What is the Church after all?
Today started a 5-month journey through our church vision statement that will equip us, as a church, to understand how God is uniquely using us to carry out His mission on earth. The Scriptures are clear regarding the mission of the church, but we need to make sure that we understand WHAT the church is. Ecclesiology is the study of the church, and Jesus cared deeply about that. In Matthew 16:18 Jesus says, "And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hell will not overcome it."
1. Jesus founded and named His Bride. Nothing culturally can ruin the church. No para-church organization can replace the church.
2. He purchased it with His blood. (Acts 20:28)
3. The church is the body of Christ. We are the body and He is the Head. As we love well, we obey His commands. We attach to each other (John 13-15)
4. We are the Bride of Christ. We are not just members of a club. There needs to be an intimate "knowing" of each other. We want this church to "feel" small as we live together and intimately know one another. (Ephesians 4; Hebrews; Revelation 1-3)
The church is not the same as the Kingdom of God. God's Kingdom is the reign of Christ. Under that reign is the church. We belong to Him.
The Nicene Creed has a line that states, "We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic church."
ONE - As the Lord is one (the Trinity), so the church is one. This is a spiritual unity.
HOLY - Holiness is "other-ness" When you are born again, you become holy. It is up to you to live it out. This is not legalism, but obedience out of love for God and others.
CATHOLIC - Universal - no matter where or when, we are connected to the church. (Rev 5:9)
APOSTOLIC - We are connected to the apostles through their message.
The church is the gospel made visible.
To Discuss Today:
1. What assumptions do you bring with you every week to church? Why?
2. Consider your place in the history of the church. What part do you play in the church at Carmel? In the universal Church?
3. What does it mean to be the "Bride of Christ"? How does that affect the way you live?