From the desk of Pastor Joseph Cherian

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Praise be to the Lord God Almighty

Warm Greetings in the name of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ to all who visit and read IPC Gerizim website.

In the contemporary world, since the Church lost its Biblical colour due to the infiltration of worldliness; we cannot be too late to redefine and affirm the Apostolic and Church fathers understanding and teaching of the Church. The Church is cardinal to Christian faith and it was a mystery in the Old Testament. Hence the same is revealed in the New Testament; that is, the saved Jews and the Gentiles together without any discrimination constitutes the body of Christ – THE CHURCH, and they are one in Christ.

I believe that, a brief study of the doctrine of the CHURCH would serve as an eye opener to the young generation who are slipping away perpetually from the fellowship of the saints. 

Meaning of the word Church

The English word church is related to the Scottish word kirk and the German word kirche, and these terms are derived from the Greek word kuriakon, the neuter adjective of kurios (Lord), meaning “belonging to the Lord”. The English word Church is originated from the Greek word ekklesia. Ekklesia is a compound word; ek, means “out of”, and kaleo means “to call”, therefore Church is the body or gathering of “a called out group”.

Ekklesia appears 114 times in the New Testament; 3 times in the gospels and 111 times in the epistles. In the gospels it appears only in Mathew 16:18 and 18:17. In these verses ekklesia is used in a prophetic reference to denote the church. This also helps us to establish the fact that, the church began after the ascension of Christ as recorded in the book of Acts and it is particularly a doctrine in the Epistles.  This word is used in technical sense to designate the New Testament church, a group of called-out believers in Jesus Christ.

Aspects of the Church

The local church. Local Church is a living organism, gathering together to worship the Lord and to have fellowship with each other in a given locality. The most common use of the word church in the New Testament is to designate a group of believers that is identified as a local assembly of congregation. Thus there was a church in Jerusalem (Acts 8:1; 11:22), in Asia Minor (Acts 16:5), in Rome (Rom 16:5) in Corinth (I Cor 1:2; 2Cor 1:1). In Galatia (Gal 1:2), in Thessalonica (I Thess.1:1), and in the home of Philemon (Philem.2).

The early believers did not have special buildings to meet together; instead, they met in homes (Rom.16:5; Phile.2). They came together for worship (I Cor. 11:18), fellowship (Acts 2:45-46;4:31), instruction (Acts 2:42, 11:26;I Cor 4:17), and for ministry such as sending out missionaries (Acts 13:2; 15:3). The result was that people were continually saved (Acts 2:47).

The universal church. While the local church views the church as a group of believers gathered together in a particular locality; the universal church views all those who are in this age have been born of the Spirit of God and have by that same Spirit been baptized into the Body of Christ (I Cor. 12:13, I Pet 1:3, 22-25). It was this corporate group of believers that Christ promised to build (Matt. 16:18); it was this Body for whom Christ died (Eph 5:25), and He is the head over it, giving it direction (Eph 1:22-23; Col 1:18). In Ephesians 1:23, the church is referred to as His Body. This cannot refer to a local Church but must depict instead the universal body of believers (cf. Col 1:18). A particular emphasis of the universal church is,  its unity whether Jews or Gentiles, all together compose one body, in a unity produced by the Holy Spirit (Gal. 3:28; Eph 4:4). The universal church is sometimes referred to as the invisible church and the local church as the visible church. The term invisible is also used to indicate that its exact membership cannot be known.

 

Figures of the Church

Body. A metaphor illustrating the unity and universality of the church is the word body. Eph.1:22-23; Col.1:18; I Cor. 12:13; Eph 2:16; 4:4; Eph 4:12,16; Col.2:19; I Cor. 10:16-17.

Bride. The picture of the church as the bride of Christ is seen in Ephesians 5:23 where an analogy is drawn that compares the husband and wife relationship in marriage to Christ and His bride the church (Eph 5:2,25; Acts 3:12,4:8,10; 5:21,31,35; 21:19).

Building (Eph.2:11-18,20; 4;12,13; 1Pet.2:5), Priesthood (1Pet.2:5,9), Flock (Jn. 10:16,26,27; Acts 20:28; 1Pet.5:3), Branches (Jn.15:1,2,4,5; 1Jn.2:22,24,28) are the other figures used for the Church.

Functions of the local church

A biblical New Testament local Church has several important features to identify as Church, in a given locality. Such as:-

Worship : True worship must be of a spiritual nature or realm, and it must be in accordance with truth as God has revealed (John 4:24). It involves the decisive presentation of the believers entire being to God (Rom 12:1-2).

Instruction : It was a vital element in the life of the early Church. God gave the scriptures for the purpose of teaching people and bringing them to maturity (II Tim 3:16,17). Teaching is the antidote to false doctrine (I Tim 1:3); it produces love among believers (I Tim 1:5); it provides nourishment (I Tim 4: 6); Godliness (I Tim 4:6-16); submission (I Tim 5:17;6:2); and a proper focus on life (I Tim 6:17). The early church devoted itself to the apostolic teaching and later filled the city with Christian doctrine (Acts 2:42; 5:28)

Fellowship : The word fellowship means sharing and emphasizes the unity and oneness of the church. The early church met together for the fellowship of breaking bread and prayer (Acts 2:42) and the early church placed great emphasis on the fellowship of prayer (Acts 4:24-31; 12:5,12;Phili 1:3,4). The fellowship also emphasizes the fact that the believers belong together (John 17)

Ministry : The local church is also involved in Ministry. This involves evangelism toward unbelievers in the world (Acts 8:4; 11:19, 20; 16:31, 17:12) and variety of ministries in the local church with  the exercise of spiritual gifts (Rom 12:3-8; I Cor 12; Ephe 4:8-13). It also has an exercise of church discipline (I Cor 5:1-13), and charity.

Organization : Once church was formed, pastor, elders and deacons were appointed to oversee the ministry of the Church (Acts 14:23; Titus 1:5)

Ordinances : The Church practiced the ordinances of baptism and Lord Supper (Acts 2:41, I Cor 11:23,24).

Conclusively, most of the things given above are neglected in the contemporary church. Therefore it is becoming an organization rather than an organism. The church is the body of Christ, therefore it should be functioned as per the word of God. In other words we have to come back to the way of Christ and apostles.

God Bless You.

Amen.