DISCIPLESHIP 7

Posted: 5 months Ago

Lesson Seven: The Church 

 
What is the church and what should my relationship be to it?  
 
The local church is at the center of God’s program for this age. God’s plan for every believer is best fulfilled in 
connection with a Bible-believing local church. The purpose of this lesson is to give you a basic understanding 
of the doctrine of the church and to help you see the importance of the local church in your personal relationship with
God.   

 I.    What is “the Church”?  
       The word “church” means “a called out assembly”. It is not a physical building (Acts 14:27) or a denominational organization. 
       This word is used in two ways in the New Testament.  

       A.   The universal church is made up of all saved people everywhere (Hebrews 12:22-23). 

             1.    This is the church which Christ founded (Matthew 16:18).  

             2.    The universal church constitutes the spiritual body of Christ (Ephesians 1:22-23, 5:23, 27, 30, Colossians 1:18, 24).  

             3.    An individual becomes a part of this body through the baptism of the Holy Spirit when they believe
                     on the Lord Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 12:13).  

             4.    Membership in a local church has no bearing on one’s membership in the body of Christ. It is entirely 
                      possible to be a member of a local church and still go to hell, if you’ve never been saved.  

             5.    There are three primary pictures for the church in the New Testament:  

                    a.    A Body – Romans 12:4-5, 1 Corinthians 12:12-27 – Illustrating unity. 

                    b.    A Building – Ephesians 2:19-22, 1 Pet 2:4-8 – Illustrating indwelling. 

                    c.    A Bride – 2 Corinthians 11:2, Ephesians 5:22-32 – Illustrating intimacy. 

        B.   A local church is a group of believers gathered a specific geographical location (Heb 10:25).  

             1.    It is important to understand the truth about the universal church. However, the vast majority of
                     the more than 100 references to the “church” in the New Testament are references to a local assembly. 

             2.    Every member of the universal church should be a member of a local church.  

             3.    Whatever we might learn about the body of Christ from the New Testament is most consistently 
                     and effectively carried out within a local church.  

 
II.    What is the Purpose of the Church? 
        In Acts 2:41-47 we get a description of the practice of the early church. The church has some distinctive 
        purposes in the word of God.  

        A.   The foremost role of the church is to teach the word of God (Acts 2:42, 4:2, 5:21, 42, 6:4, 11:26, 18:11, 20:20, 28:31).  

              1.    The first priority of the local church is the perfecting of the saints and this is carried out by the teaching 
                   of God’s word by gifted men within the church (Ephesians 4:11-12).  

              2.    This teaching takes in “all the counsel of God’s word” (Acts 20:27).  

                    a.    The Epistles – “the apostle’s doctrine” (Acts 2:42).  

                    b.    The Gospels – “the words of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Timothy 6:3).  

                    c.    The Old Testament – “whatsoever things were written aforetime” (Romans 15:4).  

               3.    This will include the teaching of doctrinal truth, as well as the correction of doctrinal error (2 Timothy 3:16-17).  

 
        B.   Another purpose of the church is corporate prayer (Acts 1:13-14, 2:42, 3:1, 4:23-24, 6:6, 12:5, 12, 13:13, 16:16, 20:36).  

 
        C.   The final purpose of the church is worship (John 4:20-24, Philippians 3:3). This will include the observance 
              of the ordinances such as baptism and the Lord’s Supper (Acts 2:41-42). Worship is associated throughout
              scripture with sacrifice and the church has spiritual sacrifices which it is to offer.  

              1.    Souls (Romans 15:16) – Soul-winning and missions is the responsibility of the church.  

              2.    Your Body (Romans 12:1-2) 

              3.    Money (Philippians 4:15-16) 

              4.    Praise and Thanksgiving (Hebrews 13:15, Acts 2:47) 

              5.    Doing Good (Hebrews 13:16, 10:24-25) 

 
III.   Where Do I Fit into the Church?  
  
        A.   Every believer has a part to do in the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:14-27).  

               1.    Each member has a different function (v. 14-20).  

               2.    No one member can function alone (v. 21).  

               3.    Each member’s part is important (v. 22-24).  

               4.    A properly functioning body operates as a unit (v. 25-27).  

               5.    The body principle is best practiced in a local church setting. One thing every believer
                       can do, is be in faithful attendance (Hebrews 10:25).  

          B.   Grow in your relationship to the Lord, learn what your strengths and gifts are, and make yourself 
                  available to the church leadership to pitch in where you’re needed most.  

 
IV.     What if I Have to Re-locate?  
         Being in a good local church is critical. Any time you must move to a new location, finding a good
         Bible-believing church to be a part of should be a priority. Here are some tips for finding one: 

          A.   Seek the Lord for wisdom and guidance (James 1:5).  

          B.   Look for evidence of evangelism and outreach (Matthew 28:19-20, Mark 16:15).  

          C.   Make sure the leadership believes the word of God and encourages the people to read and study it for themselves (Titus 1:9, 2 Timothy 2:15).  

          D.   Look for a church that ministers to one another’s needs.  

          E.   Look for a church that is engaged in world-wide missions.