The first quarter of the 2005 Mission book covers the Biblical Foundations of the Church. Today, I will talk a little bit about some of the basic themes for the month of January. For January 2, and January 9, the themes were: "Jesus Establishes His Church" and "What Is the Church?".
In Old Testament times, the word "Church" was not originally a religious word. It was used to describe a congregation, assembly, or multitude of any kind. In the New Testament, the word "church" occurs over one hundred times and it was Jesus who first applied the word to a Christian society. Church was used to describe a body of believers who openly confessed Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.
In a conversation with His disciples, Jesus asked them, "Who do you say that I am?" Peter answered, "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the Living God." And Jesus replied, "Thou art Peter and upon this rock I will build my church." Out of error, many believe that Jesus was saying Peter was going to be the foundation of the church. The church was not to be built upon Peter, but, upon the rock solid confession that Peter had made about the deity of Christ. It was very important to know the deity of Christ because those who chose to deny or reject it could not be a part of Jesus' Church.
At Peter's confession, Jesus also took the occasion to reveal a mystery that was even hidden from the Old Testament prophets. The Church was in God's plan and in His eternal purpose from the beginning; but it could not be revealed until Jesus was recognized as its divine Head.
And many did not recognize Jesus as the Head of the church or as the head of anything else . A perfect example is the Apostle Paul. Before his conversion, Paul had persecuted Jesus by persecuting His Church. But, in spite of his violent opposition to the Church, Paul was given the responsibility and privilege of proclaiming the mystery of the Church and God's plan of salvation for the entire world.
The basic theme for January 16, was "The Purpose and Mission of the Church." Since the church is a religious assembly called out of the world by the doctrines of the gospel, the main purpose of the church is to worship the true God in Christ according to His word. The church has the responsibility of calling the world to worship and praise God. And when the church meets this responsibility, it becomes more likely to meet its ultimate goal. The ultimate goal of the church is to make men like Christ; make earth like heaven; and make the kingdoms of the world the kingdom of Christ.
In order to make men like Christ, we must first teach men about Christ. And in order to teach men about Christ, we must learn of Christ ourselves. As Christians, Jesus' life should be our example. Before Jesus' ascension back to heaven, His parting words to His disciples were, "Go ye therefore and teach all nations baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost". Jesus also wanted the first representatives of the church to know that they must teach men and women to observe all the things He commanded them.
As disciples of today, we represent the church. And when we recognize Jesus as the Head and Chief Cornerstone of the church, we are assured that He will be with us on our journey as we build on the Biblical foundations of the church by fulfilling the Great Commission of spreading His word throughout the world.
quotes by c. j. bell
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