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Sunday, February 19, 2017 am                                         NTChurchIndex

THE NEW TESTAMENT CHURCH (5)
The Church is The Kingdom

 

In our last lesson in this study we discussed how the church was a part of God’s eternal purpose even before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 3:10-11).  We also addressed 3 OT prophecies that pointed toward the kingdom being established as God planned and when God planned it.  It happened on Pentecost as recorded in Acts 2. 

A key element to understanding the significance of these things is a realization that the kingdom and the church are the same thing.  This is important to understand in addressing the doctrine of premillenialism which anticipates the coming of a future kingdom.  With this doctrine, some (not all) contend that the church was established in place of the intended kingdom for various reasons (i.e. the Jews were not ready for the physical kingdom).  This view is filled with problems including a challenge of the omnipotence of God (His ability to accomplish His will), as well as appealing to the materialistic attitude concerning the kingdom (which was one thing Jesus had to deal with in explaining the nature of His kingdom).  So an understanding that the church and kingdom are one and the same helps deal with these errors.  And with that in mind, today we want to notice how they are.

 I.                     Why different terms?

a.       Why not use one term all the time and alleviate confusion?  
Perhaps the reason is because these two terms (and the others we have noted – family, vineyard, temple, etc.) describe different aspects of being part of the body of Christ. 
In the same way that a person may have many different descriptions.  Consider this, as part of a family, I am both a husband and a father.  Those are distinct roles yet they are both equally part of a family unit. 

b.       Understand the church/kingdom is a spiritual relationship with God – i.e. not of this world (John 18:36-37, Luke 17:21, Romans 14:17, etc.).  While trying to explain the kingdom, Jesus used parables to help the people understand its nature.  There were many parables explaining many different aspects of the kingdom (Matthew 13 has 7 parables about the kingdom, etc.).  Together we get a better understanding.  The same is true with the use of varying descriptions – we better understand what the church/kingdom is.  Consider:

                                                   i.      Kingdom – Christ is our king, we are citizens of His kingdom and subject to Him and His laws.

                                                 ii.      Church – we are the assembly of Christ’s people, called out of the world and called together to work

 II.                   Both had their beginning with Acts 2

a.       Both the church and kingdom are described as being a part of God’s eternal plans.  The kingdom in prophecies (Daniel 2:44, Isaiah 2:2-4, Joel 2:28-32, etc.) and the church in Ephesians 3:20-21

b.       The Kingdom prophesied and prepared (as addressed last week) – again note the prophecies. 
Also, consider Matthew 16:28 – some would see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom.  Mark 9:1 notes they would see the kingdom of God present with power. 

c.        The church spoken of by Jesus – Matthew 16:18-19.  What is interesting is that Jesus used the term “church” very little.  But He was preparing His disciples for it, often using the term kingdom. 
For example – Matthew 18:15-18.  NOTICE also vs. 18 and compare that with Matthew 16:19.
NOTE: Here is a comparison – the apostles would be responsible for the “binding” and “loosing” in both the kingdom and the church. The point of this expression is not that they had legislative power (i.e. to make laws), but that they would reveal God’s law concerning it.  Their teachings established both the church and kingdom! 

d.       After Acts 2 – the Kingdom is spoken of as in existence.
Acts 8:12 - But when they believed Philip as he preached the things concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, both men and women were baptized.
Acts 19:8, Paul in Ephesus reasoning with the Jews, And he went into the synagogue and spoke boldly for three months, reasoning and persuading concerning the things of the kingdom of God.   NOTE: Paul is seeking to convince these Jews that is the fulfillment of the OT kingdom prophecies.  Consider with this Acts 28:23 where Paul in Rome calls for the leaders of the Jews.  Notice that he explained and solemnly testified of the kingdom of God, persuading them concerning Jesus from both the LOM and the prophets. Some believed while others did not.
Colossians 1:13, we have been conveyed into the kingdom of the Son of His love…
2 Thessalonians 1:5 – that you may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you also suffer (are suffering).
Hebrews 12:28, we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace…

