What is church?

what is church

What is church?

 Every time the word ‘church’ appears in the New Testament, it is translated from the Greek word ekklesia.

ekklesia 
ek•klay•see’•ah

this is a compound of ek (strong’s 1537) which means ‘out of’, ‘away from’
and kaleo (2564) which means ‘to call’

So the literal meaning translates ‘to call out of, or away from’

The word church appears for the first time in Matthew chapter 16, spoken of by Jesus Himself

 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.”
-Matthew 16:15-18

Notice how Jesus says “I will build My church”

So then, because church literally refers to those who are ‘called out of, or away from,’
we understand that the key principle here is a distinction, a separation of God’s people

“Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness?”
-2 Corinthians 6:14

“Therefore come out from them and be separate,” says the Lord. “Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you. I will be a Father to you, and you will be sons and daughters to Me,” says the Lord Almighty.
-2 Corinthians 6:17-18

I heard another voice from heaven, saying, “Come out of her, my people, so that you will not participate in her sins and receive of her plagues”
-Revelation 18:4

Jesus says His followers are not of the world just as He is not of the world

 “If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own, but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.”
-John 15:19

“I have given them Your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.”
-John 17:14

Another word used throughout scripture regarding believers, that illustrates this same idea of being set apart or separate, is the word sanctify.

sanc·ti·fy
to declare or set apart as holy; to consecrate

In John chapter 17, during His high priestly prayer, Jesus prays that we would be sanctified in the truth which is the word of God.

 “They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth, Your word is truth. As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. For their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they themselves also may be sanctified in truth.”
-John 17:6-19

Jesus instructs His followers to be the salt and light of the world, so that men
may see their good works, and glorify God the Father

“You are the salt of the earth, but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men. You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden, nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.”
-Matthew 5:13-16

In the book of Acts, the apostle Paul recounts his personal encounter with Christ,
and the words the Lord spoke to him

“But rise and stand on your feet, for this purpose I have appeared to you, to appoint you a minister and a witness not only to the things which you have seen, but also to the things in which I will show you, rescuing you from the Jewish people and from the Gentiles, to whom I am sending you, to open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who have been sanctified by faith in Me.”
-Acts 26:16-18

In Christ Jesus, we have been washed clean of our former lives, sanctified, and justified

 Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
-1 Corinthians 6:9-11

Nevertheless, the firm foundation of God stands, having this seal, “The Lord knows those who
are His,” and, “Everyone who names the name of the Lord is to abstain from wickedness. Now in
a large house there are not only gold and silver vessels, but also vessels of wood and of clay,
some for honorable use and some for dishonorable. Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from
these things, he will be a vessel for honorable use, sanctified, useful to the Master, prepared for
every good work.
-2 Timothy 2:19-21

To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints together with all those who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours
-1 Corinthians 1:2

Christ purchased His church with His own blood

 Be on guard for yourselves and for 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

The church is known as the body of Christ

Now you are the body of Christ, and individually members of it.
-1 Corinthians 12:27

And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.
-Ephesians 1:22-23

And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ
-Ephesians 4:11-12

For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function, so we who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.
-Romans 12:4-5

For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body. But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she would be holy and blameless.
-Ephesians 5:23-27

Therefore in closing, it’s important for us to realize that the church is not merely a building
or a location. But that we, as believers who are in Christ Jesus, are the Church.

“We don’t go to church, we are the church.”  –Canon Ernest Southcott, founder of the ‘home church’ movement in England

Light vs Darkness

light vs dark

And I saw that wisdom excels folly as light excels darkness.
-Ecclesiastes 2:13

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.
-Psalm 119:105

The unfolding of your words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple.
-Psalm 119:130

But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, which shines brighter and brighter until full day. The way of the wicked is like deep darkness; they do not know over what they stumble.
-Proverbs 4:18-19

This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.
-1 John 1:5-7

   Jesus Christ is the Light that has been revealed to us from God:

In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. There came a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness, to testify about the Light, so that all might believe through him. He was not the Light, but he came to testify about the Light.
-John 1:4-8

For God, who said, “Light shall shine out of darkness,” is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.
-2 Corinthians 4:6

Several times throughout the Gospel of John, Christ even
refers to Himself as the ‘Light’:

Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, “I am the Light of the world, he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life.”
-John 8:12

“I have come as Light into the world, so that everyone who believes in Me will not remain in darkness.”
-John 12:46

“This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God.”
-John 3:19-21

So Jesus said to them, “For a little while longer the Light is among you. Walk while you have the Light, so that darkness will not overtake you; he who walks in the darkness does not know where he goes. While you have the Light, believe in the Light, so that you may become sons of Light.” These things Jesus spoke, and He departed and hid Himself from them.
-John 12:35-36

Notice the contrasting statements Jesus uses about light & darkness in the passages above.

