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What is the church??

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  • Charles Jemeyson
    What is the Church? Many use this term church to mean a building or a location where religious people meet. Is this the definition? How is church used in
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 4, 2010
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      What is the Church?



      Many use this term "church" to mean a building or a location where religious
      people meet. Is this the definition?

      How is "church" used in the Bible? Is it a New Testament term? We have to
      be careful as the way we used a word depends on the idea we have of the
      thing (word) we have in our mind.

      The way we use the word "church" reflects the ideas we have about it.



      You may be surprised, but the word "church" is not a peculiarly religious
      word, nor is it used that way, even in the Bible. The word "church" is NOT
      religious at all!



      In the New Testament, which was originally written in Greek, the word
      "church" is translated from the Greek word "ekklesia." The Greek word is
      taken from two words, "ek" which means "out" and "kaleo" which means "to
      call out." This Greek word was used of a group of people who have been
      called out of some place or relationship into a relationship into another
      one. Thus, the ekklesia, or church of Christ refers to people who have
      been called out of the world into Christ by the gospel.



      How was the word "ekklesia" used BEFORE Christ came? Was "ekklesia" used in
      the Old Testament?

      We know the Old Testament wasn't originally written in Greek, but Hebrew.
      However, the Greek translation called the Septuagint which was made around
      250 B.C. which Jesus and the apostles many times quoted from has the word
      "ekklesia." It occurs both in a religious and non religious ways.

      The word "church" occurs over forty times in the Old Testament.



      For example, in Deut 9:10:

      10 "And the LORD gave me the two tablets of stone awritten by the finger of
      God; and on them were all the words which the LORD had spoken with you at
      the mountain from the midst of the fire on the day of the assembly.
      (ekklesia)



      The term "assembly" is from the word ekklesia in the Septuagint, the same
      word translated "church" in the New Testament.



      We see ekklesia in Deut 4:10; 9:10; 18:16; 23:1,2,3,8 and many others, the
      word is translated "assembly."

      These passages make it obvious God spoke of the assembly of Jews, i.e. the
      Jewish nation, whether they were assembled or not. It refers to the people
      of the nation of Israel.



      In the New Testament several passages use the word church where it has
      nothing to do with Jesus Christ. We see in Acts 19:32 Luke describes Paul's
      controversy with the Ephesian silversmiths:



      "Some therefore cried one thing, and some another: for the assembly
      (ekklesia) was confused; and the more part knew not wherefore they were come
      together." (Acts 19:32)



      Here in Acts 19:32 the word "ekklesia" describes a mob that was trying to
      kill Paul! It was a riot composed of silversmiths, a group of people who
      had been "called out" of the city of Ephesus because of a distinctive
      relationship; i.e., they were all silversmiths.

      Now, in this same chapter, in verse 39, the town clerk broke up the riot by
      telling the silversmiths:



      "But if ye enquire any thing concerning other matters, it shall be
      determined in a lawful assembly." (ekklessia) (Acts 19:39)



      In this passage, the word "eklessia" has nothing to do with Christ! This
      "church" (assembly) was another group of people, called out of the town by
      their relationship to the council.

      In verse 41 it is used a third time, "And when he had thus spoken, he
      dismissed the assembly." (ekklessia)



      All three of these passages describe the same thing: a group of people, not
      a building, not an organization.



      The next passage use of the work eklessia also has nothing to do with the
      church of Jesus Christ. In Acts 7:38 we see Stephen, in giving his defense
      shortly before his death, rehearses the history of the Jews and says,
      speaking of Moses:



      "This is he, that was in the church (ekklesia) in the wilderness with the
      angel which spake to him (Moses) in the mount Sina, and with our fathers:
      who received the lively oracles to give unto us:" (Parans mine, cj.)



      Of course Moses did not deal with the New Testament church, but with a group
      of people, the congregation of Israel, the ekklesia described in the Old
      Testament where the same word is used.

      Thus, many passages exist in the Old Testament where the word ekklesia is
      used, not of the church of Christ, but of the nation of the Jews. Four
      passages in the New Testament use it of various groups of people, none of
      them having anything to do with the church of Christ.



      Use of the Greek word "ekllesia" (Church) In the New Testament.



