Notes on ‘The Church’

This is a teaching series we are doing at City Church in Shillong:

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2 Responses to “Notes on ‘The Church’”

  1. ian vincent Says:

    The Church

    Sub-topics:

    1) What is the Church?

    2) What the Church is not

    3) The Church universal and local

    4) Why does Jesus build His Church? The reasons?

    5) Committment to one Assembly

    6) What is fellowship in the Church?

    7) What is spiritual authority in the Church?

    8) What is the NT pattern for local Church meetings?

    9) The future of the endtime Church

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    1) What is the Church?

    a) The Church is a people, not a building. The building is not the house of God. We are the house, the temple of God.

    The church is never a place, but always a people; never a fold but always a flock; never a building but always a believing assembly. The church is you who pray, not where you pray. – Anonymous

    Gk Ekklesia, an Assembly – a called out assembly. Called out of what?

    Called out of the world. Therfore, the church should not be like the world. If it is like the world it is not the church, for the church is called out of the world.

    Just bcos people gather in a building or anywhere, it doesnt make it a church.

    If there was an earthquake and the building was destroyed would we still have a Church? When there is persecution and the only place we could meet is in the forest, would you still consider City Church as your Church?

    It is wrong to call a building a church or the church (but we say it out of habit). We can say, church building.

    There was no church building for at least the first 200 years of the Christian era, they met in homes, or in rented buildings, but the churches grew and they turned the world upside down even without owning big buildings.

    Even in the places and times when there was no persecution, they still did not build church buildings. It was not bcos they were too poor.

    They were careful to note the difference between the Old Covenant and the New Covenant. Now, there is no temple, sanctuary or priests, etc..

    Wherever we meet, it is just a building. It is not a holy sanctuary, like the OT Temple was.

    Note: Persecution brought the saints closer together. The Laodicean church got rich and lost it’s love.

    b) Spiritual family

    A true Church is a set of relationships – a spiritual family

    Spiritual family – truly brothers and sisters with the same Father

    By the new birth we are birthed as brothers and sisters. Where there is no new birth there is no Church.

    YOU are the Church, WE are the Church.

    Simply BE the Church every day. If we are not happy with our Church we should check if we ourselves are BEING the Church.

    For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.

    (Mat 18:20)

    What does it mean to gather together in Jesus name? Can we gather together, but not in Jesus name?

    In Jesus name doesn’t simply mean that His name is mentioned : it means His nature, character and purpose is represented. Even cults can say they meet in “Jesus name”, but it doesn’t mean that Jesus recognizes it as being in His name, if His words are not obeyed.

    Nevertheless I have somewhat against you, because you have left your first love. Remember therefore from where you are fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto you quickly, and will remove your lampstand out of its place, except you repent.

    (Rev 2:4-5)

    The Church in Ephesus risked being removed as a Church! Yes, they could have still gone on in sin, and the church would have continued, but Jesus means that if they did not repent, then He would no longer recognize them as a Church, and would no longer be in their midst!

    For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.

    Small meetings are a valid function of the Church, as Jesus says here, but 2 or 3 believers does not constitute a full NT Church. Church is the assembling of the saints in a locality.

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    2) What the Church is not

    a) It is not a man-made institution or a denomination

    (see the 7 churches of Revelation. If they were institutions they would still be there today). Man-made institutions can function and exist even without the Holy Spirit, and can only function without the Holy Spirit. They are driven by tradition and liturgy. The pastors and leaders don’t even need to be born-again for the institution to function and be successful.

    b) It is not a cult or a sect.

    What is a cult?

    Little children, it is the last time: and as you have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; by which we know that it is the last time.

    They went out from us, but they were not of us;

    for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us.

    (1Jn 2:18-19)

    A cult is a group which separates themselves from Bible believing, faithful Christians.

    John the Apostle is referring to the cult of the Gnostics, which was the first cult. Cults are those who leave Biblical fellowship and isolate themselves.

    c) The issue of control

    Cults control people’s lives, and try to control their finances. They force people to do things and to give money. They rule by force, fear and manipulation.

