Season 1, Episode 48
For Thursday, March 19, 2015
“Must One Be a Part of the Local Congregation” Part 1
Welcome to The New You, where we focus on maintaining and accentuating the new that Christ has created in you. I’m Robert Hatfield, and here is today’s scripture:
And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence (Col. 1:18).
Today I want us to begin a two-part series about the church. When we talk about the church and Christianity, it’s important that we remember to do things the New Testament way. I want you to throw out of your mind everything you know about how our culture views religion. That’s not valid here. We want book, chapter, and verse from the Bible for everything we do for the Lord.
That having been said, I want to raise this question: Are we required to be a part of a local congregation? Someone may argue, “Aren’t we added to the church upon our baptism?,” and they would be correct (Acts 2:47). So does one need to be identified with a congregation of God’s people in a certain location?
The answer is yes. I think we will see that together from the New Testament today and tomorrow.
How does the New Testament use the word “church”?
The word “church” translates the Greek word ekklesia, meaning “called out” or “assembly.” It is used in a non-religious sense in Acts 19:32, 39-40, where the Bible says the assembly gathered in the theater in Ephesus.
In a spiritual sense, the Greek word ekklesia is used in the New Testament in three major ways.
It is used UNIVERSALLY to refer to the entirety of God’s people, the church. According to Colossians 1:18, Christ is the head of the church. That passages employs the term ekklesia in a universal sense. The Bible says that there is one body (Eph. 4:4), and that the body is the church (Eph. 1:22-23). One who is obedient to the gospel is added to that body (Acts 2:47). All of the saved people are in the church, and no one is saved outside of that body (Eph. 5:23).
Additionally, the term ekklesia is used LOCALLY to refer to God’s people in a certain location. Paul addressed 1 Corinthians “to the church of God which is at Corinth” (1 Cor. 1:2). This is clearly referring to the body of Christ located in Corinth. Christians banded together on a local level to execute the work of God in the places where they lived.
Finally, the word translated “church” is used in the New Testament to refer to an ASSEMBLY. In 1 Corinthians 11:18, Paul says, “When you come together as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you… .” There were problems among them as they assembled to worship God. 3 John 10 discusses Diotrephes who was on a power trip. John says that he was putting people “out of the church.” He was refusing them entrance into the worship assembly.
Let’s wrap it up: As we discuss being a part of a local congregation, we’re obviously going to be using the second sense in which the New Testament uses the term “church.”
Does the Bible use the term “churches”? Would you be surprised to know that it does?! But when we understand how it uses that term, it helps us to understand that the Bible is not contradicting itself. Yes, there is only one body, the church (Eph. 4:4; 1:22-23), but there are many “churches” in the sense of local congregations of the one body scattered throughout various locations. Therefore, Paul says, “the churches of Christ greet you” (Rom. 16:16).
All of this having been established, I hope you’ll join me tomorrow as we discuss the vital role of the local congregation. I have three things that the local church fosters that I’d like to share with you then.
Memory Verse: We’re working to memorize Jeremiah 6:16, a verse where the Old Testament prophet exhorted people to seek God’s ways. Unfortunately, they were unwilling to do so. What about you? Here’s Jeremiah 6:16.
Thus says the LORD:
“Stand in the ways and see,
And ask for the old paths, where the good way is,
And walk in it;
Then you will find rest for your souls.
But they said, ‘We will not walk in it.” (Jeremiah 6:16).
Thanks for joining me today for The New You. This podcast is a production of The Light Network. You can find us at thelightnetwork.tv. You’ll also find show notes for today’s episode, archives of this show, and more Christian podcasts that I know you’ll enjoy. That’s thelightnetwork.tv.
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Lord willing, I’ll meet you tomorrow for another edition of The New You.