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“The Kingdom Of Christ, Of God, Of Heaven” – Displays Of His Ruling Authority Throughout Time

SIH STSTA ICON

 

 

To begin our study we need to understand what the Bible means when it speaks of a “kingdom”.  The word translated Kingdom in the NT is the Greek word “basileia”.  This word has two basic ideas behind it:

  1. The first idea is the AUTHORITY to rule that a King possesses (Luke 1:33, Luke 17:20-21, Matt 12:28 etc)
  2. The second idea is the REALM that is ruled over by a King. WhenBasileia is used in this way it can speak of either:
    1. the land area and physical possessions that a King rules over (Mat 4:8, Mark 6:23,  Heb 11:33 etc)
    2. the group of people over which a king rules. (Rev 1:9, Col 1:13, 2 Pet 1:11, etc)

Based upon the above Scriptures we can see that these three titles are describing the same event and will be used as such in this study.

Although we cannot visibly see His authority, we certainly can see His authority at work in the world around us.  By His grace, He has displayed for us His authority, throughout the Scriptures, in many different ways.

Let’s take a look and see the God’s authority to rule displayed for all to see throughout the Bible…  

 

THE SCRIPTURES:

The Kingdom of Christ:

Eph 5:5,

 

The Kingdom of God:

Matt 6:33, 12:28, 19:24, 21:31, 21:43;

Mark 1:14, 1:15, 4:11, 4:26, 4:30, 9:1, 9:47, 10:14, 10:15, 10:23, 10:24, 10:25, 12:34, 14:25, 15:43;

Luke 4:43, 6:20, 7:28, 8:1, 8:10, 9:2, 9:11, 9:27, 9:60, 9:62, 10:9, 10:11, 10:20, 12:31, 13:18, 13:20, 13:28, 13:29, 14:15, 16:16, 17:20, 17:21, 18:16, 18:17, 18:24, 18:25, 18:29, 19:11, 21:31, 22:16, 22:18, 23:51;

John 3:3, 3:5;

Acts 1:3, 8:12, 14:22, 19:8, 20:25, 28:23, 28:31;

Roms 14:17;

1 Cor 4:20, 6:9, 6:10, 15:50;

Gal 5:21;

Col 4:11;

2 Thess 1:5.

 

The Kingdom of Heaven:

Matt 3:2, 4:17, 5:3, 5:10, 5:19, 5:20, 7:21, 8:11, 10:7, 11:11, 11:12, 13:11, 13:24, 13:31, 13:33, 13:44, 13:45, 13:47, 13:52, 16:19, 18:1, 18:3, 18:4, 18:23, 19:12, 19:14, 19:23, 20:1, 22:2, 23:13, 25:1, 25:14

 

In the NT the Bible describes the Kingdom of the Lord using three different descriptive phrases, “The Kingdom of Christ”, “the Kingdom Of God”, and “the Kingdom of Heaven”.  All three of these titles are describing the same Kingdom.

Please note:

The Kingdom of Christ is only used in Ephesians 5:5 and is clearly speaking of the perfect reign of Christ that will take place throughout eternity.  In this text, it is equated with the Kingdom of God because both Christ and the Father will be reigning throughout eternity. (Rev 22:3-5; see also Rev 21:7-8, Rev 21:24-27)

Also “the Kingdom of God” and “the Kingdom of Heaven” are equated as well.  Please note the following references which show that, in many cases, these titles are used synonymously…

Matt 4:17 – Mark 1:15;

Matt 5:3,10- Luke 6:20-22; Matt 8:11-Luke 13:28;

Matt 10:7-Luke 9:60;

Matt 11:11-Luke 7:28;

Matt 11:12-Luke 16:16;

Matt 13:11-Mark 4:11;

Matt 13:31-Mark 4:30-31; Matt 13:33 – Luke 13:20-21; Matt 19:14-Mark 10:14;

Matt 19:23-Mark 10:23;

Matt 25:14-Luke 19:11-13.

 

THE STUDY: 

It is important for us to understand that the Lord displays His authority to rule in different ways that will vary throughout time.

In the Old Testament, some of the major ways He displayed His authority to rule was in:

  1. His sovereign rulership over creation (including mankind)…

And at the end of the days I Nebuchadnezzar lifted up mine eyes unto heaven, and mine understanding returned unto me, and I blessed the most High, and I praised and honoured him that liveth for ever, whose dominion [is] an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom [is] from generation to generation:  And all the inhabitants of the earth [are] reputed as nothing: and he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and [among] the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou?”   (Daniel 4:34-35)

 

  1. His rulership over the fledgling nation of physical Israel during the times of the judges…

Then all the elders of Israel gathered themselves together, and came to Samuel unto Ramah, 

And said unto him, Behold, thou art old, and thy sons walk not in thy ways: now make us a king to judge us like all the nations.  But the thing displeased Samuel, when they said, Give us a king to judge us. And Samuel prayed unto the LORD. 

And the LORD said unto Samuel, Hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee: for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them.  According to all the works which they have done since the day that I brought them up out of Egypt even unto this day, wherewith they have forsaken me, and served other gods, so do they also unto thee.  Now therefore hearken unto their voice: howbeit yet protest solemnly unto them, and shew them the manner of the king that shall reign over them.”  (1 Samuel 8:4-9)

 

  1. His rulership over the unified and divided nation of physical Israel during the times of the Kings…

Wherefore David blessed the LORD before all the congregation: and David said, Blessed [be] thou, LORD God of Israel our father, for ever and ever.

Thine, O LORD, [is] the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty: for all [that is] in the heaven and in the earth [is thine]; thine [is] the kingdom, O LORD, and thou art exalted as head above all.  Both riches and honour [come] of thee, and thou reignest over all; and in thine hand [is] power and might; and in thine hand [it is] to make great, and to give strength unto all.

Now therefore, our God, we thank thee, and praise thy glorious name.”  (1 Chronicles 29:10-13)

 

  1. His rulership in the heart of the Old Testament saints, which included both Jews and Gentiles (the spiritual nation of Israel)…

I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law [is] within my heart.”  (Psalms 40:8)

Then Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and Joshua the son of Josedech, the high priest, with all the remnant of the people, obeyed the voice of the LORD their God, and the words of Haggai the prophet, as the LORD their God had sent him, and the people did fear before the LORD.”   (Haggai 1:12)

 

 

In New Testament times, He displayed His authority to rule in very similar ways….

  1. His sovereign rulership over His creation (including mankind)…

God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands;  Neither is worshipped with men’s hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things;  And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation;

That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us:  For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring.”  (Acts 17:24-28)

 

  1. His rulership in the heart of the lives of the New Testament saints, which included both Jews and Gentiles (the spiritual nation of Israel)…

For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified. 

[Whereof] the Holy Ghost also is a witness to us: for after that he had said before,  This [is] the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them; And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more. 

Now where remission of these [is, there is] no more offering for sin.”   (Hebrews 10:14-18)

 

  1. His rule over His local assemblies…

Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated [us] into the kingdom of his dear Son:  In whom we have redemption through his blood, [even] the forgiveness of sins:  Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature:

For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether [they be] thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:  And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.

And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all [things] he might have the preeminence.