    But this you have, that you hate the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.

    (Rev 2:6)

    So have you also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate.

    (Rev 2:15)

    Nicolaitans is a compound word : Nico means to conquer, and Laity means the people. It means certain men who wanted to have power over others, and to use them for their own advantage, to use others to gain power and wealth.

    BUT don’t be surprised if the Apostate Church (Babylon) calls even Bible-based churches as cults. It has always done that.

    Be prepared to be called a cult, simply bcos you follow what the NT says.

    And, cults call everyone else, cults.

    Babylon the Great, Rev 17 & 18, (apostate or false Christianity) is, itself, a cult, even though it is has the most power and wealth in the world.

    Do you know how many believers have been murdered, burned at the stake, by the Apostate Church? Untold thousands.

    So, it is wrong to say that The Church has committed evil, or still commits evil.

    It is not Jesus’ Church which commits evil and persecutes true believers. That is the Apostate Church or Babylon the Great.

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    3) The Church universal and local

    Examples:

    a) The Church Universal :

    It is all the born-again believers who have ever lived, and all in the future who will come to Christ.

    And has put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, Which is his body, the fullness of him that fills all in all.

    (Eph 1:22-23)

    Endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body, and one Spirit, even as you are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.

    (Eph 4:3-6)

    For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the savior of the body.

    (Eph 5:23)

    For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.

    (Eph 5:30-32)

    b) The Local Church:

    It is the sum of the born-again believers in a locality, town or village.

    Examples:

    Paul, called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother, Unto

    the church of God which is at Corinth,

    to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours:

    (1Co 1:1-2)

    John to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace be unto you, and peace, from him who is, and who was, and who is to come; and from the seven Spirits who are before his throne;

    (Rev 1:4)

    Asia-minor was part of what is now modern day Turkey (not the continent of Asia).

    Question: Is there, The Church which is at Shillong ?

    Or, are there many local Churches in Shillong?

    Answer:

    These are the last days. We have to do the best we can where we are, and with what we have, with the believers we are in fellowship with.

    The Kingdom of God can always operate with small numbers. We can function in the Kingdom with just a few of us. The Kingdom is never restricted bcos the group is small.

    One Church in Shillong would be too big to function so that every member is cared for.

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    4) Why does Jesus build His Church? The reasons?

    a) His glory, He is glorified in His people.

    The glory of God is THE REASON for everything.

    Even everyone that is called by my name: for I have created him for my glory, I have formed him; yea, I have made him.

    (Isa 43:7)

    I bring near my righteousness: it shall not be far off, and my salvation shall not tarry: and I will place salvation in Zion for Israel my glory.

    (Isa 46:13)

    The four and twenty elders fall down before him that is sitting on the throne, and worship him that lives forever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying, You are worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power: for you have created all things, and for your pleasure they are and were created.

    (Rev 4:10-11)

    His people are His glory, His joy, His pleasure and delight. WE ARE HIS CHILDREN!

    If we don’t fellowship in a local Church we dishonor the Head of the Church, Jesus. We would be disobedient children who dishonor their father.

    If we don’t fellowship it’s bcos we don’t love God’s people, and if we don’t love God’s people then we don’t love God.

    b) God’s Glory in the Church:

    Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.

    (Eph 3:21)

    That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.

    (Eph 5:27)

    b) To build up His people and to nourish them:

    And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;

    For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry,

    for the edifying of the body of Christ:

    Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ:

    That we from now on be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, by which they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him IN ALL THINGS, who is the head, even Christ: From whom the whole body being fitly joined together and knit together

    by that which every joint supplies,

    according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, makes increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.

    (Eph 4:11-16)

    If you were not in fellowship with a local Church, and also not in fellowship with the Body of Christ, you would not grow up into Christ in all things. All things speaks of a full, and balanced, mature life.

    The elders who are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed: Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for dishonest gain, but of a ready mind; Neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being examples to the flock.

