Articles Comments

Shepherds Hill Homestead » Messages » The Church-The Body of Christ

The Church-The Body of Christ

Today I want to cover some aspects of the Christian Church and look at what it is and what it is not. If you look this up in the Dictionary there are several definitions for the word Church. These include a building for public Christian worship, a religious service in such a building, the worldwide body of Christian believers, a Christian denomination, and organized religion as distinguished from the state. For clarity today I am speaking about the third definition; the worldwide body of Christian believers. Before Jesus went back to His Father’s side He gave a call to His disciples to go into all the world and to preach the Gospel, baptizing those who would receive the message. We call this the Great Commission. This calling out is the beginning of the modern day church. The Greek word “ekklesia” that is translated for the word Church in most passages of the Bible means “called out”. Truly, the members of this worldwide body of Christian believers have been called out of this world to sojourn to another. We are just passing through, as it were. Our perspective should be an eternal one since this is our ultimate goal.

Under the Old Covenant God’s chosen people, the Jews met in an established temple. The first temple was a tent that was portable and moveable. It traveled with the Jews while they wandered in the wilderness. This structure was designed by God Himself and given to Moses. It had very specific dimensions, materials and colors. The sacrificial services were designated by God as to how animals were slaughtered and what type of animals could be used. Even the smaller vessels and tools in the temple were all designated by God as to their exact design. When David became King he desired to build a permanent dwelling for God. He asked God for this honor but was denied because he was a man of war (1 Chron 28:3). His son Solomon was allowed to build a permanent temple for Israel, though. This temple was constructed on the piece of ground we know as the TempleMount. It was destroyed in 587 B.C. by the Babylonians. Zerubbabel built the next temple and completed it in 515 B.C. While it was larger than Solomon’s it could not compare in magnificence and splendor. Herod built a temple (known as the Second Temple) to massive proportions beginning in 18 B.C. and it was not completed until 64 A.D. Josephus (the Jewish historian) described it as being surrounded in gold at the top and wrapped in white marble-appearing as a snow covered mountain from a distance. Jesus prophesied that this temple would be destroyed (Matt 24:1-8). In seventy A.D. it was in fact destroyed and God’s temple was never rebuilt.

During Jesus’ ministry He began to lay out the New Covenant that God had planned with man. With Jesus Himself being the perfect Sacrificial Lamb once and for all time this new group of God’s elect would be different than the Jews. Whereas before the Law was given on tablets of stone God’s new Covenant would be written on the tablets of men’s hearts ( Hebrews 8:10). Instead of meeting in the Jewish Temple this new group would be called to meet anywhere and everywhere. Jesus promised that where two of more people had gathered in His name He would be there (Matt 18:20). As it was God’s original plan for the first temple to be mobile and portable we can see that it was His design to be an image of the NewCovenantChurch being mobile and portable. Paul stated that our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor 6:19-20).

After Christ’s Ascension into Heaven the Church began as 120 people in an Upper Room as listed in Acts chapters one and two. They prayed for guidance and direction for God to reveal the next steps. He sent His Holy Spirit and filled them all with the physical evidence of tongues of flames, much like He did when His Spirit was poured out in the First Temple (Ex. 40:34-38). Since these believers were primarily Jewish they continued meeting in the Synagogues on the Sabbaths. As the rest of the Jews denounced Jesus and this New Covenant they began to be separated and were not allowed to meet and speak there. Paul tried to bring the Gospel like this to his fellow Jews and when they ran him out of the temple setting he began to preach to people (including no non-Jews) in any and every location. As an example in Acts 16:13 he went to a riverbank where he spoke to some women and had a convert saved named Lydia. In Acts 17:22 he is found preaching on Mars Hill in Athens. The Church was not formed in buildings as we see in scripture but wherever the Spirit of God moved. In Acts 8:26-40 Phillip met with an Ethiopian eunuch on the side of the road and presented the Gospel to him. He was saved there!

There are no passages indicating that the church was to meet in an established building but many passages that tell that the early church met in homes regularly. “Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bred in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people.“(Acts 2:46). Also consider Acts 12:12 Acts 16:40, Acts 20:20, Romans 16:5, 1 Corinthians 16:19, Colossians 4:15 and Philemon 1:2. These show us that the early Body of Believers were much like the FirstTemple that God designed. As a tent can be set up and moved from place to place, being available to those nearby so was the EarlyChurch. It met in various places and spread throughout the known world.

