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). "Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God 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 greet 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 one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity" (1 Timothy 4:12).
Sometimes members are called "saints," because they are set apart to do God’s will. "To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all who in every place call on the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours" (1 Corinthians 1:2). "…To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in 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). "Now on the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul, ready to depart the next day, spoke to them and continued his message until midnight" (Acts 20:7).
"If you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. On their part He is blasphemed, but on your part He is glorified. But let none of you suffer as a murderer, a thief, an evildoer, or as a busybody in other people’s matters. Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this matter" (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 under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills 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 complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work" (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." "This is a faithful saying: If a man desires the position of a bishop, he desires a good work" (1 Timothy 3:1). Sometimes they are called "pastors," meaning "shepherds." "And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ (Ephesians 4:11,12).
"So when they had appointed elders in every church, and prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord in 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 is that Christ’s church meets on Sunday, the first day of the week, for the worship of God. "…on the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul, ready to depart the next day, spoke to them and continued his message until midnight" (Acts 20:7).
"On the first day of the week let each one of you lay something aside, storing up as he may prosper, that there be no collections 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. "Now on the first day of the week, when the disciples came 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. "…the Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread; and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me. In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me. For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death till He comes" (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 in 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 in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord" (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 first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence" (1 Timothy 2:1,2).
Christ’s church worships Him by studying and teaching God’s Word. " Till I come, give attention to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine" (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. "On the first day of the week let each one of you lay something aside, storing up as he may prosper, that there be no collections when I come" (1 Corinthians 16:2).
The Bible reveals no other method for raising money for the Lord’s work.