In our most recent Teaching Notes we looked at the subject of the New Covenant.
We move now to what the Bible teaches about the Church.
[These notes are from 40 years ago when I spoke to a group of pastors. The notes are in outline form.]
“I will build My Church.”
These are the words of Jesus Christ to Simon Peter. Jesus would build His Church and use Peter in the foundational process. We discover this in Acts 2:14-41 where Peter is the primary tool God used in building the infant Church on the Day of Pentecost.
- The Greek word for “church” is ekklesia and means “a calling out of.”
- An ekklesia is a called out assembly.
- A church is an assembly of the Lord’s people who have been called out of the world’s population.
The term ekklesia is used in the New Testament in the local sense of a group of Christians in one city –
- Acts 5:11; 8:1; 13:1; 15:22; 18:22
- 1 Corinthians 1:2
- 2 Corinthians 1:1
- Romans 16:5
- Colossians 4:15
- 1 Thessalonians 1:1
- 2 Thessalonians 1:1
- Philippians 2
- Revelation 2:1, 8, 12, 18; 3:1, 7, 14
The term ekklesia may also be used in the universal sense of all believers –
- Matthew 16:18
- Acts 9:31
To bring this into my own situation today –
- I think of my local church as an ekklesia.
- I think of all true churches in our region as an ekklesia (similar to the churches in Galatia).
- I consider all true churches in the United States of America as an ekklesia (similar to the churches of Asia).
Though I can change membership from one local church to another or even be without membership in a local assembly, I believe I am always in the larger assembly of God’s Church. However, all biblical evidence points to the need for every believer to be in a local church as a responsible and active participant.
I think an ekklesia in the best sense is where God’s people are physically assembled together for the purpose of –
- spurring one another on to love and good deeds
- a mutual ministry of strengthening one another under the proper leadership and form into a unified body of love (1 Corinthians 14:26-40; Ephesians 4:1-16; Hebrews 10:24-25; 13:17)
- The church grows and builds itself up in love as each part does its work (Ephesians 4:16)
- The Holy Spirit has given gifts to men for the work of the ministry and the edification of the body (1 Corinthians 12:1-31)
- Jesus places us into areas of service while God gives us the energy to function properly (1 Corinthians 12:5-6)
- As we use our spiritual gifts in the Lord’s place of service depending always upon the energy and power of God, the Holy Spirit works through us for the common good (1 Corinthians 12:7)
Some of the gifts given to members of the Body are speaking gifts while others are non-speaking (e.g. serving) –
- If we speak, we should speak the very words of God.
- If we serve, we should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ (1 Peter 4:10-11)
- God has not given His children gifts so they could gain personally from them, but so they could bring honor and glory to the One who gave them.
- We should each check out our use of His gifts to be sure we are speaking only His words and serving with only His strength to His glory.
Jesus has given gifted men to the church to help the church grow and become a unified body –
- Pastor-Teachers (Ephesians 4:7-11)
These men are given to the Body of Christ to –
- Prepare saints for the ministry God gives each one of them to do (Ephesians 4:12)
The leadership and government of each local ekklesia is to be elder-overseers and deacons (Philippians 1:1; 1 Timothy 3:1-13; Titus 1:6-9)
The Apostle Paul puts the title of elder-overseer together in Titus 1:6-9 –
- elder (presbuteros) refers to what the leader is
- overseer (episkopos) refers to what the leader does
- An elder-overseer is to be ordained (kathistemi) and shepherd the flock of God as a willing and eager servant (1 Peter 5:1-2).
- An elder is not to lord his position over those entrusted to his care, but use the position as an opportunity to be an example to the flock of God (1 Peter 5:3)
The term deacon (diakonos) refers to someone who serves another. It’s difficult to decipher a job description for deacons out of the New Testament, but they served the various needs of the body as directed by the elders. The seven men chosen in the early Jerusalem church to distribute food daily to the widows may be prototype of the deacon.
I am overwhelmed and awed at receiving salvation from a gracious God and being gifted to lead and instruct God’s people. My desire is to see those entrusted to my care presented mature and complete in Christ.
“To this end I also labor, striving according to His working which works in me mightily.” Colossians 1:29
[Thank you for reading these teaching notes from 40 years ago. My prayer is they will be a blessing to you and your ministry.]