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Contrary to the widely accepted opinion, "God, who made the world and everything in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands. Nor is He worshiped with men’s hands, as though He needed anything, since He gives to all life, breath, and all things." Act 17:24-25 In the bible, we read of the "ears of the church" Act 11:22, of Saul "making havoc of the church" by persecuting God's people Act 8:1-4, of the church in the house of Priscilla and Aquilla Rom 16:3-5 and of Paul gathering the church together at Antioch Act 14:27. Peter said believers are "living stones, are being built up to spiritual house" 1Pet 2:5, not a physical building of some kind. Obviously, "the church" in not a steeple house built by the hands of men, so we should ask: "Who (not what) is the church?" Membership in the church which is Christ body is determined by neither people, preacher nor priest but by the Lord. "the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved." Acts 2:47 It cannot be joined. All who have been saved by Christ through the gospel Romans 1:16; 1Cor 15:1-4 ARE the church, making up its membership. Those who are "the church" are perfectly organized, having Christ as their "head" and a position that is God-ordained Eph 1:22-23; 1Cor 12:18 What spiritual folly and ignorance is shown by those who believe they need a human "organizer" or that they can improve upon the work of the infinitely wise and powerful God.They limit and frustrate the work of these Christ-called men when they "call" or "appoint" pastors or teachers of their choice. 2Tim. 4:3 The word church comes from the Greek "ekklesia" meaning a called out group of people for some perps. It is also translated assembly and congregation. It does not always refer to the church which is Christ’s body. You need to look at the context to determine what kind of church is in view. A civilian assembly, Act 19:28-41 Congregation of Israel in the wilderness, Act 7:38 Congregation of Jews in a synagogue, Act 13:42-43 Seven churches which are in Asia (Jews post rapture) Rev 1 On this rock I will build My church (not Christ's body, future Jewish assembly) Mat 16:18 His body (Jesus Christ), which is the church, Col. 1:24 Local portion of the body, a local church, Rom 16:1 Body of Christ represented as all local churches, Act 2:16-19 Local churches in a geographical area, Act 9:31 These who are "Christ's body" alone have the divinely appointed ministry of the "evangelist, pastors and teachers" Eph 4:11 This is the only church with divine origin and blessing. It alone can fulfill this prayer of the Lord Jesus Christ for all who believe on him: "That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me." (John 17:24). All divisions (denominations and sects) show sinful disregard for the will of God and of the "unity of the Spirit". 1Cor 1:10 Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. 1Cor 3:1-4; 16-17 And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual people but as to carnal, as to babes in Christ. I fed you with milk and not with solid food; for until now you were not able to receive it, and even now you are still not able; for you are still carnal. For where there are envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal and behaving like mere men? For when one says, “I am of Paul,” and another, “I am of Apollos,” are you not carnal? Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are. Today its, I’m a Baptist, I’m Methodist, I’m church of Christ, Catholic, etc. … Also read Eph 4:1-6 one church, one faith.
The church is the ecclesia - the called-out assembly of the living God Yahwey. It is made up of those who have been baptised into the body of the lord Jesus God's anointed one - Messiah. Those who have been grafted into the Israel of God and as such will inherit with the "seed" of Abraham - Jesus, all that God promised to Abraham. Those who are members of the congregation of Yahwey and members of His household. Those who are now sons of Yahwey - God and brothers/sister of the lord Jesus, God's anointed one. Those who will co-rule and co-inherit with the lord Jesus all in the coming new age that he will be made the ruler over. Those who will constitute the Theocratic Government that will be set up by the lord Jesus Messiah when he returns to take his place on the throne of David at Zion. That is what the called-out assembly of God - the church of God is! As members of it we have an amazing future ahead of us! Halel Yah - Praise Yahwey!
The word “church” is not found in the original Greek of the New Covenant. As Michael points out it is the Ekklesia which was created in 30-31AD on SHAVUOT, Pentecost, celebrated 50 Days after PESACH, Passover, - the crucifixion of Christ as the Passover Lamb (Jo 1: 29; 1 Cor 5:7). Is there a difference between church and Ekklesia or is it just semantics? I think there is a huge difference - it is the difference between that which is holy and unholy (2 Cor 6: 17; Hag 2:10-14; Lev 12:44-47). According to The New Open Bible, New King James Version Study Edition (1983) footnote to Acts 7:38 p. 1282, the word church is used in 5 ways: (1) a building designated as a place of worship, i.e. a church building; (2) all who profess faith in Christ regardless of particular theological beliefs; (3) a denomination; (4) a single organised Christian group; (5) the body of Christ, the universal church.” Op cit. The church is distinguished by a class system: priest (the select few who are “trained in the ways of their church to maintain its set of doctrines and practices which distinguishes it from all others) and non-priest, known as the “Laity (non-priests). This basic division is anathema to New Covenant teaching. Compared to the Bible, it is error. The word meaning of “church” in the New Covenant is applicable only in the last two senses – a local group of believers, and the body of Christ locally and internationally. This becomes clear when we understand the Ekklesia. The Ekklesia may be defined as the glorified body of Christ comprising of the disciples of Christ and their households (oikoi) who live together in the same locality and spiritually are the Ekklesia in the world. The fullest single description of the Ekklesia is found in Acts Chapter 2, and it’s name is mentioned at the end (Ac 2:47 Greek) See http://www.scripture4all.org/OnlineInterlinear/Greek_Index.htm To understand the Body of Christ which is the Ekklesia we need to know its etymology. It is a combination of 3 Greek words: (1) “Ek” which means out of (2) “Kaleo” to call out (3) “Klessia” assembly. Christ was glorified on the 49th Day after PESACH (Ac 1:9-11). The first century disciples of Christ were called out of the world system (Jewish, Roman, Greek and their own local culture) into the glorified Body of Christ which the Father created on SHAVUOT when He poured out His Holy Spirit from Heaven (Ac 2:17, 18, 33) into Yerushalayim (Jerusalem) into a house and into each of the bodies (temples) of the 120 or so men and women disciples of Christ (Ac 2:1-4). No church in this world has ever or can ever match the description of in Acts Chapter 2. The Ekklesia is Christ as the head of His own body (1 Cor 11:3; Col 1:18), and His disciples and each of their household (oikos) are His body (1 Cor 12; Ro 12; Ep 4:16). All the letters of the New Covenant were written to the Ekklesia not Church to encourage them to remain pure! We should spend as much time as possible with our own loved ones (Ac 16:31; Ac 10) and to teach them Christ’s ways, and share with other households of faith (oikoi) to encourage one another. Thus each one can share boldly the gospel message with power and integrity of holy living. Lawrence NZ
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