For it pleased [the Father] that in him should all fulness dwell;  And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, [I say], whether [they be] things in earth, or things in heaven.”   (Colossians 1:13-20)

 

Into eternity future, the Lord’s ruling authority will be shown. The following is an incomplete list of His sovereignty on display during the end-time events…

  1. His taking of His saints…

For since by man [came] death, by man [came] also the resurrection of the dead.  For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. 

But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming.  Then [cometh] the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power.

For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet.  The last enemy [that] shall be destroyed [is] death.  For he hath put all things under his feet. But when he saith, all things are put under [him, it is] manifest that he is excepted, which did put all things under him.

And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all.”  (1 Corinthians 15:21-28)

 

  1. His punishment of the powers of darkness of this world…

And I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the fowls that fly in the midst of heaven, Come and gather yourselves together unto the supper of the great God;  That ye may eat the flesh of kings, and the flesh of captains, and the flesh of mighty men, and the flesh of horses, and of them that sit on them, and the flesh of all [men, both] free and bond, both small and great.

And I saw the beast, and the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against him that sat on the horse, and against his army.  And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone.  And the remnant were slain with the sword of him that sat upon the horse, which [sword] proceeded out of his mouth: and all the fowls were filled with their flesh.”  (Revelation 19:17-21)

 

  1. His millennial reign (the first part of His eternal reign)…

And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and [I saw] the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received [his] mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.”  (Revelation 20:4) 

 

  1. The final judgment…

And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is [the book] of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.

And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.  And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.

And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.”  (Revelation 20:12-15)

 

 

  1. His rulership throughout eternity…

In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, [was there] the tree of life, which bare twelve [manner of] fruits, [and] yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree [were] for the healing of the nations.

And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him:  And they shall see his face; and his name [shall be] in their foreheads.

And there shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God giveth them light: and they shall reign for ever and ever.”   (Revelation 22:2-5)

 

As you can see, throughout history from eternity past and proceeding into eternity present, we find the Lord consistently revealing to mankind…

The LORD shall reign for ever and ever.”  (Exodus 15:18)

 

In the NT the Bible describes the Kingdom of the Lord using three different descriptive phrases, The Kingdom of Christ, the Kingdom Of God, and the Kingdom of Heaven.  All three of these titles are describing the same Kingdom.

 

PRACTICAL APPLICATION: 

What a wonderful blessing it is to be able to know that our Lord truly reigns over all things.  Without His wondrous displays of sovereignty, we would live in doubt about His control over all, but because of His many displays of rulership we can say as the Psalmist…

“But our God [is] in the heavens: he hath done whatsoever he hath pleased.”   (Psalms 115:3)

Because of this, there is no reason for worry or fright… no matter what may take place in this life, OUR GOD IS IN CONTROL!  And we have a consistent source of proofs that this is so!

Spiritual Gifts: When Did The Accrediting Gifts Go Out Of Existence? (Part 3)

SIH TOA ICON
Spiritual Gifts: When Did The Accrediting Gifts Go Out Of Existence? (Part 3)

 

 

Introduction:

“Charity never faileth: but whether [there be] prophecies, they shall fail; whether [there be] tongues, they shall cease; whether [there be] knowledge, it shall vanish away.” (1 Corinthians 13:8)

In our previous studies we have seen that there are three basic types of Accrediting Gifts which include several gifts under each type. In the above passage, we find each type of Accrediting Gift is represented by one gift from each type …

 

Type Of Accrediting Gift Gifts Included In This Type Representative Gift Mentioned In1 Cor 13:8
Supernatural Revelation Of The Truth The Word Of Wisdom, The Word of Knowledge Word of Knowledge (or Knowledge)
Supernatural Indicators Of The Truth Faith, Gifts Of Healing, Working Of Miracles, Prophecy, Discerning Of Spirits Prophecy (or Prophecies)
Supernatural Proclamation Of The Truth Divers Kinds Of Tongues, Interpretation Of Tongues Diverse Types Of Tongues (or Tongues)

 

Please note the above verse (1 Cor 13:8), which includes one representative gift from each group, makes it plain that each type of Accrediting Gift will come to an end at some point in time. We now will turn our attention to the question at what point in time will these gifts go out of existence?

In this study, we will see that this question is answered by the Word of God using several different lines of teaching which all present the same answer for us. This will be the lines of teaching that we will be studying:
I.        The Coming Of “That Which Is Perfect”
II.        The 70 Year Accreditation Time Span
III.        The Death Of The Apostles
IV.        The Supernatural Beginning / Natural Perpetuation Of God’s Workings
V.        The Prophecies of False Miracles In The “Last Days”

Lesson:


The Death of the Apostles:

Our texts for this lesson are:

1) And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.
2) And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting.
3) And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them.
4) And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. (Acts 2:1-4)

 

14) Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John:
15) Who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost:
16) (For as yet he was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.)
17) Then laid they [their] hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost.
18) And when Simon saw that through laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money,
19) Saying, Give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay hands, he may receive the Holy Ghost.
20) But Peter said unto him, Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money.
21) Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter: for thy heart is not right in the sight of God.
22) Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee.
23) For I perceive that thou art in the gall of bitterness, and [in] the bond of iniquity.
24) Then answered Simon, and said, Pray ye to the Lord for me, that none of these things which ye have spoken come upon me.
25) And they, when they had testified and preached the word of the Lord, returned to Jerusalem, and preached the gospel in many villages of the Samaritans. (Acts 8:14-25)

 

44) While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word.
45) And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost.
46) For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God. Then answered Peter,
47) Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we?
48) And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then prayed they him to tarry certain days.
(Acts 10:44-48)

 

1) And it came to pass, that, while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper coasts came to Ephesus: and finding certain disciples,
2) He said unto them, Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed? And they said unto him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost.
3) And he said unto them, Unto what then were ye baptized? And they said, Unto John’s baptism.
4) Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.
5) When they heard [this], they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.
6) And when Paul had laid [his] hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied.
7) And all the men were about twelve. (Acts 19:1-7)

 

To begin this part of our study, I would like us to notice how the spiritual gifts were received based upon the historical accounts found in the Bible:

 

Text Description Manner of Receipt of Gifts
Acts 2:1-4 Jewish Church at Jerusalem (Pentecost) Baptism of Local Church In Holy Spirit By Christ
Acts 8:14-25 Jewish/Gentile Church at Samaria Laying On Of Apostle’s Hands
Acts 10:44-48 Gentile Church In Cornelius House Baptism of Local Church In Holy Spirit By Christ
Acts 19:1-7 Gentile Church at Ephesus Laying On Of Apostle’s Hands

 

Based upon the above breakdown of events, we can see several things:

1. Spiritual gifts were never given to a single individual, but only to local assemblies of believers

2. There were two ways that spiritual gifts were received by a local assembly:
a. Sovereign act of Christ (assembly baptized in Spirit)
b. Act of Christ through human instrument (Apostle’s hands laid upon assembly)

3. Christ baptized His assemblies in the Holy Spirit only twice (once to accredit Jewish assembly, once to accredit Gentile assembly)

4. The Apostles laid their hands on assemblies several times (two are recorded but others implied in Rom 1:10-12, 2 Cor 12:11-12 etc)

 

If the Lord accredited a Jewish assembly once (Jerusalem at Pentecost), and a Gentile assembly once (Cornelius church) why would the apostles continue to grant these gifts via laying on of hands? They did it to “establish” the ministries of the local assemblies (Romans 1:10-12). This involved two different aspects:

 

1. They did it to grant the individual churches the gifts of the Spirit which they could use to effectively fulfill their individual ministries.

