Of necessity, we wish to lay a sound foundation. This is necessary because of the times in which we live. Some people believe that the church is in a poor state today, struggling for meaning and purpose, effectiveness, direction and relevance in modern society. Statistical evidence often verifies this, but pause for a moment and ask the question, "To whom are they referring?"
It is certainly not the Church Jesus spoke about.
His church has delegated power and authority. Now genuine authority is delegated power! Think about it.
The value of this authority depends on the user... or the force behind it. Try standing in the middle of a busy city street at a pedestrian crossing and stop traffic, or people from crossing the road. Put you hand up to issue a stop command or gesture with your hand for a truck to stop and turn and you will soon find out how much you've got.
Put a uniform on a man and give him a badge and he will do the same things, but get completely different results.
This is because he has delegated authority. He does not personally possess enough power to stop a truck, but the power backing him up by the authorities in charge is made evident in that uniform and badge. That alone is enough to make the driver of the truck or bus to obey directions and apply the brakes.
This is a well known illustration of what I mean. The "church" as it is commonly known no longer possesses such delegated power and authority. I make no apologies for that because it is the truth. The person who does possess such delegated authority and power is building His Church and this is what this series is about.
There is much to cover and this page is laying a sound foundation on which we shall see that the Church of Jesus Christ is indeed a Glorious Church.
Then they went into Capernaum, and right away He entered the synagogue on the Sabbath and began to teach. They were astonished at His teaching because, unlike the scribes, He was teaching them as one having authority. Just then a man with an unclean spirit was in their synagogue. He cried out, “What do You have to do with us, Jesus—Nazarene? Have You come to destroy us? I know who You are—the Holy One of God!” But Jesus rebuked him and said, “Be quiet, and come out of him!” And the unclean spirit convulsed him, shouted with a loud voice, and came out of him. Then they were all amazed, so they began to argue with one another, saying, “What is this? A new teaching with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey Him.” His fame then spread throughout the entire vicinity of Galilee. Mark 1:21-27.
At the beginning of His ministry, Jesus did things that people knew about, but lacked. It was genuine authority... so much so, that the evil spirits recognized it and reacted. Please take note that the people who were astounded and amazed were religious folk, the Jewish religious leaders, including the Scribes who meticulously copied the Scriptures. They had no revelation of them! This is the state of most of the church today.
It says that they were amazed at His authority. It is rare to see this kind of thing in Christian circles today and it saddens me to witness it. I think that people just do not believe what the bible tells us about such things.
The Greek word used for authority is Exousia, meaning authority, jurisdiction, liberty, power, right, rightly, ability, privilege, force, capacity, competency, freedom, mastery and a token of control.
We must always be mindful of the fact that Jesus ministered on the earth as an ordinary human being and never as divinity.
He could only be in one place at a time, got just as tired, hungry and thirsty as we do, needed to bathroom as we do and I am not denigrating Him in the least.
The first Adam had this authority and gave it away in the garden, so the legal title deeds to planet earth and the atmospheric heavens were given to satan. When he tempted Jesus, he said All this power will I give thee, and the glory of them: for that is delivered unto me; and to whomsoever I will I give it. Luke 4:6.
The word used for Power here is Exousia. Jesus never contradicted him. Satan is the god of this world according to 2 Corinthians 4:4. The Earth is the Lord's (see 1 Corinthians 10:26-28) and this refers to the literal planet, but the control of it, or the legal title deeds of it are temporarily stolen and in the devil's possession. He controls the world system. He motivates the mind and will of men and women who are not in covenant relationship with God simply by legal right. Do not mistake what I am saying. He is a very powerful spirit being, but his authority has been wrested away form him by Jesus and delegated to the Church.
The Second Adam came to show us that it can still be done, but God's way.
This authority can be delegated and we shall see this in due course but look for a moment at Luke 10:1-16.
Here Jesus despatched Other 70 also. This means that there were at least 82 disciples then.
There were more. John 6:66 states that any of His disciples quit, so there were more than 82.
Later, in 1 Corinthians 15:6, Paul says that in excess of 500 disciples saw Jesus after His resurrection. Paul went on to say that both he James saw him as well as the apostles.
