unday, January 29, 2017 am                                                      NT Church 2017 Index


The Church Described (1)

     We have begun a study of the New Testament church, our focus this year.    In our last lesson, we defined what the church is.  In this lesson, we want to begin examining some of the descriptions of the church.

     A good way to understand what something is, is to see how it is described.  A good car salesman will get you interested by showing you the various features of a car.  In our last lesson, we noted some misunderstandings as to what the church is.  Studying the various descriptions will help give us a clearer understanding of what the church is.  The next 2-3 lessons will examine some of these descriptions.  Some of these we have addressed recently, so we will not devote extensive time to them. 

 I.                     The Called Out Church

a.       Last week, we addressed what the Greek word translated church in our Bibles means.  It is a word that means to call out of or an assembling.  We noted the term is descriptive of the saved (universal) or a group of the saved in a given location who joined together in an ordered, arranged and organized way to work and worship as the body of Christ.   

b.       But BEYOND that, when we see the word church we think of a special calling.  The root word “call” means to summon or invite.    One way we are described as Christians is called.  This is not a miraculous, uncontrolled call, but an invitation to follow Him.  On who is part of His church has accepted that invitation or calling. 

c.        We are called:

                                                   i.      Colossians 3:15 speaks of being called in one body.

                                                 ii.      2 Thessalonians 2:14 – call by our gospel

                                                iii.      Of God – 1 Peter 5:10, the God of grace called us to His eternal glory. 
Philippians 3:14 speaks of pressing toward the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus

                                                iv.      1 Corinthians 1:9 – we are called into the fellowship of His Son

                                                  v.      2 Thessalonians 1:11 speaks of being counted worthy of this calling
2 Timothy 1:9 speaks of how He has saved us and called us with a holy calling…

                                                vi.      1 John 3:1 – we are blessed being called children of God

                                              vii.      1 Peter 2:9 – we are called out of darkness, and into His marvelous light

d.       Because we are the called out body:

                                                   i.      We are to walk worthy of that calling – Ephesians 4:1

                                                 ii.      We are to be separate from the world – holy – 1 Peter 1:15-16 – as He who called you is holy, you also be holy (holy means to be set apart or sanctified); 1 Thessalonians 4:7 – He did not call us to uncleanness, but in holiness.

1 Corinthians 1:2 – we are called to be saints, with all who call (summon or invite Him to save us) on the name of Jesus…; Romans 1:7 – again, called to be saints!

                                                iii.      We are to be willing to suffer – 1 Peter 2:21 – to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us…

                                                iv.      We are to make this call and election sure - 2 Peter 1:10

                                                  v.      Our calling ought to cause us to cherish this body in all that we do. 

 II.                   The Body of Christ

a.       One of the clearest and most detailed descriptions.  We have addressed this extensively.

b.       The idea of a body, is a living organism, with a head and members.  It is a collective noun. 
1 Corinthians 12:12-13 says, For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free—and have all been made to drink into one Spirit. For in fact the body is not one member but many.  This leads to a discussion of how important each part of the body is (12:12-27) – we are different parts, with different functions, yet all needed for the body to fully function.

c.        Christ is the head of the body, which is His church – Ephesians 1:22-23, Colossians 1:18, etc.

d.       Romans 12:4-5 – as parts of the body, we have a function to fulfill.  Not all have the same function, but we are all important and need to do our part. 

e.       Ephesians 4:16 – this is essential for the growth of the body.

f.        Because we are the body of Christ:

                                                   i.      We are subject to the head – Christ – Ephesians 5:23-24

                                                 ii.      We are called upon to work together – seek to be united in truth – Ephesians 4:4

                                                iii.      We are called upon to grow – Ephesians 4:16

                                                iv.      We are called upon to do our part to promote that growth – Ephesians 4:16

                                                  v.      We are called upon to keep her pure – just as we are to take care of our physical bodies (cf. Ephesians 5:25-30 – we nourish and cherish it).  Cf. 1 Corinthians 5:6-7 – a little leaven…

 III.                 The Kingdom of God

a.       When we think of a kingdom, we think of a form of government with a king, a territory, subjects and a law.

b.       Matthew 16:18-19 – the church and kingdom are used interchangeably.  Both descriptions find their beginning with Pentecost as recorded in Acts 2. 
Both Jesus and John preached repentance because, “the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 3:2, 4:17).  Mark 9:1 clearly states that the kingdom would be established during the lifetime of some present when Jesus taught. 
During His time of preaching and teaching, He often addressed the “kingdom of heaven” in parables and other messages.
After Acts 2, the kingdom is always spoken of as in existence.  Cf. 1 Thessalonians 2:12 – we are called into His own kingdom and glory.
Colossians 1:13 speaks of us being conveyed (transferred) into the kingdom of the Son of His love. 

c.        Christ is our king –

                                                   i.      1 Timothy 6:15 – He is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords…
Acts 2:36 – God made Him Lord and Christ.

                                                 ii.      It is a spiritual kingdom.  John 18:36-37 – before Pilate, Jesus declared Himself our king.  But it is a kingdom, NOT of this world (cf.  Romans 14:17, Luke 17:20-21 – it is within you).

                                                iii.      He conquered Satan at His resurrection – Hebrews 2:14-15.  1 John 3:8, He was manifested to destroy the works of the devil.

                                                iv.      Matthews 28:18 – He has authority as our king. 

                                                  v.      He is resigning as king in heaven now over His territory – 1 Peter 3:22 – He has gone to heaven and is at the right hand of God,…
Acts 2:33 – He has been exalted to the right hand of God, Hebrews 10:12-13, etc.

                                                vi.      His law is our law – John 12:48 – the word He spoke will judge us.  Again – Matthew 28:18-20 – go teach (of His authority); Matthew 7:21 – He calls for obedience

d.       We are fellow citizens of this kingdom – Philippians 3:20 – our citizenship is in heaven.
Ephesians 2:19 – we are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God.

e.       Because we are part of the kingdom of God:

                                                   i.      We are subject to Him and His laws

                                                 ii.      We are called upon to be loyal to Him as our King.

                                                iii.      But we are also under His protection as long as we remain loyal to Him.


These are some of the descriptions we find associated with the church.  Next week we will continue this study.  With these descriptions, may we learn to better appreciate what the church is and seek to make her such in our lives.