Scripture testifies that Jesus Christ is the spotless Lamb of God, in whom was neither sin nor deceit:

You know that He appeared in order to take away sins, and in Him there is no sin.
-1 John 3:5

He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
-2 Corinthians 5:21

For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.
-Hebrews 4:15

how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God.
-Hebrews 9:14

but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.
-1 Peter 1:19

For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in His steps. He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in His mouth.
-1 Peter 2:21-22

And they made his grave with the wicked and with a rich man in his death, although he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth.
-Isaiah 53:9

If we are unwilling to embrace Christ and accept Him as the Light, i.e. by disagreeing with His teachings, denying His nature, or disobeying His commands, we are actually saying that He is darkness, and that we have the true light already.
And we see that this is exactly what the Pharisees do in Matthew chapter 12:

Then a demon-oppressed man who was blind and mute was brought to Him, and He healed him, so that the man spoke and saw. And all the people were amazed, and said, “Can this be the Son of David?” But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, “It is only by Beelzebul, the prince of demons that this man casts out demons.”
-Matthew 12:22-24

By accusing Jesus of casting out demons by the prince of demons, they are saying to Jesus, “You are in darkness, & we are in the light.” They are calling their darkness light, and the true light which is Christ, darkness.
What is it called when someone thinks that they are in the light when they are actually in darkness?
Deception.
To be deceived is to be convinced that you are right, when in fact you are wrong.

In John chapter 7, the Pharisees refer to those believing in the teachings of Jesus as being deceived:

The Pharisees answered them, “Have you also been deceived? Have any of the authorities or the Pharisees believed in Him?”
-John 7:47-48

They are essentially implying that they themselves are the standard of light, & since none of them have believed in Him, He must be darkness.
Jesus warns of confusing darkness with light & light with darkness:

“The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is that darkness!”
-Matthew 6:22-23

“Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eye is healthy, your whole body is full of light, but when it is bad, your body is full of darkness. Therefore be careful lest the light in you be darkness.”
-Luke 11:34-35

The prophet Isaiah warns of this also:

Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil, who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness, who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!
-Isaiah 5:20

In John chapter 9, after Jesus heals a man who had been born blind, the Pharisees question him about the experience:

“Never since the world began has it been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a man born blind. If this man were not from God, He could do nothing.”
They answered him, “You were born in utter sin, and would you teach us?” And they cast him out.
Jesus heard that they had cast him out, and having found him He said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?”
He answered, “And who is He, sir, that I may believe in Him?”
Jesus said to him, “You have seen Him, and it is He who is speaking to you.”
He said, “Lord, I believe,” and he worshiped Him.
Jesus said, “For judgment I came into this world, that those who do not see may see, and those who see may become blind.”
Some of the Pharisees near Him heard these things, and said to Him, “Are we also blind?”
Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no guilt, but now that you say, ‘We see,’
your guilt remains.”
-John 9:32-41

Additional references from Scripture on the topic of darkness and light:

‘rescuing you from the Jewish people and from the Gentiles, to whom I am sending you, to open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who have been sanctified by faith in Me.’
-Acts 26:17-18

The night is far gone; the day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light.
-Romans 13:12

Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness?
-2 Corinthians 6:14

For such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ.
No wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. Therefore it is not surprising if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness, whose end will be according to their deeds.
-2 Corinthians 11:13-15

For this you know with certainty, that no immoral or impure person or covetous man, who is an idolater, has an inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.
Therefore do not be partakers with them; for you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light (for the fruit of the Light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth ), trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord. Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead expose them.
-Ephesians 5:5-11

For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
-Colossians 1:13-14

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.
-1 Peter 2:9

On the other hand, I am writing a new commandment to you, which is true in Him and in you, because the darkness is passing away and the true Light is already shining. The one who says he is in the Light and yet hates his brother is in the darkness until now. The one who loves his brother abides in the Light and there is no cause for stumbling in him. But the one who hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going because the darkness has blinded his eyes.
-1 John 2:8-11

I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. And the city has no need of the sun or of the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God has illumined it, and its lamp is the Lamb.
-Revelation 21:22-23

“Who Do You Say That I Am?”

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During the earthly ministry of Jesus, He asks His disciples an important question:

Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah, or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.
“And I say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”
-Matthew 16:13-18 (see also Mark 8:27, Luke 9:18)

 
Three times in the Gospel account, God Himself speaks from heaven endorsing His Son Jesus Christ:

Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to John, to be baptized by him. But John tried to prevent Him, saying, “I need to be baptized by You, and yet You come to me?”  But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he consented. After being baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on Him; and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”
-Matthew 3:13-17 (see also Mark 1:11, Luke 3:22)

And after six days Jesus took with Him Peter and James, and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. And He was transfigured before them, and His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became white as light. And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him.
Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good that we are here. If You wish, I will make three tents here, one for You, and one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” While he was still speaking, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and behold, a voice from the cloud said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to Him.” When the disciples heard this, they fell on their faces and were terrified. But Jesus came and touched them, saying, “Rise, and have no fear.”  And when they lifted up their eyes, they saw no one but Jesus only.
-Matthew 17:1-8 (see also Mark 9:7, Luke 9:35)

“Now My soul has become troubled; yet what shall I say? ‘Father, save Me from this hour’? But for this purpose I have come to this hour. Father, glorify Your name.” Then a voice came from heaven: “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.” So the crowd that stood there and heard it were saying that it had thundered. Others said, “An angel has spoken to Him.” Jesus answered, “This voice has not come for My sake, but for yours.”
-John 12:27-30

Peter recalls the experience he witnessed while on the mountain with Jesus:

For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty. For He received honor and glory from God the Father when the voice came to Him from the Majestic Glory, saying, “This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” We ourselves heard this voice that came from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain.
-2 Peter 1:16-18

 

Jesus Christ: the Word and Image of God the Father

Word became flesh 2

Jesus Christ is God’s ultimate form of communicating and revealing Himself to us.

Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days He has spoken to us by His Son, whom He appointed the heir of all things, through whom also He created the world. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of His nature, and He upholds the universe by the word of His power.
-Hebrews 1:1-3

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities -all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.

For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him
-Colossians 1:15-17,19

In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.
-2 Corinthians 4:4

For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus
-1 Timothy 2:5

“Behold, the virgin shall be with child and shall bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel” which translated means, “God with us.”
-Matthew 1:23

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and apart from Him was not anything made that has been made.
-John 1:1-3

And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.
-John 1:14

No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him.
-John 1:18

So Jesus said to them, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He, and that I do nothing on My own authority, but speak just as the Father taught Me. And He who sent Me is with Me. He has not left Me alone, for I always do the things that are pleasing to Him.”
-John 8:28-29

And Jesus cried out and said, “Whoever believes in Me, believes not in Me but in Him who sent Me. And whoever sees Me sees Him who sent Me.”
-John 12:44-45

“For I have not spoken on My own authority, but the Father who sent Me has Himself given Me a commandment- what to say and what to speak. And I know that His commandment is eternal life. What I say, therefore, I say as the Father has told Me.”
-John 12:49-50

“If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also. From now on you do know Him and have seen Him.” Philip said to Him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.”
Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know Me, Philip? Whoever has seen Me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on My own authority, but the Father who dwells in Me does his works.”
-John 14:7-10

See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ. For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form, and in Him you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority
-Colossians 2:8-10

What is a disciple?

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dis·ci·ple

a. a person who is a convinced pupil or adherent of the doctrines of an individual.
b. one who embraces and assists in spreading the teaching of another.

Synonyms: follower, learner, apprentice, pupil
 
The term “disciple” literally translated from the Greek word mathetes, means to be “a learner.”
 
Discipleship is the process of learning the teachings of another, internalizing them and then acting upon them.
 
To be a disciple of Jesus Christ we must learn what Jesus taught. Then more importantly we must act on those teachings. 
A disciple is not simply an accumulator of information in regards to the teachings of Jesus Christ, but one who bases their lives on His teachings.
This is how we determine if we have truly committed our lives to Christ- if we begin taking seriously His commands and actually putting them to practice in our lives.
 
All those who believed and followed Christ were called ‘disciples’- Acts 6:1-2, 7

Paul originally persecuted the disciples of Christ – Acts 9:1,26

the disciples were first called ‘Christians’ in Antioch – Acts 11:26

Jesus said, 
“A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone when he is fully trained will be like his teacher.”  -Luke 6:40

 The translation ‘fully trained’ is the Greek word Katartizo which means ‘to be made complete, perfect’

 
It is unscriptural to teach that a person can be a ‘Christian’ and not be a disciple of Jesus Christ.

In Luke 6:46 Jesus sharply rebukes those who were incorrectly addressing Him as “Lord” when they were not obeying His words.

 “Why do you call me Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?” -Luke 6:46

 
“If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” -John 14:15

 “He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will manifest Myself to him.” 
-John 14:21

 “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word ; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him.”
-John 14:23

 “Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.” 
-Luke 14:27

Authority Over Spiritual Wickedness

Jesus casting out spirit

Au·thor·i·ty
Noun
The power or right to give orders, make decisions, and enforce obedience
Synonyms: power, control, warrant

He called His twelve disciples, and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of disease and sickness.
-Matthew 10:1

“Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means harm you.”
-Luke 10:19

And He appointed twelve, so that they would be with Him and that He could send them out to preach, and to have authority to cast out demons.
-Mark 3:14-15

They were all amazed, so that they debated among themselves, saying, “What is this? A new teaching with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey Him.”
-Mark 1:27

Lord, liar, or lunatic?

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With the many outlandish, and controversial claims that Jesus of Nazareth made about Himself, which also lead to His death, He must fall into one of these three categories.

 Option 1) Lord: Jesus was who He claimed to be, that is, the Christ, the only begotten Son of God. The spotless lamb who was sent to take away the sins of the world. Who had the authority to forgive sins. The only way to the Father. He & the Father were one.

 Option 2) Liar: Jesus was not who He claimed to be and knew that He wasn’t. This would make him a liar, a charlatan, a counterfeit who deceived many into abandoning their lives, and following Him. He also taught these followers to instruct others in the same teachings. Many of these followers were martyred for these beliefs. Therefore He could not simply could not have been a good moral teacher.

 Option 3) Lunatic: Jesus was not who He claimed to be, but didn’t know that He wasn’t. This would make Him a lunatic, a madman who actually believed all these outrageous qualities about Himself were true.