Tonight, our ladies' class will begin marking their Bibles (The Church) using orange pens. I don't know if I already mentioned it but we found some really neat pens for doing the marking at our local Wal-mart. There were about 10 pens in a package and each package had at least 2 of each color: purple, red, green, orange. The package cost less than $1. We just bought a bunch of packages and pass the pens out at during ladies' class. That way, everyone is not scrambling to find a pen the right color.
The section on The Church begins with the beginning. We'll talk a little about the church as talked about in Daniel, and the beginning of the church in Acts. Then we'll spend some time talking about the organization of the church: universal/local, elders/deacons/saints. The third section is talking about the worship and then we'll talk about the work of the church. Hopefully, tonight we'll get through the beginning and the organizaiton.
If you are keeping a cheat sheet on a blank page in your Bible (that's a section where you write the beginning of passage of each section for quick reference later), use an orange pen to write:
Beginnings -- Ephesians 3:10-12
Organization -- Colossians 1:18
Worship -- acts 4:23-31
Work -- Matthew 28:19-20
Let's get started:
The church was always part of God's plan. Today people want to lessen its importance by claiming that it was just added because the Jews killed Jesus. We'll find out that God had told us about the church way back in Daniel.
Ephesians 3:10-12: Verse 11 states that something was all done "according to the eternal purpose". All along God had planned for something to happen. What was that something? Verse 10 says that the manifold wisdom of God would be made known. How would God's wisdom be made known? By the church. If you look back in verse 9, you'll see that there is a
"fellowship of mystery". This mystery was from the "beginning of the ages" and was "hidden in God". What is this mysterious fellowship? The church. God had hidden this mystery from the beginning. Outline and write Daniel 2:31-45 in the margin. Underline wisdom of God might be made known by the church and according to the eternal purpose.
Daniel 2:31-45: Here, we read about the dream King Nebuchadnezzar had and the meaning of the dream as God revealed to Daniel. A lot of people today try to make this dream into something it is not. It is simply telling Nebuchadnezzar that his kingdom is soon to come to an end, what will happen afterward and what will ultimately happen with the coming of the church. Read the entire passage aloud. Verse 44 tells about a kingdom that will be set up by God. It will never be destroyed. It shall stand forever. Outline the entire passage and write Matthew 16:16-19 in the margin. Underline verse 44.
Matthew 16:16-19: We have already outlined this passage in red when we talked about salvation. Read it again aloud. The part that we need to point out here is that Jesus said He would build "My church". He was going to build one church, not many. It would be His. Verse 19 refers to the Kingdom of heaven. This is the same kingdom talked about in Daniel. The one that would never end. It is the same as the church. We have already underlined "My church". This time, box it in with the orange pen. Also box in Kingdom of Heaven. Write acts 1:7-8 in the margin.
Acts 1:7-8: The next 3 passages are found in Acts 1 and 2. We have already read this passage aloud. If it has been awhile since that study, read it aloud again, concentrating on the 3 passages we are going to outline in orange. The first chapter of Acts tells us about the last minutes Jesus spent on earth. Verses 7 and 8 are His final instructions to the apostles. He tells them that they will become witnesses of Him in Jerusalem. The Holy Spirit would come and give them power. When chapter 2 opens up, they are in Jerusalem waiting and they receive their power. Outline verses 7 and 8 (or underline). Write Acts 2:33 in the margin.
Acts 2:33: Review the sermon Peter preached in Acts 2. He is not speaking his own thoughts. The Holy Spirit has come and is guiding Peter in his words. Peter tells the Jews about the events that recently happened. He tells them that these things were prophesied by David and Joel. He tells them that Jesus, who they killed, is now "exalted to the right hand of God". Jesus is sitting on the throne of His kingdom. Underline vs 33 and write Acts 2:47 in the margin.
Acts 2:47: Here we see what ultimately happened after people were repentant (vs 37) and baptized (vs 41). They were "added to the church daily those who were being saved". We see the church has begun as Jesus ascended to His throne. Underline vs 47 and write Acts 11:15 in the margin
Acts 11:15: Peter is telling the Jewish Christians in Jerusalem about the wonderful events leading up to Cornelius' salvation. Cornelius was the first gentile to become a Christian. Peter tells the Christians in Jerusalem that the Holy Spirit fell upon the gentiles that day just like it had upon the apostles "at the beginning". What is "at the beginning" referring to? Acts 2 the beginning of the church. Peter is saying that the beginning was in Acts 2. So the church began on the day of Pentecost in Acts. Outline verse 15. Underline at the beginning. Write Acts 20:28 in the margin.
Acts 20:28: Paul is telling the Ephesian elders what their role is to be (we'll talk more about this later). He tells them that they are to shepherd the church of God which "He purchased with His own blood". The church was bought with the blood of Christ. It belongs to Him and we can be a part of it when we do what He says. Outline verse 28 and underline purchased with His own blood. Write Ephesians 4:4 in the margin.
Ephesians 4:4: Here again, we have boxed this one in red. We want to concentrate on the "one body". Just as there is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, there is one body -- the body of Christ, the church. Underline one body and write Ephesians 3:21 in the margin.
Ephesians 3:21: What does the church do? It glorifies Christ. Outline and write Colossians 1:18 in the margin. Underline to Him be glory in the church.
Colossians 1:18: What is the body? Who is its head? Christ is the head. The body is the church. This is already outlined in green, so underline and He is the head of the body, the church. Write Ephesians 1:22-23 in the margin.
Ephesians 1:22-23: What happened when Christ was raised from the dea and seated at God's right hand? God put all things under Jesus' feet. God gave Jesus to "be head over all things to the church". Here again, Christ is the head of the church. Since this is outined in green already, underline gave Him to be head over all things to the church. Write Ephesians 5:23 in the margin.
