I love our church, I love coming to church… I love being part of the group of believers assembled in our church. I took this picture you see here to the left last evening as I was walking out front. I love my church, the ekklēsia “the called out” Ekklesia comes from kaleō “to call,” and ek “out from.” The compound verb means “to call out from.” Called out from what? The world. Webster gives this following definition for the word church. 1. a building for public Christian worship. 2. a religious service in such a building. 3. the world body of Christian believers; Christendom. Tyndale bible dictionary defines it as a group or assembly of persons called together for a particular purpose. In the Septuagint (LXX) – Ekklesia = the “’gathering’ of Israel, summoned for any definite purpose, or a ‘gathering’ regarded as representative of the whole nation.” (Vine) Today the word church means a lot of things, but to understand what the church means in the New Testament you need to go to the word of God and Paul. He speaks of the church as Christ’s body look at Romans 12:5, 1 Corinthians 12:27, Ephesians 1:22–23, 4:12; 1 Corinthians 10:16–17 12:12–13 I don’t want to turn this into a really deep study, but the point I’m making is the church is a assemble of believers the body of Christ, the beloved and redeemed. Look how Paul in Romans addresses the church… Romans 1:7 to all who are beloved of God in Rome, called as saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. From what I see in my study there must have been many ekklēsia in Rome.
I love what William Barclay writes: “In essence… the Church, the ekklesia, is a body of people, not so much assembling because they have chosen to come together but assembling because God has called them to himself; not so much assembling to share their own thoughts and opinions, but assembling to listen to the voice of God.” That is why the preaching from the pulpit… The word of God is the center of the worship service. The writer of Hebrew tells us not to forsake meeting together Hebrews 10:25 and Acts 2:42 tells us that the early church continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Matthew Henry really opens my heart to why I love the church so much:
Acts 2:42-47 “In these verses we have the history of the truly primitive church, of the first days of it; its state of infancy indeed, but, like that, the state of its greatest innocence. They kept close to holy ordinances, and abounded in piety and devotion; for Christianity, when admitted in the power of it, will dispose the soul to communion with God in all those ways wherein he has appointed us to meet him, and has promised to meet us. The greatness of the event raised them above the world, and the Holy Ghost filled them with such love, as made every one to be to another as to himself, and so made all things common, not by destroying property, but doing away selfishness, and causing charity. And God who moved them to it, knew that they were quickly to be driven from their possessions in Judea. The Lord, from day to day, inclined the hearts of more to embrace the gospel; not merely professors, but such as were actually brought into a state of acceptance with God, being made partakers of regenerating grace. Those whom God has designed for eternal salvation, shall be effectually brought to Christ, till the earth is filled with the knowledge of his glory.” Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary
I love the church, but this past Lord’s day was a little different for me as it marked the first time in a long while that I wasn’t teaching in Romans… Tim is taking on that now as we’re alternating sections in Romans. He picked up at Romans 1:29. In Romans 1:28 we see that Paul says for the third time God gave them over, gave the over to what… To a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper, then starts this long list that says being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful; Well! Where do we start? Right where Tim did with unrighteousness, then with wickedness, greed, evil; and so on. That’s a list I can say I was part of, and how about you? Were you once here before the grace of God saved you or are you still here in this list needing the grace of God, Paul gives us the bad news about ourselves that we were once as believers filled with all unrighteousness. But you the person who doesn’t believe there is hope for you in Jesus Christ 2 Corinthians 5:21 Consider His Son today, my prayer for those who need Christ is that God is moving in you and His spirit will cause you to believe… for salvation is from the Lord and that’s great good news.