 

2. They did it to give the assemblies’ proof of that their ministry was valid in God’s sight. Remember, at this point in time, the NT was not yet completed and there was still great disagreement concerning:
a. the local church as the house of God
b. the inclusion of Gentiles in the worship of Jehovah

By giving these gifts to the individual assemblies it would help to silence any question of their validity. I believe this is why the Apostle Paul so greatly desired to impart these gifts to other assemblies through the laying on of his hands (Romans 1:10-12)

(Please note: with the completion of the New Testament scriptures and the record of these events, churches no longer need these gifts for accreditation. Local churches are now clearly understood to be the place of worship for Christians of both Jewish and Gentile lineage based upon the preserved New Testament record.)

 

 

We have two final Scriptures that we need to examine closely…

 

1. The issue of 2 Corinthians 12:11-12…
Please notice that the ability to grant the spiritual gifts with the laying on of hands was exclusively given to those who help the office of Apostle. In 2 Corinthians 12:11-12, he explains to church at Corinth that he was to be considered among the “chiefest of apostles” because when he was visiting with the Corinth church that “Truly the signs of an apostle were wrought among you in all patience, in signs, and wonders, and mighty deeds.”
Now, if we take a minute to think about what Paul was saying, it holds a very important point for all of us.   Based upon the historical accounts that we have listed above (Acts 2:,8:,10:,19:), we can see that the exercise of patience, signs, wonders, and mighty deeds were not limited to the office of Apostle. In several of these events, it is clear to see that the entire assembly of believers shared in the exercise of these gifts. These gifts WERE NOT exclusive to the office of Apostle.
So how could these gifts distinguish Paul unquestioningly as “among the chiefest of apostles”?   I believe it was his ability to give these gifts to the assembly through the laying on of his hands. What he was saying was this…. When you see yourselves exercising patience, signs, wonders and mighty deeds, it is proof an Apostle was among you. The laying on of a genuine Apostle’s hands must have taken place for you to be able to do these great works of God.   No counterfeit Apostle had this ability.

 

 

2. The issue of 2 Timothy 1:6-7
In this text, Paul describes the “the gift of God, which is in thee by the putting on of my hands”. Here the “gift of God” Paul is describing is Timothy’s call to the ministry; the “putting on of my hands” of which Paul speaks is describing Timothy’s ordination.
Paul is not describing Timothy’s receipt of the spiritual gifts as an individual (remember the spiritual gifts are exclusively given to local assemblies, never to a single individual), but he is referring to Timothy’s calling of God and his ordination (his public separation to the gospel ministry). If we read further Paul makes it plain that, based upon the calling that was upon Timothy, Timothy was to faithfully minister the truths of God to those put under his watchcare (vs 8-12). In the context, nothing is said about the exercise of the accrediting gifts of God.

 

 

Our conclusion…
The Lord has only sovereignly baptized local assemblies in the Holy Spirit twice, once to accredit Jewish assemblies, once to accredit Gentile assemblies. There is no reason for Him to repeat this action. Nor do we find any Biblical accounts of Him repeating this.

 

The only other way that spiritual gifts could be received by local assemblies was through the laying on of hands of Apostolic office holders.  If this is the case, as the Apostolic office holders “died off” no one was left to continue to pass these gifts on to other assemblies. Following the death of the final Apostle the only ones who exercised these gifts would be church members who had received this gift prior to the Apostle’s deaths. Once the church members “died off” the spiritual gifts would cease to exist.
So now we come to the great question…. When did the final Apostle die? Based upon human historical records the Apostle John was probably the last Apostle to die in approximately 100 AD.   So, at the very latest, the deaths of the adult generation living in 100 AD would bring an end to these gifts (probably around 150 AD?). But that is assuming that the Apostles were continually granting these gifts to the assemblies until their death.
If we look closely at the Biblical text we find that the latest mention of spiritual gifts being given or exercised is found in 1 Peter which was written probably in 63 AD. If this is the case and no other gifts were granted after this timeframe, then the probable date of the end of the existence of spiritual gifts would probably be closer to 100-110 AD. So therefore, it is very highly probable the gifts ceased to exist sometime between 100 and 150 AD.

THE 100 – 150 AD TIMEFRAME FITS PERFECTLY WITH OUR PREVIOUS STUDIES ON THIS SUBJECT: “The Coming Of “That Which Is Perfect” AND “The 70 Year Accreditation Time Span”.

Additional Information (Bible Scrioptures Referenced In This Study:

The Death Of The Apostles:

10) Making request, if by any means now at length I might have a prosperous journey by the will of God to come unto you.

11) For I long to see you, that I may impart unto you some spiritual gift, to the end ye may be established;

12) That is, that I may be comforted together with you by the mutual faith both of you and me.

(Romans 1:10-12)

 

 

11) I am become a fool in glorying; ye have compelled me: for I ought to have been commended of you: for in nothing am I behind the very chiefest apostles, though I be nothing.

12) Truly the signs of an apostle were wrought among you in all patience, in signs, and wonders, and mighty deeds.

(2 Corinthians 12:11-12)

 

6) Wherefore I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God, which is in thee by the putting on of my hands.

7) For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.

8) Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God;

9) Who hath saved us, and called [us] with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began,

10) But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel:

11) Whereunto I am appointed a preacher, and an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles.

12) For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.

(2 Timothy 1:6-12)

 

 

The Church Universal, Local, Or Both? #2

SIH STSTA ICONNow unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us,  Unto him [be] glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.”  (Ephesians 3:20-21)

(Please note: I apologize for the length and detail of this series, and to be honest, I realize it will not be easily consumed by some of its readers.  I normally do not post articles of this length or depth, but I feel obligated to write this posting based upon feedback I have received from the Importance Of The Local Assembly series that was recently published.  So for the many who have shown interest and/or curiosity on this subject, here is the information you have requested.  My apology to those who lack interest or the time to read this study.  It is understandable.)

Facts about the word “church” as used in the King James Version of the Bible….

1.  The word “church” is not used in the Old Testament.

2.  The word “church”  is used in 111 verses in the New Testament.

3.  Every occurrence of the word “church” is translated from the Greek word “ekklesia”  in the NT.

In this study, I would like to study the definition and contextual usage of this Greek word “ekklesia”, with the intent of answering the following questions…

“When the Bible speaks of a “church” is it referring to an invisible, universal assembly made up of all believers in Christ;…. or, is it referring to visible, local assembly whose membership is limited to baptized believers;…. or, does the Bible speak of both types of “churches” that are differentiated by the context in which they are used?”