Ephesians 5:23: Again we see that Christ is the head of the church. Outline and write Ephesians 2:19-22 in the margin. Underline As also Christ is head of the church.
Ephesians 2:19-22: We are not foreigners in this place, but fellow citizens. What place? The household of God. We are actually citizens in God's household. This household of God has Jesus Christ Himself as the chief cornerstone. All together, the whole thing is a holy temple in the Lord. Outline and write 1 Timothy 3:15 in the margin.
1 Timothy 3:15: Paul tells Timothy how to conduct himself in the house of God. The house of God here is also described as the church of the living God. The church is the house of God that we are citizens of and that Christ is the chief cornerstone of. Outline and write Romans 16:16 in the margin.
Romans 16:16: Here we start seeing that the word church can also be used to describe groups of Christians in a certain location. It's important to note that the church is not made of smaller churches. The church is made up of Christians (saints) and Christ (head). The New Testament refers to groups of people meeting in a certain location as a church as well. It is important to understand if the Bible is talking about the church (universal) or the church (local). You can find this out by reading the context of the passage. "The churches of Christ greet you." This indicates more than one church. It must be talking about the local church because we've read many other passages that say there is just one church (body) that refers to the church universal. Outline and write 1 Corinthians 1:2 in the margin.
1 Corinthians 1:2: This letter from Paul to the Christians in Corinth starts out saying, "to the church of God which is at Corinth. The church that is located in Corinth -- local. Outline and write 1 Thessalonians 1:1 in the margin. Underline church of God which is at Corinth.
1 Thessalonians 1:1: Again Paul is sending a letter to Christians, this time in Thessalonica. He begins by saying, "to the church of the Thessalonians." A local group of Christians. Outline and write Colossians 4:15 in the margin. Underline church of the Thessalonians
Colossians 4:15: Toward the end of this letter Paul tells the Colossians to greet certain brethren and the "church that is in his house." Again, a local group of Christians. Outline and write 1 Corinthians 1:12-27 in the margin. Underline church that is in his house".
1 Corinthians 1:12-27: This passage is a little long but should be read aloud. It compares the body of Christ with the human body. Explaining that there are many parts and each parts has a job to do. It describes how each part has an effect on each of the other parts. When one hurts, they all hurt. Verse 27 says, "you are the body of Christ and members individually". Individually we make up the body of Christ. Each person with his own talents and skills working together with all the others in the church. Outline the entire passage. Write Romans 12:4 in the margin. Underline you are the body of Christ and members individually.
Romans 12:4: Again we are told that there are many members that are all in one body. Outline and write Philippians 1:1 in the margin. Underline many members and one body.
Philippians 1:1: Here Paul addresses a letter to the Christians in Philippi. He addresses it to the "saints", the "bishops" and the "deacons". Instead of just greeting the church, he has broken it down into groups of people in the church. The bishops are the overseers, shepherds, presbyters, elders. The deacons are servants. The saints are all the Christians. We'll look at all of these groups and their responsibilities next. Outline and write Acts 14:23 in the margin. Underline saints, bishops and deacons.
Acts 14:23: One thing that happened on the way home from the first missionary journey is described in Acts 14. It says that they "appointed elders in every church". Outline and write Titus 1:5 in the margin. Underline appointed elders and every church.
Titus 1:5: Titus is being reminded by Paul that he was left in Crete so Titus could set in order things that are lacking and to "appoint elders in every city". Again, every city had elders. Outline and write Titus 1:6-9 in the margin. Underline appoint elders.
Titus 1:6-9: These are the verses following our previous one (vs 5). Paul explain to Titus who could and couldn't be an elder. Take some time to go over these qualifications. Underline each one. Outline the passage and write 1Timothy 3:1-7 in the margin.
1 Timothy 3:1-7: Here we see Paul telling Timothy about the qualifications for elders. This list is a little more indepth. Look at closely as well. When you take the 2 together, you see a complete picture of what kind of person an elder is to be. Outline and write Acts 20:28-30 in the margin. Underline each of the qualifications.
Acts 20:28-30: I told you we'd be back to this one. This time we're going to look at 3 verses. Paul is saying his good-byes to the elders of Ephesus. He is reminding them what their responsibilitiy is and warning them that things are going to get worse. Outline and write 1 Peter 5:1-4 in the margin.
1 Peter 5:1-4: Here Peter tells elders what their responsibilities are. They are to shepherd the flock that is among them. They are not to force them but they should follow willingly. What reward does an elder get? He will receive the "crown of glory that does not fade away". Outline and write Hebrews 13:17 in the margin.
Hebrews 13:17: Here we see what the responsibility of Christians to the elders (those who rule over you). They are to be submissive because the elders are watching out for their souls and will have to give an account for how well they did that. It encourage Christians to behave in such a way as to not cause grief to the elders but to bring them joy. Outline and write 1 Timothy 3:8-13 in the margin.
1 Timothy 3:8-13: This is a continuation of the what Paul told Timothy about the elders. He goes on to tell him what deacons need to be like. There are some similarities in the qualifications but they aren't all the same. The work of an elder is different than the work of a deacon and so there are different requirements to be each one. Outline and underline each qualification. Write 1 Peter 2:9 in the margin.
1 Peter 2:9: The only group of people mentioned in Philippians 1:1 that we haven't talked about are the saints. Here is a passage that beautifully describes the saints. Keep in mind that a saint is someone that is set apart. A saint is someone that has obeyed God by submitting himself to baptism. Because of his baptism, God has added him to the church. So the saints are all the Christians in the church. What is a saint? A chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people. That is very special. What are we to do? Praise Him who brought us out of darkness and into light.
This complete the first half of The Church. We'll do the rest next time.