The Church And It's Foundation
While it is true that belonging to a church does not automatically entitle a person to salvation and an eternity with God, the Bible clearly shows that God’s plan is to unite His people in His “church”. The Christian is not to isolate himself from other Christians, or from society. He will find strength and joy in associating with those of like faith as he attends the place of worship on the Sabbath day. When Christ was on earth He organised the foundation of the Christian church.
01. To start at the beginning, what does the original Greek word for 'church' mean?
The church [ἐκκλησία, ek-klay-see´-ah] then had peace throughout Judea, Galilee, and Samaria, and it became stronger as the believers lived in the fear of the Lord. And with the encouragement of the Holy Spirit, it also grew in numbers.
1577. ἐκκλησία ĕkklēsia, ek-klay-see´-ah; from a comp. of 1537 and a der. of 2564; a calling out, i.e. (concr.) a popular meeting, espec. a religious congregation (Jewish synagogue, or Chr. community of members on earth or saints in heaven or both):—assembly, church (Strongs Greek #1577).
02. Next, who is the foundation that the church will be built upon?
15 He said to them, “But who do you say I am?”
16 Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
17 Jesus answered and said to him, “You are blessed, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.
18 And I also say to you that you are Peter [Petros], and on this rock [Petra] I will build my church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. (NKJV)
At the first reading of this text it would appear that the church is built upon “Peter”, but a closer examination shows us that the church was built upon “Christ”. Other Bible texts show us clearly that Christ is the Rock – not Peter. See Deut 32:4, 15, 2 Sam 22:47, Psalms 18:46, 42:9, 95:1, Isa 17:10, 44:8, Hab 1:12, 1 Cor 10:4. The name “Peter” means “a stone”, (Petros in Greek) but Christ is symbolised by immovable “rock”, (Petra in Greek). It was not until the 5th century that a bishop considered it necessary to find some Biblical support for papal supremacy. Indeed, during Peter’s life he never considered himself as the foundation of the church. In fact, the apostle James was the chairman and administrator of the early church. See Acts 15:6, 13, 19. If we could have been there on that occasion when Christ spoke these words we could see Christ pointing to Peter and saying, “Thou art Peter”: – then pointing back to Himself, Christ said “Upon this rock I will build my church.” The gates of hell prevailed against Peter when he denied his Lord three times, but Christ was victorious in every point. Surely He is the only worthy foundation upon which the Christian church could be built. Interestingly in verse 23 Christ said to Peter “Get thee behind me Satan”. Peter certainly wasn’t Satan. Christ knew Satan had put the evil thought in Peter’s mind. Peter wasn’t Satan; neither was he the Rock.
03. (Part 1) What does the Apostle Paul say regarding the foundation of the church?
1 Corinthians 3:11
For no one can lay any foundation other than the one we already have—Jesus Christ.
04. (Part 2) What does the Apostle Paul say regarding the foundation of the church?
20 Together, we are his house, built on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets.And the cornerstone is Christ Jesus himself.
21 We are carefully joined together in him, becoming a holy temple for the Lord.
05. Having established the 'church' and it's founder, what is God's plan for those who believe in Him and call on His name?
praising God and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved. (NKJV)
06. What did the local church organisation look like in the days of the apostles?
23 Paul and Barnabas also appointed elders in every church. With prayer and fasting,they turned the elders over to the care of the Lord, in whom they had put their trust.
27 Upon arriving in Antioch, they called the church together and reported everything God had done through them and how he had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles, too.
Here we see a definite organisation in the early Christian church. Leaders were chosen and ordained as elders. A record of names and addresses was apparently kept so that they could “gather the church together” on this occasion. God is thoroughly organised as we look into His created works, and so was His church in the days of the apostles.
07. What did the church's hierarchy look like in the days of the apostles?
2 Paul and Barnabas disagreed with them, arguing vehemently. Finally, the church decided to send Paul and Barnabas to Jerusalem, accompanied by some local believers, to talk to the apostles and elders about this question.
3 The church sent the delegates to Jerusalem, and they stopped along the way in Phoenicia and Samaria to visit the believers. They told them—much to everyone’s joy—that the Gentiles, too, were being converted.
08. Were any instructions given regarding regarding growing the church i.e. how to handle sin or rebellion in the church?
15 "If another believer sins against you, go privately and point out the offence. If the other person listens and confesses it, you have won that person back.
16 But if you are unsuccessful, take one or two others with you and go back again, so that everything you say may be confirmed by two or three witnesses.
