinity, illustrating how variety & diversity operate in different people. 

It is exciting to know that you are part of a big body with Jesus as the head. When you play your part in the body you are helping others to do their part. Whatever it is that you have been created to do, it is a necessary part for the whole body to function together in an effective way. 

It is also very good to know that you don't have to do all the parts! as Paul mentions the eye doesn’t need to try to do the work of the hand. But the eye should be thankful for the hand. 

Sunday morning services are a great opportunity for Christians to gather together. However Heb 10:24-25 encourages us to gather together often as we can encourage one another in love & in doing good deeds. find ways to spend quality time with other Christians, be intentional about including time in your schedule for gathering together with other believers. 

PS 92:12-13 ( NKJ) The righteous shall flourish like a palm tree, He shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon. those who are planted in the house of the Lord shall flourish in the courts of our God 

As we plant ourselves in a local church , we will find that we flourish in God & will be fruitful no matter our age. 

We can see in Eph 4:11-13 within the church Jesus has called some people to be responsible for leading & guiding the members. 
Reading from NLT Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church:  the apostles; the prophets, the evangelists, & the pastors & teachers. Their responsibility is to equip God's people to do His work & build up the church, the body of Christ. This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith & knowledge of God's Son that we will mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full & complete standard of Christ. 

The reason Jesus gave is explained in vs 13-16 He tells us that it is a process in maturity, stability, & integrity, taking place in every individual member's experience, results in the whole body's growth. 

By becoming a member of a local church you will benefit from the gifts Jesus has placed within your local church, & through your Pastor & teachers & their instruction, you will be able to grow in your knowledge of God to ensure that you  "won't be tossed & blown about by every wind of new teaching". You will also be able to do your own special work in helping the other parts grow. 

Can you imagine a church where everyone did the same thing & had the same gifts? It would not be very exciting or effective, the word of God teaches us that there are different gifts  & functions within the church, Rom 12:4-8 reminds us that we should graciously use the gifts we have been given, united as one body in Christ. Ask God to reveal your gifts to you, & teach you how you can make your unique contribution as a member of the body of Christ. 

This encourages you to be mindful of the gift that God has given to you. Some people are good at serving others & can assist the church as ushers or in the cafe’. Others are good at showing kindness & can take time to help comfort people in need. When you start using your gift within the Body of Christ you will find that there are many benefits. 

If you are not sure of what gift you have been given, a good way to start is to think about the things you enjoy doing. There are so many different areas in the church that you will soon see areas that you will be suited to. 

Eph 5:25-27(We looked at this earlier but I think its important to see it again.) Paul wrote & compared the church with marriage to show how similar they are. (NLT) For husbands, this means love your wives just as Christ loved the church. He gave  up His life for her to make her holy & clean, washed by the cleansing of God's Word. He did this to present her to Himself as a glorious church without a spot or wrinkle or any other blemish. Instead she will be holy & without fault. 

Just as a husband should love his wife, so Jesus loves His Church. As the head of the body, Jesus is growing us together to become a glorious Church without spot or wrinkle or any other blemish; a church that is holy & without fault Does that mean that your church will be perfect? Not yet but one day when we join Jesus in Heaven, we will be together & glorious 
Why should Christians go to church? How important is it?  from Dr John Brchtle who learnt Greek in Bible college in '67-68 under D Emond Hibert has written many books & got his start under A T Robertson a notable Greek  scholar all 3 are baptists. 
Some people joke about those who attend the Church on Sunday mornings. But it's more than a joke. Many people refuse to get near a church unless their nephew is playing the role of a sheep in the Christmas play! They claim they can get more out of a walk in the woods than from the typical sermon. 
Can a Christian survive apart from a church? Some Christians have no choice. They are trapped in a hospital bed, or working in an isolated area where no church exists. And God is certainly sufficient to care for their needs. You can still get to heaven if you can't go to church. 
But even though it's technically possible to live the Christian life in isolation, it's certainly not the norm. 
When you become a Christian, you are called into a relationship with God(1 Cor1:9). But I John 1:3 makes it clear that we enter a fellowship that goes two ways: with God and with other Christians. 
The New Testament never divides Christians into the church members and the non-church members. All the way through, it assumes that everybody participates in their local assembly. It gives no samples of Christians who belong to the “universal church” but have no link with a local church. One scholar has said that "any idea…of enjoying salvation or being a Christian in isolation is foreign to the New Testament writings". Wherever Christians are within range of each other in the New Testament, they meet. Every time the apostle Paul comes to a town in the book of Acts where there are no Christians, he wins a few converts and immediately organises them into a small group – a little church. 
Acts 20:7 reveals the practice of the early church: "And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached to them." For Christians in every location, regular gathering was a part of life. 
It's illogical to say that you are merely part of the worldwide, universal church, yet refuse to gather with the segment of that universal church that exists in your geographical area. It would be like claiming you have a car, when the right fender is in Brisbane, the engine is in Perth, and the wheels are in South Australia! You don't have a car; you have the beginning of the inventory for a junk yard. It just won't function until the pieces are put together. 
The church must be together to carry out many of its purposes. 
Here are some irreplaceable pieces of the Christian that cannot happen when you live in isolation from the church: 
USE OF SPIRITUAL GIFTS – I Corinthians 12 makes it clear that God has given spiritual gifts to every Christian. And verse 7 states unmistakably that these abilities are not provided to make you feel good; they are abilities to minister that should be used for the common good! I Peter 4:10 commands us to use spiritual gifts to help each other. 
The same passage makes it clear that we meet with other Christians so they can use their gifts to strengthen us. God's gift of a preacher or teacher is wasted if no one comes to hear them speak. 
MUTUAL MINISTRY – The church is pictured as a body in I Corinthians 12, and Paul explains that each part of the body exists to meet the needs of other body parts. In the same way, God intends each of us to meet the needs of other believers, using our strengths to help in their areas of weakness. 1 Corinthians 12:21 expresses it this way: "The eye cannot say to the hand, I have no need of you." Neither can a Christian claim to be self-sufficient today. 
The New Testament is full of “one another” commands. We are to comfort one 1Thessalonians 5:11 another, build up one another, confess our sins to one another James 5:16, pray for one another, and many more. How can we obey these directives if we stay away from the gathering of believers? 
  1. ACCOUNTABILITY – God designed the church as a place where spiritual leaders could watch out for our welfare, as a shepherd guards the sheep; I Peter 5:1- 4 Hebrews 13:17. A Christian who answers only to himself can easily rationalise sinful attitudes or actions; regular contact with other Christians can keep us sharp. 
A single verse should actually be sufficient answer for this question: Hebrews 10:25 warns its readers against “forsaking the assembly of ourselves together, as the manner of some, but extorting one another, & so much more as you see the day approaching. 
Love for one another in Christ must manifest itself in works of love & gathering together in His name especially in the light of His imminent coming. 
       Gather often with God's people to encourage & urge them on in righteousness. 

 Acknowledgement I Believe An Introduction to Christian Living Rhema Family Church

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