Summary: This is the reworking of a sermon I wrote several years ago. The Church is: 1. The church is a fellowship. 2. The church is a family. 3. The church is a flock. 4. The church is a body.
What Is The Church?
Our text today is found in Matthew chapter sixteen. Follow along with me as I read:
"Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, He was asking His disciples, "Who do people say that the Son of Man is?" And they said, "Some say John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; but still others, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets." He *said to them, "But who do you say that I am?" Simon Peter answered, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." And Jesus said to him, "Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. "I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it." Matthew 16:13-18 (NASB)
Did you know the word church is not found in the Old Testament. The first person that I know of that used this term was Jesus himself. He is the one who initiated the concept of church. In the New Testament the word church is used 73 times. It is a New Testament concept.
Before we look at what the church is - let me say what it is not. It is not a social club. It is not a business. It is not a museum. The church is not even a building. Did you know that that the first Christians did not even have the concept of the church as being a building? How could they - they had no buildings – but they still had churches.
What is the Church then? What does the Bible say? The Bible says that:
1. The church is a fellowship.
2. The church is a family.
3. The church is a flock.
4. The church is a body.
Let's look at each of these closer:
1. The Bible says the church is a FELLOWSHIP
The Bible tells us that Christians were gathering together and:
"They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles' teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer." Acts 2:42 (NASB)
Fellowship is not just something the church is - it’s something we do. In the dictionary the word “fellowship” is both a noun and a verb. In our church fellowship is both a noun and a verb also.
What is fellowship? The best definition is "Two fellows on the same ship." You’re headed in the same direction. You get to know each other and you associate with one another because you’re going in the same direction. That’s what fellowship is. Fellowship is all of us together heading in the same direction. As Christians, we’re all headed to heaven. A top priority in fellowship is harmony and unity. Do you know you can have unity without having uniformity. Have you noticed we’re all different? We have different colored hair. Our eyes are different colors. Some are taller than others. We’re different ages. We have different experiences. We are different. God loves that. God loves diversity. Thank God we’re not all alike. It would really be boring if there was only vanilla ice cream in the world. I like 31 flavors - and so does God. He doesn't really what us to have uniformity - He wants us to be in unity with one another. In First Peter we find:
"Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous; not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing." 1 Peter 3:8-9 (NKJV)
The Bible teaches that anything that causes disunity is sin. There are a bunch of verses that says anybody that causes conflict in the church is sinning. When you cause conflict in a church - when you get Christians mad at other Christians - what you’re doing is destroying the fellowship. If you destroy the fellowship, you don’t have a church.
The Message Bible states 1st Peter 3:8 this way,
"Be agreeable, be sympathetic, be loving, be compassionate, be humble. That goes for all of you, no exceptions. No retaliation. No sharp-tongued sarcasm. Instead, bless—that's your job, to bless. You'll be a blessing and also get a blessing." 1 Peter 3:8-9 (MSG)
The church is to be a fellowship but also:
2. The church is a FAMILY
Did you know that when you become a Christian some things change? God becomes your Father, Jesus becomes your Savior and other Christians become your brothers and sisters. We are part of God's family - that is why we can pray together the Lord's prayer and say, "Out Father who art in Heaven..."