Adult Bible B.L.A.S.T Week Two “The Church” cont. -10/08/17
Question: What is the name given by theologians for the study of the church?
The roots of the word ecclesiology come from the combination of two Greek words:
- ἐκκλησίᾱ, meaning ‘called out ones’ ‘local gathering’ or ‘church’
- λογία, meaning “words”, “knowledge”
- Put together ecclesiology is the study of the church.
Question: For arguments sake, let’s say you think studying the church is important. Why?
Why should we study the doctrine of the church?
Ecclesiology is crucial to understand God’s purpose for believers in the world today.
To be specific, ecclesiology is the
- study of the Christian Church,
- the origins of Christianity,
- its relationship to Jesus,
- its role in salvation,
- its government,
- its discipline,
- its future,
- its leadership. (Wikipedia)
And it’s different ecclesiologies (it’s in the different ways in which we view the church), that lead to a plethora of denominations… and theological / practical / moral / ethical problem in the church.
It is also the reason new heresies have been allowed to be accepted in many churches today.
- Openness of God or Open Theism: Basically teaches that God is not sovereign. That He acts in history in accordance with what humans choose to do. Making the future and what happens open to new possibilities rather than determined by the sovereign will of God.
- Scripture ‘contains’ but is not ‘Absolute Truth: This teaches that God’s Word, the Bible, is not inerrant nor infallible.
-Inerrant = without error. Infallible = not able to make an error
- God created LGBTQ, so He must love and accept them and so should we.
-This is based on the false premise that LGBTQ’s people were created by God that way, it is genetic. Which has never been proven by any scientific or medical studies.
-This is also based on the Bible not being absolute Truth. The argument is since we know more today than we did in the biblical writers time we don’t need to follow those things that go against the LGBTQ agenda.
A Biblical understanding of Ecclesiology would go a long way to correct most of the common problems the church faces today.
But, ecclesiology, the doctrine of the church, is just not important to many today, even to many in the church. Part of the problem is that many Christians are guilty of what might be called a decapitated ecclesiology.
Question: What does the word decapitated mean?
Question: What might a decapitated ecclesiology mean?
- We have severed the body of Christ from its Head. This problem runs across the spectrum of conservative and progressive/liberal churches and is seen whenever professing Christians start making the church after their own desires and wants.
The point is that we often tend to think about the church in ways that reflect our own biases. But when we do, we risk reducing our ecclesiology to experiences, ceremonies, programs, and the like. These things may be well and good, but they cannot represent what it means for the church to be the church. (Greg Herick)
Case in point: Many people today believe that the church exists primarily to meet their perceived needs. We’ll look at it later but that is central to the ‘Church Growth Movement’
- From this perspective, the doctrine of the church is reduced to matters of taste and what works best for the individual.
But the place to start to understand and develop a doctrine of the church
- is not to ask, “What does the body need?” As important as that question is,
- we must first ask, “What does the Head want?”
We cannot address the needs of the body of Christ until we understand the desires of the Head of the church. Seen in this light, the entire Bible speaks to the doctrine of the church, since the entire Bible speaks of Christ.
When we talk about the church, every time we talk about the church, it must be in relationship to the person and work of Jesus, its head.
What we need today is to understand the essential nature of the church first and foremost from what Scripture teaches and not from the role some claim the church ought to play in society.
So, ecclesiology” refers to the nature of the Church. It asks:
- What is the Church?
- What is the fundamental purpose of the Church?
- How essential is the Church in the life of individual Believers?
- What authority does the Church have in the life of Believers?
- Who has the authority in the Church to speak for Jesus Christ and teach in His name?
- What is the Church’s relationship to God’s Word, the Bible? (Charles Pope)
Summary Statement on Ecclesiology
- The Church exists to proclaim what Christ has taught, whether it’s popular or not.
- No matter how many secular news reports you have read in the past year or so whether about divorce and remarriage, or homosexual acts, or sexual intercourse outside of marriage, or abortion, or women being pastors, or euthanasia), be assured that these teachings cannot change.
There are just some things that the Church cannot do, no matter how heavy the pressure to do so. These doctrinal teachings are not going to change because Jesus, who spoke through his apostles, is not going to change. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.
Opinion polls are not the source of our teaching, Jesus is.
- Stat crux dum volvitur orbis The Cross is steady while the world is turning.
It’s a recognition that the Gospel is timeless and eternal.
What is the Church?
ILL: In the early 1960’s Vince Lombardi was rebuilding the Green Bay Packers. After losing a Super bowl and on the eve of a new season, he rallied his team in the locker room one day and mounted the bench for a speech.
He reviewed last year’s loss, then began to talk about the plans for a return trip to the great game and how they would accomplish it. “We’re going back to basics,” he said. And with that he held up the familiar oblong, leather ball, and said slowly and deliberately, “Gentlemen, this is a football.” (Steven Sheane)
Question: So, here are two simple, back to basics questions regarding the church.
What defines the ‘church’?
Where do we go to find out about what the ‘church’ is?
- First, the Bible. Here we’ll see how God planned and set up the church.
- Second, history. Here we’ll see how the ‘church’ has developed over time. How it was and was not in line with the biblical parameter.
And we’ll look at both throughout this study of the ‘Church’.
- The church
Question: Where do we get the English word church?
The word translated church in the New Testament is from the Greek word ekklesia which means an assembly or called out ones.
- It does not refer to a building rather it refers instead to people.
- In the New Testament, it generally refers to Jews or Gentiles who have placed their faith in Jesus Christ and have received the Holy Spirit following Pentecost in Acts 2.
- It may refer to a local assembly such as the church at Thessalonica or the universal church of all believers in Jesus Christ in this age everywhere.
In the OT the Hebrew word ‘qahal’ is used to mean the assembly of God’s people.
(Deut. 10:4) In fact the phrase ‘qahal Yahweh’ means people of God.
Question: What do most people think of then they hear the word ‘church’?
A building right? Maybe it’s a fancy ‘churchy looking building or a renovated movie theater, shoprite or office building. Perhaps is just a very simple building where believers gather.
- But biblically speaking, a church is not a building at all.
- A church is the saved people who attend. Who gather in a building.
Question: Did the early church have what we would consider today, church buildings?
Where did they often meet?
Historically, the early Christian church had no buildings, at least not in the sense of what we would consider church buildings today.
- First century Christians were often persecuted and, as a result, often met in secret usually in homes.
- As the influence of Christianity spread, eventually buildings dedicated to worship were established and became what we know today as churches.
So, the church is made up of people not buildings.
- Fellowship, worship and ministry are all done by people, not buildings.
- Church structures facilitate the role of God’s people, but they do not fulfill it.
- Much of what the church does, can/should be done outside of the local building where the people meet.