in

The New Testament Church

TEXT:

Matthew 16:13-20 (Reference also in Mark 8:27-30; Luke 9:18-20)

13 When Jesus came into the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, saying, “Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?”

14 So they said,” Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”

15 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”

16 Simon Peter answered and said,” You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

17 Jesus answered and said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. 18 And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. 19 And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”

20 Then He commanded His disciples that they should tell no one that He was Jesus the Christ” (NKJV).

INTRODUCTION:

Understanding of the church Jesus built begins with an understanding of the phrase “church”. Those of us having more than a passing interest in the church Jesus built are interested in teaching others about it. Consequently, we are, or must understand what it is in order to explain it to others. The very nature of the Christian’s commitment to Christ requires of him/her that they teach others about Christ and His Church, {cf. Matthew 28:18-20, 18 “And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.

2 Timothy 2:2, 2 “And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also” {NKJV}.

DEFINING THE WORD CHURCH IN HISTORICAL PRESPECTIVE

‘The Greek word ekklesia, which came to mean church, was originally applied in the Classical period to an official assembly of citizens. In the Septuagint (Greek) translation of the Old Testament (3rd–2nd century BC), the term ekklesia is used for the general assembly of the Jewish people, especially when gathered for a religious purpose such as hearing the Law (e.g., Deuteronomy 9:10, 18:16). In the New Testament it is used of the entire body of believing Christians throughout the world (e.g., Matthew 16:18), of the believers in a particular area (e.g., Acts 5:11), and also of the congregation meeting in a particular house—the “house-church” (e.g., Romans 16:5)”. (Excerpted from Encyclopedia Britannica Online}

CHRIST USED A WORD IN COMMON USE AT THE TIME HE PREDICTED HE WOULD BUILD HIS CHURCH, Matthew 16:18.

The selection of the word church to designate the church Jesus Built indicates that it was to be an assembly of people who had all followed His prescription to enter it as those that entered it (i.e., the first congregation), on the day of Pentecost, cf. Acts 2:37-47, “37 Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” 38 Then Peter said to them,” Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.” 40 And with many other words he testified and exhorted them, saying, “Be saved from this perverse generation.” 41 Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them. 42 And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers. 43 Then fear came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles. 44 Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, 45 and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need. 46 So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved” (NKJV).

SOME FACTS ABOUT THE CHURCH JESUS BUILT

1. The church Jesus promised to build is described as a new relationship for Jews and Gentiles where they were to be united in one body — Ephesians 2:11-22, “11 Therefore remember that you, once Gentiles in the flesh — who are called Uncircumcision by what is called the Circumcision made in the flesh by hands — 12 that at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14 For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, 15 having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace, 16 and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity. 17 And He came and preached peace to you who were afar off and to those who were near. 18 For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father. 19 Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, 21 in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, 22 in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit” (NKJV).

2. The church Jesus promised to build is described by as a place where the citizens of it are peaceful and docile, and harmless as doves — Isaiah 2:4, “4 He shall judge between the nations, And rebuke many people; They shall beat their swords into plowshares, And their spears into pruning hooks; Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, Neither shall they learn war anymore” (NKJV).

John 14:25-27, “25 These things I have spoken to you while being present with you. 26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you. 27 Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”

Matthew 11:28-30, “28 Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For My yoke is easy and My burden is light” (NKJV).

CONSIDER THIS:

During Jesus ministry he taught the crowds that followed him about the qualities of and the nature of the people that were to make up the church (i.e., Kingdom of God) he promised to build especially is this prominent in his teaching of “The Sermon on the Mountain” cf. Matthew 5-7.

3. Jesus taught the people of his day that there would be salvation from sin for both Jews and Greeks, both slaves and freemen, and both male and female in the church he established — 1 Corinthians 12:12-14, “12 For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ. 13 For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body — whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free — and have all been made to drink into one Spirit. 14 For in fact the body is not one member but many.