Traditional church teaching seems to ignore this, stating that Jesus had 12 Disciples. Traditional church teaching often assumes things. For example, we are told of three wise men in the Christmas story, but the bible never states that there were three men. It states that wise men from the east came to present precious their gifts. I like that story anyhow, but it might be wrong!
We might perhaps have a totally erroneous image of the Church Jesus said He would build, because of such reasons.
Now when Jesus sent the 70 out, He never mentioned a word about evil spirits, but they came back with glowing reports.
And the seventy returned again with joy, saying, Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through thy name.
And he said unto them, I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven. Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you. Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven. Luke 10:17-20.
All that they knew and did what what He said. If we do likewise than the results will be different to what we have now.
Notice the emphasis on what He told them.
The word used for Subject is Hypotassō and it relates to being under subjection to them, to be subordinate, to be obedient and to submit to them.
The word He used for Power is the same word Exousia. So they had the same capabilities and authority He did and all this was before Calvary! Now that He won the victory at Calvary, He has delegated this same power and authority to the Church... to those whose names are written in Heaven! Is yours?
On the Day of Pentecost, 120 disciples were in the upper room, including Mary His mother, so she obeyed His instructions and also received the Holy Spirit and spoke in other tongues with the rest! See Acts 1:1-14. It is here when the Church as we should know it was really birthed.
We have just dealt briefly with authority, but if there is no power behind it, all authority is useless.
Think about my illustration of the policeman. The authority is vested in him by the government and expressed by the wearing of a uniform with a badge. Anyone can wear them, but without the relationship with that governing body, there is no power at all. If you wear it, you may risk being arrested for impersonating the officer.
The devil is like that. He lied and cheated and stole, but has no backup by the top legal ruling authority. Did not Jesus tell us that ALL power is His? See Matthew 28:18.
We know that Jesus sent His disciples out on assignments from time to time. It was as if He gave them temporary delegations for specific tasks and they went out two by two, did their tasks and returned. The day came however when He told them that a transferral was coming, when He would pass on the baton so to speak to them. John 14:1-21 is an example.
Just before He departed, He gave them revelation of the Word of God. As I have stated before, without such revelation, all the bible means to many people is a book of history or poetry... a book of religious folklore and sadly most of the church has put it all but aside and into the latter categories, replacing the word of God with religious traditions, traditions and cultures. We advocate the God of the Word as revealed in the Word of God.
Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures, And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. And ye are witnesses of these things. And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high. Luke 24:45-49.
The word used here is Dynamis from which we derive our words dynamo, dynamic, dynamite and the like.
It talks about the ability, might, deeds, power and strength of God. It is an explosive force that complements the authority in a believer, given to the believer as fulfilment of divine promise.
Jesus had already told them about delegated authority and now speaks about something completely different, the enabling force that backs up the delegated authority with explosive energy. They are two completely separate and individual things and we deal with them elsewhere.
God is restoring the Power AND the Authority back to the Church. It is not a demonstrative phenomenon like we hade seen in excesses in certain places. Neither is it the wimpy theologically correct approach others have when they major on exegesis, hermeneutics, apologetics, homiletics, three points and a song or poem, tell a joke from a pulpit and think we are great. Jesus’ Church will embrace all of the above, including proper demonstration of real power and authority with the signs that were found in the early church.
We need to also look at definitions and ask several pertinent questions.
What does Jesus mean when He speaks about the Church?
It is a building, or an organisation, a denomination, or a movement?
These are valid and necessary questions, because there are myths and misconceptions out there. We hear about the Protestants and the Roman Catholics and others, often hearing things like We are the true church etc.
I've heard ministers of religion talk about the church and the faith.
We raise great cathedrals as various expressions of our faith, but I seriously doubt it this is what Jesus wants and meant.
I mean no disrespect in any way whatsoever and am not denigrating any religious institution in any way, but write candidly to the reader can make prayerful analysis and reach decision based on biblical fact and truth and on nothing else.
What Is "The Church"?
