Summary: The Study Of “The Church, Part 1”
The Study Of “The Church, Part 1”
Matthew 16:18 (KJV)
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.
There are thousands of different churches in the world. Each one of these denominations has its own teachings which are different from the teachings of other denominations. Each one of these churches is called by a different name. Yet, all of them claim to be following the Bible. Is this possible? No, it is not! The Bible contains only one teaching. Yet each one of these denominations has a different teaching.
What is the true church?
How can we learn which is right?
There is only one way. Let us go to the Bible. The Bible will tell us what Christ’s church is.
The Bible helps us to understand what Christ’s church is like. It does this by "figures" or "pictures" of the church. Let us look at some of these pictures that we may understand what the true church is like.
The Bible often pictures Christ’s church as a kingdom. Sometimes it is called the "kingdom of God" because God is its Ruler. The members of the church are citizens of the kingdom. Sometimes the church is called the "kingdom of heaven" because it is a spiritual kingdom. It is not an earthly kingdom.
We know that the kingdom and the church are the same thing because Christ used them in this way. For example, let us hear Jesus’ words to Peter: "And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven" (Matthew 16:18,19).
God has set up His kingdom on the earth. It began on the Day of Pentecost after the resurrection of Christ. Read Acts 2:1-47. It began in city of Jerusalem. Since the church and the kingdom are the same, we know that Christ’s church began in Jerusalem. It began on the first day of Pentecost after Jesus arose from the dead. Any church which began at any other place than Jerusalem cannot be the true church. Any church which began at any other time cannot be the true church.
Just before He returned to Heaven, Jesus said, "Thus it is written,and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem" (Luke 24:46,47).
THE TEMPLE OF GOD
The Bible sometimes pictures the church as the temple of God. "Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord" (Ephesians 2:19-21).
In the Old Testament, we can read how King Solomon built a temple for God (1 Kings 8:12,13). Today, the church is God’s temple. God dwells in the church through His Spirit: "Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are" (1 Corinthians 3:16,17).
THE FAMILY OF GOD
Sometimes the Bible pictures the church as God’s household or family. "But if I am delayed, I write so that you may know how you ought to conduct yourself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth" (1 Timothy 3:15).
In His family, the church, God is the father. Members of the church are His children. One becomes a member of a family by being born into it. The same is true of God’s family. One must be born again to become a member of it. "…Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God" (John 3:5).
A HOLY NATION AND A ROYAL PRIESTHOOD
Another picture of Christ’s church is that of a holy nation and a royal priesthood. "But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light" (1 Peter 2:9).