Summary: This message summarizes the doctrine of the church
Monthly Doctrinal Series -- Ecclesiology
I. THE MYSTERY OF THE CHURCH
The way we employ the term “church” generally perpetuates a misconception of her true nature.
First, we imply that the church is a building.
Second, we imply that the church is an activity that takes place on Sunday that we watch or participate in.
A. A Mystery
Now I rejoice in what was suffered for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ's afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church. I have become its servant by the commission God gave me to present to you the word of God in its fullness - the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the saints. To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. Col 1:24-27
B. A Body
The church is mystery in that it describes a people which never existed before. It is a new body. It is not just Gentiles added, or a "new and improved Israel". It is a new group of people.
C. An organism not an organization
Organization is where the parts are externally or mechanically joined together with no necessary vital union.
An organism is a complex living creature made up of a number of essential and mutually dependent parts, all of which partake of one common life.
The church is a dynamic organism which draws its life from Christ the Head and exists through His sustaining power and the interrelation of the various members.
D. The Terms
1. The English word
Our English word "church" comes from the Greek term "kuriakos". It is an adjective meaning, "the Lord's". This Greek term is used only twice in the New Testament. I Cor 11:20; Rev 1:10
The English dictionary gives 13 different meanings for the word. Culture equates the word mostly with a building. The building must have a particular architecture to "look like a church."
2. The Greek word
The Greek term most often used to refer to the church is the word "ekklessia". It is a compound word from "ek" and "kaleo" which together mean "to call out" or the noun form, "called out ones." Common Greeks used the word in reference to an assembly of people. The emphasis is on the people, not a building.
In the New Testament, the word takes on a richer dimension in that it refers to the people themselves, the called out ones, whether they are assembled or not. They are the "ecclesia".
A sign for a particular building should not read "Chico Alliance Church" but rather "Chico Alliance Church meets here."
The word church can refer to the entire group of individuals who have been placed by the Spirit into the body of Christ through faith in Christ or may be used in reference to a number of groups in a particular city like the church at Corinth which was made up of several house gatherings or the term may refer to one particular local assembly of Christians at a particular location.
Very simply, the Church is an assembly or group of individuals comprising one living body vitally connected to and empowered by the Head Christ Jesus both individually and corporately.
II. THE MAKING OF THE CHURCH
To answer the question, "When did the Church begin?" we must apply some Biblical logic.
1. The Church could not have existed before Christ's death for it is built on Christ's finished work. Acts 20:28; Rom 3:24-27
2. The Church could not have existed until after the resurrection because its power and life depended on the resurrection. Eph 1:18-20.
3. The Church could not have existed until the Ascension for that is where Christ was given headship. Eph 1:20-23.
4. The Church could not have existed until Pentecost because that is where the Holy Spirit through His Baptism placed individuals into the body of Christ.
For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body - whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free - and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. 1Co 12:13
The conclusion from these facts is that the Church officially came into existence on the Day of Pentecost with the coming and indwelling of the Holy Spirit in individuals linking them to Jesus.
III. THE MASTER OF THE CHURCH
And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way. Eph 1:22-23
He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. Col 1:18