The English word Church is derived from the word Kuriakon that means Belonging to the Lord. It is a word that is never applied to the Church in the New Testament period except for two occasions, referring to The Lord’s Supper and to the Lord’s Day (1 Corinthians 11:20; Revelation 1:10).
In post-apostolic times the Greeks used The term Kuriakon was introduced by the Greeks in the post apostolic era to speak about a church building. The only words in the New Testament used to designate a building as a place of worship are temple and synagogue. Acts 5:42; James 2:2.
The Church is an assembly of people!
The Greek word Ekklesia is more accurately used to describe what we call Church and it is not a building, but an assembly of people.
The term is derived from two Greek words, Ek meaning out from, and Kaleo that means to call. Those called out had reference to the legislative body of citizens of the Greek republic called from their communities to serve the country, particularly to a session of the State or Assembly… Ekklesia. See Matthew 16:18; 18:17; Acts 2:47; 9:31; 13:1; 14:23; 15:22; 16:5; 20:17,28; Romans 16:4, 5; 1 Corinthians 12:28; Ephesians 5:23–29; Colossians 1:18 and Revelation 1:4, 11.
In other words, the Church is a group or assembly of people who are Called Out Ones.
We could thus say that the group of people who were called out in Ephesus was the church at a place called Ephesus. See Acts 19:39. In like manner Israel was called out of Egypt and assembled in the wilderness as a Church under this definition. See Acts 7:38 and Hebrews 12:23.
If we are Called Out Ones... what are we called out of or from and unto what or whom are we called? As we shall see, we are called out from the world system known as Egypt and called unto God as separate to Him.
The word Ekklesia thus means an assembly of people.
When Jesus spoke about the Church He would build, He used the word Ekklesia.
This was derived from two sources.. the Jewish use of the word in the Greek Old Testament, (Septuagint) referred to the congregation of Israel and the Greek use of the word to refer to any assembly of people. Such an assembly of people could be a constituted body or an unorganized mob.
An example of the Jewish use is found in Acts 7:37-38-
This is that Moses, … that was in the church in the wilderness with the angel which spake to him in the mount Sinai, and with our fathers: who received the lively oracles to give unto us.
The Jewish use of the word Ekklesia, usually translates the Hebrew word Quahal which was the Old Testament word for the congregation of Israel in the wilderness. An example of the Greek use of Ekklesia is found in Acts chapter nineteen-
Some therefore cried one thing, and some another: for the assembly [ekklesia] was confused; and the more part knew not wherefore they were come together [mob] (Acts 19:32); and-
But if ye enquire anything concerning other matters, it shall be determined in a lawful assembly [official legislative body] (Acts 19:39).
When Jesus said, And on this rock I will build My Church in Matthew 16:18, He placed he emphasis not on the word Church , but on MY Church.
She is therefore His Church... His unique body of believers and He is the Head. His church is not built on a man or a system, but on people.
The Church is called the body of Christ: Romans 12:5; 1 Corinthians 12:27; Ephesians 1:22-23; Colossians 1:23-29
The Church is likened to a building: Ephesians 2:14-22; 1 peter 2:1-10
The Church, that is, the people who comprise the Church is likened to the dwelling place of God. 1 Corinthians 3:9, 16; 1 Corinthians 6:19; 2 Corinthians 6:16; Ephesians 2:19-22; 1 Peter 2:5.
Jesus’ prayer for us relates in some way to the Church and her mission. He said-
… “Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son so he can give glory back to you. For you have given him authority over everyone. He gives eternal life to each one you have given him.
And this is the way to have eternal life—to know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, the one you sent to earth.
I brought glory to you here on earth by completing the work you gave me to do. Now, Father, bring me into the glory we shared before the world began.
“I have revealed you to the ones you gave me from this world. They were always yours. You gave them to me, and they have kept your word.
Now they know that everything I have is a gift from you, for I have passed on to them the message you gave me. They accepted it and know that I came from you, and they believe you sent me.
“My prayer is not for the world, but for those you have given me, because they belong to you.
All who are mine belong to you, and you have given them to me, so they bring me glory.
