The Nature of the Church Part one: The Assembly
ekklesia NT:1577, from ek, “out of,” and klesis, “a calling” (kaleo, “to call”), was used among the Greeks of a body of citizens “gathered” to discuss the affairs of state.
“Ecclesia” was not the only Greek word Jesus could have used. He chose this particular one to refer to His Church.
“Ecclesia” is the most limited in concept in terms of an assembly. Jesus chose this word and not a broader one in reference to His assembly.
The Greek usage of this word had a narrower meaning than simply an assembly. The word used for a simple assembly, a mass of people, was “senagoga”. The word “ecclesia” was used to refer to those called together out of a larger multitude tor the transaction of business.
The word was used by the Greeks in reference to a body of people that not only were called out to assemble but this assembly also had with it, the authority to make binding decisions.
Cl Scofield wrote, an accurate definition of the word is, an assembly of called out ones, the word is used of assembly, the word itself implies no more. (Note; he was a Universalist in his doctrine on the church)
If the word itself implies no more! One must conclude then that the idea of something universal or invisible has come from men and not from Jesus Christ who first used it in the New Testament.
Jesus speaks to seven individual churches in the book of Revelation. These churches are represented by seven separate lamp stands. Even the imagery used depict the churches are separate, stand alone lamp stands instead of one massive lamp stand.
Seven golden lamp standsRevl:20 – 2:1
The Church is a local, visible, assembly of people covenanted together to do the work of God.
Each church is a standalone assembly headed by Jesus.
Jesus called out and established His Church.
Seashore callingsMatt 4:17-22
In Matt 4:19, Jesus says; “follow Me and I will make you fishers of men”. This is the commission of the Church!
All authority is given unto Me… Go you therefore… make disciples Matt 28:18-20
Jesus had the authority to baptize and make disciplesJo 4:1-2
Only the members of the Lords authorized assembly has the authority to make disciples!
I give unto you the keys – Authority Matt 16:19
Tell it to the Church… Whatsoever you bind Matt 18:15-18
Appoints apostlesLuke 6:12-16
Appointed first in the church, ApostlesICor 12:28
I will build My church Matt 16:18
The idea here is that He would build-up or strengthen the church. The church was in existence already at this time.
What material did He use? Jesus used the material prepared by John the Baptist.
People were saved and then baptized by JohnMatt 3:1-6
Salvation alone is not enough to be part of the church!
Church authority and Spirit power
You will be witnesses… but waitLu 26:46-49
The Holy Spirit came upon the assembly of 120 people on the day of Pentecost, empowering the church.
Acts 1:4-8, 15
3000 were added to the first church through repentance and baptism.Acts 2:37-41
The reception of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost was only to 120 people.
It was only for the Lord’s church.
There were more than 120 people saved before the day of Pentecost.
Jesus was seen by over 500 brethren after His resurrectionICor 15:4-6
To have the power and authority, that the presence of Christ in the Spirit gives us to do the work of God, we must be a member of a local church!
The practical work of the local church
The perfecting of the saints Eph 4:11-15
Of what practical use is the universal church?
The universal church doctrine has weakened the commitment of saved people to local churches…
There is no Church if there is no assembly! God’s people better learn that soon!
Forsake not the assembling…Heb 10:25
The institution of the church is spoken of in a universal way.
1 Cor 15:9
Eph 1:22, 3:10,3:21,5:23
Challenges to the universal church concept
Why is it called an assembly if it cannot assemble?
How do you become a member?
Can you be excluded from it and if so does that mean you have become lost?
In importance is it higher, lower or equal to the local church?
If one is excluded from a local church, is that one still a member of the universal church?
Does it, or should it, have a specific doctrine?