TGOC Bible Class Cirricula – The Church of Christ (1st Quarter) – Lesson 2 - What Is The Church (Part 2)
1. In the first lesson, we learned that the church is composed of those who have been called by the gospel. We also learned that the church is part of God’s plan for making His mystery known. This chapter will continue to look at things which the church is and is not.
I. The church is a living organism.
It is a living, breathing, and loving organism. Some view the church as some kind of social club where they go and meet friends and have an enjoyable time together. Some of these brethren generally look for a congregation where the “prestigious” attend. Some are hoping that this might boost their “worth” in their communities. This was never God’s intention when He established the church.
God has promised all who are obedient to Him that He will come in and dwell with them. Notice the following:
2 Corinthians 6:16: “16What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: "I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.”
The Apostle Paul describes Christians as the Temple of God (1 Corinthians 3:16). The Jewish temple was comprised of the outer court (called the Holy Place) and the Holy of Holies (or sanctuary). There are two words in the Greek for temple. One is hieron which refers to the temple complex, and the other is naos which refers to the Holy of Holies (representing the presence of God among His people). The word the Apostle Paul uses in the above verse is naos, the dwelling place of God. Paul is saying that, as Christians, we are the dwelling place of God. Notice other passages that teach Christians are the dwelling place of God”
The Apostle Paul: Ephesians 2:22: “22 And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.” Romans 8:9-11: “9 You, however, are controlled not by the flesh but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ. 10 But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness. 11 And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you.”
The apostle John wrote 1 John 4:15-16: “15 If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in him and he in God. 16 And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him.” (See also Romans 8:9; Galatians 2:20).
The church is a living organism that is built upon the foundation of the gospel of Christ, and in whom the Spirit of God dwells.
II. The church is the vehicle of God by which He makes His purpose known to the world. Before God created the worlds and man, God planned for the redemption of man (Romans 8:28; 2 Timothy 1:10; Titus 1:1-3; Matthew 25:34). This plan or purpose was never revealed to anyone (1 Peter 1:12) until He first revealed it to His apostles (Ephesians 1:9), and then revealed it to the church.
Paul wrote in Ephesians 3:10 “10 His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms.”
Paul refers to God’s plan as the “Mystery of God” because it was not known until God chose to reveal it. The mystery was that He made it possible for all to be reconciled to Him through His Son Jesus Christ. And, it was the purpose of God that this mystery be revealed to the world by the church. It is the primary mission of the Lord’s church to preach the Good News (the Gospel of Christ) to the world.
III. The church is a spiritual fellowship between the worshippers and their God. Baptized believers become a part of God’s family by reason of adoption.
Paul writes in Ephesians 1:5:“5 he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will.”(See also Romans 8:15,23; Galatians 4:4-9)
Before, we were strangers to God, but through our obedience to God, He added us to His family. He became our Father, and we became His children. He gave us a new name and put us in His will so that we became His heirs. (Romans 8:16-17) Paul told the Romans:
Romans 8:23: “23…we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.”
The church is not only a spiritual fellowship with God, it is also a spiritual fellowship with His Son. The church is the body of Christ. (Ephesians 1:23). When we become a Christian, we become a part of that body.
In Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, he compares the relationship of Christ to the church to the relationship of a husband to his wife.
Paul says in Ephesians 5:25-30: “25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church— 30 for we are members of his body.”
The relationship between the church and Christ is compared to the relationship between a husband and wife. The husband is the head of the wife, just as Christ is the head of the Church. The wife should love and honor her husband just as we should love and honor Jesus Christ our Head. In this relationship with Christ, we have access to all of the spiritual blessing that God the Father placed in Him (Ephesians 1:3).
IV. The Kingdom and the Church:
The word "kingdom" used often in both the Old and New Testaments. In the New Testament alone, it is used 137 times. By definition, a kingdom has a King; land over which he rules; subjects or people; and a law. We will look at the two ways the word is most often used in the Bible.