Now I am departing from the world; they are staying in this world, but I am coming to you. Holy Father, you have given me your name; now protect them by the power of your name so that they will be united just as we are.
During my time here, I protected them by the power of the name you gave me. I guarded them so that not one was lost, except the one headed for destruction, as the Scriptures foretold.
“Now I am coming to you. I told them many things while I was with them in this world so they would be filled with my joy.
I have given them your word. And the world hates them because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world.
I’m not asking you to take them out of the world, but to keep them safe from the evil one.
They do not belong to this world any more than I do.
Make them holy by your truth; teach them your word, which is truth.
Just as you sent me into the world, I am sending them into the world. And I give myself as a holy sacrifice for them so they can be made holy by your truth.
“I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in me through their message.
I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one—as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me.
“I have given them the glory you gave me, so they may be one as we are one.
I am in them and you are in me. May they experience such perfect unity that the world will know that you sent me and that you love them as much as you love me.
Father, I want these whom you have given me to be with me where I am. Then they can see all the glory you gave me because you loved me even before the world began!
“O righteous Father, the world doesn’t know you, but I do; and these disciples know you sent me. I have revealed you to them, and I will continue to do so. Then your love for me will be in them, and I will be in them.” John 17:1-26
The Church of which Jesus spoke cannot be founded on one man in one city. Peter's missionary journeys according to scripture took him from Jerusalem to Samaria, Lydda, Joppa, Caesaria and Antioch, but no definitive mention is made about him going to Rome to start the church. The Church is founded on the rock Christ Jesus and based on revealed knowledge given Peter by God. We call this revelation knowledge.
When Jesus said thou art Peter, He used the word Petros, which means a little rock. He was a reed! Jesus was not going to build His church on a person like that. This man... a little rock was unstable at the time this revelation was received. The Church thatJesus spoke about is founded on revelation knowledge. Not long afterwards, Peter denied Jesus three times. Jesus had to rebuke him for thinking with natural reasoning when He spoke about Calvary.
But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men. Matthew 16:23.
Jesus never promised to build His church upon any man, including Peter (who the Lord clearly said that at that time, was motivated by Satan to say what he did), but upon Himself.
Peter is careful to tell us this in 1 Peter 2:4-9.
Jesus, not Peter was the rock upon which Christ built the church. Jesus is the true foundation. 1 Corinthians 3:11.
Matthew 16:16-18 teaches that Christ is building His church upon the true confession of His sonship. The Church is based on the foundation that is Jesus Christ Himself.
Thou art Peter (Petros, little rock, or a piece of rock), and upon this rock (Petra, big rock or mass of rock, referring to Himself and the many little stones that would confess His sonship, as did Peter on this occasion) I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
Peter played a prominent role in the first 8 chapters of the book of Acts and he played a prominent part in the Jerusalem council in Acts 15. It is interesting that Paul did not mention Peter when he wrote to the church at Rome in AD60-62, nor in his second letter to Timothy in AD67. Luke made no mention of Peter when he spoke of Paul’s imprisonment in Acts 28:14-30. It would seem that Peter was not in Rome before AD62 or after AD66. He may have arrived in Rome around AD62 and been martyred in the persecution by Nero following the fire of AD64.
Peter is merely one of many living stones, as he himself testifies, teaching that Jesus is the Living Corner Stone in 1 Peter 2:1-8; 2:19-22.
The church began on the Day of Pentecost, fifty days after the Passover when Jesus died and rose again. The word church comes from two Greek words that together mean “called out from the world for God.” The word is used throughout the Bible to mean all believers who have been born again (see John 3:3) through faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus (see Romans 10:9-10).
The word church is synonymous with the term body of Christ as seen in Ephesians 1:22-23 and Colossians 1:18 and is used throughout the New Testament to include everyone who has been adopted into the family of God. See John 1:12 and romans 8:15.
The word church first appears in Matthew 16, when Jesus told Peter...the reed
On this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. Matthew 16:18.
The “rock” here is the statement Peter had made-
You are the Christ, the Son of the living God (Matthew 16:16).
That truth about Jesus is the bedrock of the church that has flourished for over two thousand years. Everyone who makes that truth the foundation of his or her own life becomes a member of Jesus’ church (see Acts 16:31).
