Today we will be studying the Church. There is a prophecy in the Old Testament that foretells of a new era, one in which people of all nations will come together and no longer war with one another but live in unity and harmony,“ And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established in the top of the mountains; and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it. And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of His ways, and we will walk in His path: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. And He shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shaIl not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.” , Isaiah 2:2-4. This passage came to pass in Acts on the day of Pentacost. “And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the ho use where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven. Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded because that every man heard them speak in his own language.”, Acts 2:1-6. This was the beginning and the establishment of the church in Jerusalem.
The Lord’s house in Isaiah 2:2 is the church, as Paul mentioned in 1 Timothy 3:15, “But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.”
The peace symbolized by the swords being beaten into plowshares happened when the Israelites and Gentiles were made one before God through Christ’s death, as Paul says in Ephesians 2:11-17, “ Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles, in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; That at that time y 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: But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; Having abolished in His flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace; and that He might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby;” Also, in God’s church today, there is peace amongst people of many cultures and backgrounds as all submit to the Word of God.
The church is the Kingdom, which we have studied before. Mark 9:1 tells of the Kingdom of God coming with power while some of those that were listening to Jesus speaking would still be alive. “ And He [Jesus] said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That there be some of them that stand here, which shall not taste of death, till they have seen the Kingdom of God come with power.” The Kingdom would come with power! That power was the Holy Spirit coming upon the twelve apostles on Pentecost, the day that the church began, “Then opened He [Jesus speaking after His resurrection] their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures, and said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. And ye are witnesses of these things. And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high.”, Luke 24:45-49 and Acts 1:8, “ But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.”
Jesus told Peter that the His church would be founded upon the confession of faith stated in Matthew 16:15-18, “ He [Jesus] saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my FAther which is in heaven. And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock [not upon Peter but upon Peter’s words] I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” Notice, that at this point, Jesus spoke of the church as being in the future. It was not yet established. Jesus told the Apostles that the Holy Ghost would bring all things to their remembrance so that they could show others the way to Him, “But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, He shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.”, John 14:26.
After Jesus ascended to Heaven, they had the power to speak in tongues of the many people that were in Jerusalem and proclaim the marvels of God in their own language. This miracle was a sign to these people that they were of God. See Acts 2:1-13. Peter gave the first gospel sermon in Acts 2:14-37. The multitude convicted of their sin in crucifying Jesus, the Son of God, asked “What shall we do? in verse 37. Peter instructed them to repent and be baptized for the remission of their sins in verse 38. And thus the church began. Notice that in Acts 2:46-47, the scriptures mention the church and it is already in existence and people are being added to it! “ And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.”
The church is the body of Christ! As there can only be one head to a body. Jesus is the head of the church, His body. A head does not have several bodies, just one body. One head to one body. 1Cor 12:13 says that to be part of the body, a person has to be baptized into it. “For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.” There is one Spirit, one baptism, one body, Ephesians 4;4-5. Ephesisans 1:22-23, “And hath put all things under His [Jesus] feet, and gave Him to be the head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fulness of Him that filleth all in all.” clearly states that the church is His body!
There is a real danger of being a part of a man’s church whose head is a worldly organization or person who creates their own rules by their own ideas. Only Jesus should be ruling through His Words and by the inspired writers of the New Testament. Remember the Pharisees who thought they knew everything but were not willing to submit to Jesus and His authority!
The church belongs to Jesus! Matthew 16:18 says “Upon this rock, I will build MY church.” Whose church is it?
Jesus’s church should bear His name. Romans 16:16 shows who the owner is, “The churches of Christ salute you.” Paul writes. The church belongs to God as is written in the book of Acts as Paul addresses the elders, “ Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath you overseers, to feed the church of God, which He hath purchased with His own blood.”
There were many churches of Christ in the New Testament. They were known by their location. Churches are mentioned as being in Jerusalem, Acts 8:1; Philippi, Phillippians 1.1; Ephesus, Ephesians 1:1 and Revelations 1:2. These churches all taught the same thing but met separately in different locations.
What is the church?
Acts 11:22 says that the church hears! “Then the tidings of these things came unto the ears of the church which was in Jerusalem.”
The church gathers as Acts 14:27 states, “And when they were come, and had gathered the church together.”
We understand from these verses then that the church is not a building but the people!
Acts 2:41 says the Lord adds to it! “Then they that gladly received His Word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.” Who does the adding? ____________ Acts 2:47. Who does He add? __________Acts 2:41. Those that received the Words of the Gospel. That is, the people that believed what they heard, repented of their sins, confessed their belief in Jesus and were baptized!
A person does not join a church but it is Jesus who adds a person to His church! If you just obey Jesus from the heart, we will all be members of the one church talked about in the Bible, the church of Christ.