A. Secular Use. This means an actual king ruling over actual land and people to whom he gives and enforces an actual Law. We can see an example of this in the history of the nation of Israel. In the beginning, God was their King. Later, the people became dissatisfied and plead with God to give them a king so they could be like the nations around them. God gave them Saul. Israel became a monarchy like the nations around them. They had a king who ruled over the people of God. They had land (Canaan land) which the Lord had given them and they had a law, the Law of Moses. (1 Samuel 8:6-10)
When Jesus came into the world and began to preach about the kingdom of heaven, the Jews were confused (as many people are today). They thought He was talking about an earthly kingdom. They assumed He had come to set up a political kingdom here on this earth, likened to the kingdom of David and Solomon, and was going to rule it as its king. This is one of the reasons they feared Him so much.
B. “Church” Use. In the New Testament, the word “kingdom” appears frequently in the Gospels prior to the establishment of the church. It is used 49 times in the Gospel of Matthew, and 39 times in the Gospel of Luke. After the establishment of the church, the use of the word became less and less. When this word is used in the New Testament, it is often used (but not always) in reference to the Lord’s church.
How can the church, by definition, be a kingdom? Let us consider the nature and characteristics of the church to explain how.
Jesus is King over the lives of the church. Notice the following:
Matthew 21:5 “5 Say to the Daughter of Zion, ‘See, your king comes to you, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.’”
Matthew 25:34,40 “34 Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.’ 40 ‘The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.”’
If the King’s Father is the One blessing the saved, then the King’s Father has to be God. If God is the King’s Father, then the King has to be Jesus. (see also Matthew 27:11)
Others recognized Jesus as King. Notice the following:
John 1:49 “49 Then Nathanael declared, ‘Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel.’”
John 12:13-15 “13 They took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting, ‘Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the King of Israel!’ 14 Jesus found a young donkey and sat upon it, as it is written, 15 ‘Do not be afraid, O Daughter of Zion; see, your king is coming, seated on a donkey's colt.’”
The King of the Church rules over His subjects. All who have rendered their obedience to the will of the King (Christians) are His subjects. Those who have not subjected themselves to the King are still amenable/accountable to the law of Christ (Luke 19:11-27).
The Kingdom (Church) has a law. That law is the New Testament, the doctrine/words of Christ, the gospel, the faith, etc. (John 12:48; 2 John 1:9; Romans 1:16; Ephesians 4:5; Jude 1:3)
1 Corinthians 9:21 “21 To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God's law but am under Christ's law), so as to win those not having the law.”
Hebrews 7:12 “12 For when there is a change of the priesthood, there must also be a change of the law.”
James 2:8 “8 If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself,’ you are doing right.”
These passages teach us that in the Church (Kingdom), Christ is King; Christians are His subjects and the New Testament is His law.
The purpose of this study was to show you that often times in the New Testament the kingdom and the church are one and the same entity (Matthew 16:18-19). There are some other meanings where the word "kingdom" is not equated with church, but rather is speaking of the nature of God's rule in the present world, which was happening during Jesus' time (Matthew 12:28). When Matthew talks about the kingdom of heaven, you should look at the context to determine if he is talking about the church, the rule of God or perhaps both. For instance, when Jesus says in Mark 9:1 that the kingdom will come with power, not only is He referring to the rule of God through Jesus’ reign but also the arrival of His kingdom, ushered in through the power of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:8; 2:1-4, 30, 38, 41, 47).
Chapter 2 Review
1. The Church is not a ___________________ but people.
2. The Church is a _________________________ body.
3. The Church is not an organization, but a _______________________________.
4. Paul told the Corinthians that their body was the _______________ of ________.
5. When we become Christians, God’s Spirit __________________ in us.
6. The Church is a _______________________.
7. We have a relationship with God because He ______________ us into His family.
8. We have a relationship with Christ because He is the ___________ of the Church.
9. The Church is to love Christ like a ____________ is to love her ______________.
10. When we become Christians, we are added to the _____________ of Christ.
11. The word kingdom used in the New Testament refers to the _______________.
12. Choose the 3 requirements of a kingdom.
a. Must have a king.
b. Must have taxes.
c. Must have subjects.
d. Must have an army.
e. Must have a law.
13. Who is king in the Kingdom of God? __________________
14. Who are the subjects in the Kingdom of God? ____________________
15. What is the Law of the Kingdom of God? The ___________________________
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