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The Bride of Christ, The Church

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KNOW WHAT YOU BELIEVE

Ralph Sorter

LESSON 11 – THE BRIDE OF CHRIST, THE CHURCH

            Our salvation is a shared experience – all of us who have found Christ as our Savior also enter into a family relationship with others who have already been united with Him.  This family is called the Church.  Collectively we become God’s holy nation, the people of God, the body of Christ.  1 Pet. 2:9-10   Though we are a spiritual nation, we coexist in this world side-by-side with noncitizens – those who have not professed Jesus as Savior. 

            The nature of the Church as a holy, separated nation is seen in two Greek words that are used to describe it.  One is ekklesia, the word most often translated “church.”  The word is a combination of kaleo, “to call,” and ek, “out of, from.”  Thus the literal meaning is “the called-out ones.”  The gospel call is an invitation to come out of the world and live a holy, separated life.  2 Tim. 1:9  The second Greek word that characterizes the nature of the Church is hagioi, translated “saints.”  Basically it means “holy ones.”  In the NT it is used to describe the body of believers as a whole, not just a few of the spiritually elite.

            The early Church formed much differently that it commonly exists today.  They did not erect buildings in which to meet – they met in homes.  Frequent references in the NT mention people by name “and the Church that meets in their house.”  Rom. 16:3-5; 1 Cor. 16:19; Col. 4:15; Philemon 1:1-2  These groups often called each other “brethren,” emphasizing the familial relationship they had with one another, centered around Christ.  Rom. 16:14, 15  In the early days of the NT, even the collective body of believers in a region considered themselves all members of the Church, not just the individual house churches.  1 Cor. 16:19-20; Col. 4:15

1.      Since Israel was a holy nation, set apart to God, so is the church.  When did the Church become a holy nation set apart to God?  (On Pentecost.)  Acts 2:41-47
Insight: By faith we have become the new Israel of God, and are now His holy nation, set apart to serve God.  Rom. 2:28-29; 9:6-8; 11:25-27

2.      Who is the head of the Church?  Eph. 1:19-23       What are the implications of this?  (Since Jesus is the Head, we are to be in submission to Him, and look to Him for the direction of the Church.)    

3.      What do 1 Cor. 3:11 & Eph. 2:19-22 say about how the Church is built?      How do we fit into God’s building as living stones, according to 1 Pet. 2:4-5 & Eph. 4:11-13?
Insight: God has gifted some in the Church to equip others, and as they mature and take their place in the wall of the building of God, they in turn help make one another stronger…each does their part so that those with other gifts can do their part.  1 Cor. 12:18-25

4.      What is the Holy Spirit’s role in fitting us together into God’s building, the Church?  (He is the voice of God within us, directing us, empowering us, and giving us gifts to accomplish the Father’s will for the Church.)  1 Cor. 12:11-13      What happens if we fail to listen to the Spirit’s leading, as far as the Church is concerned? 
Insight: When we ignore the voice of the Spirit’s direction, we are left to following man’s plans, which are many, and thus will want to go a different direction…which leads to division and failure.  But if we are all listening to His voice, there will only be one direction…the Lord’s!

5.      As the Church grew, so did the need for varying degrees of leadership to meet the needs of the body.  Follow the expansion of leadership through these verses: Acts 2:42-45; 6:1-4; 13:2-3; 14:21-23

6.      What were the original roles of the deacon, deaconess and elder in the early Church?  (Deacon & deaconess – serve the body so the Apostles & leaders could pray and study & teach the Word; elders – shepherd & guard the flock.)  Acts. 6:1-4; 20:17, 28

7.      What are the essential elements that are to take place when the Church assembles?  (Worship, teaching/preaching, fellowship, breaking of bread, prayer, edification to walk in Christ, equipping, giving.)

8.      When we gather to worship, or worship alone, who is the center of attention…the object of our worship?  John 4:23-24;  Matt. 4:10
Insight:
Worship is an attitude of the heart, therefore it requires the spirit in the inner man to be engaged.  You need to be consciously aware of God’s presence, and come to Him with a spirit of reverence or awe, an attitude of adoration and love, in a spirit of submission to His will, a sense of peace and joy in contemplation of His grace.  Let your heart speak to God in words of love, praise, thanksgiving and petition.  Worship is not something we observe…it is something we do.  Ps. 8:1-9

9.      As for the means of worship, should it be acapella or with instruments?  Eph. 5:19
Insight:
Psalmos – sing with stringed instrument; Humnos – sing with your voice; Ode – sing with your voice or with an instrument.

10.  Should there be behavioral problems in the Church, what process and attitude should we take when exercising discipline?  Matt. 18:15-17;  1 Cor. 5:1-5;  2 Cor. 2:5-8;  2 Thess. 3:14-15;  Gal. 6:1-5

11.  Since the Israelites worshiped on the Sabbath (Saturday), how did Christian worship make the shift to worship on Sunday?
Insight: Church history teaches that the early church worshipped on both days; Saturday because it was their custom, but they lingered their worship on Sunday as well to celebrate the resurrection of the Lord.  It became known as “the Lord’s day.”  By the time you get to Paul’s 3rd missionary journey, we see a pattern for Christian worship on Sunday was already established.  Acts 20:7; 1 Cor. 16:1-2

12.  What two ordinances, or sacraments (to make sacred to God, to dedicate to God for sacred use), are given to the Church to carry out?  (Baptism & the Lord’s Supper.)      Is there anything in Scripture that says only ministers or priests may administer these sacraments?  (No.)

Conclusion:

            I love Thy Church, O God…this Bride of Christ that You died to purchase…this Body of Christ that encompasses Your character and purpose…this group of “called out” ones that stand out in this world as separate…distinct…set aside for Your own possession.  This holy nation stands to keep Your standards upright…and faith alive to all those who believe.  No one else carries the torch of Your truth and holiness.  You bought her, bled for her, died for her.  You have equipped her to do things in Your name with power.  Generation to generation the good news of the Gospel goes out to the ends of the earth.  Then, when that last people group has received the word of Christ’s atoning death for them, You will come again to claim Your Bride and take her home to the new Jerusalem…spotless and full of glory.  You have not abandoned us…You are resident within us…watching us…guiding us.  We bow before You and pledge our lives to carry Your message of redemption to one more generation, should You tarry.  I love the Church that You love, O God.

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