Let us all ask the Lord for grace, a spirit open to truth, clarity of thought, and accuracy as we work our way through the Holy Scriptures…

THE SCRIPTURES:

A.   (Matthew 16:16-20);

B.   (Act 2:42-47); (Act 7:37-41); (Act 12:1-4); (Act 15:1-4); (Act 19:29-34); (Act 19:35-41); (Act 20:17-28)

C.   (Romans 16:21-24)

D.   (1 Corinth 6:1-5); (1 Corinth 10:24-33); (1 Corinth 11:19-24); (1 Corinth 12:27-31); (1 Corinth 15:1-11)

E.   (Galatians 1:11-13)

F.   (Ephesians 1:16-23); (Ephesians 3:8-12); (Ephesians 3:14-21); (Ephesians 5:22-33)

G.   (Philippians 3:4-6)

H.   (Colossians 1:14-29)

I.   (1 Timothy 3:14-16); (1 Timothy 5:9-16)

J.   (Hebrews 2:10-13)

K.   (James 5:12-18)

L.   (3 John 1:5-10)

 

THE STUDY:

A basic principle used in this study:

You must take the normal, usual usage and meaning of a word unless the context CLEARLY DICTATES ANOTHER MEANING is ABSOLUTELY necessary.

This is the core principle upon which this study is based.  Both the details, and conclusion, of this study rest heavily upon this principle. We will be finding the common, basic usage and definition of “ekklesia” as found in the Scriptures, and then attempt to consistently apply that meaning to each text.

The common definition of the word “ekklesia”:

The basic meaning of “ekklesia” is “called out from”, or “to separate by summons”.

Therefore, based upon the definition of “ekklesia”, we find no indication of which type of assembly we are speaking of whenever we find the word being used.

However, this is only half of our “equation”.  Next we have to look at the USAGE of the word “ekklesia” in the Holy Bible.

The common usage of the word “ekklesia”:

I am forced to conclude that the common usage of the term in the NT is “local visible assembly”.  This definition clearly applies in at least 80 verses (that’s over 70 percent of the time) the word is used.  There was only, at the most, 32 verses that it could mean a invisible, universal assembly (that’s less than 30%).

Therefore, for this study, we will be using THE COMMON DEFINITION OF “EKKLESIA” WILL BE “A LOCAL VISIBLE ASSEMBLY”.

Based upon our earlier discussion under the heading “A basic principle used in this study”   This will be our process…

1.  We will look at the context of each of the 32 Scriptures where “ekklesia” could mean an “invisible universal assembly”.

2.  We will see if each one could allow us to use our common definition a “local visible assembly” .

3.  If the context allows “ekklesia” to hold to its common definition, that will be the definition we assign to that text.

4.  If the context forbids that the common definition of ekklesia can be used, we will then attempt to determine the definition of “ekklesia” for that text.

For more detailed information on the above sections, please see part one of our study…

A verse by verse study of the “questionable” texts that use the word “ekklesia”:

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 I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.  And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.  Then charged he his disciples that they should tell no man that he was Jesus the Christ.

 (Matthew 16:16-20)

The exposition:

Here we find the Lord speaking to Peter, emphasizing the veracity, and importance, of the statement “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God”.  He then explains the great authority that he will give, and is now held by, the local assembly as they proclaim the gospel message to the lost.  For those who accept the gospel message by faith, they will be “just as saved” as if Christ Himself had delivered the message to lost person.  Likewise those who reject the gospel message delivered by the local assembly, will be just as greatly condemned to judgment as if Christ Himself had delivered the message to them.

The usage of “ekklesia”

There is nothing in the context that dictates that the term “church” cannot mean a local assembly.  Therefore we will look no further.

(Please note: In this case, the word “church” is used in a generalized sense.  This means that the statement “upon this rock I will build my church” was not pointed toward a specific local assembly, but will apply to any assembly of that type.  Much like the statement “the duck is a bird that quacks” does not refer to a specific duck but it refers to any bird of that type.)

Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added [unto them] about three thousand souls.  And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.  And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles.  And all that believed were together, and had all things common;  And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all [men], as every man had need.  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.

(Acts 2:41-47)

The exposition:

Here, we find the church at Jerusalem being increased in membership and unity.  Following their baptism and church membership, they enjoyed times of worship through the teaching of God’s Word, fellowship with the saints, observing the Lord’s supper, and communal prayer and self-sacrifice for the welfare of the other members.  Also, to accredit this newly formed entity, we find the apostles working many signs and wonders…proof the God had authorized this assembly and her message.

The usage of “ekklesia”

Clearly, the context dictates that the word “church” is referring to the Lord’s local assembly that continued to grow as the lost were saved and joined the assembly.  Since church can easily mean a local visible assembly we need to look no further for another definition.

 

 

This is that Moses, which said unto the children of Israel, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear.  This is he, that was in the church in the wilderness with the angel which spake to him in the mount Sina, and [with] our fathers: who received the lively oracles to give unto us:  To whom our fathers would not obey, but thrust [him] from them, and in their hearts turned back again into Egypt,   Saying unto Aaron, Make us gods to go before us: for [as for] this Moses, which brought us out of the land of Egypt, we wot not what is become of him.  And they made a calf in those days, and offered sacrifice unto the idol, and rejoiced in the works of their own hands.

 (Acts 7:37-41)

The exposition:

This text is an account of an event that took place during the wilderness wanderings of the nation of Israel.  As the nation of Israel traveled through the wilderness, they were an organized, visible assembly that had been called out of Egypt, separated to worship and obey God.

The usage of “ekklesia”

Again, clearly this is speaking of a local, visible assembly of God’s people.  No other definition needs to be sought.

 

 

 

Now about that time Herod the king stretched forth [his] hands to vex certain of the church.  And he killed James the brother of John with the sword.  And because he saw it pleased the Jews, he proceeded further to take Peter also. (Then were the days of unleavened bread.)  And when he had apprehended him, he put [him] in prison, and delivered [him] to four quaternions of soldiers to keep him; intending after Easter to bring him forth to the people.  5) Peter therefore was kept in prison: but prayer was made without ceasing of the church unto God for him….. 12) And when he had considered [the thing], he came to the house of Mary the mother of John, whose surname was Mark; where many were gathered together praying.

(Acts 12:1-5,12)

The exposition:

The martyrdom of  the local church of Jerusalem’s members included James.  Herod also went after Peter (another member of the local assembly).  Peter was imprisoned and the local church then prayed for him.

The usage of “ekklesia”

We know that the local church (vs 5) is described as praying for him… in verse twelve, we are told many were gathered praying, which is describing the local visible assembly at prayer.  The church in vs 1, when kept in the context of vs 5 and 12, clearly is referring to a local assembly.  Once again our rule applies.  Since the vs1 can mean a local assembly, and we know the church in vs 5 is speaking of a local assembly, then we have no need to find any other definition for either term.

 

 

 

And certain men which came down from Judaea taught the brethren, [and said], Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved.  When therefore Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and disputation with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas, and certain other of them, should go up to Jerusalem unto the apostles and elders about this question.  And being brought on their way by the church, they passed through Phenice and Samaria, declaring the conversion of the Gentiles: and they caused great joy unto all the brethren.  And when they were come to Jerusalem, they were received of the church, and [of] the apostles and elders, and they declared all things that God had done with them.

 (Acts 15:1-4)

The exposition:

The church at Antioch sent Paul and Barnabas to consult the Apostles and Elders of the church at Jerusalem.  They traveled back to Jerusalem and were received by the local church there.

The usage of “ekklesia”

“church” in both verses, can easily be speaking of the local assemblies in those areas.  No reason to search for another definition.

