OceanSide church of Christ
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THE CHURCH IS…
Victor M. Eskew
A. Things that we experience on a regular basis in our lives tend to diminish in impor-tance over time: our spouse, our home, our luxuries, our job, our health.
B. This also happens with spiritual things. We are constantly around them. We talk of them often. Over time, they seem to lose their significance to us.
C. One of the spiritual things that we can discount is the church.
1. Many of us have been members of it for years.
2. We have studied the many facets of the church.
3. We have heard several sermons about the church of Christ.
D. From time to time, we need to be reminded of how essential and significant the church is. We’ve entitled this lesson: “The church Is…”
I. THE CHURCH IS THE ETERNAL PURPOSE OF GOD
A. Ephesians 3:1-11 is a key passage in this discussion.
1. The Mission of Paul (Eph. 3:1-2)
2. The Message Written (Eph. 3:3-4)
3. The Mystery (Eph. 3:5-6).
a. Covered in the past (Eph. 3:5)
b. Content of the mystery (Eph. 3:6)
That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel.
1) The same body
2) In Christ
4. The Minister (Eph. 3:7)
5. The Manifestation (Eph. 3:8-12)
a. Key words:
1) Preach among the Gentiles
2) Make all men see
3) Might be known by the church
b. Ephesians 3:11
According to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord.
B. There was a time when God existed before the world was founded. Before He laid the foundations of the earth, the church was in the mind of God.
1. God saw man in sin.
2. He saw the church bringing both Jew and Gentile together in one body of redeemed people.
3. Those in this body were reconciled, or, made friendly, with God (Eph. 2:16).
And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby.
II. THE CHURCH IS THE SAVIOR’S LOVE
A. Ephesians 5:25
Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it.
B. Love is a precious commodity.
1. It acts on behalf of the one loved.
2. It sacrifices for the one that is loved.
3. It stands boldly for the one that is loved.
4. It will meet challenges and overcome obstacles for the one that is loved.
C. Some have said that the book of the Song of Solomon presents a picture of the love that exists between Christ and the church.
1. The book does describe an intimate relationship between a bride and groom.
2. Song of Solomon 7:10
I am my beloved’s, and his desire is toward me.
III. THE CHURCH IS THE PILLAR AND GROUND OF THE TRUTH
A. I Timothy 3:14-15
These things write I unto thee, hoping to come unto thee shortly: but if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.
B. The Catholic Church has a unique take on this verse.
1. First, they often limit the meaning of the term “church” to the bishops, the teaching component, to “The Church.”
2. Second, they believe “The Church” is the pillar and ground of the truth in the sense that the Catholic Church was the one who provided the world with the Bible.
a. The Catholic Bible contains 45 books in the OT instead of 39.
b. When the reformers rejected the six books known as the apocrypha, the Catholic Church viewed this as heresy.
C. The reality is that God is the one who revealed the Bible to man.
1. The Holy Spirit had been promised to the apostles. He would guide them into all truth (John 16:13).
Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.
2. The process used to bring the truth to man is called inspiration (II Pet. 1:20-21).
Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in the old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.
3. God is the revealer of truth. Once the truth was revealed, it was entrusted to the church. The church, as the pillar and ground of the truth, has several responsibilities to the truth.
a. To possess it – she is not to turn from it, nor is she to lose it
b. To proclaim it – she is to sow the seed of the Word worldwide
c. To protect it – there are enemies of the truth that must be fought
IV. THE CHURCH IS EVERLASTING IN NATURE
A. Jesus’ words (Matt. 16:18)
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.
B. The church of our Lord is often referred to as the kingdom of God. This kingdom possesses an enduring nature.
1. Daniel’s prophecy (Dan. 2:44)
And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever.
2. The Hebrew writer acknowledged that the kingdom could not be moved (Heb. 12:28).
Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear.
C. Some might question the truthfulness of these statements when they study the period of church history known as “The Dark Ages.”
1. During this time, the church was in apostasy.
2. In his book, The Eternal Kingdom, F.W. Mattox writes about this period, saying: “During this period the church as a Scripturally organized body worshipping according to the New Testament pattern, is entirely lost to view” (p. 215).
3. Two answers:
a. The church, once established on earth, will always exist upon the earth until the Lord returns. It has the ability to do this in seed form (Luke 8:11).
Now the parable is this: the seed is the word of God.
b. A study of church history shows that there were congregations of the Lord’s people that existed during the Dark Ages (See Search for True Discipleship in Church History, Bill Patterson, pp. 39-40).
1) 422, British Isles – Christians who rejected original sin, immersed adults only, and rejected Catholic ritualism and the popish hierarchy.
2) 600s – a group called the “Paulines” by the Catholics rejected many of the Catholic traditions, immersed adults, assembled on the first day of the week, and called themselves Christians.
3) 1390 – Celtic Hill Cliff in Wales – a group immersed adults upon their confession of faith in Christ.
A. We have seen that the church is:
1. Eternal in purpose
2. The Savior’s love
3. The pillar and ground of the truth
4. Eternal in nature
B. The church is also composed of the saved (Acts 2:47).
Praising God, and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.