Sunday, November 5, 2017 am                                                    NT Church 2017 Index


New Testament Church 2017
The Work of the Church (1)

     As we continue our study of the New Testament church, today we want to move in a different direction.  We want to begin addressing what is the work of the church. We have established the difference between the universal church (all who are saved/registered in heaven) and a local church (a group of the saved who join together in an organized and orderly way to work and worship as the local church).

     In this study we are focusing on the local church and what it is called upon to do.  We will identify its areas of work and examine the pattern for these various works in the New Testament. 

     This is an important area of study as it is one of the avenues through which brethren are divided.  There are churches who have redefined or replaced what the work of the church is and how it is done.  Far too many churches today are more interested in catering to the masses, turning the worship “experience” into something more contemporary and entertaining, and appealing to their material wants and needs of people rather than to the gospel.  Because of stewardship and what the Bible teaches about fellowship of error (cf. Ephesians 5:11, 2 John 9-11, etc.), the purity of the church and its pattern, as well as autonomy and independence of congregations, it is important that we strive to understand and follow a pattern that God is pleased with.  In this study, we will appeal to what is authorized according to God’s pattern.    

     Summarized, there are four areas of work for the local congregation – evangelism, edification, worship, and benevolence.   Today, we will begin with the work of evangelism. 

 I.                     Evangelism

a.       One of the primary works of the church is to evangelize. 
Evangelize – the English word is defined as to convert or to try and convert to another religion. (Merriam-Webster). 
The word is NOT found in many of our English versions, though the word “evangelist” is found 3 times (Ac 21:8, Eph. 4:11, 2 Tim. 4:5).
BUT, the word evangelize is actually based upon a Greek word that IS found often in the New Testament – the word, ε
αγγέλιον (euangelion) is the Greek word for “gospel” in most of our English texts.  IT is defined as, “to tell the good news” (L&N, 33.217).  BDAG defines the word as, “God’s good news to humans, good news as proclamation.”
SO when we see the word gospel (about 77 times in the New Testament) we are dealing with the message of evangelism.
As you study scripture you will find that the church in the first century increased in numbers, even in the face of difficult circumstances.  This was done through evangelism.

b.       IT is through the preaching of the gospel that man is saved – Romans 1:16-17, 10:14-17, James 1:21, etc.
1 Cor. 1:21, to the world it is foolishness, but it is God’s power unto salvation. 

c.        The Great Commission was about reaching the lost.  Matt. 28:18-20, Mark 16:15-16. 
Acts 1:8 as Jesus gave His apostles instructions, they were to open the kingdom to the whole world.
I am convinced that while the Great Commission was given to the apostles, its fulfillment applies to all of us.  I state this because the apostles did not act alone in the spread of the Gospel in the first century. 
Acts 8:4 describes disciples going everywhere preaching the word.   Philip (not an apostle) went to Samaria where he taught many including Simon the sorcerer (Ac. 8:5-13).
2 Timothy 2:2 illustrates how it is passed on.   Colossians 1:23 notes that the gospel had been “preached to every creature under heaven…”
My point is that evangelizing was important.  And it required the efforts of Christians everywhere.

d.       Christians are to be engaged in evangelism. 

                                                   i.      Acts 8:4 – the disciples went everywhere preaching the word.

                                                 ii.      1 Peter 3:15, we are all instructed to Sanctify God in our hearts and be ready to give a defense for the hope that is in us.

                                                iii.      2 Cor. 5:10-11 – we will all appear before the judgment seat of Christ…Knowing the terror of the Lord, we persuade men.

                                                iv.      Phil. 2:14-16 speaks of us shining as lights in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation. 

                                                  v.      1 Peter 2:9, “But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;

                                                vi.      NOTE: While the church is involved in evangelism, the truth is EVERY example of conversion recorded in scripture was the result of individuals taking the gospel to them. 

e.       Churches are involved in evangelism. 

                                                   i.      1 Thessalonians 1:8 finds Paul commending the church in that community.  For from you the word of the Lord has sounded forth, not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place. Your faith toward God has gone out, so that we do not need to say anything.” (1 Thessalonians 1:8, NKJV)

                                                 ii.      A study of the book of Acts finds churches growing as a result of the efforts of both Christians and congregations in evangelism.

                                                iii.      Acts 11:22, when brethren in Jerusalem heard that Hellenists were turning to the Lord, they sent Barnabas to go as far as Antioch.

                                                iv.      Acts 13:1-3 while in Antioch, the church received word to separate Paul and Barnabas to do the work they were called to do (evangelize).  The brethren prayed and fasted and sent them on their way.

                                                  v.      1Timohty 3:14-15 describes the church as “the pillar and ground of truth.”

                                                vi.      NOTE: The survival of the TRUE church depends upon its support of evangelism among its members 

In our next lesson we will notice HOW churches cooperated in NT times and contrast that with some ways churches cooperate today.