 

 

 

And the whole city was filled with confusion: and having caught Gaius and Aristarchus, men of Macedonia, Paul’s companions in travel, they rushed with one accord into the theatre.  And when Paul would have entered in unto the people, the disciples suffered him not.  And certain of the chief of Asia, which were his friends, sent unto him, desiring [him] that he would not adventure himself into the theatre.  Some therefore cried one thing, and some another: for the assembly was confused; and the more part knew not wherefore they were come together.  And they drew Alexander out of the multitude, the Jews putting him forward. And Alexander beckoned with the hand, and would have made his defence unto the people.  But when they knew that he was a Jew, all with one voice about the space of two hours cried out, Great [is] Diana of the Ephesians.”  (Acts 19:29-34)

And when the townclerk had appeased the people, he said, [Ye] men of Ephesus, what man is there that knoweth not how that the city of the Ephesians is a worshipper of the great goddess Diana, and of the [image] which fell down from Jupiter?  Seeing then that these things cannot be spoken against, ye ought to be quiet, and to do nothing rashly.  For ye have brought hither these men, which are neither robbers of churches, nor yet blasphemers of your goddess.  Wherefore if Demetrius, and the craftsmen which are with him, have a matter against any man, the law is open, and there are deputies: let them implead one another.  But if ye enquire any thing concerning other matters, it shall be determined in a lawful assembly.  For we are in danger to be called in question for this day’s uproar, there being no cause whereby we may give an account of this concourse.  And when he had thus spoken, he dismissed the assembly.”   (Acts 19:35-41)

The exposition:

Here we read of a political assembly that was gathered to hold a makeshift trial and persecute Gaius and Aristarchus in defense of the Goddess Diana.

The usage of “ekklesia”

Here, the word “ekklesia” is translated “assembly” and is speaking of a local visible assembly of Greek citizens.

 

 

 

And from Miletus he sent to Ephesus, and called the elders of the church.  And when they were come to him, he said unto them, Ye know, from the first day that I came into Asia, after what manner I have been with you at all seasons,  Serving the Lord with all humility of mind, and with many tears, and temptations, which befell me by the lying in wait of the Jews:  [And] how I kept back nothing that was profitable [unto you], but have shewed you, and have taught you publickly, and from house to house,  Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.  And now, behold, I go bound in the spirit unto Jerusalem, not knowing the things that shall befall me there:  Save that the Holy Ghost witnesseth in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions abide me.  But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.  And now, behold, I know that ye all, among whom I have gone preaching the kingdom of God, shall see my face no more.  Wherefore I take you to record this day, that I [am] pure from the blood of all [men].  For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God.  Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.”   (Acts 20:17-28)

The exposition:

Paul calls for a meeting of the elders of the local church at Ephesus.  They travel to Paul, and Paul then speaks to them about his persecution, imprisonment and missionary ministry.  He then emphasizes to them his ministry to their church (the local church at Ephesus) and emphasizes the need for them to watch over and feed the church of Ephesus over which they have been placed.

The usage of “ekklesia”

In my mind, both times the “church” is mentioned, it is clear that a local assembly is being spoken of.  If you notice they are given the responsibility to feed and watch over “the church”.  This cannot be speaking of a universal, invisible assembly, for it would be impossible to feed and watch over all Christians on the face of the planet earth. However, it is very easy, and obvious, for them to watch over and feed the local assembly where they were ministering. No need to look further for another definition

We will continue our study of the questionable texts in our next posting.

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The Importance Of The Local Church -12 “The Metaphors Describing The Assembly”

SIH STSTA ICON“…The house of God, which is the church of the living God,

the pillar and ground of the truth.”   (1 Timothy 3:15)

In this twelfth lesson of our study on the Lord’s church, we will be looking at the metaphors used in the Bible to describe the Lord’s assembly. By studying these metaphors we will be seeing another aspect of the importance of the Lord’s assembly for every Christian.

Basically, a metaphor is used to describe a likeness that exists between two unrelated things.

An example of this is when Christ said “I am the door” in John 10:9.  Although Christ is totally unrelated to a literal door, He uses this metaphor to describe the idea that it is through Him that we can receive access to eternal life (just like a door gives access to a room).

 

THE STUDY:

Here is a listing and short descriptions of the main metaphors used in God’s Word to reveal truths about His local assembly.

1. “The Pillar and Ground Of The Truth”

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.”   (1 Timothy 3:15)
The local assembly holds up (pillar) and supports (foundation) the truths of God’s Word.  It is through the ministry of the local assembly that the truths of God are published and defended.

 

2. “The House Of God”

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.”  (1 Timothy 3:15)
The church is a meeting place for the Lord and His family.  It is within the confines of the assembly of God that the Lord meets with His people in a very special way. As they worship, seek His face,and desire to serve Him; He, in turn, speaks to them through His Word.

 

3. “The Flock Of God”

Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.”   (Acts 20:28)

The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed:  Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight [thereof], not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind;  Neither as being lords over [God’s] heritage, but being ensamples to the flock.  And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.”   (1 Peter 5:1-4)
The metaphor of the flock teaches us many truths about the Lord’s relation to His local assembly. Here, the Lord is pictured as the “chief Shepherd” while His assembly is pictured as a flock of sheep:
1. The Lord feeds His assembly, as a shepherd feeds his sheep. – The church is to look to Him for their spiritual strength and nourishment.
2. The Lord leads His assembly, as a shepherd leads his sheep – The church is to follow the Lord and His will for their lives
3. The Lord protects His assembly, as a shepherd protects his sheep – The church is to rely upon Him for their spiritual warfare, realizing they are defenseless without Him.
4. The Lord died for His assembly, as a shepherd gives his life to protect his sheep. This allows the forgiveness of sins of the individuals within the assembly, as well as, the sins committed by the church as a local assembly.  – Now we, as individual members and an assembly, should be committed to serve Him with all our beings, as living sacrifices for Him.
5.  Human pastors are given the responsibility to watch over the Lord’s assemblies in His absence, and empowered and led by the Spirit are to feed, lead and protect the assembly.

Not only did Christ die for the individual members of a local church, but also He died for the church as an assembly. (see more about this under metaphor #6, Eph 5:22-31)

 

4. “The Body Of Christ”

For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think [of himself] more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.  For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office:  So we, [being] many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.”  (Romans 12:3-5)

For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also [is] Christ.  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.  For the body is not one member, but many. If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body?  And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body?  If the whole body [were] an eye, where [were] the hearing? If the whole [were] hearing, where [were] the smelling?  But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him.  And if they were all one member, where [were] the body?  But now [are they] many members, yet but one body.  And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you.  Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary:  And those [members] of the body, which we think to be less honourable, upon these we bestow more abundant honour; and our uncomely [parts] have more abundant comeliness.  For our comely [parts] have no need: but God hath tempered the body together, having given more abundant honour to that [part] which lacked:  That there should be no schism in the body; but [that] the members should have the same care one for another.  And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it.  Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular.”   (1 Corinthians 12:12-27)
Although the church membership is made up of individual members, we are to remember there is a unity that exists between those members, therefore we are to treat each other with respect and a willingness to minister to each other.

The individual members of the local assembly have specific tasks to fulfill within that assembly.  When each of the members is submitted to fulfill the specific role each has been given, the church is a healthy church which will work together in unity for the cause of Christ.  Every member is brought into the local body to contribute to the functioning of that body with the specific gifts and ministries that they have been given.