It is one thing to know something but another to apply it. Peter had declared his faith in Christ, but the power to put that knowledge into action had not yet come. Jesus had to yet send the Holy Spirit to indwell believers. See John 15:26-27; 16:13). This happened after His death, burial and resurrection.
After His resurrection Jesus would not allow His followers to begin the work He had given them until the Holy Spirit had come. (See Acts 1:4-5). He did not start His own ministry until after receiving the Holy Spirit. We cannot do His work either withous similar equipping.
The book of Acts details the beginning of the church and its miraculous spread through the power of the Holy Spirit. Ten days after Jesus ascended back into heaven in Acts 1:9 and the Holy Spirit was poured out upon 120 of Jesus’ followers (including Mary). See Acts 1:15; 2:1-4.
The same disciples who had quaked in fear of being identified with Jesus and fled from Him at His arrest were suddenly empowered to boldly proclaim the gospel of the risen Messiah, who validated their message with miraculous signs and wonders as seen in Acts 2:4, 38-41:3:6-7; 8:7.
Thousands of Jews from all parts of the world were in Jerusalem for the Feast of Pentecost. They were saved and baptized, adding daily to the church. When persecution broke out, the believers scattered, taking the gospel message with them, and the church spread like wildfire to all parts of the then known world. See Acts 8:4; 11:19-21.
The start of the church involved Jews in Jerusalem, but the church soon spread to other "nations" or ethnic people groups.
Philip conducted crusades in Samaria in Acts 8:5-8.
Peter had a vision in Acts 10, revealing that salvation was not limited to the Jews but open to anyone who believed.
The Ethiopian eunuch ws sacved in Acts 8:26-39.
what happened with Cornelius convinced the Jewish believers that God’s church was broader than they had imagined.
Jesus called Paul on the road to Damascus in Acts 9:1-19 and teh Gospel spread even further. See Romans 15:16 and 1 Timothy
Jesus’ prophetic words to Peter before the crucifixion have proved true. Though persecution and the gates of hell have railed against it, the church only grows stronger. Revelation 7:9 states-
After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb.
The church that Jesus began will continue until the day He comes for us. See John 14:3; 2 Corinthians 11:2; Ephesians 5:27; 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 and Revelation 19:7.
The Church started with one congregation at Jerusalem.
According to Matthew 28:18-20 and Acts 1:8 the church was to spread into Judea, Samaria, and unto the uttermost parts of the earth. Man-made beliefs state that Peter went to Rome to found the Church and establish an infallible line of Apostolic succession, but this is not necessarily so.
There is no reference to Peter's teaching apostolic succession or personal infallibility, or that he conferred such upon anyone to follow him. He claimed only equality with others. His whole spirit and teaching was contrary to those claims made for him. See 1 Peter 5:1-3.
Jesus gave no such unique authority to Peter or to any successor of Peter. Other apostles with Peter constituted the church foundation. Ephesians 2:19-22; Revelation 21:14.
James had equal authority with Peter at Jerusalem. Galatians 2:1-10; Acts 15:13-19.
Peter was not infallible, being rebuked by Paul. Galatians 2:1-11.
Peter calls himself only a fellow-elder. 1 Peter 5:1-9.
The delegated power to bind and to loose was for all (including us), not for Peter only. Mark 16:15-20; Luke 24:49; John 20:22-23; 14:12; Acts 1:8; 2:43.
There is no historical or biblical evidence of a continuous succession since Peter. The earliest tradition we have of Peter being in Rome and starting a church there is the latter part of the second century, or about 100 years after Peter died. There is no biblical proof that Peter died at Rome, or even visited Rome.
It is clear in Scripture that the church at Rome was not started by Peter and that no apostle had ever been to Rome before Paul's visit.
The gospel was in all likelihood taken to Rome by Jews who were present at Pentecost (Acts 2:10) and became converted. These converts may have remained in Jerusalem long enough to get sufficient training in Christian doctrine to start a church at Rome. The church was established there at an early period, for it became well known throughout the Roman Empire by the time Paul visited there. Romans1:8.