If you ask someone today what the church is they may give you one of the definitions in my first paragraph. They probably envision a building where people who call themselves Christians meet on Sunday. They might even assume that being a member whose name in on a record book for that group assures their Salvation. Doctor J. Vernon McGee once said that when we get to Heaven we are going to be surprised at two things. One, we will be surprised at who is there that we thought wouldn’t be and two, we will be surprised at who we thought would be there who isn’t. I think there is a lot of truth in that. We sometimes judge a group that has a parking lot full of cars on Sunday Morning as being on track and in God’s will. Because they have crowds of people showing up we think that they are all on fire for God. The small Church down the road that has twenty people in it are overlooked and are even told that they aren’t really a church because they meet in a home.

Growing up I understood Christianity as my denomination taught me. I saw the scripture through the doctrinal glasses. When I studied other denominations I learned about the differences of opinion about scriptures. Some of my friends went to other churches and we often discussed why we believed certain things. As an adult I gravitated to a Pentecostal church and became part of it. I worked as a deacon, and later a youth pastor. After several years I saw some issues that I disagreed with and moved to another church. I tried to stay in that denomination but never found a church that didn’t have serious issues. Leadership was skewed in every one and year by year I saw the trend to go in a more worldly direction. By entertaining the congregations instead of feeding them spiritually the churches seemed to be leading no where. Families were falling apart including my own.

About fifteen years ago my family reached a crossroad where we had pulled away from the corporate church and began to meet on Sunday morning in our living room. We realized that week after week of trying to find a Church home was going no where. It began as a short Bible study and a few songs. After a few weeks went by some friends asked us where we were going to church. When I explained that we held service in our living room they asked if they could attend. People came a few at a time and after several months we had about fifty people in our home! Little by little they too went to other areas and we were down to our family again. Seven years ago we sold our home and moved about thirty miles away to our present home. Here the same thing has happened. At one time we had about forty people. We regularly have about twenty in the room and many who join us live on our internet broadcast.

I was asked to explain why we felt the need to meet in our home the other day. I must say that looking back it was not my intention. It’s much easier to just attend a meeting somewhere where you are responsible for nothing. Most people feel comfortable doing this but I was too concerned for the spiritual welfare of my family to just attend any church. As I mentioned above my family was at a crossroad. My wife and I prayed and asked God to lead us to a Church meeting where we and our children could have fellowship with like minded believers. On each occasion where we visited a group we were either snubbed by the congregation or the standards were so worldly that we sometimes felt it was a bar and grill atmosphere. I really did try to just overlook much of it but it just seemed to get worse with time.

I know many of you who follow the message each week are in the same situation. I have received hundred of emails over the past ten to twelve years of having our website. Some are in remote areas where there simply are no churches. Others have the same issues that we did with standards that really aren’t Biblical and fellowships that are not Christian based. I know that there are some who believe that those of us who meet in homes are not really churches. Let me again point you to scripture. The EarlyChurch largely met in homes. That does not mean that someone who meets in a normal denomination is wrong. But for those of you that do you need to be careful judging someone who doesn’t meet like you do.

After being part of the Body of Christ for forty years I have learned something. God’s people are everywhere! I once thought that certain denominations didn’t have any true Believers in Christ while others had wall to wall Christians. I judged by what I thought to be true. If someone had told me that they went to a certain type of church I either embraced them as a brother or wrote them off as needing to be saved! I now know that God has a remnant of believers in all kinds of denominations of ChristianChurches. The Book of First John has several things which tell if someone is truly part of the Body of Christ. I have given this message before so I won’t cover it today. You need to study it if you aren’t sure who is saved and who isn’t. It doesn’t matter if you attend a certain meeting or have given money to their building fund. God tells us that Believers have certain aspects about them that make them discernable. Just as you can tell an apple tree by its fruit and not necessarily by its leaves, likewise the Church of Christ has fruit that distinguishes it from the rest of the world. I will continue my message next week on these attributes. Until then, be blessed in your study of the Word of God.

Prayer-Father, thank You for bringing us into the Body of Christ. We recognize that Your people are everywhere in this world. While some may feel alone today remind them that they are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses. Bring those in to the fold who are desperately seeking You.  Help us to show the love of God to this world so that some might be saved. Keep us until that time when we can see You face to face.

In Jesus Name—Amen

 

Don’t forget that this message will be given live at the link below on Sunday morning December 1st at 10:45 CST and that message will be recorded for later viewing in case you miss it.

http://www.ustream.tv/channel/shepherds-hill-homestead

 

 

paul

Written by

Philippians 3:13-14 Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

Filed under: Messages

2 Responses to "The Church-The Body of Christ"

  1. Dennis says:

    I thank God for your understanding of the Church. Though I live on the other side of the globe in India, I am glad that I have come across a person with the same kind of understanding of the Church as mine. Let His kingdom increase!

    Regards.

    Dennis.

    1. paul paul says:

      God Bless you, Dennis! You and I are brothers who have never met. Someday we will meet in the Kingdom of God! May the Lord Bless your life!

Leave a Reply

*


*