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                        "THE CHURCH JESUS BUILT"

                         Why Study The Church?

INTRODUCTION

1. In Mt 16:18, we read where Jesus spoke of His church...
   a. In which He promises "I will build my church"
   b. In which not even the "gates of Hades" (i.e., death) shall prevail
      against it, either by trying to:
      1) Prevent its establishment (death did not prevent Jesus from
         building His church)
      2) Destroy the church (killing Christians does not destroy the
         church)

2. It is not uncommon today to hear people disparage the church...
   a. I have heard people say in effect, "Christ, yes; the church, no"
   b. Professing they love Jesus, desiring even to follow Him, they have
      little use for "the church"

3. This low estimation of the church may be due to several reasons,
   including...
   a. A lack of understanding of what the church truly is, as taught in
      the Bible
   b. A misconception of the church, fostered by erroneous views of the
      church

4. With this lesson, I wish to begin a study of "The Church Jesus
   Built", in which I hope...
   a. To increase our understanding and appreciation of the Lord's
      church
   b. To make sure that our concept of the church is in harmony with the
      Bible
   c. To note some of the challenges facing the Lord's church today

[In this lesson, I would like to emphasize the importance of studying
the church.  Many reasons can be given, but I will focus on two, the
first of which is the high...]

I. ESTIMATION OF THE CHURCH IN THE BIBLE

   A. ESPECIALLY IN THE BOOK OF EPHESIANS...
      1. Christ is "head over all things to the church" - Ep 1:22
         a. That Christ is head over all things is clear enough, but
            what is meant by the phrase "to the church"?
         b. Perhaps that Christ exercises His authority over all things
            "in the interest" of the church (Hendriksen); i.e., the rule
            of Christ is for the benefit of His church!
         c. Does this not say something about the Lord's estimation of
            His church?
      2. The church "is His body" - Ep 1:23
         a. The body of Christ!
         b. It is His spiritual body, of which He is the head!
      3. The church is "the fullness of Him who fills all in all" - Ep
         1:23
         a. Christ fills all in all; what fills Him?
         b. The church constitutes His fullness!
         c. If one is to be in Christ, by implication he or she must be
            in the church!
      4. The church is part of God's "eternal purpose" - Ep 3:10-11
         a. The manifold wisdom of God is made known through the church
         b. In keeping with God's eternal purpose; i.e., His plan which
            He had from eternity!
      5. To God be "glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all
         ages" - Ep 3:21
         a. Certainly God is worthy of all glory
         b. In the church and by Jesus Christ, God will be glorified
            forever!
      6. "Christ is the head of the church; and He is the Savior of the
         body" - Ep 5:23
         a. His authority over the church is again emphasized; also that
            it is His body
         b. But here we note that Christ is the Savior, not of all men,
            but of His body, the church!
         c. Again the implication is clear; to be saved, we must be in
            His body, the church!
      7. Christ "loved the church and gave Himself for it" - Ep 5:25
         a. Jesus loves His church, even as husband is to love his wife
         b. His death on the cross had His church in view; He was dying
            for the church!
      8. Jesus' design is to present it as "a glorious church" - Ep 5:
         26-27
         a. He seeks to "sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of
            water by the word"
         b. He desires for it to not have spot or wrinkle, but to "be
            holy and without blemish"!
      9. Jesus nourishes and cherishes the church - Ep 5:29-30
         a. Even as you care for your own body
         b. So Jesus has the same concern for His body, the church!
         c. All because "we are members of His body"!

   B. OTHER PLACES IN THE NEW TESTAMENT ALSO...
      1. The church was purchased with the blood of Christ - Ac 20:28
      2. The church is His body - Col 1:18,24
      3. The church is the family of God, the pillar and ground of the
         truth - 1Ti 3:15

[Whatever the Lord's church is, I want to a part of it, don't you?  If
you love Jesus, and the church is His church, His body, how can you not
love the church?  How can you not desire to learn more about the church,
its nature, its purpose, its design?

Unfortunately, misdirected if not careless men have sought to change the
church from what we see it in the Bible.  Such efforts should not go on
unnoticed or unanswered.  This leads me to my second reason why we need
to study the church...]

II. EFFORTS TO CHANGE THE CHURCH IN THE BIBLE

   A. AS REPRESENTED BY "THE DENOMINATIONAL VIEW"...
      1. In seeking to describe the Lord's church today, some suggest
         that it is made up of all the different denominations
         a. Despite their doctrinal differences, their creedal
            affirmations
         b. Despite their competing ecclesiastical authorities, all
            claiming to be led by the Spirit of God today
      2. But is this the "glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle"?
         a. A church with hundreds of differing creeds, names, and
            doctrines?
         b. Teaching a multitude of contradictory doctrines, adding a
            plethora of man-made traditions?
         c. Presenting a divided picture to the world, one that breeds
            doubt and skepticism in those that see it?
      3. Such confusion comes not from God! - 1Co 14:33
         a. God is the source of peace in His churches
         b. Where confusion dwells, Satan is the author! - cf. Mt 13:
            24-30; 36-43
      4. When people no longer abide in the doctrine of Christ, they
         have not God! - 2Jn 9
         a. When they stop abiding in Christ Himself, they are cut off
            - Jn 15:2,6; cf. Ro 11:22
         b. They may believe they are still His disciples, doing things
            for Him; but unless they continue to do the Father's will,
            they are sadly mistaken! - cf. Mt 7:21-23
      -- This view of the Lord's church is too "broad"!

   B. AS REPRESENTED BY "THE SECTARIAN VIEW"...
      1. Some understand the Lord's church as made up of a particular
         group of churches
         a. All wearing just one "official" name
         b. All listed in some church directory
      2. This view fails to take into consideration some important
         principles
         a. There is no one "official" name for the Lord's church
         b. The Lord's church is a body made of individual members, not
            individual congregations
         c. One might be a member of the Lord's body, but not yet
            associated with a local congregation (e.g., the Ethiopian
            eunuch)
      -- I will have more to say on this, but this view of the Lord's
         church is too "narrow"!

CONCLUSION

1. Again, we are talking about "The Church Jesus Built"...
   a. One that is highly esteemed in the Scriptures
   b. One that should be highly esteemed in our own hearts!

2. It is easy to be influenced by erroneous views which permeate the
   religious world...
   a. Perhaps your view of the church has been a denominational one
   b. Perhaps your view of the church has been a sectarian one

3. I hope that in this lesson I have...
   a. Reminded you of the great estimation the Lord has placed on His
      church
   b. Stimulated you to consider whether your understanding of the
      church may need some major overhauling or fine-tuning!

In any case, "The Church Jesus Built" is always worthy of our prayerful
consideration...!
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