17 If the person still refuses to listen, take your case to the church. Then if he or she won’t accept the church’s decision, treat that person as a pagan or a corrupt tax collector.
While it is not the responsibility of the church to condemn or judge a man, Christ nevertheless gave the church disciplinary responsibility. If one of the members is living in open sin or rebellion, the church has the authority to deal with the matter. However, in such cases, every effort is made to reason with the one who is in error, and in love the church tries to win him back to the path of righteousness. No hasty decisions are made. Only as a last resort would the church recommend that a person be no longer included as a church member.
09. Does the Bible give any indication about Christ's relationship to His church?
25 For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her
26 to make her holy and clean, washed by the cleansing of God’s word.
27 He did this to present her to himself as a glorious church without a spot or wrinkle or any other blemish. Instead, she will be holy and without fault.
10. Why do we often see people in Jesus' church who are good, but some not so good?
Matthew 13:24-25, 28-30
24 Here is another story Jesus told: “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a farmer who planted good seed in his field.
25 But that night as the workers slept, his enemy came and planted weeds among the wheat, then slipped away.
28 “ ‘An enemy has done this!’ the farmer exclaimed. “ ‘Should we pull out the weeds?’ they asked.
29 “ ‘No,’ he replied, ‘you’ll uproot the wheat if you do.
30 Let both grow together until the harvest. Then I will tell the harvesters to sort out the weeds, tie them into bundles, and burn them, and to put the wheat in the barn.’ ”
In this parable Jesus says that the good seed was sown by the Son of man and the field is the world. The good seed are Christians and the tares belong to the devil. The harvest is the judgement at the end of the world. Both good and bad live in this same world, but we should not even be surprised to see both good and bad in the church. Some are offended when they see professed Christians acting or speaking in a manner not in accord with Christian standards. Don’t be dismayed for it is the devil’s plan to use such people to turn you away from the church and thus cause you to be lost. We must always look to Jesus for our example - not people. It is not our prerogative to condemn people and set ourselves up as judges – that would be wrong. But we quietly observe, and resolve to live the life God wants us to live. We are responsible to God for our own lives. Having said that, through the grace of God we need to continue looking for opportunities to tactfully help other people who are being harassed by temptation, and perhaps bring them back into a full saving relationship with God.
11. There are so many Christian denominations around today. Does the Bible identify God's true church?
And the dragon was angry at the woman and declared war against the rest [remnant] of her children--all who keep God’s commandments and maintain their testimony for Jesus.
Using a woman as a symbol of the church, Revelation 12 depicts the church’s history through the ages. Satan is especially angry at the rest or remnant church who keep God’s commandments and have the testimony of Jesus.
12. Is it really that important for believers to be joined to God's church?
And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.
As we approach the end of time it becomes more important to assemble together. We need the strength gained by fellowship to live victorious Christian lives. It is God’s desire that we attend the place of worship. It is true that we can worship God amongst nature, in our own homes; or anywhere for that matter; but the clear admonition from God’s Word remains that we should not absent ourselves from the meetings of the church.
13. Is God Himself still interested and involved in the growth of His church today?
11 Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers.
12 Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ.
13 This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ.
14. What is the purpose of the church? Why did God create it?
And the Good News about the Kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world, so that all nations will hear it; and then the end will come.
15. (Part 1) Who does God wish to see become a part of His last day church?
2 He gave a mighty shout: "Babylon is fallen—that great city is fallen! She has become a home for demons. She is a hideout for every foul spirit, a hideout for every foul vulture and every foul and dreadful animal.
4 Then I heard another voice calling from heaven, “Come away from her, my people. Do not take part in her sins, or you will be punished with her.
God has many sincere people worshipping in false churches. In the last days, the Lord calls His people to come out of the false systems of worship and unite with God’s true remnant church.
16. (Part 2) Who does God wish to see become a part of His last day church?
16 I have other sheep, too, that are not in this sheepfold. I must bring them also. They will listen to my voice, and there will be one flock with one shepherd.
27 My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.
Jesus is speaking of Gentiles who would respond to the news of salvation. The same pattern will be repeated just before Jesus comes again. God’s true people are to be found in all the churches, but as yet they have not all been called into the true fold. But when God reveals light from His Word that they have not understood previously, they will respond to His voice and unite with His remnant church who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus. Perhaps God is speaking to your heart today. Remember the words of Jesus “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me”.
Since Jesus loves His church so much that He likens it to His beautiful bride, and died a torturous death for it, and continues to love and support it to this very day, don't you think is it important to show your love for Him by being a part of His last day remnant church?