The word Church in the English Standard Version Bible appears about 112 times in the New Testament. The first time we see that word in Scripture is in Matthew 16:18 when Jesus states, “And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” Matthew 16:18 (ESV) To begin to understand the church we must look at big chunks of church history according to Scripture.
The nations of the world betrayed God; all of them did. In Genesis 12:1-3 God called Abraham and with him he started building a new nation. “Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. 2 And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. 3 I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” (ESV)
Israel was called to evangelize the world; to turn folks back to God. God took the time to teach Israel His ways through Moses. However, Israel, like the rest of the world, turned his back on God. In Deuteronomy 32:15-18 Moses tell us,
“But Jeshurun grew fat, and kicked;
you grew fat, stout, and sleek;
then he forsook God who made him
and scoffed at the Rock of his salvation.
16 They stirred him to jealousy with strange gods;
with abominations they provoked him to anger.
17 They sacrificed to demons that were no gods,
to gods they had never known,
to new gods that had come recently,
whom your fathers had never dreaded.
18 You were unmindful of the Rock that bore you,
and you forgot the God who gave you birth. (ESV)
God could have given up on humanity right there, right then, but He did not. Jesus Himself came and offered himself as the perfect sacrifice; through Him the redemptive plan of God will indeed be a success. In Matthew 28:18-20 Jesus give the church his marching orders as he tells us,
And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (ESV)
Notice that, again, Jesus is showing us that He did not gave up on the nations of the world, despite their betrayal. Just as, through Abraham, God called Israel to be a blessing to the nations, we, the church are also called to be a blessing to the world. We are supposed to be an example of how God’s people look and act. We are not a worship service, we are not a sermon or a song, we are God’s people; His representatives on this earth… we are the church.
If we say we are friends with Willie, Robert, and James it is expected that we will have a relationship with Willie, Robert, and James. It is expected that we communicate with one another often, it is expected that we miss each other, it is expected that we do things together and that we are an important part of each other’s lives. Have you ever heard that a particular person is good friends with another person? Their friendship is evident in that their unity can be seen. The Apostle John put it this way, “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.” First John 1:7 (ESV)
An orange tree will give forth oranges, an apple tree will give forth apples, disciples of Jesus WILL HAVE FELLOWSHIP with one another. If this is not taking place two things are not happening: 1) we are not walking in the light and 2) the blood of Jesus is not activated to cleanse us from our sins.
To be continued…