      In the N.T., several passages use the word church where it has nothing to do
      with Jesus Christ. In Acts 19:32, Luke describes Paul's controversy with
      the Ephesian silversmiths:



      "Some therefore cried one thing, and some another: for the assembly
      (ekklesia) was confused; and the more part knew not wherefore they were come
      together."





      In Acts 19:32 the word "ekklesia" is translated "assembly" and describes a
      mob that was trying t kill Paul! It was a riot composed of silversmiths, a
      group of people who had been "called out" of the city of Ephesus because of
      a distinctive relationship; i.e. there were all silversmiths.



      Now keep in mine some important "concepts" of the word "ekklesia" here in
      Acts 19:32..

      1. ekklesia is a "group" here.
      2. They were "called out" of the city of Ephesus.
      3. They had a "relationship" with each other. (They were all
      silversmiths)



      Remember this "concept" when you think of the word "church."



      In this same chapter 19, verse 39:



      "But if ye enquire any thing concerning other matters, it shall be
      determined in a lawful assembly." (Acts 19:39)



      In this passage, the word ekklesia refers to the town council, again, a
      "church" that has nothing to do with Christ! This "church" was another
      group of people, called out of the town by their relationship to the
      council.



      A third time, this word is used in Acts 19:41:

      "And when he had thus spoken, he dismissed the assembly."



      All three of these passages describe the same thing: a group of people, not
      a building, not an organization.



      In Acts 7:38 we have another passage that uses ekklesia and has NOTHING to
      do with the church of Christ. In this chapter, Stephen, in giving his
      defense shortly before his death, rehearses the history of the Jews and
      says, speaking of Moses:



      This is he, that was in the church (ekklesia) 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:



      Here in Acts 7:38 we learn that Moses was in the "church" in the wilderness,
      but Moses did NOT deal with the New Testament church, but with a group of
      people, the congregation of Israel, the ekklesia described in the Old
      Testament where this same word is used.



      THE CHURCH (OF CHRIST) IN THE NEW TESTAMENT.



      In the New Testament references to the church of Christ, the term "church"
      is ALWAYS a collective noun. While a noun is the name of a person, place or
      thing, a collective noun is a thing that is composed of a plurality of
      elements.



      Here are some examples of collective nouns: convey; herd; flock; troop;
      jury; team; crew; family; assembly; pride; school; committee; company; crowd
      etc.



      One convey of quail is a bunch of quail. One quail is not a convey.
      Likewise, one herd of cows is many cows, not just one. A flock of sheep
      contains many sheep; one sheep is not a flock.

      A jury consists of several members; one member is not the jury. A school of
      fish are many, not just one.



      SO IT IS WITH THE TERM CHURCH! A church, whether the nation of Jews in the
      Old Testament, a mob of silversmiths, a city council in the New Testament,
      or the church of Christ, is a collection of people.

      In Matthew 16:18 Jesus said:



      "And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will
      build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it."



      Jesus spoke of a number of people, a collection of people. He did not speak
      of an organization, like a corporation. He spoke of people. He did not
      speak of an institution like a university. He spoke of people.



      Some are interested in institutionalism and its effects on the religion of
      Christ (some at this point will not be), the very root of institutionalism
      is right here. If we view the church of Christ as an institution people get
      into, we are bound to be institutional in our thinking. The church is not
      an institution people enter - IT IS PEOPLE!

      To be sure, the church was instituted by God, and it has organization, but
      the church is a plurality of people. To illustrate my point, note that no
      one looks at a herd of cattle and thinks, "my what a wonderful institution!"
      A herd of cattle is not an institution; it is simply a bunch of cattle. No
      one ever remarked about a confey of quail, "what a glorious organization!"
      No, a convey is a bunch of quail, not an organization.



      Think of every passage in the Bible where the word "church" occurs, whether
      in the Old Testament or int the New Testament. Doesn't the phrase "bunch of
      people" fit the context exactly? In 1 Cor 1:2, when Paul spoke of the
      "church of God at Corinth," didn't he speak of the people of God there, a
      bunch ofr collective of people?



      Some object to the use of the word "bunch" as a synonym for church on the
      ground it doesn't sound religious enough. That's exactly why I've chosen
      it: "church" as it's used in the Bible is not a specially religious word,
      and yet, with our religious backgrounds, most can hardly separate the idea
      of religion from it.

      With our exposure ot denominational, institutional, and organizational
      religion, most can hardly think of the word "church" without those
      denominational, institutional, and organizational concepts come to mind.



