Biblical Doctrine of the Church from study of ekklesia
See the previous studies of the church for a more complete development.
July 2011 Tod Kennedy
- The foundation and beginning of the church. Jesus founded the church on himself and also predicted the coming and baptism of the Holy Spirit.
- Jesus predicted the future church when he said that it will be built on himself (Matthew 16:13-20). Paul wrote that Jesus Christ is the chief cornerstone and the New Testament apostles and prophets are part of the foundation because they put down the doctrine of the church and started churches (Ephesians 2:20; 1 Corinthians 3:11-12).
- The church began on the day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit came to indwell all believers in Christ (Acts 1:5, 2:1-4; 11:15-16; 1 Corinthians 12:13), and will end when the Lord takes the church to heaven (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18).
- The church grew rapidly under the apostles’ missionary work and spread out from Jerusalem due to persecution (Acts 8:1, 4; Acts 9:31).
- The coming of the Holy Spirit to every believer at the baptism of the Holy Spirit marked the beginning of the church. Jesus had promised that when he ascended to heaven he would send the Holy Spirit and believers would be baptized with the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:4-5). On the day of Pentecost the Holy Spirit descended from heaven and indwelt and baptized the believers waiting in Jerusalem (Acts 2). This had never happened before. Later, when Peter was preaching at Cornelius’ house the Holy Spirit indwelt Gentile new believers (Acts 10:43-48). Later, Peter reported this to the believers in Jerusalem. He said that this was what had happened at Pentecost, and also remembered that Jesus had predicted the coming of the Holy Spirit and the baptism with the Holy Spirit. He concluded that God also granted the Holy Spirit to Gentiles when they believed (Acts 11:15-18). Furthermore, Paul taught that all who believed in Jesus Christ are baptized by the Holy Spirit into the body of Christ, the church (1 Corinthians 12:12-13; Ephesians 1:22-23). When one is baptized with the Holy Spirit the Holy Spirit lives in that person.
- The three kinds of the church are universal (worldwide), geographical (in a geographical area), and individual local churches (Ephesians 1:22-23; 1 Thessalonians 1:1; Romans 16:5).
- The head of the church is Jesus Christ. The human leadership is vested in the Pastors and Teachers, Elders, Overseers. Deacons serve the church.
- He has given Pastors and Teachers, Elders, and Overseers to lead, teach, and protect the church. The Bible uses these three terms interchangeably. Pastor and Teacher is the man given to the church. He protects, guides, cares for, and teaches the church. Elder or presbuteros emphasizes the rank and authority. Bishop or episkopos emphasizes the oversight or supervisory activity. Whether a church has one or more elders, one man, by implication and practical necessity, has the primary authority and this is the Pastor (Ephesians 4.11-16; Acts 20.17-28; 1 Peter 5.1-4; 1 Timothy 5.17; Hebrews 13.17). See the doctrine of Pastor and Teacher for more details.
- Deacons. A deacon is a man that functions as an honored servant of God, the pastor, and the church. He is the person who, under authority of the pastor, willingly serves the church body by actively carrying out needed tasks for the benefit of the church (Philippians 1:1; 1 Timothy 3:10-13). See the doctrine of Deacon for more details.
- Preparation and training of the church. God gave gifted men to equip and prepare the church. Other believers also strengthen, build up, and serve in the church. God’s word prepares the church.
- Ephesians 4:11-6 is a central passage that teaches that Christ gave gifted men to the church and they are to equip the church so that the church people will do the ministry and build up the body of Christ (church). Verse 16, “the whole body… causes the growth of the body for the building itself up in love.” The gifted men functioning are the pastors and teachers and the evangelists. The gift of teaching separate from the pastor is found in Romans 12:7 and 1 Corinthians 12:28. Each believer is a supplying joint, and the whole body causes the growth toward the goal of building up of itself and this takes place in the sphere of love.
- 1 Corinthians 12 emphasizes the ministry of all believers in the body of Christ. They serve through spiritual gifts. Chapter 13 says that godly love is necessary. Chapter 14 stresses the edification of the church body through instruction.
- God wants our regular participation in the local assembly. Except for obvious Scripture that refers to the worldwide universal church, Scripture refers to the church as believers meeting together in assemblies (Romans 16:5; 1 Corinthians 12:17-20, 33; 1 Corinthians 14; Ephesians 4:11-16; Colossians 4:15-16; Philemon 2; Hebrews 10:19-25).
- The main activities of the gathered church are to equip believers for ministry, prayer, build up and encourage the church members, remember the Lord at communion, and to serve through spiritual gifts (Acts 2:42; Ephesians 4:11-16; 1 Corinthians 12:4-7).
- The ministries of the church include many opportunities. What does the church do? Below is a partial list. Some of the passages do not say “church” but the context indicates the message is for the church. See as Acts 2:42 for an overview of what the early church believers did “devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.”
- Assemble regularly with humility and graciousness and through this become equipped for ministry and encourage each other (Hebrews 10:25; Ephesians 4:11-16; James 2:2).
- Hold to God’s word (1 Timothy 3:15; Revelation 1:20, lamp stand) and teach God’s word for edification (1 Corinthians 14; Ephesians 4:11-12; 1 Timothy 4:1-5, 13; 2 Timothy 4:2). The church is the storehouse, base, the depository for God’s word from which the truth goes out.
- Send missionaries and receive missionary reports (Acts 13:1-3; 14:26-27).
- Pray (Acts 12:3-19; Colossians 4:2).
- Give money for the help of needy believers, and honest accounting and delivery of that money (Romans 15:26; 1Corinthians 16:-4; 2 Corinthians 8; 9:5-15).
- Observe communion (1 Corinthians 11:17-34).
- Music has always been part of corporate worship, whether Israel or the church (Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16). Furthermore, music is a reflection of inner cheer (James 5:13). Good music lifts the soul and human spirit. It encourages, gives confidence and hope, brings out thankfulness, and challenges to live right. Music also orders the soul and human spirit. It removes or lessens confusion, puts emotions in proper perspective with truth, and gives peace.
- Show hospitality and love to traveling missionaries (3 John).
- Give money support to those ministering to them (1 Corinthians 9:1-14; 2 Corinthians 9:7-9; Galatians 6:6-8; Philippians 4:10-19).
- Recognize gifted men for the ministry and follow them and submit to them (Ephesians 4:11-12; Hebrews 13:7, 17).
- Maintain order during church assembly (1 Corinthians 14:34-40).
- Witness for Jesus Christ to the faith and answer those who ask about your hope (Matthew 28:19-20; 1 Thessalonians 1:5-8; 1 Peter 3:15).
- Baptize believers in water (Acts 2:38; 10:47-48; 1 Corinthians 1:17)
- Greet believers in other churches—good relations between churches (1 Corinthians 16:19-20 and others).
- Leaders meet in conferences to discuss biblical topics (Acts 15; 2017-38).
- Demonstrate God’s wisdom to angels (Ephesians 3:8-10).
- Glorify God (Ephesians 3:21) and subject to Jesus Christ (Ephesians 5:24).