Field Headquarters: The Church
Our orders are issued from heaven but we are fighting on the front lines here on earth, therefore we need a field headquarters. Our HQ on earth is the local church. It has been commissioned by Jesus to recruit, equip and train us as soldiers of the cross, until He returns to make the final assault.
Origin of the Church
Defined: the Greek word for church is Ekklesia. It means a local, called-out, assembly. In Acts 19:41 "assembly" is the same word translated "church" 119 time in the New Testament.
The first use of the word in the NT is Matthew 16:18. Use this passage to answer the following questions.
In Matthew 16:28, did Jesus change or modify the definition of the word as it was used in that day?
No, therefore the church Jesus built would be a local (in one location), called out (by him) assembly.
We see Jesus doing exactly this in Mark 3:13-14
And he goeth up into a mountain, and calleth unto him whom he would: and they came unto him. And he ordained twelve, that they should be with him, and that he might send them forth to preach,
Also Luke 6:13-14 And he goeth up into a mountain, and calleth unto him whom he would: and they came unto him. And he ordained twelve, that they should be with him, and that he might send them forth to preach
The Lord called and they assembled.
Thus, we can see the definition of the church as it is enacted.
Could this original assembly, started by Jesus, cease to exist?
Not unless, Jesus failed or lied.
Matthew 16:18 The Gates of Hell shall not prevail against it.
Matthew 28:20 Lo, I am with you alway even to the end of the world.
Since, by Jesus’ promise, the church did not and cannot cease to exist, how can a person find the church that Jesus founded, commission and left on earth?
Either by a traceable history or by identifying marks of distinction that are shared between the first church and the church in the world today.
Marks of the Church - Membership
Requirements for church membership - Acts 2:41
Salvation and Baptism or letter from another church of like faith and order stating that the candidate was a member there.
Offices of the Church
Read 1Timothy 3, Acts 6:1-6. What are the only two offices of the church? Pastor and Deacon are the only offices authorized in God’s word for the work of the church.
Candidate for Baptism must be saved.
Scripture Acts 8:35-38, Acts 2:41
Proper Mode or Method
Candidate must be immersed only
Definition: fr. Baptizo, To immerse or dip
Symbolism: Baptism represents the death burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Scripture Romans 6:4, Acts 8:38, Matthew 3:6, 3:16
Candidate must have the proper reason.
Baptism is to show the gospel of Jesus Christ 1 Cor 15:3-4
To show our own death, burial and resurrection in Jesus Christ Rom 6:4
To show our identification with Jesus Christ Rom 6:5
To follow Christ's example Matt 3:15
To obey Christ Matt 28:19-20
Improper motives, these are not valid reasons for baptism.
For Salvation Acts 16:30-32, Luke 23:39-43, 1 Cor. 1:17
To wash away sin(s) 1 Peter 3:21
Candidate must be baptized by the proper authority
Great Commission was to the local church Matt 28:19-20
Paul baptized by the authority of a local church Acts 13:2-3
Phillip was commissioned by local church Acts 6:5-6
Candidate for Lord's Supper must be a member of local church.
Scripture 1 Cor 5:11, 11:20-22, 33
Must be under authority of local church.
Proper Mode or Method
Fruit of the vine and unleavened bread.
Scripture: Luke 22:17-18, Exodus 12:15
A symbolic memorial, no saving merit is imparted.
Scripture 1 Corinthians 11:24-26
The local church in assembly
Scripture 1 Corinthians 11:20-33
The commission is the church's "marching orders" everything else we do as a church must be subservient to these orders.
What are the commands of the commission?
1. Go 2. Teach (Make Disciples) 3. Baptize 4. Teach (Train)
There are other commissions given in scripture ( Mark 3:13-15, Mark 16:17 and Luke 10:1-9) but they all have been superseded by the “Great Commission” of Matthew 28:19-20.
The church that Jesus built brought the gospel to the pagan world. From that first assembly of 12 called together just before the Sermon on the Mount, to the thousands that were saved and baptized on the Day of Pentecost to the billions that today “claim the name” of Christian, the true church has not changed in its identity, its doctrine or its mission.
The Church of Jesus Christ will stand until He comes back and takes her home for that great wedding feast, one day in Heaven.