Friday, February 03, 2006

Church As Used In Scripture - John MacArthur

The Invisible Church

We who love Jesus Christ constitute the true church. We belong to the collective Body of Christ whether we're alive or in glory. The Greek word for church is ekklesia, which means "an assembly of called-out ones. " The church is made up of people called by God to be His children. We have become united with all other believers by faith in Christ, who said, "I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it" (Matt. 16:18). Jesus meant He would gather together a body of believers. He wasn't talking about buildings; He was talking about people. We who know and love Him are the living church that has been born into the family of God by the Holy Spirit. As members of "the general assembly and church of the first-born, who are written in heaven" (Heb. 12:23), we have been declared righteous because our sin has been washed away by the blood of Jesus Christ (Rev. 1:5).

The Visible Church

The world cannot detect the invisible church of real Christians. They see only the visible church of those who profess to be Christians. The Lord intended for there to be a visible church for a testimony to the world. When we gather together on the Lord's Day, we are a testimony to the world that Christ has indeed risen.

Some say we don't need any buildings or organizational structure. However, I don't think Christ would have agreed. In Matthew 18 He implies that the church would meet together in a given place: "If thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone; if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church" (vv. 15-17, emphasis added). He must have been referring to a visible group of people, even though the church did not officially begin until Pentecost (Acts 2:1-4). In the context of Matthew 18, we see the church as a visible assembly of believers engaged in the discipline process.

In the book of Acts we see the invisible church become more visible. Although the visible and invisible church were initially the same, the picture changed as false believers associated with the church. Today there are visible congregations meeting that are not the true church at all. Rather, they are part of the false church, which is called "the great harlot" (Rev. 17:1). The invisible church became visible as believers began to gather together. Originally they met in homes, but by the third century the church was meeting in its own building as it continued to grow.

Let's examine three biblical aspects of the church: the founding of the church, the ministry of the church, and the leadership of the church. Although there are new ways to communicate, new methods to use, and new problems to deal with in the twentieth century, I believe the Lord intends the church of this century to follow the same basic principles that the first-century church did.

Entire Study Here


At 10:17 PM, Blogger Chris said...

i would sugest diffrently, but i think both views have some validity to them.

1. The Church had a commission to preach before Pentecost (Matthew 28:19, 20).

a. In this is not true then only twelve people were given this task.

2. The Church baptized people before Pentecost (John 4:1, 2).

a. The baptism is not a Christian ordinance
b. Joh 4:1 Therefore, when the Lord knew that the Pharisees had heard that Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John 2 (though Jesus Himself did not baptize, but His disciples).

3. The Church had the Lord's Supper before Pentecost (Luke 22:15-20).

4. The Church held an election before Pentecost (Acts 1:15-26).

5. There was a Church roll before Pentecost (Acts 1:15).
a. Act 1:15 And in those days Peter stood up in the midst of the disciples altogether the number of names was about a hundred and twenty), and said,

6. The words of Jesus, "Tell it unto the Church," were spoken before Pentecost (Matthew 18:17).

a. How could one tell anything to a Church that did not exist!
b. Mat 18:17 And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.

7. There were about 3000 additions to the Church on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:41).

a. A Church must be established before it can have additions.
b. Act 4:21 So when they had further threatened them, they let them go, finding nothing how they might punish them, because of the people: for all men glorified God for that which was done.
c. Mission – we extend an arm, plant it, organize a church and then transfer letters to it.

8. Our Lord left his house (Mark 13:34). By inspiration the Apostle Paul identifies "the house of God" as "The Church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth" (1 Tim. 3:15).
a. Mar 13:34 For the Son of man is as a man taking a far journey, who left his house, and gave authority to his servants, and to every man his work, and commanded the porter to watch.
b. This shows that the church has been empower to carry out His work and are for Hs doctrines.

9. The first spiritual gift set in the Church was the gift of the apostles (1 Cor. 12:28).
a. The Church had to be in existence before the apostles could be set in it.
b. 1Co 12:28 And God has appointed these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, varieties of tongues.

The Scriptures are clear in their testimony that Jesus established his Church personally and left it in the world when He went back to the Father to prepare for us a place in Heaven.


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