The church had been in communication with Paul, not Peter, wanting him to come there for many years. Romans 15:23.
It was Paul's policy not to build upon another man's foundation according to Romans15:20-21; 2 Corinthians 10:14-16, so he would have violated this stance if Peter were the resident bishop. In fact, the church in Rome was in poor condition. Romans 1:10-15; 15:18-32; 16:1-27 illustrate this.
Peter is not recognized anywhere in the bible as the universal head of the church with headquarters at Rome. On the contrary, Jerusalem was the headquarters of Christendom until it was destroyed in 70 A.D. Acts 15; Galatians 2.
Peter had no authority over the Gentile churches (2 Corinthians 11:28) and he had no more authority over the Jewish churches than did James. Galatians 2:9.
Peter ministered mainly to Jewish believers, but the Church at Rome was mainly Gentile. Galatians 2:8; Romans 1:13; 10:1-3; 11:13-14.
Paul never mentioned Peter as the resident, universal head of the church based in Rome, or as even being there in any capacity. This fact is more striking when Paul mentions many less noted workers of God as being there. Romans16; 1 Corinthians 16:15-24; Colossians 4:7-18.
In fact, Peter was in Judea ministering to the Jews during the time that he is supposed to have been in Rome. Acts 2:14-29; 3:16:7; 9:32-11:18; 12:1-19; Galatians 1:18-2:18. Even after the gospel spread over the Roman Empire, the apostles were considered the leaders of the church at Jerusalem and more or less leaders of the whole Christian church. In the Gentile church-world Paul was considered the outstanding leader in the Gentile churches. Galatians 2:1-10.
In the early days of the Church, no denominations existed. People believed in Jesus. They were Followers of Christ, which is really what the term Christian means.... Christ ones. We could say that a Christian is someone who has Christ Inside.
Many people tend to relegate the disciples to bible days, but we do not realize that we are still living in bible days. The book of Acts is more accurately called the Acts of the Holy Spirit amongst the disciples and by following Jesus and adhering to His teachings, we are in fact His disciples. The book of Acts is therefore still being enacted so to speak... by us!
To become a Christian by the definition of Jesus... one HAD to be born again. See John 3:16.
Being born of the Spirit or born from above is a definitive moment in time when one who is capable of making rational decisions to follow Christ are made. Infants cannot do this. The bible is very clear that one must believe and repent. There is no other way.
It was under Paul's ministry that believers were first called Christians and this was at Antioch. Acts 11:26.
Going to church is not God's intention. Do not misunderstand me. People go to church often not realizing that they are the church.
God wants us to have corporate worship and this is a good thing. We are designed to come together at certain times because we are family. When we gather together, we share things in common. We can bless, encourage and inspire others’ pray together and give support to each other. When we meet together we can commemorate the Lord’s work at Calvary by sharing a communion meal. This is not a rite, a ceremony, or a sacrament, but a time when we can pause and reflect as we look back to the cross and then look to the empty tomb to thank God for Jesus’ resurrection. Equally as importantly, we can look forward to His return!
When we fellowship together as in a church meeting, the Lord wants to come to visit also as we see in Revelation 3:20. He wants to come in and I often wonder how welcome He is in certain places. Give the Holy Spirit room to move folks and the King of Glory will come in. Jesus had certain things to say to the seven churches in the Book of Revelation and they relate to the church of our day just as much as when He first spoke.
To the messenger (pastor) of the church in Laodicea, write: The amen, the witness who is faithful and true, the source of God's creation, says: I know what you have done, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were cold or hot. But since you are lukewarm and not hot or cold, I'm going to spit you out of my mouth. You say, ‘I'm rich. I'm wealthy. I don't need anything.' Yet, you do not realize that you are miserable, pitiful, poor, blind, and naked. I advise you: Buy gold purified in fire from me so that you may be rich. Buy white clothes from me. Wear them so that you may keep your shameful, naked body from showing. Buy ointment to put on your eyes so that you may see. I correct and discipline everyone I love. Take this seriously, and change the way you think and act. Look, I'm standing at the door and knocking. If anyone listens to my voice and opens the door, I'll come in and we'll eat together (intimate fellowship with Jesus). I will allow everyone who wins the victory to sit with me on my throne, as I have won the victory and have sat down with my Father on his throne. Let the person who has ears listen to what the Spirit says to the churches.” Revelation 3:14-22 (emphasis mine).
