A Study of the Church of Christ in the New Testament
LESSON ONE: JESUS CHRIST AND HIS CHURCH
1. Sincere seekers of truth are bewildered by the thousands of different denominations in the world today. a. Each denomination (sect, or religious body) teaches a doctrine which is different from all the others. b. Each denomination wears a special name to distinguish it from all the other denominations. c. Each denomination worships in a different manner from all the others. d. Yet, all of these different denominations claim to be following Christ!
2. Are all churches right? a. Is one church as good as another? b. If not, which church is the right church? c. Is it possible to find the one, true church today?
3. The existence of this multitude of conflicting denominations is not pleasing to God! a. God is not the author of confusion (1 Cor. 14:33). b. Jesus prayed that all who believe in Him would be one (John 17:17-23). (1) Surely unity is possible if the Lord prayed for it. (2) Unity is essential in order that “the world may believe....” (3) Unity is possible if it is based upon the Word of God.
4. We must go to the Bible to find the one, true church. a. We must test all things by the Word of God (Isa. 8:19,20; 1 Thess. 5:21). b. We must accept Jesus Christ as our only authority in religion (Matt. 28:18;Luke 6:46; John 14:15; 15:14; Acts 2:36; Col. 3:17; Heb. 5:8,9).
Discussion: I. CHRIST AND HIS CHURCH CAN NOT BE SEPARATED! A. Some want Christ, but they do not want His church. 1. They say, “Jesus, yes! The church, no!” 2. Many teach: “Just accept Jesus as your personal Savior and then join the church of your choice.”
B. Christ and His church are bound together. One can not have the church without Christ, or Christ without the church! 1. Christ is the head; the church is His body. A head can not live if it is severed from the body, nor can the body live without its head (Eph. 1:22,23; 1 Cor. 12:20). 2. Christ is the King; the church is His kingdom (Matt. 16:18,19; Col. 1:13; 1 Tim. 6:15). 3. Christ is the Bridegroom; the church is His bride (2 Cor. 11:1,2; Rev. 19:7; 22:17) 4. Christ is the Shepherd; the church is His flock (John 10:11; 1 Pet. 5:4). 5. Christ is the Owner; the church is His possession; the purchase price was His blood (Acts 20:28). 6. Christ is the Builder; the church is His building (Matt. 16:18; 1 Cor. 3:9; Eph. 2:19-22).
C. One can not be in Christ without being in His church! 1. The Lord adds to His church all who obey the gospel (Acts 2:38, 41, 47). 2. All spiritual blessings are in Christ (Eph. 1:3). a. We are baptized into Christ (Gal. 3:26,27). b. We are baptized into His body, the church (1 Cor. 12:13). 3. Christ is the Savior; the church is the saved (Acts 2:47; Eph. 5:23). 4. All men are reconciled to God by Jesus Christ in the church (Eph. 2:14-16; 1:22,23). 5. Philip preached Christ in Samaria (Acts 8:5). a. He preached the kingdom, which is the church (Acts 8:12; Matt. 16:18,19). b. Therefore, in order to preach Christ, one must preach His church! The Church Is Part Of God’s Eternal Purpose To Save Man
II. THE CHURCH IS PART OF GOD’S ETERNAL PURPOSE TO SAVE MAN! A. There are two widely held, but mistaken, views about the church today. 1. Some say Jesus was merely a teacher whose followers formed the church to perpetuate His teachings after His death. 2. Others believe Christ came to establish His kingdom, but failed because the Jews rejected Him. a. He then established the church as a temporary measure until the time was right for Him to return to establish His earthly reign. b. This theory impugns the wisdom and power of God. c. If Christ failed the first time, might He not fail the second? B. God’s plan of redemption began “Before the foundation of the world” (Rev. 13:8; Eph. 3:8-11).
III. CHRIST’S CHURCH IS NOT A DENOMINATION! A. The word “church” in the New Testament, when used in reference to the saved, is used in only two senses: 1. Universal: all the saved everywhere are included (Matt. 16:18; Eph. 1:22,23). 2. Local: the saved in a geographic area who meet as one assembly to worship and serve (1 Cor. 1:2; 1 Thess. 1:1). B. A denomination is not the universal church, but only claims to be a part of it along with all other denominations. 1. A denomination is not a local church, but is made up of local churches. 2. A denomination is smaller than the universal church, but larger than the local church. 3. “Church” is never used in a denominational sense in the New Testament; therefore, denominations exist without Scriptural authority. 4. The one, true church of Christ is not a denomination. It is the universal church, which is composed of all the saved, and is made up of local churches which meet in various places all over the world.
Conclusion: 1. Can we find the one, true church today? 2. The Word of God is the seed of the kingdom (Luke 8:11). 3. Wherever the pure seed is planted in the world today, the same harvest will be produced which was produced in the first century (Gen. 1:11,12). 4. In the early part of this century archaeologists opened a tomb in Egypt which was 3,000 years old. a. They found wheat seed in it which was perfectly preserved. b. Some of this seed was given to William Jennings Bryan, the statesman. c. Bryan planted it on his farm in Nebraska. d. It produced the same harvest in Nebraska it had produced in ancient Egypt. 5. If we plant the seed of the kingdom today in honest hearts it will produce today what it did in the first century, i.e. the one, true church.
REVIEW QUESTIONS 1. How can one find the one true church today? 2. Why can we not have Christ without the church? 3. What is the kingdom? 4. What did Philip preach in Samaria? 5. What are two widely held, but mistaken, views about the church today? 6. Why are they wrong? 7. When did God’s plan to redeem lost man first begin? 8. In which two senses is the word “church” used in the New Testament? 9. Is “church” ever used in a denominational sense in the New Testament? 10. How can the true New Testament church be produced today? 11. Where are all spiritual blessings found? 12. How does one get into Christ? 13. How does one get into the church? 14. Is it possible for one to be a member of the one, true church today? How?