And hath put all [things] under his 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.”  (Ephesians 1:22-23)
Christ possesses the authority to rule over all, including His local assembly on earth. The church is to be in submission to Him.  Christ, fills the assembly revealing Himself to the local church as they worship Him in spirit and in truth.

And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;  For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:  Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:  That we [henceforth] be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, [and] cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;  But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, [even] Christ:”  (Ephesians 4:11-15)
The offices of the local church were established for the strengthening, maturing and enabling of the members of the assembly.  This spiritual growth of the assembly allows them to recognize and refute false teaching as well as become more holy as an assembly and individual Christians in that assembly.

If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and [be] not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, [and] which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister;  Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body’s sake, which is the church:  Whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfil the word of God;  [Even] the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints:”   (Colossians 1:23-26)
The church’s role is to proclaim the truths of the gospel message which will result in affliction and persecution of the assembly.  This persecution should be accepted with joy realizing that Christ suffered for us as individuals and the assembly as a whole.

5. “A Candlestick”

And I turned to see the voice that spake with me. And being turned, I saw seven golden candlesticks; And in the midst of the seven candlesticks [one] like unto the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle. His head and [his] hairs [were] white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes [were] as a flame of fire;  And his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and his voice as the sound of many waters.  And he had in his right hand seven stars: and out of his mouth went a sharp twoedged sword: and his countenance [was] as the sun shineth in his strength.”   (Revelation 1:12-16)

Write the things which thou hast seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter;  The mystery of the seven stars which thou sawest in my right hand, and the seven golden candlesticks. The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches: and the seven candlesticks which thou sawest are the seven churches.”   (Revelation 1:19-20)
Here we see a vision John received in vs 12-16 and the interpretation of that vision in vs 19-20.  In the interpretation, we find that the candlesticks in his vision represent the local assemblies of the Lord.  Why is the assembly pictured as a candlestick?  Because it holds forth the light of God’s Word in the midst of a sin darkened world around us.  Also note the close relationship that Christ shares with His assemblies.  They all surround Him picturing subjects who have entered the presence of a king awaiting His commands.

 

6. Every Local Assembly Will Someday Be A Part Of The “Bride Of Christ”

Would to God ye could bear with me a little in [my] folly: and indeed bear with me.  For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present [you as] a chaste virgin to Christ.  But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.  For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or [if] ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with [him].”  (2 Corinthians 11:1-4)
Paul, as missionary, played a very important role in the founding of the church at Corinth.  Here, he is telling the church that he has labored to given the church the truths of God so that they might remain faithful to the Lord.  This would result in them standing before the Lord on the last day as a faithful bride awaiting to partake of a new level of communion with the Lord throughout eternity.  Much like a bride on her wedding day is prepared to experience new forms of intimacy with her husband…

Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready.  And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints.  And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed [are] they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he saith unto me, These are the true sayings of God.”   (Revelation 19:7-9)
This takes place when all of the saints gather and commune with the Lord.  At this future event, they will be a local assembled body of believers (in other words, a local assembly located in heaven).  They will stand before Him, ready to be united with Him to enjoy a new level of communion, worship and service to Him…

But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels,  To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect,”  (Hebrews 12:22-23)

Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.  For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body.  Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so [let] the wives [be] to their own husbands in every thing.  Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;  That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,  That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself.  For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church:  For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.  For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.”  (Ephesians 5:22-31)
Here, the Lord’s leadership and authority over the local church is in view.  The church should be in submission to the leadership of Christ, serving Him as His helpmeet.  This is compared to the wife in a marriage being in submission to her husband as he leads the family to obey Christ above all else and then making decisions that put her needs and desires before his own as he loves her as Christ loves the assembly.

Note in this text we clearly see the purpose of Christ’s death for His assemblies described…

”even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;  That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,
in other words, it is through His death that the church assembly can receive the forgiveness of the sins of the assembly and be sanctified and prepared for His use and to be spotless before Him on the last day.  ALL SPIRITUAL BLESSINGS THAT COME UPON INDIVIDUAL CHRISTIANS, AND LOCAL ASSEMBLIES, COME THROUGH THE WORK OF CHRIST ON THE CROSS.  The cross of Christ is the channel through which all blessings flow.    

 

THE SUMMARY:

In this lesson we have seen several truths about the Lord’s local assemblies presented to us:

It is the:

1.  “The Pillar and Ground Of The Truth” – The local assembly holds up (pillar) and supports (foundation) the truths of God’s Word.
2.  “The House Of God” – The church is a meeting place for the Lord and His family.
3.  “The Flock Of God” – The Lord leads, feeds and protects His assembly and the Lord died for His assembly.
4.  “The Body Of Christ” – A unity exists between the individual members of the assembly, arising from a joint need one of another. The church is to follow the directions of the Lord.
5.  “A Candlestick” – The assembly holds forth the light of God’s Word in the midst of a sin darkened world around us and enjoys a close relationship with Christ.
6.  “The Bride Of Christ” – The final gathering of believers before the Lord will be like a faithful bride awaiting to partake of a new level of communion with her spouse (the Lord).  The Lord died so that the church could be sanctified and stand before Him spotless upon entrance into eternity with Him.

Why should we join with and support a local assembly of believers?  Because of its close intimate relation with Christ and its six-fold unique role of service to the Lord.

May the Lord bless us as we seek His truth.

For a free study guide for this series in .pdf format:

Click to access lordsassemblyprotected.pdf

For a free study guide for this series in .docx format:
https://settledinheaven.files.wordpress.com/2013/08/lordsassemblyprotected.docx

 

 

What Must We Do To Be Saved? Part 7 – What about Church Membership?

SIH STSTA ICONTHE most important question that anyone can ask is the question posed by the keeper of the prison in Acts 16:30… “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”.

The answer to this question is more valuable than gold, silver and all the wealth this world has to offer.  This answer will reveal to us the path that leads to the forgiveness of our sins, the receipt of the indwelling Holy Spirit, fellowship with the Only True and Living Creator, and eternity in paradise with God Himself.  Our very spiritual life and  eternal destiny rely upon finding the answer to this question.

This question is of such importance we will be taking several blog entries to carefully  answer this question…

Blog Entry #1 Salvation

Blog Entry #2 Repentance

Blog Entry #3 Faith / Belief

Blog Entry #4 What about good works?

Blog Entry #5 What about baptism?

Blog Entry #6 What about the Lord’s Supper?

Blog Entry #7 What about church membership?

We now begin our study with blog entry #7…. What about Church Membership?  ….

THE SCRIPTURES:

 Matt 16:13-20 (KJV)

13) When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?

14) And they said, Some [say that thou art] John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets.

15) He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am?

16) And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.

17) 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.

18) And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

19) And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

20) Then charged he his disciples that they should tell no man that he was Jesus the Christ.

 Matt 28:16-20 (KJV)

16) Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, into a mountain where Jesus had appointed them.

17) And when they saw him, they worshipped him: but some doubted.

18) And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.

19) Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:

20)  Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, [even] unto the end of the world. Amen.

Acts 2:47 (KJV)

47) Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.

