Lesson 2 - The Church
For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. Jews demand signs and
Greeks look for wisdom.
(1 Corinthians 1:21-22)
If you have repented of your sins and confessed with your lips that Jesus is the son of God, and if you have been immersed with Christ in baptism, you are now a follower of Jesus Christ. Acts 2:38 Because of your obedience, you were added to the Church, the kingdom of God. Acts 2:47
The Church welcomes you as the angels in heaven rejoice. Your brothers and sisters in Christ are spiritually with you, whoever and wherever you are.
The lessons in this chapter should enlighten you about the Church. The discussions below teaches us that the Church is not a building or a place. The Church is described in the scriptures as the body of Christ and Jesus Christ is the only Foundation. You will also learn that Jesus Christ is the head of the Church. Finally, we will study what the scriptures command concerning the qualifications and duties of the elders and the deacons, the overseers and special servants of the Church.
Click every link to the scriptures as these words explain to you about the Church that Jesus built. Mathew. 16:18
○ One body and each member belongs to the others. Romans 12:5
○ The Holy Spirit works in each member. I Corinthians 12:27
○ Christ is head over everything and the Church is his body. Ephesians 1:22-23
○ The objective is to prepare Christians for works of service so that the Church may be built up. Ephesians 4:12
○ Our sufferings are made for the sake of the Church. Colossians 1:24
○ No Church will grow without help from God. Colossians 2:19
○ There is one body . . . Ephesians 4:4
○ Christ is the only foundation and cornerstone of the Church.
○ No other foundation than Christ. I Corinthians 3:10-11| Ephesians 2:20
○ Jesus was prophesied in the Old Testament as the stone that was rejected. Mathew 21:42|Acts 4:11
○ A precious cornerstone. I Peter 2:6
○ Therefore, as we have faith in Jesus, we should faithfully obey his commandments. Luke 6:46-49
And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy.
The early local Churches were autonomously led by a group of leaders called the elders. They were regarded as shepherds of the flock and overseers of the Church. There is a plurality of elders so as to avoid an authoritarian, one-man rule in the Church. Apostle Paul warns against elders lording it over the brethren.
The following passages will give us more enlightenment on the qualification of elders and their duties to the Church.
○ Paul gave instructions to Titus to ordain elders in every city as leaders of the Church. He also gave Titus the qualifications for elders. Titus 1:5-9
○ Elders must have the desire to serve. Titus 3:1-7
○ Elders have a special role in the Church. James 5:14
○ The elders are exhorted to feed the flock of Christ and not to lord it over them. I Peter 5:1-3
Deacons are special helpers in the Church with particular duties, such as caring for the sick and the poor. They were chosen from among men who were known to be full of spirit and wisdom. Acts 6:3. Paul calls on deacons to be worthy of respect, sincere and not pursuing dishonest gain. I Timothy 3:8-13
The qualification of a deacon are similar to those of an elder, except that a deacon need not be able to teach.
A problem arises where there are no serving elders because no one is qualified according to the requirements laid down in the scriptures. There may be qualified members, but are not desirous for the position of an elder. There is then a void in the Church leadership.
In this case, the affairs of the Church are to be deliberated by a group of members, spiritually united, who meet on certain days of the week to plan Church activities that are geared toward the involvement of members in Church activities, particularly evangelism work. The members convened may also decide on administrative matters. These meetings are called for the purpose of setting up Church activities in an orderly fashion and to avoid chaos and confusion.
To a greater extent, the objective of having members convene in a meeting to decide on Church affairs is to prevent the occurrence of a one-man rule that is oftentimes harmful to the Church.
It is therefore a noble aspiration for men of the Church to become elders. They occupy a special position in the Church and they perform a special work for God.
The Greek word ecclesia denotes any assembly of people. It was only in the 3rd or 4th century that the word Church came into use to denote a specific assembly composed of believers, and the Greek word for it is kuriakon, meaning "belonging to the Lord". For a more comprehensive discussion on the history of the early Church, read the article "Assembly of Believers: the Church" in the Compton's Encyclopedia.
The name simply Church was also referred to by Paul in the following verses:
○ For Christ is head of the body, the Church. Colossians 1:18
○ Christ is the head over all things to the Church. Ephesians 1:22
As a new babe in the faith, you were fed with spiritual milk. As you mature, you need to be fed with spiritual meat or solid food in order to grow stronger in faith, and become an effective teacher. In the book of Hebrews, Paul chastised the brotherhood for their immaturity. Hebrews 5:12
You will need to read your Bible daily to grow in faith. Ponder upon the scriptures that teach how the great men of the Old Testament were rewarded for their strong faith and how they were punished for their lack of faith.
But you also need to fellowship with your fellow Christians to receive encouragement and give them encouragement as well. This is the subject matter of the next lesson -- the Fellowship.
Almost certainly, you will encounter hard doctrines that may confuse you. Here is one rule of thumb: All commandments in the Bible are consistent with each other. Jesus Christ issued two commandments, also called the greatest commands, found in the book of Matthew, upon which all commands issued by the Apostles are consistent with. Therefore, if there be any teaching that does not conform with the greatest commandments of our Lord Jesus, consider this as a human doctrine, and one that does not come from God. Matthew 22:37-39. See also 1 John 3:21-24.