Galatians, 3:26-29, “26 For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. 27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise” (NKJV)

4. Jesus set the organizational structure of the church, both in its universal sense and in its local congregational sense:

* In the universal sense the church is the Body of Christ, He is the head of it — Ephesians 1:19-23, “19 and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power 20 which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come. 22 And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, 23 which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all” (NKJV).

** In the local, congregational sense each congregation is autonomous, self governing, having their own plurality of elders, deacons, and members — Ephesians 4:11-16, “11 And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors (i.e., elders – added by Glc) and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, 13 till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; 14 that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, 15 but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head — Christ — 16 from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love”

Philippians 1:1, “1 Paul and Timothy, bondservants of Jesus Christ, To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, with the bishops {i.e., “elders – Added by Glc} and deacons” (NKJV).

CONSIDER THIS:

The Biblical organization of the church of Christ is a plurality of elders (i.e., bishops, presbyters, pastors,) in every church, with deacons serving under the oversight of the qualified elders. The qualifications of elders and deacons is found in Titus 1:5-9, “5 For this reason I left you in Crete, that you should set in order the things that are lacking, and appoint elders in every city as I commanded you — 6 if a man is blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of dissipation or insubordination. 7 For a bishop must be blameless, as a steward of God, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money, 8 but hospitable, a lover of what is good, sober-minded, just, holy, self-controlled, 9 holding fast the faithful word as he has been taught, that he may be able, by sound doctrine, both to exhort and convict those who contradict” (NKJV).

1 Timothy 3:8-13, “8 Likewise deacons must be reverent, not double-tongued, not given to much wine, not greedy for money, 9 holding the mystery of the faith with a pure conscience. 10 But let these also first be tested; then let them serve as deacons, being found blameless. 11 Likewise, their wives must be reverent, not slanderers, temperate, faithful in all things. 12 Let deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well. 13 For those who have served well as deacons obtain for themselves a good standing and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus”

5. The church Jesus built has a divinely given pattern for its worship — John 4:24, “God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth” (NKJV).

There are five actions included in acceptable worship:

Lord’s Supper — Acts 20:7, “Now on the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul, ready to depart the next day, spoke to them and continued his message until midnight” ( NKJV).

Giving into a common treasury (i.e. the congregation’s treasury) — 1 Corinthians 16:1-2, “ Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given orders to the churches of Galatia, so you must do also: 2 On the first day of the week let each one of you lay something aside, storing up as he may prosper, that there be no collections when I come” (NKJV).

Singing — Ephesians 5:19-21, “19 speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, 20 giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 21 submitting to one another in the fear of God.”

Colossians 3:16, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord”

Praying – Colossians 4:2-4, “Continue earnestly in prayer , being vigilant in it with thanksgiving; 3 meanwhile praying also for us, that God would open to us a door for the word, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in chains, 4 that I may make it manifest, as I ought to speak.”

Philippians 4:6, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God” (NKJV).

Ephesians 5:2, “ giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 21 submitting to one another in the fear of God” (NKJV).

Teaching (i. e. preaching) — Acts 20:7, “Now on the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul, ready to depart the next day, spoke to them and continued his message until midnight”

6. The work that the congregation is to do is also revealed by God, each congregation is to perform activities that God has authorized the congregation to do. Those authorized activities are:

Edify the congregation – Romans 14:19, “Therefore let us pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which one may edify another.”

1 Corinthians 10:23-24, “23 All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful; all things are lawful for me, but not all things edify. 24 Let no one seek his own, but each one the other’s well-being.

1 Thessalonians 5:11, “Therefore comfort each other and edify one another, just as you also are doing.”

Ephesians 4:12, “ For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:”

Evangelize the world to the extent of the congregation’s resources – Matthew 28:18-20, “18 And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.

Acts 8:4-8, “4 Therefore those who were scattered went everywhere preaching the word. 5 Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria and preached Christ to them. 6 And the multitudes with one accord heeded the things spoken by Philip, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did. 7 For unclean spirits, crying with a loud voice, came out of many who were possessed; and many who were paralyzed and lame were healed. 8 And there was great joy in that city.