There is a higher purpose for just going to church for an hour or so to feel good.
I am a pastor and certainly advocate regular attendance. There are many good reasons. Scriptures tell us not to stop going to a good bible believing, word of faith preaching church.
So, friends, we can now—without hesitation—walk right up to God, into "the Holy Place." Jesus has cleared the way by the blood of his sacrifice, acting as our priest before God. The "curtain" into God's presence is his body. So let's do it—full of belief, confident that we're presentable inside and out. Let's keep a firm grip on the promises that keep us going. He always keeps his word. Let's see how inventive we can be in encouraging love and helping out, not avoiding worshiping together as some do but spurring each other on, especially as we see the big Day approaching. Hebrews 10:19-25.
Sunday service should be a place to gain strength and be motivated. It is the time when the shepherd feeds the sheep. Pastors do not bear lambs…sheep do. The pastor or shepherd feeds the sheep, who bear the lambs and that is another story. The mission field starts at the front door on the way out.
The Church is designed to be a vibrant, living body of believers, gathering together for corporate worship, for fellowship, for meeting the needs of others in real and practical terms, as a place where the believers can be built up, encouraged, protected, loved and nurtured and to be trained to go out into a lost and dying world to proclaim the good news of the Kingdom of God and give Him the glory.
When you ask people what church they attend, they usually identify a building or a denomination, but that is not true. The word church comes from the Greek word ekklesia which is defined as an assembly of people or called-out ones.
The church is people. People may gather in all kinds of places, such as a building dedicated for religious purposes, someone’s home or even in a field.
Paul referred to a church in someone’s house in Romans 16:5 so it seems that when a number of people, even two or three, who gather together in the Name of Jesus as seen in Matthew 18:20 constitute a church.
The church is the body of Christ, of which He is the head.
And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way. Ephesians 1:22-23.
The church consists of all those who have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink (1 Corinthians 12:13).
Anyone who has received salvation through faith in Jesus Christ is part of the body of Christ and has received the Spirit of Christ as evidence.
The church can be described one that is located in a specific geographical location. For example, Paul wrote to the church at Galatia (Galatians 1:1-2) saying-
Paul, an apostle … and all the brothers with me, to the churches in Galatia.
There were many local churches there. They may or may not have all belonged to the same organization group, but every one was classed collectively as the church at Galatia. Today, we could have an assortment of denominational churches like a Baptist church, a Lutheran church, a Catholic church, an Anglican church, a Methodist church etc., but they are not necessarily part of the church Jesus spoke of. Any church is a body of born again believers, or those who belong to Christ and who have trusted Him for salvation. See John 3:16 and 1 Corinthians 12:13.
The Church is thus not a building or a denomination, but a body of followers of Jesus Christ, who often gather together for corporate prayer and fellowship, sharing communion, praise and worship teaching the word of God, encouraging and edifying each other and the like.
The question of Apostolic Succession if often raised in various groups of peoples, attempting to trace “their church” back to the “first church” through apostolic succession and is an argument used by a number of different churches to assert that their church is the “one true church.” The Roman Catholic Church makes this claim. The Greek Orthodox Church makes this claim. Some Protestant denominations make this claim. Some of the “Christian” cults make this claim. How do we know which church is correct? The biblical answer is – it does not matter!
The first church, its growth, doctrine, and practices, were recorded for us in the New Testament. Jesus, as well as His apostles, foretold that false teachers would arise.
It is apparent from some of the New Testament epistles that these apostles had to fight against false teachers.
Nowhere in scripture does it state that we can have a pedigree of apostolic succession.
We are however given comparisons between what false teachers teach and what the first church taught.
For instance, in Acts 20:17-38, Paul spoke to the church leaders in the large city of Ephesus, telling them that false teachers will not only come among them but will come from them (Acts 20:29-30).
