Monday, November 12, 2012

The Rise of the Church

After the Resurrection,
1)  Recognition of Jesus ans Messiah
2)  the Spreading of the Word
3)  the development of the New Testament
4)  the Rise of THE CHURCH.  Acts 2:41 - Pentecost (50 days after the resurrection) - note:  added to their number - already a church started

The word "church" was seldom used in the Gospels - only found 3 times in our English Translations.  Matt. 16/18  (however, the concept is there)

But, after Acts 5, the word "church" was used prominently and then throughout church history

The Greek word for church - secular word meaning a called out assembly, a group summoned to gather.
So, it was natural for believers to adopt this word/term.

Because, they believed themselves - 1) called, summoned (by the Holy Spirit)
                                                       2) called out - of lifestyle, belief system, world view
                                                       3) called unto (into) - a Christian life, a life with Christ & His teachings.
                                                       4)  called to gather (assemble, congregate)
AND, they believed that, ultimately and finally, they would be gathered!!  (assembled together) - Matt. 25:31-34

So, they became "the church" - (called out ones) - whether gathered or scattered
And, as they scattered, they:  a) spread the News and b) established new churches

Until today there are roughly 338,000 congregations in the US.  Median size is 75.
And, there are roughly 38,000 different denominations in the world - 217 in the US.

The numbers of people who claim to attend church at least once a week -
Nigeria - 89% of all adults
Ireland - 84%  of all adults
USA -   44% (self-proclaimed)  When actual church attendance is polled, in the US that drops to about 20%.

The Importance of the Church (Scriptural view)
1.  founded by Christ - Matt. 16:18 - His church, His people
2.  Paid for by Christ - Acts 20:28 - true church made up of redeemed people that Christ died for
3.  Identified with Christ  - Acts 9:4 - the church cannot be separated from Christ
4.  An Extension of Christ - Eph. 1:22-23, 4:11-12
Quote from Bill Hybols - "only hope for the world is the New Testament Church".

The Work of the Church (a historical view)
The church has always been -
1.  The primary means of spreading the Gospel - primary mode of Evangelism
2.  The primary means of developing believers - taught, grown, discipled
3.  The primary place of prayer and worship - of course we are to pray on our own, but there is real power in corporate prayer
4.  The primary platform for mission work
5.  The primary pipeline for mission support - money comes out of churches

So, where Christianity grows, the church grows, and where the church grows, Christianity grows, until they are synonymous.  Christianity = the church

#1.  The church is not perfect.  Why?  Because it's made of people - and people are seriously flawed.  Will it be?  Rev. 19:6-9 - will be perfect at the end and will find perfection on the other side.
#2.  The benefits of the church far, far outweigh her faults.

Therefore, it follows that:
#3.  It is foolish to abandon (or anyway ignore) the church.  From the viewpoint of common sense and Scripture.

#4.  The New Testament makes no recognition of Lone Christianity. - it simply does not exist.
Salvation?  - Individually applied.  Sanctification? - personally pursued
BUT - the pursuit of the faith apart from the community of believers is totally foreign to the New Testament!!!

Conclusion: - On one hand, the church needs you (if called to a particular body)
                       On the other hand, you need the church!!!  - Example:  can the body survive without a hand? - answer - yes.  But, can the hand survive without the body?  No way!

Frequent objection!! - I don't need the church to be Christian!!   Yes, and you can go on a garlic diet - you may stay alive but you won't be healthy or pleasant to be around!!!

Entry to the church
#1.   Attend and be part
#2.  Participate

But,  it is important, critical, essential - to come to the Father through the Son - John 14:6

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