Ecclesiology - The Doctrine of the Church
OUTLINE FOR CHAPTER VII
III. What the Church Is Not.
IV. What the Church Is.
Ecclesiology is the doctrine of the Church.
The word church does not mean the building in which the
congregation meets; neither is it as the Catholics say, the Papal system.
Others contend that it is a company, or a club, just an organization.
The Church is not an organization, but an organism.
A. A Mob.
B. The Children of Israel.
Certainly the children of Israel were a called-out company from Egypt, but we know that they were not the body of Christ. Christ had not been manifested in the flesh as yet. This is he, that was in the church in the wilderness with the angel which spake to him in the mount Sina, and with our fathers who received the lively oracles to give unto us (Acts 7:38).
C. The Body of Christ.
By this we mean the body of believers in the Lord Jesus. The New Testament
abounds with references to the ecclesia, the called-out company, or
assembly, from the world to Christ. The following are a few: God hath
put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all
things to the church [ecclesia, meaning called-out company, or assembly],
which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all
(Eph. 1:22, 23). Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also
loved the church [ecclesia, meaning called-out company or assembly],
and gave himself for it. . . . This is a great mystery: but I speak
concerning Christ and the church [ecclesia, meaning called-out company,
or assembly] (Eph. 5:25, 32).
Knowing that the word church is a rendition from the Greek,
ecclesia, meaning called-out company, or assembly, we shall turn our
attention to those portions of Scripture dealing with the body of believers.
The word ecclesia is used in the following ways:
B. Local Assemblies (churches).
This has reference to several local bodies. Paul . . . and all the brethren which are with me, unto the churches of Galatia: Grace be to you and peace (Gal. 1:1-3).
C. The Body of Living Believers (unnumbered).
D. The Complete Body of Christ.
The complete body of Christ is called the Church, and is composed of all believers from Pentecost to the Rapture. Husbands, love your wives even as Christ also loved the church, and gave Himself for it (Eph. 5:25).
III. WHAT THE CHURCH IS NOT
A. The Church Is Not Israel.
Give none offence, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the church of God (I Cor. 10:32). Here is revealed that there are three classes of people today: Jew, Gentile and Church. When a Jew is saved, he ceases to be a Jew, and becomes a Christian. When a Gentile accepts Christ, he ceases to be a Gentile, and becomes a Christian. As many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus (Gal. 3:27-29). The Church (Body of Christ) is not spiritual Israel: He is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace (Eph. 2:14, 15). The Body of Christ (Church) is a new man, and not Israel, whether spiritual Israel or revived Israel.
B. The Church Is Not the Kingdom.
IV. WHAT THE CHURCH IS
B. It Is the Body of Which Christ Is the Head.
1. Oneness. A body is one, a complete whole, an organic unity. So is the Body of Christ.
2. Deathlessness. The Body of Christ will never die, for it is connected
with a living Head.
C. It Is a Building.
Ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God; and are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief cornerstone; in whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto a holy temple in the Lord: in whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit (Eph. 2:19-22).
The apostles and New Testament prophets are the foundation of the Building
(Church). They were the first ones to believe in the Lord Jesus, and
they were the first ones to proclaim the Lord Jesus.
Some have contended that the Bride of Christ is the same as the Wife of Jehovah, who is Israel. However, there is one Scripture which disproves this theory, and that is Revelation 22:17: The Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely. The above passage declares that the Spirit and the Bride are extending the invitation to sinners to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. If the Bride is Israel, then it is the Spirit and Israel extending the invitation. We know that is not true, for the greater part of Israel is in unbelief today. Who is inviting, or urging people to accept Christ? It is the Church, not Israel. Therefore, the Bride is the Church, the Body of believers.
Ephesians 5:25-32 clearly points to the fact that husband and wife have the same relationship as that of Christ and His Bride, the Church. Especially we see this in verses 28-30: So ought men to love their own wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man ever yet hateth his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the Church: For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.
1. The Bride Is Purchased By Christ. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it (Eph. 5:25). See also I Corinthians 6:19, 20. In the Orient men purchased their wives; the price became her dowry. Christ bought his Church with His own precious blood. His blood is her dowry forever!
2. The Bride Is Espoused to Christ. I am jealous over you with
godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present
you as a chaste virgin to Christ (II Cor. 11:2). The Oriental
marriage differs greatly from marriage as we know it. The Eastern custom
of marriage took place after the following manner: First, the bride
was bought (we have been bought by Christ); second, the ceremony was
performed, inaugurating the espousal period, which lasted about a year.
During this time the bride was considered the wife of her husband, yet
they did not live together. The one year waiting period was protection
of the future home. If there were any blemishes against the character
and conduct of the bride, they would come to light during this time.
The Bride of Christ is now in her espousal period. During this interval
the blemishes of the Bride, if any, will certainly manifest themselves.
History has proved that there have been many who have had the form of
godliness, but have denied the power thereof. These blemishes (these
men) vanish away; finally comes the consummation of the marriage.
V. THE GIFTS TO THE BODY
Unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure
of the gift of Christ. Wherefore he saith, When He ascended up on high,
he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men. . . . And he gave
some apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some,
pastors and teachers (Eph. 4:7, 8, 11).
This was the first gift to the Church (Body). Upon the Apostles was built the early Church. The word apostle in the Greek is the same as the word missionary in Latin, meaning the sent one. Of course, the Church has missionaries (sent ones) today, but no apostles.
To these men God gave His revelations. At the first, the Church did not have the New Testament, yet it needed to know the doctrines of God; therefore, God gave to men His unwritten Word; these in turn gave it to the people. The Church has no prophets today for we have Gods complete revealed truth, the New Testament.