e.       After Acts 2 – the church is established and spoken of as in existence. 
In fact, reference to the church becomes MORE prominent than references to the kingdom.
IN the Gospels and Acts 1 – Kingdom is mentioned – 131 times, after Acts 1, the kingdom is mentioned 32 times. NOTE: In both of these, there are references to other kingdoms, but the majority are addressing the kingdom of God/heaven, i.e. the church!
In the Gospels – Church is mentioned 2 times, but in Acts 2 and following – 108 times in reference to the church.
Acts 2:47 – the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved
Acts 5:11 – fear came upon all the church
Acts 20:28- the elders were to take heed to shepherd the church over whom they had been made overseers.
Romans 16:16 – the churches of Christ salute you
Ephesians 1:22-23 – Christ has been made head over the church, which is His body.
Many of the letters of Paul were specifically directed to churches (congregations).

f.         Conclusion – people entered the kingdom and church at the same time!

 III.                 Various qualities associated with both

a.       Christ is the Head

                                                   i.      Kingdom - He is Lord, reigning on David’s throne.  Consider John 18:36-37 – Jesus said He IS a king.  Acts 17:7 – in Thessalonica, Jews understood what Paul was teaching including Jesus being a king. 

                                                 ii.      Church - Ephesians 1:22-23, Colossians 1:18 – both identify Christ as the head of the church which is His body.

b.       Our invitation – we are called

                                                   i.      Kingdom – 1 Thessalonians 2:12 – walk worthy of God who calls you into His own kingdom and glory.

                                                 ii.      Church – Colossians 3:15 – let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you are called into one body, and be thankful.  That “body” is the church – Colossians 1:18

c.        What was preached?  The Gospel

                                                   i.      Kingdom – Acts 8:12 – Philip preached the things concerning the kingdom of God.
Jesus had earlier said in Matthew 24:14, “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world…”  (Also Matthew 4:23 where Jesus was preaching the gospel of the kingdom

                                                 ii.      Church – 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 – the gospel Paul preached. 
2 Corinthians 8:18 – we sent the brother whose praise is in the gospel throughout all the churches
Ephesians 3:6 – fellow heirs of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ through the gospel

d.       Terms of admission – how does one enter?

                                                   i.      The kingdom - John 3:3, 5 - born again of water and Spirit, Acts 8:12 – as Philip preached the kingdom in Samaria, many were baptized

                                                 ii.      The church – it is His body (Eph. 1:22-23).  We are baptized into that body – 1 Cor. 12:12-13 -we are baptized into that one body.  Acts 2:38, 47 – baptized, added to the church.

e.       Who is in it? Both use terminology tying us to God

                                                   i.      The kingdom – Ephesians 2:19-20 – we are fellow citizens. 
Colossians 1:13 – we have delivered ourselves from the power of darkness (sin, ungodliness) and conveyed into the kingdom of the Son of His love (forgiveness).

                                                 ii.      The church – Ephesians 2:19-20 - we are members of the household of God.
Ephesians 5:23 – He is Savior of the body.

f.        How long will it endure?

                                                   i.      The kingdom – Hebrews 12:28 – we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken.
Also note Daniel 2:44 – it shall endure forever

                                                 ii.      The church – Mathew 16:18 – build His church, the gates Hades
Ephesians 3:21 – to Him be glory in the church…forever and ever

g.       The Lord’s Supper - 

                                                   i.      The kingdom – Matthew 26:29 – Jesus noted that He would not drink the fruit of the vine (the Lord’s Supper) with them until in His Father’s kingdom.

                                                 ii.      The church – 1 Corinthians 10:16 – as we partake of the Lord’s Supper we are in communion (fellowship) with Him
1 Corinthians 11:18-20 – note this letter was written to the church at Corinth.  They came together as the church and they SHOULD be properly partaking of the Lord’s Supper.

 

These are a few examples of how the kingdom and church are not merely related, but are terms used synonymously.  In other words, if you are in the church, you are in the kingdom; AND if you are in the kingdom, you are in the church.  What about you?  Are you a part of His kingdom?