 Acts 20:28-31 (KJV)

28) Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed thechurch ofGod, which he hath purchased with his own blood.

29) For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock.

30) Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.

31) Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears.

 Eph 5:25-28 (KJV)

25) Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;

26) That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,

27) That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.

28) So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself.

 Heb 10:19-31 (KJV)

19) Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus,

20) By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh;

21) And [having] an high priest over the house of God;

22) Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.

23) Let us hold fast the profession of [our] faith without wavering; (for he [is] faithful that promised;)

24) And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works:

25) Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some [is]; but exhorting [one another]: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.

26) For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins,

27) But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries.

28) He that despised Moses’ law died without mercy under two or three witnesses:

29) Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?

30) For we know him that hath said, Vengeance [belongeth] unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people.

31) [It is] a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

 THE STUDY:

Is membership in a local church necessary for salvation?  If not, why should a Christian be a member of a church?  This blog entry will be using the Holy Word of God to answer these questions for us.

The first text we will be looking at is Matt 16:13-20 – “When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am? And they said, Some [say that thou art] John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets.  He 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 I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.  And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Then charged he his disciples that they should tell no man that he was Jesus the Christ.”

 In this text we find the Lord addressing the issue of the lost world’s perception of Him.  Of the many differing views, John the Baptist, Elijah (Elias), Jeremiah (Jeremias) or one of the other OT prophets is mentioned.   Christ then asks His followers what they believe about His identity. Peter, speaking for all his disciples, says “ Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God”.  In his response Peter reflects three basic truths about Christ…

 First of all, by using the title “Christ”, Peter is saying that Jesus was the promised Messiah of the Old Testament.  In other words, He was the One chosen by God to fulfill very special ministries.  Jesus was the One anointed by God to be the ultimate Prophet, Priest and King.

Secondly, Peter presents two truths about Christ using the title “Son of the Living God”.   Christ, finds His origins in God the Father.  Christ was not simply a man called by His God.  But, He was God Himself, the every essence of God come to earth to save mankind from their sins.

Thirdly, in the title “Son of the Living God” we are taught that Jesus was the perfect representative of the Father.  Jesus was the servant of the Living God, Jesus would be actively presenting God’s Word, doing God’s deeds and fulfilling the will of God in all that He would say and do.

In response to Peter’s statement, Jesus then says “Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed [it] unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.”  In other words, Jesus was presenting the truth that anyone who comes to a truthful understanding of the person of Jesus does so only after God graciously reveals this truth to Him.  No one can come to this understanding of Christ with his own ability.

 Jesus continues by saying “And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”   When Peter acknowledged the truth about Christ, he proved that he was a follower of Christ and a member of the family of God.  Jesus acknowledges this when  He said “Thou art Peter”.  The word Peter means “a small piece coming from a large rock.”  In other words, Christ was telling Peter, “Peter when you  stated your belief in me as Messiah and the Son of God you were proving that you (the small piece) are a part of Me (the large rock).”

 Christ continues by explaining that He would build His church upon “this rock”.  Who is the Rock?  Christ Himself.  The Lord was not saying He would build His church upon Peter.  How do we know this?  Peter was described as a small piece coming from “The Rock” of Christ.    It is because the church is built upon Christ, the Messiah and the Son of God, that we can be assured that “the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”

 Jesus completes this discourse by saying “And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”  What is the Keys to theKingdom ofHeaven?  The Truth concerning the identity of Christ (The Messiah, the Son of the Living God).

 Now that Peter has proclaimed the truth about the person of Christ.  Christ responds by handing to the assembled disciples (the church at Jerusalem) the responsibility to present these truths to others.  Christ is explaining to the disciples that they are to take these truths about who He is to a lost and dying world.  In doing so, the local church would be making a legitimate offer of salvation to all.  If those in the world come to a Godly faith in this message of Christ they would be saved (loosed from the bonds of sin both on earth and heaven).  If those in the world who hear this truth reject it they would be condemned to eternal separation from God in the Lake of Fire (continued bound under sin and God’s wrath both on earth and throughout eternity).  In essence, this is the same responsibility given to the church in Matt 28:16-20 Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, into a mountain where Jesus had appointed them. And when they saw him, they worshipped him: but some doubted. And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.  Go ye therefore, and teach all nations,… and, lo, I am with you alway, [even] unto the end of the world. Amen.

 These sections of Scripture are emphasizing the importance of recognizing the true identity of Christ and the need to proclaim that truth to others through the ministries of the local church.  These, in no way, teach salvation in found in church membership, nor that the local church was built upon a sinful man.

 In Acts 2:47 … And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.  The word “saved” brings with it the idea of protection and making whole.  Divine salvation includes three aspects to it (past, present and future):

Salvation from the penalty of sin (takes place at the initial salvation experience for sins past, present and future.

Salvation from the power of sin (this is an ongoing work of God beginning at the initial salvation experience and ending when we are taken to heaven)

Salvation from the presence of sin (this will take place in the future when we enter into heaven with the Lord).

This verse is speaking of the “present” aspect of salvation… salvation from the power of sin. It is simply saying that following a genuine salvation experience the young Christian would enter into church membership. In doing so, he would receive much needed indoctrination, fellowship and encouragement as he begins his new walk with Christ. It is through these that the young Christian is kept safe from the sinful forces in this fallen world and brought to spiritual maturity.

 Another interesting set of verses is found below:

Acts 20:28-31 – Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.  For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock.   Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.  Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears.

 Eph 5:25-28 – Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;  That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,  That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.  So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself.

 In both of these texts we have the idea of Christ dying for the church being brought out…. “Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.”  Also,  “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;…”

What is meant by Christ dying for His church, does this imply that, because He died for His church, membership is now necessary for salvation? If not, must we come to a conclusion there must be a universal, invisible church that all saved are brought into?

Not at all. Please keep in mind that the Lord’s local assemblies can commit sin just as individual Christians can commit sin.

Some examples are:

Anytime the church body makes decision or perform “ministries” opposed to God’s will they are committing a sin.

Anytime the church body sanctions or allows acts that are opposed to the will of God remain within their assembly, they are committing sin.

Anytime the church develops a cold, or lukewarm spirit toward the Lord, they are committing sin.

There are many, various, ways the church, as a body, can commit sin.  For the church, as a body, to receive forgiveness their sins must be paid for through the shed blood of Christ (just as sinful individuals).   That principle is what both of these verses are addressing.

Finally, in Heb 10:19-31 -Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus,  By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh;  And [having] an high priest over the house of God;  Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.  Let us hold fast the profession of [our] faith without wavering; (for he [is] faithful that promised;)  And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works:  Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some [is]; but exhorting [one another]: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching. For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins,  But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries.  He that despised Moses’ law died without mercy under two or three witnesses:  Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?  For we know him that hath said, Vengeance [belongeth] unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people.  [It is] a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

In these verses we find several basic principles for faithful service to Christ.  Paul begins by explaining the great blessing of communion with God that we have been given. (vs 19-21).  Because He has blessed us so greatly, we have a big responsibility to continue this communion with Him in many ways:

1) maintain unhindered communion by forsaking and confessing sin. (vs 21-22)

2) faithfully show Christ to the world through our words and actions (vs 23)

3) loving, encouraging and sacrificing for other Christians (vs 24)

4) faithfully attending church and encouraging others to do so (vs 25)

All of these are indications of a genuine salvation experience has taken place in our hearts.  If we find that we do not strive for continued communion with the Lord there is a question whether we are actually saved (vs 26-27)  In these verses, we are told, “For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries.”