      First of all, notice the word "church" is a collective noun: it always
      stands for a "bunch of people" - whether they're Christians or not, whether
      they're religious or not, whether they even believe in God or not. That's
      the way the word is used throughout the Bible.



      Also, "Church" is a Non-Descriptive Collective Noun.

      The term "church" is not only a collective noun, but it is also
      non-descriptive, that is, it is a collection of people who are not described
      by the term itself. It is precisely because the term "church" doesn't
      describe the nature of the people in the group that the term "church" can be
      used of a variety of people; i.e. sometimes Christians, sometimes Jewish
      nation, sometimes a mob of silversmiths. This usage does no violence to the
      word "church," because the term doesn't describe the kind people in the
      group.



      Other terms in the Bible describe the same group of people, that is, the
      people of Christ. For example, in Eph. 1:22,23, Paul speaks of the church
      as the "body" of Christ. Body is another collective noun: one body has many
      members. Sometimes when one is asked what the church is, the reply is given
      the church is the body. True, but what is the body? Many are hard pressed
      to give a reply, other than to say the body is the church. That's like one
      old-timer who when asked if he knew what rattlesnake meat tasted like, said,
      "Sure, it tastes like bull snake!" Well, what does bull snake taste like?
      It's obvious like rattlesnake! We really don't know much more than when we
      first asked the question.



      The Bible also speaks of the church as the house or family of God, 1 Tim
      3:5. Family is another collective noun. One person is not a family any
      more than one member is a body. One might say the church is the family, and
      the family is the church, but he still may not have an idea of what the
      church is.



      So, two collective nouns with flavor, i.e., that describe the kind of people
      in the group, help illustrate something about the people in the church, a
      term that in itself has no flavor. A church can be collective of any kind
      of people. Whoever the kind of people who make up it up, though, the church
      is a bunch of people.

      The church of Christ is the people who belong to Christ and are in
      fellowship with Him.



      A question might be, "how do you get into the church?" Or, what church is
      it?

      What is the gospel? How do you obey the gospel. How did the priests of
      Acts 6:7 obey the faith (gospel)?





      The gospel is the 1. Death, 2. Burial, 3. Resurrection of Chirst. That's
      it, that is how simple it is. (See Romans 15:3,4)

      How do you "obey" the gospel? You "emulate" what He did!! You DIE to
      your sins, (Jesus died for your sins), you are buried (in water), Jesus was
      buried, you are raised from the grave (water), Jesus was raised from the
      grave.

      Jesus said, ".if you die with me then you will reign with me." (Rom 6:8)



      The apostle Paul was speaking to some Christians and he told them "how and
      when they were saved." Read it for yourselves:



      Romans 6:3-5:



      3 Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus
      have been baptized into His death?

      4 Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, in
      order that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the
      Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.

      5 For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death,
      certainly we shall be also in the likeness of His resurrection,



      These Roman Christians had obeyed the gospel by faith. These Christians had
      repented of their sins to the Father (whom they sinned against), confessed
      His Son, Jesus the Christ as savior and then were buried (baptism) WITH HIM.
      They died WITH HIM! These Christians had "obeyed from the heart, 'that form
      of doctrine' that set them free from sin and they became servants of
      righteousness. (Rom 6:17,18)



      At this time, when they obeyed the gospel, "God ADDED THEM TO THE CHURCH!"
      (Acts 2:47). What "church" is this? This is the church IN HEAVEN where
      their names were written in the Lamb's Book of Life. This "assembly"
      (church) contains all the righteous from Adam to the present time (and
      growing!)



      This is what God says to all the saved when they are added to the church:

      Hebrews 12:22-24:

      "But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the
      heavenly Jerusalem, and to myriads of angels, to the general assembly and
      church of the first-born who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the Judge
      of all, and to the spirits of righteous men made perfect, and to Jesus, the
      mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood, which speaks better
      than he blood of Abel."







      I would like to speak on the Local church and the heavenly church in another
      writing.





      Your servant in Christ,

      Charles Jemeyson

      cjemeyson@...





      "The SUM of thy Word is truth" --Psalms 119:160 WE MUST USE THE SUM OF
      HIS WORD.



      "Knowledge gained and not shared, is knowledge stolen." -Mark Davis,
      minister





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