Acts 11:19-26, “19 Now those who were scattered after the persecution that arose over Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch, preaching the word to no one but the Jews only. 20 But some of them were men from Cyprus and Cyrene, who, when they had come to Antioch, spoke to the Hellenists, preaching the Lord Jesus. 21 And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number believed and turned to the Lord.”22 Then news of these things came to the ears of the church in Jerusalem, and they sent out Barnabas to go as far as Antioch. 23 When he came and had seen the grace of God, he was glad, and encouraged them all that with purpose of heart they should continue with the Lord. 24 For he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. And a great many people were added to the Lord. 25 Then Barnabas departed for Tarsus to seek Saul. 26 And when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. So it was that for a whole year they assembled with the church and taught a great many people. And the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch. “

Acts 20:7, “Now on the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul, ready to depart the next day, spoke to them and continued his message until midnight. NKJV

CONSIDER THIS:

It is often suggested that if each congregation is limited to the extent of its ability how may the church aid in evangelizing the far off countries and their many and varied peoples? The Lord did not leave this matter to the judgment of individual Christians or to the judgment of the elders of autonomous churches; He did revealed the method for doing this type of world outreach to the Lost. Please note the following Biblical references that show how this work was done in early New Testament times:

FIRST – Notice in these passages that the preacher (i.e., Paul and his fellow preachers) in the mission field (i.e. Corinth) were supported directly by many churches:

SECOND – Notice that the large congregation in Jerusalem, after hearing of the conversion of the Gentiles in Antioch of Syria, sent Barnabus (i.e., supported him) to go and strengthen and encourage them – (see above Acts 11:22-25, underlined)

2 Corinthians 11:5-10, “5 For I consider that I am not at all inferior to the most eminent apostles. 6 Even though I am untrained in speech, yet I am not in knowledge. But we have been thoroughly manifested among you in all things. 7 Did I commit sin in humbling myself that you might be exalted, because I preached the gospel of God to you free of charge? 8 I robbed other churches, taking wages from them to minister to you. 9 And when I was present with you, and in need, I was a burden to no one, for what I lacked the brethren who came from Macedonia supplied. And in everything I kept myself from being burdensome to you, and so I will keep myself.”

2 Corinthians 12:12-13, “12 Truly the signs of an apostle were accomplished among you with all perseverance, in signs and wonders and mighty deeds. 13 For what is it in which you were inferior to other churches, except that I myself was not burdensome to you? Forgive me this wrong” (NKJV)!

THIRD – Whenever a large, affluent congregation sees the need to assist a church either in America or a foreign country and are financially able to do so they ought to do it.

FORTH – Whenever a need is brought to the attention of faithful churches and evangelists in a destitute place, a church ought to send a sound man to assist the needy church. If the congregation cannot support the man alone they ought to aid him in raising whatever support that he needs from other churches and individuals and Have the support sent directly to the preacher in the field of labor. The New Testament does not give authority to do this work of evangelizing any other way.

Care for needy (i.e., destitute) Christians — Acts 11:27-30, “27 And in these days prophets came from Jerusalem to Antioch. 28 Then one of them, named Agabus, stood up and showed by the Spirit that there was going to be a great famine throughout all the world, which also happened in the days of Claudius Caesar. 29 Then the disciples, each according to his ability, determined to send relief to the brethren dwelling in Judea. 30 This they also did, and sent it to the elders by the hands of Barnabas and Saul.”

James 2:15-16, “15 If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit” (NKJV).