    (1Pe 5:1-3)

    c) For the safety of His people.

    Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counselors there is safety.

    (Pro 11:14)

    Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he has purchased with his own blood.

    For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock.

    (Act 20:28-29)

    True elders both feed the flock and guard the flock from wolves.

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    5) Committment to one Assembly

    a) Why go to one church?

    Why not do church-hopping? Why not shop around? Why do some think of Church as a supermarket, and go shopping around, to get fed somewhere different each week?

    Why not do that?

    Bcos God wants you to be accountable to elders and to a congregation. If you go to different churches then you are not accountable to anyone.

    How can elders be committed to you, if you are not committed to them?

    How can we say we love people if we are not committed to them? The church-hopper is not committed to the saints, so he doesn’t love them.

    Where is the balance between the Church Universal – the Body of Christ and the local Church? A small. local Church is not representative of the Body of Christ. We need to have fellowship with the Body of Christ around the world. The internet has been a BIG help for this.

    Let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as you see the day approaching.
    Hebrews 10:24-25

    Therefore, our assembling together is to:

    – consider one another

    – provoke unto love and to good works

    – to exhort one another

    Whatever we understand Church to be, we must not miss the 3 REASONS given here for assembling together.

    Church means an Assembly, a Gathering. Anywhere or anytime the saints are gathered or assembled together in Jesus name to encourage and exhort one another, THAT is Church happening.

    Church is something that either happens or doesn’t happen, it is an event. Remember, Church means Assembly, it is the act of assembling. If you don’t assemble you are not in the church.

    Think of a school assembly. It is the act of assembling. If there is no assembling, then you do not say there is an assembly.

    If the Church follows tradition and not the Spirit, then Church does not happen, as defined above in Hebrews 10:24-25.

    How easy is it to have Church, but not to consider one another? Not to be mindful of one another?

    b) God places you where He wants you to be, as a living stone in the house of God. He places each stone exactly where IT FITS IN to the building of the whole house.

    You also, as living stones, are built up into a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.

    (1Peter 2:5)

    Christians who are secretly sinning often try to avoid having close fellowship. They search for a church where there is no real fellowship so that there sins will not be revealed. Such people prefer a big church where no one knows each other, or where no one will get involved in their life. They can “hide” there.

    c) Being committed to a Church helps your faith to grow, and helps to keep you from falling away from the faith, and falling into sin.

    Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God. But exhort one another daily, while it is called Today;

    lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.

    (Heb 3:12-13)

    If we are to exhort one another daily, then we should have daily fellowship.

    d) Going to one Church builds your character.

    If you run away from problems it doesn’t solve them. Only in facing them are they solved. To run away from relationships does not build character.

    Staying with one Church, even when there are problems, builds our character and helps us to learn faithfulness.

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    6) What is fellowship in the Church?

    a) Fellowship is in the Gk Koinonia – to have in common – to share – to give and receive. We get the word “coin” from this, the common currency.

    If we are only giving it is not fellowship, and if we are only coming to get, then that is also not fellowship. Church-hopping can be motivated by trying to get for oneself, rather than true fellowship of giving and receiving.

    It is OK to come to church to receive, as long as we are also prepared to give. We don’t want to become a spiritual leech.

    Fellowship essentially means to love one another, to be genuine and sincere friends to one another. To help one another, and pray for one another, daily.

    Spiritual fellowship by the Spirit is closer than our flesh and blood, or natural brothers and sisters.

    b) Fellowship is ALWAYS a two-way street! Not a one-way street.

    Check your relationships that they are two-way and not one-way. If they are one-way, pray for that person all the more.

    It’s not always going to be two-way. Paul said, …The more abundantly I love you, the less I am loved. 2 Cor.12:15

    If we don’t have spiritual two-way fellowship in the Word of God then is it a Church? No. Then it is just a cultural thing.

    The true church is not a cultural thing, but it brings all cultures together.

    We don’t need to deny our culture, but our common unity and love in Christ must transcend our culture, race and nationality.

    b) Fellowship is in the Light

    That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you,

    that you also may have fellowship with us:

    and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.