Paul does not set forth the teaching that they were to follow the "first" organized church as a safeguard for the truth, but committed them to the safekeeping of God and to the word of His grace (Acts 20:32). ]
We are to depend on the Word of God, rather than follow individual "founders" is seen in Galatians 1:8-9. That was serious stuff. The basis of testing truth is n0t upon “who” is teaching, but “what” is being taught, comparing the teaching with that of Jesus and people like Peter and John etc. As recorded in scripture. I often tell people to check our what anyone is saying, no matter who they are, to see if what they are saying lines up with the word of God. See Acts 17:11.
Peter warned of false teachers. He said that we have a "more sure word" to depend upon than even hearing the voice of God from heaven as they did at Jesus' transfiguration in 2 Peter 1:16-21. This “more sure word” is the written Word of God. Peter also said-
be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets and the commandment of us the apostles of the Lord and Savior 2 Peter 3:2.
The only infallible standard that Scripture says that we have is the Bible. We have references like Isaiah 8:20; Isaiah 40:8; Matthew 5:18; John 10:35; Galatians 1:6-9; 2 Timothy 3:15-17 and 1 Peter 2:25 to relate to.
Tradition is a part of every denominational church. Traditions of men must never replace biblical truth (see Mark 7:1-13), remembering that the cults and orthodox churches can twist the interpretation of Scripture to support their practices. Scripture, when taken in context and faithfully studied, is able to guide one to the truth.
The “first church” is the church that is recorded in the New Testament, especially in the Book of Acts and the Epistles of Paul. The New Testament church is the “original church” and the “one true church.” We can know this because it is described, in great detail, in Scripture. The church, as recorded in the New Testament, is God’s pattern and foundation for His church. On this basis, let’s examine the Roman Catholic claim that it is the “first church.” Nowhere in the New Testament will you find the “one true church” doing any of the following: praying to Mary, praying to the saints, venerating Mary, submitting to a pope, having a select priesthood, baptizing an infant, observing the ordinances of baptism and the Lord’s Supper as sacraments, or passing on apostolic authority to successors of the apostles. All of these are core elements of the Roman Catholic faith. If most of the core elements of the Roman Catholic Church were not practiced by the New Testament Church (the first church and one true church), how then can the Roman Catholic Church be the first church? A study of the New Testament will clearly reveal that the Roman Catholic Church is not the same church as the church that is described in the New Testament.
The New Testament records the history of the church from approximately A.D. 30 to approximately A.D. 90. In the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th centuries, history records several Roman Catholic doctrines and practices among early Christians. Is it not logical that the earliest Christians would be more likely to understand what the Apostles truly meant? Yes, it is logical, but there is one problem. Christians in the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th centuries were not the earliest Christians. Again, the New Testament records the doctrine and practice of the earliest Christians…and, the New Testament does not teach Roman Catholicism. What is the explanation for why the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th century church began to exhibit signs of Roman Catholicism?
The answer is simple – the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th century (and following) church did not have the complete New Testament. Churches had portions of the New Testament, but the New Testament (and the full Bible) were not commonly available until after the invention of the printing press in A.D. 1440. The early church did its best in passing on the teachings of the apostles through oral tradition, and through extremely limited availability to the Word in written form. At the same time, it is easy to see how false doctrine could creep into a church that only had access to the Book of Galatians, for example. It is very interesting to note that the Protestant Reformation followed very closely after the invention of the printing press and the translation of the Bible into the common languages of the people. Once people began to study the Bible for themselves, it became very clear how far the Roman Catholic Church had departed from the church that is described in the New Testament.
Scripture never mentions using "which church came first" as the basis for determining which is the "true" church. What it does teach is that one is to use Scripture as the determining factor as to which church is preaching the truth and thus is true to the first church. It is especially important to compare Scripture with a church's teaching on such core issues as the full deity and humanity of Christ, the atonement for sin through His blood on Calvary, salvation from sin by grace through faith, and the infallibility of the Scriptures. The “first church” and “one true church” is recorded in the New Testament. That is the church that all churches are to follow, emulate, and model themselves after.