In other words, if we come to a mental acknowledgment about Christ and salvation and yet it does not change our lives, it is proof we have never been saved.  This is described as the sacrifice that Christ has made on the cross no longer remains (it has been left behind) by us.  All that can be looked forward to is the wrath of God.

Paul then uses the example of those who rejected Moses law faced only God’s punishment.  A mental knowledge of the law, if it did not result in a changed life, is of no benefit to anyone.  Likewise, a mental knowledge of Christ and His work, if it is not a part of a conversion experience, only results in judgment from the Almighty God.

Paul completes this section by stating “Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace? For we know him that hath said, Vengeance [belongeth] unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people. [It is] a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”

If rejecting the law of Moses resulted in such heinous punishment, how bad will the punishment be to those who have heard the message of the cross of Christ and reject it?

To hear the truth and reject it is tantamount to stomping Christ into the ground, counting the shed blood that set Christ apart from all other men (John 17:19) as if it was a dirtied common thing, and to insult the Spirit of God.  Surely the judgment of God will be great upon any that reject His truth.

Clearly, these verses are not teaching that rejecting church attendance will result in a saved person loosing their salvation and becoming recipients of God’s wrath.

SUMMARY

In this blog entry we have seen the clear Scriptural declaration that it is through repentance and faith that salvation is bestowed upon the sinful human.  Good works, baptism, partaking of the Lord’s Supper and church membership, are very important aspects in a Christian’s new life of faith.  However, all of them take place following the salvation of the individual.

If you have any questions about your condition or the salvation that the Lord so graciously offers,  you can look to several sources for further information:  A local Bible-teaching church in your area, or you are welcome to email me at settledinheaven@gmail.com, or you can refer to my blog page entitled “How to have a relationship with God” for more teachings on the subject of salvation.

 May the Lord bless you as you seek His truth.

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My Main Blog “Settled In Heaven” (updated twice weekly) – https://settledinheaven.wordpress.com

The following are other places you can find “Settled In Heaven” blog (updated once per month):

www.settledinheavenbibleblog.posterous.com

www.settledinheavenblog.blogspot.com

To see this lesson taught on video please go to my Video Blog at  http://www.youtube.com/settledinheaven

If you have any questions concerning this blog, or if you have a subject you would like discussed, please feel free to email me at settledinheaven@gmail.com.    I will answer all emails via my blog, email, or both.

Take A Look At My Wife’s Artistic/Scriptural Devotion Blog http://alivewithchristart.blogspot.com

Follow my Squidoo Instructional Lens “Presenting God’s Grace” “The Solemn Obligation To Present the Doctrines of Grace to the Lost and Saved Alike” http://www.squidoo.com/presenting-gods-grace

May the Lord bless your study of His Word.  Like God’s Word… may your soul’s salvation and your life’s faithfulness be “Settled in Heaven.”

The Symbols of the Church

SIH STSTA ICONOne of the most interesting areas of Bible study is the area of Bible symbolism.  Symbols are used in the Bible to help illustrate many differing Bible doctrines.  Symbols are used throughout the Bible, both in the Old and New Testaments, covering most of the major teachings of Scripture.

The symbols of the Bible have come to us by the grace of God.  Our Lord understood our need to understand Bible teachings. Because He loved us, has made it easier for each of us to understand these teachings through use of symbolism.

As an example, within the pages of the Scriptures we find the Lord uses everyday objects to help us understand spiritual truths.

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Christ used everyday objects to teach the truth about Himself:

John 6:35 – I am the BREAD of Life – By this He was teaching us that we must partake of His work for spiritual life, satisfaction for our spiritual hunger and the basis of our eternal salvation.

John 10:9 – I am the DOOR – By this He is saying that He is the entryway into salvation, which leads to an eternity in God’s presence.

John 15:5 – I am the true VINE – By this symbol He was expressing that He is the source of our strength, our life, and the bearing of our spiritual fruit

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In this lesson we will be looking at the symbols that Christ used to help us understand truths about His local churches on earth.

THE SCRIPTURE:

1Tim 3:15 (KJV)  – 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 STUDY:

Here is a listing of 10 different items in the NT believers lives that helped them (and us) understand His church on earth.

  1. The Salt of the Earth – Matt 5:13
    1. Preserving influence in the earth
    2. Flavor, better earthly existence
  2. The Light of the World – Matt 5:14
    1. Reveals the Truth
    2. Removes Darkness
  3. The Inn – Luke 10:34
    1. Place to Care and Nurture God’s People Once They Are Saved
  4. The Flock of God – Acts 20:28
    1. Led by the Lord
    2. Fed by the Lord
    3. Protected by the Lord
  5. The Body of Christ – 1 Cor 12:27
    1. Unity of Many Differing Members
    2. Follows Instructions Given by the Head (Christ)
    3. Works for Each Others Benefit
  6. The Temple of the Living God – 2 Cor 6:16
    1. Lives Within The Church
    2. Worshipped Within the Church
    3. Taught Of Him
  7. The Virgin Bride of Christ – 2 Cor 11:2
    1. Moral Purity
    2. Commitment Made Based upon Love
    3. Submission Given Based upon Reciprocal Love, Respect and Honor
  8. The Household of God – 1 Tim 3:15
    1. Where God and His Family Meet Together
  9. The Pillar and Ground of the Truth – 1 Tim 3:15
    1. To Support Truth
    2. To Elevate the Truth
  10. Candlestick – Rev 1:20
    1. To Shine Light of Christ To World
    2. To Possess His Authority Thru Spirit’s Workings

PRACTICAL APPLICATION:

For those who are saved …

The importance of coming to an understanding of Bible doctrine cannot be overemphasized. Our loving heavenly Father has seen fit to make this understanding a bit easier for each of us through the use of many, varied Bible symbols.

For those who have yet to be saved…

The most important Bible truths for anyone to understand are truths about our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

In the introductory portion of this blog entry, we find that Christ is declared as the gateway (door) to forgiveness, salvation and an eternity with the Heavenly Father.  It is through the application of His work to our lives that we are given salvation from our sins, much like the partaking of bread brings about satisfaction from the spiritual hunger in which we all share. And finally, our source of spiritual life and divine supplies comes from Him also.

Won’t you come to Christ today, realizing He is the only source of forgiveness for your sins and an eternal relationship with the heavenly Father?

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To see this lesson taught on video please go to my Video Blog at  http://www.youtube.com/settledinheaven

If you have any questions concerning this blog, or if you have a subject you would like discussed, please feel free to email me at settledinheaven@gmail.com.    I will answer all emails via my blog, email, or both.

Take A Look At My Wife’s Artistic/Scriptural Devotion Blog http://alivewithchristart.blogspot.com

Follow my Squidoo Instructional Lens “Presenting God’s Grace” “The Solemn Obligation To Present the Doctrines of Grace to the Lost and Saved Alike” http://www.squidoo.com/presenting-gods-grace

May the Lord bless your study of His Word.  Like God’s Word… may your soul’s salvation and your life’s faithfulness be “Settled in Heaven.”

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