Wednesday, March 6, 2013

The Church

That’s my church building. This capture was taken from the Cottondale Store when they noticed the rainbow ending right over the church. I recently posted a screen capture from Google Earth in “Which Church?” Church has been on my mind often after our “First Steps For New Christians” lesson, “ Chapter Six “The Local Church.”

This lesson covered “What is the purpose of the local church?” There were specifics:

To preach the word of God. The scripture for this item was Acts 13:5, but it’s better to start with 13:1:

Now there were in the church that was at Antioch certain prophets and teachers; as Barnabas, and Simeon that was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen, which had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. (Acts 13:1)

Prophets here is προφήτης, which comes from the Greek for advocate, an inspired speaker. The next verse defines the inspiration:

As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them. Acts 13:2)

By verse 5, we learn:

And when they were at Salamis, they preached the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews: and they had also John to their minister. (Acts 13:5)

That to me is the primary work of a church. It also provides fellowship, and that's not confined to potluck suppers (which really are a good thing!)

And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. (Acts 2:42)

God provided a “good work” for a man who leads a congregation (1 Timothy 3:1-7) and instructions for members:

Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you. (Hebrews 13:17)

It is in the church that we practice baptism and observe the Lord’s Supper. For Baptists, baptism is required for church membership, and is required as the congregation partakes of the Lord’s supper.

But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's body. (1 Corinthians 11:28-29)

“God gave the local church the command to reach the lost through telling others,” the command to spread the gospel. That will also serve to help God’s children grow in grace which also serves to bring glory to God.

The church is the ideal place to disciple new believers and to mature new Christians.

But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: (Ephesians 4:15)

It is also the place to restore sinful members to fellowship:

Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ. (Galatians 6:1-2)

Of course, I’ve omitted many excellent verses the chapter uses for these bolded topics. Each of those verses provide an opportunity for growth as they are studied in God’s word – which speaks so much better than I do. Ephesians 3:17-21 says it best, for me – God glorified.

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