Pastor Barry/ The Gathering Church Lesson 7 The Church (This I Believe Series)
“Church” Ephesians 1:22-23, Matthew 16:13-19, Matthew 7:24-27, John 15:5
If someone were to call you on your cell phone this very minute and ask you where you were you would likely say “at church”, but you would be wrong. Firstly you would be wrong for answering your phone and talking during the service… but secondly you would be wrong because Biblically speaking you are not “at church” — If you are a Christian you are “the Church” and if you are not then you are among “the Church”. Biblically defined this building is not the “Church” (no building is). The word “church” is from the Greek word ekklesia, which defined is “an assembly” or “called-out ones.” The root meaning being not that of a building, but of a people. When somebody says “what church do you attend?”, Biblically speaking you can answer “the Body of Christ!” Jesus is both the foundation and the Head of the “Church” which He began. Ephesians 1:22-23 He also said that Hell will never prevail against it (Matthew 16:18).
The Apostle Peter is not the foundation of the Church as the Catholic doctrine mistakenly declares by naming him the first pope. Jesus is the “rock” (lit. Greek: Petra= foundation stone) of the Church and “Peter” (lit. Greek: Petros = small stone) declared it. Peter represented all believers (“the Church”) when he said that Jesus is “Messiah, Son of God”. The Church (believers) receives “keys to the Kingdom” and victory over Hell by Jesus. In Matthew 7:24-25 Jesus refers to that same “rock”: floods came, winds blew, but the house stood because it was built upon “the rock”. Not upon a stone (petros) or sand but upon the Rock (Petra) -Jesus! Remember: Apart from Him we can do nothing: John 15:5 Note: Some might say “Jesus spoke Aramaic not Greek and there is no distinction in the word “rock” in the Aramaic language. Then why would the Greek translators make such an obvious distinction unless they wanted to make the correct doctrine clear?
So what happened to the “One True Church”? In a nut shell (nuts) man drifted from truth. In the first two centuries the Church was severely persecuted yet grew. By the third century the Church was moving from homes to buildings and political hierarchy was invented. The fourth century brought great persecution to the Church but ended with Constantine’s conversion. Christianity became the state religion. Land was purchased, basilicas were built, and political power came. In the fifth through the fifteenth centuries (Middle Ages) the “church” became polluted with worldliness and tortured and killed those who dared offend it. Many false doctrines were introduced to make money and to control people. Politics divided the “church” into two popes (England & Rome) and bloody crusades and inquisitions became the mark of the “church”. In the Fifteenth century Reformation began. John Wycliffe questioned the authority of the Pope, and Jan Hus spoke out against indulgences (payment to absolve sin). In 1446 the invention of the printing press brought Bibles to the common folk . The sixteenth century brought much needed change. Luther posted his 95 Thesis (1517) against the Catholic church and protesters followed his lead (protestants) in the centuries that followed. The nineteenth century produced many protestant groups called denominations as people tried to define various Bible doctrines (teachings), but an outpouring world missions resulted! Oddly, the pope was also declared infallible by the Vatican (1870). Guess they ignored history. In the twentieth century the gospel reached virtually every region in the world. 95% of the world has the Bible in their own language. The internet also brings the gospel truth, but the devil uses it too. Christianity grew in China but declines in the Western world. Islam is now the fastest growing religion in the world. This century also shows more Christians martyred than all other centuries combined.
Looking at the sins in our history it’s hard to believe that anyone still believes, but this is a testimony to God and not man. The “Church” ( true believers) have always prevailed for Jesus is our foundation and he said “the gates of Hell will not prevail.” Again…He is the indestructible foundation! Amen
The Body of Christ 1 Corinthians 12:12-13:1, 1 John 4:7-16
According to the Bible, the church is the “body of Christ”—all those who have faith in Jesus for salvation (John 3:16; 1 Corinthians 12:13). The Universal Church consists of everyone, everywhere, who is “born again” through Jesus (John 3:3)— these also belong to The Local Church: gatherings who regularly worship, study God’s word and serve as He commanded. Just as a body has many parts so does the Church. We are all baptized by One Spirit to form one body of believers. There is unity with all believers. We have different gifts and talents that carry out our mission. God has placed Apostles (missionaries), Prophets (Pastors), and Teachers to guide the Church. He has brought miracles and healing through others to encourage the Church. He has brought the gift of helps, guidance and different kinds of tongues (languages) to strengthen the Church. All do not have the same gifts, but we are all to have the same love. For God is love (1 John 7:8).
Keys to the Kingdom Matthew 16:19, John 17:14-21
Just what did Jesus mean when He said that He would give His Church the Keys to the Kingdom”? The Church has the power through prayer/action to open doors to Heaven or to shut them. History shows that the “church” has often shut the door on those we were meant to bring to Christ in love. Let us never be so foolish as to think that we can do anything apart from Him personally or publicly…We are His Church let us follow His word carefully and share His message in deed and truth (1 John 3:18).