    And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full. This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanses us from all sin.

    (1Jn 1:3-7)

    If we walk in the Light we have fellowship, both with God, and with one another.

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    7) What is spiritual authority in the Church?

    a) Jesus is the Head of the Church, the Church is His Body

    It is HIS Church, so it is His authority expressed in His Church:

    And I say also unto you, That you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hades shall not prevail against it.

    (Mat 16:18)

    And he is before all things, and by him all things are held together. And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.

    (Col 1:17-18)

    What an amazing statement!!

    So, Jesus is the one with the authority, and He works His authority thru those who know Him and are submitted to Him. Those under His authority have authority. Others don’t. If a leader is in sin, or lacks love, he has no authority.

    Authority is relational – it is by relationship.

    In the local Churches in the NT the elders had spiritual authority. Authority for edification:

    For though I should boast somewhat more of our authority, which the Lord has given us for edification, and not for your destruction, I should not be ashamed:

    (2Co 10:8)

    With so many people today claiming to have spiritual authority, how do we know who really has it? Bcos they edify / build up the body of Christ. Authority is given for building up.

    Does someone have spiritual authority just bcos they claim to have it, or were ordained by an organization? No.

    That would be dangerously naive to think that they did.

    Also, the issue of authority in a particular sphere:

    If I be not an apostle unto others, yet doubtless I am to you: for the seal of my apostleship are you in the Lord.

    (1Co 9:2)

    Again, authority is relational. Paul is telling them that thru his relationship and sacrificial serving of the Corinthians, that they should recognize his God-given authority.

    Jesus has authority of His Church bcos He laid down His life for us.

    In the same order, those who lay down their lives for us have spiritual authority in our lives. Paul was the example of this.

    A true shepherd lays down his life for the sheep:

    But he that is a hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, sees the wolf coming, and leaves the sheep, and flees: and the wolf catches them, and scatters the sheep. The hireling flees, because he is a hireling, and cares not for the sheep.

    (Joh 10:12-13)

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    8) What is the NT pattern for local Church meetings?

    How did they have church meetings in the beginning?

    But if all prophesy, and there come in one that believes not, or one unlearned, he is convicted of all, he is judged of all: And thus are the secrets of his heart made manifest; and so falling down on his face he will worship God, and report that God is in you of a truth.

    How is it then, brethren? when you come together,

    every one of you has a psalm, has a doctrine, has a tongue, has a revelation [a prophetic utterance] has an interpretation.

    Let all things be done unto edifying.

    If any man speak in an unknown tongue, let it be by two, or at the most by three, and that in turn; and let one interpret. But if there be no interpreter, let him keep silence in the church; and let him speak to himself, and to God.

    Let the prophets speak two or three, and let the others judge. If anything be revealed to another that sits by, let the first hold his peace.

    For you may all prophesy one by one, that all may learn, and all may be comforted. And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets. For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.

    (1Co 14:24-33)

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    9) The future of the last days Church

    In the time of the great tribulation the Church will have to go underground (like it is already in China and other places).

    And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all tribes, and tongues, and nations. And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.

    (Rev 13:7-8)

    In the first 4 centuries many times the Church was meeting in secret due to persecution, yet they turned the world upside down.

    For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not precede them who are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words.

    (1Th 4:15-18)

    ” …that we who are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord.. ”

    Jesus is coming and will catch away His Church. He will remove them bcos His wrath will be poured out on the earth.

    This is the future of the Church, to be taken out of this present world, but to return with Christ and rule and reign with Him 1000 years!

    And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, who is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years, And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little while. And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and who had not worshiped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands;

    and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.

    But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is he that has part in the first resurrection: on such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.

    (Rev 20:1-6)

    By Ian Vincent

    https://ianvincent.wordpress.com/

  2. Dilip Thapa Says:

    Amen! Jesus is passionate about His church, and He is going to restore it and the gates of gates of hades shall not prevail against it. That means no men made traditions would take over the church.

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