in-between studies

The Church

the-church
(from my Wednesday night study at my church; Pastor Jesse)

Matthew 16:13-20

13 Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” 14 And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, others say 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 replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” 17 And Jesus answered 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 tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” 20 Then he strictly charged the disciples to tell no one that he was the Christ.

What is the Church?

The Church is both local and universal.  The universal Church includes all of those in the world who have confessed Christ, both past and present.  The local church is a local expression of the universal church and is comprised of regenerated believers who, in obedience to scripture, organize under biblically qualified leadership, come together regularly for preaching and worship, observe the ordinances of baptism and the Lord’s Supper, are held accountable through discipleship, and go out into the world to fulfill the Great Commandment and the Great Commission as missionaries for the glory of God and the salvation of humanity.

The Church…

  • is led by Jesus. (Ephesians 1:22,5:23 & Colossians 1:18)

22 “And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church”
23 “For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior.”
18 “And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy.”

  • is given qualified leadership by Jesus. (1 Corinthians 12:27-28)

27 “Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. 28 And God has placed in the church first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, of helping, of guidance, and of different kinds of tongues.”

  • is ordained by God. (Matthew 16:18)

18 “And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.”

  • is essential for all believers. (Hebrews 10:19-25)

19 “Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess,for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”

  • displays the glory of God. (Ephesians 3:7-10, 21)

7 “I became a servant of this gospel by the gift of God’s grace given me through the working of his power. Although I am less than the least of all the Lord’s people, this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the boundless riches of Christ, and to make plain to everyone the administration of this mystery, which for ages past was kept hidden in God, who created all things. 10 His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms”

21 “to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.”

***

Each Wednesday we attend a group of about 20 or so who are interested in learning even more through diligent study of God’s word.  This was from last night.  I particularly liked this one because there was some new info for me.  For instance, when Jesus tells Peter: “on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it“, they are actually standing on a large hill of rock.  The place they are standing is in Caesarea Philippi, and it is where crowds of wealthy Romans would gather to worship idols, and perform sexual immoral acts.  In the center of this hill is a cave where a spring flows up rapidly, forming the headwaters of the Jordan river.  The cave was named by the Romans, ‘Hell’s Gate’.

I loved the definition Jesse set forth for the church.  When you see ‘universal church’ you are speaking of all of the people in the past, including Old Testament, who were truly changed by God, as well as all the people now living who have been given this new life.  I’ve never thought about myself belonging to a ‘universal’ church, although the moment God changed my heart I became a member.  It is so awesome to think about who I will see in Heaven some day.

There is so much here, I hope you will take the time to study these scriptures to reveal what the church is meant to be: a gathering of people who are born-again, taking accountability for each other in the hopes that the glory being revealed will spread to the people and places they encounter.

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