Adult Bible B.L.A.S.T Week Four “The Church” cont. -10/22/17
4. The church is a royal priesthoodRead: 1 Peter 2:9-10 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
Question: What does this tell us about the relationship between Christ and the church?• Chosen suggests that God has selected us… He made it personal• Holy nation suggests that when we follow Christ, we are a beacon of His holiness.• Royal suggests that the church will rule one day.• Priests suggests that those in the church are God’s ministers or servants.• A people for His own possession suggests that we are dear / valuable to God and that if He possesses us, no one can take us away from Him.• We have a purpose as the church. To tell people about the greatness of God.
5. The church is a flockRead: Acts 20:28 Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which He obtained with His own blood.
Question: What does this verse tell us about the relationship between Christ and the church? • There are those placed in authority in the church, just like Christ is over the church.• Those in authority have been placed by the Holy Spirit.• The church was bought / obtained, by the blood of Jesus… by His death.
Sheep imagery for God’s people is seen in both the Old and New Testaments (Psalm 23; Isaiah 53:6). Jesus said He was the good shepherd and that His sheep follow his voice (John 10). Sheep communicate the need for a shepherd who will lead, feed and protect.
6. The church is the people of GodRead: 2 Corinthians 6:16 b God said, “I will make My dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.
Read: Hebrews 8:10 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put My laws into their minds, and write them on their hearts, and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.
Question: What might these texts say about the relationship between Christ and the church?• It suggests an intimate and special family relationship.
7. The Church is the family of GodAgain, the Bible does not use that exact phrase, but the idea is very clearly taught.
Read: Hebrews 2:11 For He Who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one source. That is why He is not ashamed to call them brothers.
Read: Matthew 12:49-50 And stretching out His hand toward His disciples, He said, “Here are My mother and My brothers! For whoever does the will of My Father in heaven is My brother and sister and mother.
Question: What are these texts saying about the relationship of Christ and the church?
You are part of God’s family. • When you place your faith in Jesus, God becomes your Father, you become his child, other believers become your brothers and sisters, and the church becomes your spiritual family. • Take a moment to let the amazing truth sink in.
I’ve said it so many times before, the church is about family. • It’s about having brothers and sisters who love you, who can come along next to you and see you through life’s trying times. • Being included in God’s family is the highest honor and the greatest privilege you will ever receive. • Whenever you feel unimportant, unloved, or insecure, remember to whom you belong.
That’s what family is, isn’t it, a place to belong? • Even in the perfect paradise of Eden, God said, It is not good that the man should be alone (Genesis 2:18) • We are not meant to apart, we are created for community.
That’s what God’s family, the church, is all about:• laughing together, crying together, and dreaming together.
Being the church means experiencing life together. We find most of them in the ‘one another’s’ in Scripture:• Love one another (John 13:34).• Be devoted to one another in brotherly love (Romans 12:10).• Honor one another (Romans 12:10).• Live in harmony with one another (Romans 12:16).• Accept one another (Romans 15:7).• Greet one another with a holy kiss (Romans 16:16).• Teach one another (Romans 15:14).• Serve one another in love (Galatians 5:13).• Be kind and compassionate to one another (Ephesians 4:32).• Encourage one another (Hebrews 10:25).• Offer hospitality to one another (2 Peter 4:9).• Have fellowship with one another (1 John 1:7)• Be tenderhearted and forgiving to one another (Ephesians 4:32) • Comfort one another (1 Thessalonians 4:10)• Edify one another (1 Thessalonians 5:11)• Provoke one another to love and good works (Hebrews 10:24• Pray for one another (James 5:16)• Show compassion towards one another (1 Peter 3:8)
It takes both God’s power and our effort to produce a loving Christian community. • Being the church means being a family and living out these “one another” on a daily basis.
III. The History of the ChurchA. When/How did the Church Start?
Read: Matthew 16:15-18 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
Question: Who started the church? According to this text, what is the base, the foundation of the church?
The church was not the invention of some twisted, power-hungry theologian from the Dark Ages. No, church has a Heavenly origin… Jesus was the founder of the church.
Read: Ephesians 5:25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her
Not only is Jesus the foundation of the church, He gave his blood, His life, to establish the church. Why? Because He loved it!
Question: Did Jesus do that, does He love a building or is it something else?• No. Jesus died for and loves the people who are the church.
Read: Acts 1:6-8 So when they had come together, they asked Him, “Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
Read: Acts 2:1-4, 41 When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance. So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.
Question: When was the church born? What is this event called?
The church began during the reign of Rome on the day of Pentecost, with the coming of the Holy Spirit in its new work of sealing and permanently indwelling believers. Just a few days after Jesus ascended into heaven.
So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.
Question: 3000 souls were added to what?• The Church.
B. How the church developed over time
Question: Since the early church had no access to the mass media of their day, or to mass transportation for that matter, how can we account for their steady and diverse expansion over the first 300 years?
Missions, missionary journeys.• After the Apostle Paul, we don’t read about any big names as missionaries in the first 300 years of Christian history. Instead the faith spread through a multitude of humble, ordinary believers whose names have been long forgotten.• Early Christianity was primarily an urban faith, since most of the people lived close together in crowded cities. • Christianity spread as neighbors saw the lives of the believers close-up, on a daily basis.
The first 200 years, the early church was very loosely organized which resulted in a lot of differences in beliefs.
In order to ensure a greater consistency in teaching, by the end of the 2nd century (100-200ad) Christian churches began to develop a more structured hierarchy, with a central bishop (elected religious leaders) having authority over the clergy in his city. This led to what is called the Metropolitan Bishop.
Question: Since there were no denominations as we know them at this time, what was the church called?
In 107ad a letter written by Ignatius of Antioch to the Smyrnaeans first referred to the church as ‘Catholic.’ He was attempting to encourage the Christians in Smyrna to remain closely united with its bishop. He wrote this:• Wherever the bishop shall appear, there let the multitude [of the people] also be; even as, wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church.
This is the earliest occurrence in Christian literature of the phrase ‘the Catholic Church’.
Question: What does the word ‘catholic’ mean?
The original sense of the word is ‘universal’. However, in the latter part of the 2nd century it began to have a secondary meaning of ‘orthodox’ as opposed to ‘heretical’.
The organization of the church began to mimic that of the Roman Empire:• Bishops in politically important cities had more control and authority over the bishops in smaller, less important cities.• By the end of the 2nd century, bishops began meeting in regional synods to resolve doctrinal and policy issues. • The churches in Antioch, Alexandria and Rome held the highest positions.• By the 3rd century (200-300ad) the bishop of Rome began to act as a court of appeals for problems other bishops couldn’t resolve.
Question: The Bishop of Rome later became known as what?• Pope
The Roman Emperor Julian, in the mid 300s, gave some helpful insights into how the church spread. This opponent of the faith said that Christianity • Has been specially advanced through the loving service rendered to strangers and through their care of the burial of the dead. It is a scandal that there is not a single Jew who is a beggar and that the [Christians] care not only for their own poor but for ours as well; while those who belong to us look in vain for the help we should render them. (CT)
They did what Christians are called to do.• Acts 2:42-47 And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.• Titus 3:8 The saying is trustworthy, and I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works. These things are excellent and profitable for people.• James 1:27a Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction• Galatians 2:10b remember the poor• Galatians 6:9ff And let us not grow weary of doing good… So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.