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Church

by on September 24, 2012

Church

The Church is the collective expression of God’s society here on earth

The Church is a “called out” community

The word “ecclesia” means called out. Jesus used this term to designate his group of followers.

The Church is a worshiping community

The primary function of the Church is to worship God. The Church recognizes Christ as its Head and God as its Father and the Holy Spirit as its Guide. Believers worship God individually and the gathered Church worships God corporately. Worship is experienced in daily devotion of the individual in all of life. Collective worship is experienced in praise with singing and prayers.

The Church is a teaching community

The command in Matthew 20 is to make disciples by teaching. Paul in I Timothy says, “Scripture is given for doctrine, reproof, instruction and correction. The faith is passed from one generation to another by teaching. New converts are instructed in the Word by teaching. Teaching is one of the Spiritual gifts listed in Ephesians 4. Paul says that overseers should be “able to teach” (I Tim. 3). Teaching is what Jesus did much of the time. In fact, he was known as teacher (master). The greatest need in the Church is the need for teachers. Teaching is a Spiritual gift. It is also a talent that needs to be developed by training and use.

The Church is a redeeming community

Redemption is God’s plan for His creation. The Church is the agency for that plan in this time. The Church presents the gospel of salvation to a sinful and lost world. Redemption means to be purchased out of a decadent lifestyle and transformed into a new creature in Jesus Christ. To the degree that the Church becomes like the surrounding society – to that degree it loses its ability to offer redemption.

The Church is a healing community

All persons need healing. The Church is a safe place for that healing to occur. Healing is needed in many areas: physical, emotional, and spiritual. God offers healing through the Church for all types of injury and woundedness. In the Church, wounds can be safely exposed and healed. Jesus is the healer. In the Old Testament, Jehovah – Rapha is the God who heals. As individuals, members of the Church extend God’s healing to others.

The Church is a counseling community

Each believer is a counselor and each believer, at times, needs counseling. Counseling one another in the Church is the ideal way for this to happen. Believers need to be trustworthy and patient and kind and, according to Romans 15:14 and I Thess. 5:14, are full of goodness and knowledge and able to admonish each other. This continuing process should lessen the need for extensive, formal counseling. However, the Church also has persons whom God has gifted especially for the purpose of meeting emotional needs. Barnabas was a man who expressed the ministry of consolation and was instrumental in bringing Saul/Paul into the Church.

The Church is a loving community

Love for God and love for neighbor are the fulfillment of the law. The world is to know the Church by its love. The Church should be the most loving community anywhere in the world. Love means seeking the best for each other. Several places the Bible uses the term “love feast” – so much is the idea of love to permeate the lives of believers. “By this shall all men know that you are my disciples if you have love one for another” (John 13:35). It is love that draws people to God and His Church.

The Church is a prophetic community

This actually means two things. First, it means that the Church speaks against wrong and sin. A prophet is one who speaks for God. The Church is prophetic when it represents God’s viewpoints in the world. The Church speaks out against sin such as John the Baptist telling Herod that it was sin to be living with his brother’s wife. The Church speaks against sin when it does not practice dishonesty or bigotry or discrimination.

Secondly, the Church is also prophetic when it lives the Kingdom values today. Jesus’ words in the Sermon on the Mount are the guiding lesson for the Church. When the Church lives Jesus’ message it exemplifies Kingdom values to the world. The world can see, in the Church, what God’s ideals are for His creation. The Church is to be a current, living example of what the Kingdom of God will eventually be – a Kingdom of peace and equity and love and harmony.

The Church is a preserving community

The Church is salt and light in the world. Just as a few righteous persons would have stayed the hand of God in judgment on Sodom; so the Godly people in every society are the preserving factor.

The Church is a serving community

Believers are the best “citizens” in any society. Believers use their energies to serve God and neighbor. Believers are trustworthy. They are diligent. They are honest. They have servant hearts. They are harmless.

The Church as discerning community

Discernment is a gift of God given to some of His children. Men in leadership need discernment. The men who make up the leadership group of a local congregation need to seek the Lord for His will for specific situations. In these cases the gathered Church needs to seek and understand God’s will by discerning the leading of the Holy Spirit as the Holy Spirit directs through the Word and prayer.

The Church is a faithful community

As the Bride, the Church is not to become entangled in the affairs of this life. The bride is to be pure and chaste. She is to be preparing for the coming of her bridegroom. She is to be a pure virgin. While waiting she is busy representing the King, (her Bridegroom) and His kingdom. Her concern is keeping herself “unspotted from the world” (James 1:27).

The Church is a waiting community

Jesus Christ is coming to earth again. He has a plan for His Church, His bride. The Church eagerly awaits the Bridegroom. Her focus is always eternal. Her quest is always to know and do what would best prepare her for the coming of her Lord.

The Church is a community – a community of believers in Jesus Christ the Lord – a community of love for God and each other which makes the Church a parallel society to the society of the world. The Church is a culture to itself. It is a culture that exemplifies the ideas and ideals of God to the needs of the world. It is a culture that offers itself to the surrounding society as the answer for the ills of this life and hope for eternity. It is the expression of the people of God here on this earth. Being part of the Church is the greatest opportunity of this life. Being part of the Church is the greatest anticipation of eternity.

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