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Beginning Bible Studies (15 Lessons)
Lesson 13 – The Church, Part 2
There are thousands of different denominations in the world. But the Bible reveals only one church. Let us learn from the Bible about Christ’s church. Let us become members of it. Then, we can know we are right. The Bible tells is what Christ’s church is like. It tells us its names, organization, and worship.
THE NAMES OF THE CHURCH
The Bible gives several names for Christ’s church and for its members. These names honor God and His Son, Jesus Christ.
In the New Testament, the church is often called “the church of God.” “Paul…To the church of God which is at Corinth…” (1 Corinthians 1:1,2). “Take heed unto yourselves, and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit hath made you bishops, to feed the church of the Lord which he purchased with his own blood” (Acts 20:28).
When speaking of the various groups of Christians which make up the body of Christ, the term “churches of Christ” is used. “…the churches of Christ salute you” (Romans 16:16).
Members of the church in the Bible are often called “believers” because they trust in the Lord Jesus Christ. “And believers were increasingly added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and women” (Acts 5:14). “Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an ensample to them that believe, in word, in manner of life, in love, in faith, in purity” (1 Timothy 4:12).
Sometimes members are called “saints,” because they are set apart to do God’s will. “unto the church of God which is at Corinth, even them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all that call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ in every place, their Lord and ours” (1 Corinthians 1:2). “…to all the saints in Christ Jesus that are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons” (Philippians 1:1).
They are often called “disciples” because they are learners of Christ. ” So it was that for a whole year they assembled with the church and taught a great many people. And the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch” (Acts 11:26). “And upon the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul discoursed with them, intending to depart on the morrow; and prolonged his speech until midnight” (Acts 20:7).
Members are also called Christians. “…the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch” (Acts 11:26). “Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian” (Acts 26:28).
“If ye are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are ye; because the Spirit of glory and the Spirit of God resteth upon you. For let none of you suffer as a murderer, or a thief, or an evil-doer, or as a meddler in other men’s matters: but if a man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God in this name.” (1 Peter 4:14-16).
THE ORGANIZATION OF THE CHURCH
God’s plan for His church is very simple. Christ is the head of the whole church. “and he put all things in subjection under his feet, and gave him to be head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.” (Ephesians 1:22,23).
The New Testament is the only law which God gave to His church. “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.” (2 Timothy 3:16,17).
In each place where there are Christians, they meet together as a group and form the church of Christ in that place. Each of these groups is independent. Each has its own leaders. Each church of Christ is overseen by elders and served by deacons when it is fully organized.
Elders are called by different names in the New Testament. Sometimes they are called “bishops,” meaning “overseers.” “Faithful is the saying, If a man seeketh the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work” (1 Timothy 3:1). Sometimes they are called “pastors,” meaning “shepherds.” “And he gave some to be apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, unto the work of ministering, unto the building up of the body of Christ” (Ephesians 4:11,12).
“And when they had appointed for them elders in every church, and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord, on whom they had believed” (Acts 14:23).
Deacons are leaders who serve under the elders. (Read Philippians 1:1.) The word “deacon” means “one who serves.”
Not everyone can be an elder or a deacon. One must be a good man before he can do this work. The qualifications for elders are found in 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-10. The qualifications for deacons are stated in 1 Timothy 3:8-13. No one can serve as an elder or deacon unless he meets God’s qualifications. No church can have elders or deacons until they have men who meet these qualifications.
THE WORSHIP OF THE CHURCH
The Bible tells us that Christ’s church meets on Sunday, the first day of the week, for the worship of God. “…upon the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul discoursed with them, intending to depart on the morrow; and prolonged his speech until midnight” (Acts 20:7).
“Upon the first day of the week let each one of you lay by him in store, as he may prosper, that no collections be made when I come” (1 Corinthians 16:2).
This day is called “the Lord’s Day.” “I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day…” (Revelation 1:10). The church may meet at any time for worship, but the first day of the week is especially “the Lord’s Day.”
On the Lord’s Day, the church “breaks bread,” or eats of the Lord’s Supper. “And upon the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread…”(Acts 20:7).
The Lord’s Supper was given by Jesus just before His death. Read Matthew 26:26-29. It is unleavened bread (made with no yeast) which represents His body, and the fruit of the vine (grape juice) which represents His blood. The purpose of the Lord’s Supper is to remember Christ’s death for our sins. “…For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread: And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me. For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come” (1 Corinthians 11:23-26).
Christ’s church worships Him by singing praises to Him. “Speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord” (Ephesians 5:19).”Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; in all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts unto God” (Colossians 3:16).
Each member of Christ’s church worship Him from the heart. The purpose of worship is to praise God. It is not to entertain man. God has not commanded the use of musical instruments in His worship. Each Christian is to praise God. The melody is to be made with the Christian’s heart, not with musical instruments.
Christ’s church worships Him by prayers of thanksgiving, praise, and request. “…I exhort therefore, first of all, that supplications, prayers, intercessions, thanksgivings, be made for all men; for kings and all that are in high place; that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and gravity.” (1 Timothy 2:1,2).
Christ’s church worships Him by studying and teaching God’s Word. “Till I come, give heed to reading, to exhortation, to teaching” (1 Timothy 4:13).
Christ’s church takes a contribution on the first day of the week. In this way money is raised for the work of the Lord. “Upon the first day of the week let each one of you lay by him in store, as he may prosper, that no collections be made when I come” (1 Corinthians 16:2).
The Bible reveals no other method for raising money for the Lord’s work.
Lesson 13 Quiz