1 Corinthians 16:1-2, “1 Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given orders to the churches of Galatia, so you must do also: 2 On the first day of the week let each one of you lay something aside,

2 “storing up as he may prosper, that there be no collections when I come. “NKJV

Care for widows indeed from the congregation’s treasury – 1 Timothy 5:3-16, “3 Honor widows who are really widows. 4 But if any widow has children or grandchildren, let them first learn to show piety at home and to repay their parents; for this is good and acceptable before God. 5 Now she who is really a widow, and left alone, trusts in God and continues in supplications and prayers night and day. 6 But she who lives in pleasure is dead while she lives. 7 And these things command, that they may be blameless. 8 But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. 9 Do not let a widow under sixty years old be taken into the number, and not unless she has been the wife of one man, 10 well reported for good works: if she has brought up children, if she has lodged strangers, if she has washed the saints’ feet, if she has relieved the afflicted, if she has diligently followed every good work. 11 But refuse the younger widows; for when they have begun to grow wanton against Christ, they desire to marry, 12 having condemnation because they have cast off their first faith. 13 And besides they learn to be idle, wandering about from house to house, and not only idle but also gossips and busybodies, saying things which they ought to the adversary to speak reproachfully. 15 For some have already turned aside after not. 14 Therefore I desire that the younger widows marry, bear children, manage the house, give no opportunity Satan. 16 If any believing man or woman has widows, let them relieve them, and do not let the church be burdened, that it may relieve those who are really widows”

CONSIDER THIS:

Responsibilities of Christians on an individual basis examined toward the poor, destitute, orphans, and widows or widowers. Consider these following Biblical references in context:

With regard to younger widows or those widows with family — 1 Timothy 5:14-16, “14 Therefore I desire that the younger widows marry, bear children, manage the house, give no opportunity to the adversary to speak reproachfully. 15 For some have already turned aside after Satan. 16 If any believing man or woman has widows, let them relieve them, and do not let the church be burdened, that it may relieve those who are really widows” (NKJV).

With regard to the poor — John 12:8, “For the poor you have with you always, but Me you do not have always.”

Galatians 2:10, “They desired only that we should remember the poor, the very thing which I also was eager to do.”

James 2:1-6, “My brethren, do not hold the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with partiality. 2 For if there should come into your assembly a man with gold rings, in fine apparel, and there should also come in a poor man in filthy clothes, 3 and you pay attention to the one wearing the fine clothes and say to him, “You sit here in a good place,” and say to the poor man, “You stand there,” or, “Sit here at my footstool,” 4 have you not shown partiality among yourselves, and become judges with evil thoughts? 5 Listen, my beloved brethren: Has God not chosen the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him” (NKJV).

Galatians 6:10, “10 Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith” (NKJV).

With regard to orphans and widows — James 1:27, “Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world”.

With regard to enemies — Matthew 5:48, “”You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, love your enemies , bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, 45 that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so? 48 Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect” (NKJV).

With regard to brethren:

Erring brethren — James 5:19-20, “19 Brethren , if anyone among you wanders from the truth, and someone turns him back, 20 let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins” (NKJV).

Faithful brethren — 1 Peter 1:22-23, “22 Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren , love one another fervently with a pure heart, 23 having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever,”

1 John 3:13-18, “13 Do not marvel, my brethren , if the world hates you. 14 We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love his brother abides in death. 15 Whoever hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him. 16 By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. 17 But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him? 18 My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth” (NKJV).

How to behave as Christians interact together in Christ (i.e., in the church) – 1 Timothy 3:14-16, “These things I write to you, though I hope to come to you shortly; 15 but if I am delayed, I write so that you may know how you ought to behave yourself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth. 16 And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness”

1 Corinthians 13:1-13, “1Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. 2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing. 4 Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; 5 does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; 6 does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 8 Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part. 10 But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away. 11 When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. 12 For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known. 13 And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love” (NKJV)

CONCLUSION:

The material that we have presented here is a very small portion of those things that the New Testament teaches about church membership, and the Christian’s personal responsibility. From time to time we will discuss more of the duties, privileges, and desires that the Christian ought to possess. There are many fundamental matters that are often overlooked or neglected in the life of many Christians; perhaps we can study these matters in the future in more detail. Biblical study is the most productive of all reading and personal study, there is not another source of information on earth that will effect your life more that the information that God has revealed to us via the Written Word. Study the Bible daily… update; August 9, 2012

By Garreth L. Clair

What do you think?

Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading…

0

In Pursuit of The Right Church

What is My Part in The Local Church?