THE CHURCH OF CHRIST
The Church has been God’s plan from the beginning to establish His kingdom here on earth. In the Old Testament, God set the children of Israel free from the land of Egypt for them to worship Him. This is the first time we heard about the “Church in the wilderness”. That is, God called the children of Israel out of Egypt, which gave the actual meaning of the Church “the called out ones”.
At the end of this class, students should have good understanding of the following:
a. The meaning and origin of the church.
b. The purpose of the church.
c. Why it’s necessary to belong to a local assembly of a church?
d. Who builds the church and our responsibilities in the church?
e. The need to fulfil our responsibilities in the church
WHAT IS THE UNIVERSAL CHURCH AND HOW DO I BECOME A MEMBR?
Many people do not really understand what the word Church means. They talk about the “Protestant” Church or the “Catholic” church or a “Baptist” Church while others actually think the church is the building in which Christians meet. The Greek word translated Church is ECCLESIA, which means a gathering of people called out from among other people. The New Testament describes the word Church in two ways:
a. It is used for all believers on earth. This is the Church which is called Christ’s body (Col 1:18, 24; 1 Cor 12:12-13, 27).
b. It is used to refer to all believers in the local Church. 1 Cor 16:19.
HOW DOES ONE BECOME A MEMBER OF THE CHURCH?
One becomes a member of the Church by believing in his heart that Jesus Christ died on the cross of Calvary for him and confessing with his mouth that Jesus is his Lord and Saviour (Rom 10:9-10).
THE PURPOSSE OF THE CHURCH?
The purpose of the Church is as follows:
a) GLORIFY GOD
The true purpose of the Church is to be a light. (Isaiah 60:1) and to glorify God in all our works and deeds, mindful of the fact that He is the Lord of our lives, our source and strength (Ephesians 3:21).
b) TO WITNESS TO THE WORLD
The aim of the Church is too bear witness of Christ to sinners. We are to tell the world about the Lord Jesus and the work HE did on the cross of Calvary so that all men might be saved. Therefore the local assembly should witness to the people in the place where it is located and should send forth Christians to take the message of salvation to people in other land (Matthew 28:20; Mark 16:15-18).
WHY DO WE NEED A LOCAL ASSEMBLY?
The local assembly actually is a gathering of believers in a given locality. We need local assemblies in order to bear witness of Christ. The gold lamp stands in Revelation 1:20 as a picture of a local assembly and gold speaks of divine righteousness. The local assembly positions the individual believer in the body of Christ and enables him or her function properly (1 Cor 12:26). The local assembly also builds up the individual member thereby nourishing him or her onto maturity. The local assembly also enables the believer discover the different gifts bestowed on him by the Holy Spirit.
‘UPON THIS ROCK ‘I WILL BUILD MY CHURCH’ IS THE ROCK PETER?
No, the rock is not Peter, In Greek, the name Peter means Petros (small rock), while rock means Petra. Jesus Christ said in Matthew 16:18, “you are Peter (Petros) and upon this rock (Petra) I will build my church”. In this verse of scripture he was first talking about the revelation of the person of Jesus. He meant that the church is built out of those stones (small rock) that partake of the nature of the Petra (rock) by their confession of Him. Peter’s answer as to who Jesus is set apart from and beyond human reasoning as Jesus commended his having heard from God (Matthew 16:16,17). Afterward Jesus emphasized that leadership in his church would always be based not on man’s ability to reason things out but on his readiness and receptivity to hear God through revelation knowledge. So Christ is actually the chief cornerstone and the firm foundation upon which every Christian’s faith is built (1 Peter 2:4-7; Ephesians 2:18-20; 1 Corinthians 3:11).
IS IT IMPORTANT TO BELONG TO A CHURCH
It is important to belong to a Church because the bible says we should not neglect the coming together of God’s people as in fellowship (Hebrews 10:25). We also belong to a Church so as to grow spiritually onto maturity. Also it makes us consistent and committed members of the Body of Christ (Ephesians 4:11-14).
WHY SHOULD I GO TO CHURCH?
To function as a member of the Body of Christ (1 Cor 12:12-26).
To build ourselves up in the most holy faith (Jude 20).
To serve, which is in coming together as members of the Body of Christ, the Holy Spirit helps each believer to worship God and witness Christ.
(Ephesians 4:11-14; Hebrews 10:25) we go to Church so that we can build others and to be built up to maturity.
WHO BUILDS THE CHURCH
a) JESUS IS THE BUILDER (MATTHEW 16:18)
He is the rock of ages in whom there is salvation. Jesus Christ is the foundation of Christian life (1 Peter 2:6). He started building when he died on the cross of Calvary for all men.
b) WE ARE ALSO BUILDERS
We are builders also because when we believed, we began to exist as members of the Body of Christ and therefore we need to take our place in the Body of Christ (Ephesians 4:12-14) for the edifying of the Body of Christ and the perfecting of the saints.
c) WE AER CO – LABOURERS
We are partners with deity because God has chosen us as co-labourers in his vineyard and therefore we are God’s husbandry and his building (1 Cor 3:9-10). We are in partnership with God and we have been given the ministry of reconciliation whereby we reconcile souls back to him.
The church of Jesus Christ is the body of all believers. One can only be a member of the church by being born again. The church’s primary purpose is to glorify God and witness Christ to the world. It is required of every Christian to identify with a local assembly and fellowship with them. Participating in fellowship is not optional. In fact, Hebrews 10:25 admonish us not to forsake the assembly of the brethren. Lastly, a Christian is a co-labourer with God in building the Church.
The understanding of you should be tested by reviewing the following questions:
1. What is Church and who builds the church?
2. How does one become a member of the Church?
3. Why does a Christian need to be a functioning member of a Local Assembly?
4. When was the concept of “Church” first introduced?
5. What do you understand as the universally church and how do you become a member?
6. What are the purposes of the church?
7. Why should a Christian go to church?
8. How do we contribute to the building of the church?
9. Is a church a gathering of individuals? Why?
10. Could the body of Christ be said to be the church?
GROUP DISCUSSION AND ASSIGNMENT
“Upon this rock I’ll build my church” Matthew 16:18 Explain.
Jesus is the builder of the church. Matthew 16:18; 1 Peter 2:6. Discuss.
Why do we need a local assembly?
RECOMMENDED MATERIALS PASTOR CHRIS
How to pray for God’s People.
The harvest is Plenteous
You are my Witness
Christ builds His Church
The Priestly Ministry of the Believer
The Missionary Christian
The Prayer Life of the Missionary Christian.