Another gift to the Church was evangelists. These men fervently heralded the Gospel. They were men of humility, burdened for the lost. The pastor is told to do the work of an evangelist (II Tim. 4:5). The day of the evangelist is not over, and will not be until Christ comes to reign upon the earth.
D. Pastors and Teachers.
The word pastor means shepherd. The pastor
is to be the shepherd of his sheep, looking after his flock, weeping
and rejoicing with them. The crying need of the Church today is for
pastors. Blessed is the man who has a pastors heart. A pastor
is not only called to preach three sermons a week, but he is called
to pastor, shepherd, look after, care for, visit, love, protect, instruct
the sheep. Every pastor, while doing the work of an evangelist, which
is winning souls, should also be one who is able to teach the Word to
his flock. Where will the church members get the Word if not from the
pastor? All of the truth some people will get will be at a Sunday service.
While we believe that the Body of Christ is composed of all believers from Pentecost to the Rapture, we do stress the importance of the local church, or assembly. The local assembly is the physical body by which the Body (Church) is manifested. God stresses the importance of the local church by giving it officers and ordinances. He who is ashamed of the local assembly is ashamed of that which was established at Pentecost. The local church, as well as the Body of Christ, was established at Pentecost.
A. Its Organization.
The Scriptures indicate that there was some organization, but not as that today. It was not copied after the synagogue. It was entirely different.
B. Its Officers.
1. Deacons. I Timothy 3:8-13 gives the requirements for deacons. The deacons were not chosen to run the church, but to minister to the church.
2. Bishops and Elders. There is a vast difference between the early
Church and that of today as to bishops. The early Church had many bishops
in one local church; today, we have one bishop over many local churches.
The elders were called by that name because they were the oldest in
the family. If the father were dead, the first son took his place. An
elder was an elderly man. Titus 1:5-7 says, For this cause I left
thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are
wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I appointed thee: if any
be blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not
accused of riot or unruly. For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward
of God; not self-willed, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker,
not given to filthy lucre. According to this, the elder and bishop
were the same. The word elder refers to the person, while
the word bishop refers to the office. Every bishop was an
elder, but every elder was not a bishop. The word bishop
means overseer. The overseers of the local churches
were old men. This group of bishops composed what is known as the presbytery
(I Tim, 1:4).
The purpose of the Church is to glorify God in the building up of the Body of Christ in the holy faith; and to spread the Gospel to the ends of the earth, winning, baptizing, teaching.
VII. DISCIPLINE IN THE LOCAL CHURCH
Even though it is true that the Church is under grace rather than law, the flesh is still in the believer, and the Lord has laid down rules of discipline for His local church. There were three steps in Church discipline, and they are as follows:
A. Judgment By Self.
If we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged (I Cor. 11:31). The believer knows when he has sinned and should immediately confess it to God (I John 1:9). If he confesses that sin, he has judged himself. It is forgiven, and he shall never be judged for it again. Let us stress the word confess however. Confess does not mean to admit it, that is, to own up to it; that is implied, but it goes deeper than that. It means to take ones stand against.
B. Judgment By the Church.
If a sinning brother will not judge himself, then he must be judged by the local church. I Corinthians 5:11, 12 says I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolator, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat. For what have I to do to judge them also that are without? do not ye judge them that are within? Yes, fellowship in the local church should be withheld from the erring brother as judgment. Some term this back-door revival. This extreme judgment should be meted out only after the effort to restore him. Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness: Considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted (Gal. 6:1).
C. Judgment By God.
If the fallen brother does not judge himself, and the Church will not
judge him, then God will judge him through chastisement (Heb. 12:5-13).
The Church has two ordinances: baptism and the Lords Supper. Baptism is observed at the beginning of the Christian life; the Lords Supper is taken all during the Christian life. We emphasize the fact that these are ordinances of the Church, and not sacraments.
Baptism is from the Greek word baptizo, meaning to dip, to plunge,
to immerse for the purpose of dying. It can never mean sprinkling, or
2. Administration. Nearly every denomination, with the exception of some local Baptist groups, demands that their ministers, who administer the ordinance of baptism, must be ordained.
3. Explanation. Baptism is a public declaration of faith in Christ by the believer before man. It is his outward demonstration of an inward act, and is a picture of the death, burial and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. Immersion fully portrays the place of death; there are some people, even today, who have met actual physical death after coming up out of the baptismal waters. Those who have come out of other religions evaluate the ordinance of baptism more highly than those who have been raised in Christian homes. Not only does baptism show the death, burial and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ, but it also shows the believers identification with Christ. Baptism is his full declaration of his own death in Christ (II Cor. 5:14): dead to sin, dead to self and dead to the old life. It is also his declaration of being raised with Christ, after burying the old life, to walk in newness of life with Him.
The baptism of all believers, as recorded in the Word, pictures the
death, burial and resurrection of Christ. The baptism of John the Baptist
looked forward to Christs death and resurrection, and our baptism
today looks back to the death and resurrection of our Lord.
It is impossible to baptize an unbeliever, for if he is an unbeliever
before he is immersed, he will be an unbeliever when he comes out of
the baptismal waters.
B. Lords Supper.
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 Lords death till he come. Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup (I Cor.11:23-28).
1. Origination. From the above Scriptures little doubt is left as to who instituted the Lords Supper. There is no record of this ordinance being held before the Lord Jesus inaugurated it. We, as it were, take the bread and the cup from His own precious hands. The theory that Christ never lived is exploded by the Lords Supper. It is His, and His only.
2. Obligation. The words this do are a command of the Lord, and the words all of it (Matt. 26:27) are better translated all of you. This ordinance is for the entire Body of Christ.
6. Limitation. How long should the Church continue this observance? Till He comes again. What is our answer to the scoffer who jeers at the Second Coming, and who asks, Where is the promise of His coming? We point to the Lords Table and reply, There is the promise of His coming.