Tagged: the church

Article VI of The Baptist Faith & Message 2000: The church

Following is another in a series of columns on The Baptist Faith & Message 2000.

The church is neither a physical structure nor a man-made institution. It is the living, breathing body of Christ spoken of in two ways in Scripture: as a local body of believers, and as the universal body of the redeemed under the Lordship of Jesus.

Article VI of the Baptist Faith & Message 2000 reads:

“A New Testament church of the Lord Jesus Christ is an autonomous local congregation of baptized believers, associated by covenant in the faith and fellowship of the gospel; observing the two ordinances of Christ, governed by His laws, exercising the gifts, rights, and privileges invested in them by His Word, and seeking to extend the gospel to the ends of the earth. Each congregation operates under the Lordship of Christ through democratic processes. In such a congregation each member is responsible and accountable to Christ as Lord. Its scriptural officers are pastors and deacons. While both men and women are gifted for service in the church, the office of pastor is limited to men as qualified by Scripture.

“The New Testament speaks also of the church as the Body of Christ which includes all of the redeemed of all the ages, believers from every tribe, and tongue, and people, and nation.”

The Greek word translated “church” is ekklesia and means “called out ones.” The term  appears more than 100 times in the New Testament and refers to the community of believers over which Jesus is head (Col. 1:18). Thus, the church is neither a physical structure nor a man-made institution. It is the living, breathing body of Christ.

The Bible generally speaks of the church in two significant ways: as universal and local.

The universal church is the complete body of believers who have trusted in Jesus as Lord and Savior. It cannot be divided along denominational lines, although such distinctions provide clarity in beliefs and practices. 

Membership in the universal church cannot be bought, begged, stolen, inherited, earned, or conferred by any human or angelic being. It comes only by the grace of God through faith in Jesus (John 1:12; 5:24; Eph. 2:8-9). Key passages that address the universal church include Matt. 16:18; 1 Cor. 15:9; Eph. 1:22-23; 5:29-30; Col. 1:18; and Rev. 5:9-10; 7:9. 

Most New Testament references to the church focus on local congregations. The local church may be defined as a body of baptized believers in Jesus who live in the same community and gather at a common place for worship, fellowship, instruction, and service.

Scripture instructs Christians to identify with a local church in order to grow spiritually (Heb. 10:24-25). It is through the local church that believers exercise their spiritual gifts and take part in worship, fellowship, Bible study, church discipline, missions, and other communal activities. Key passages that address the local church include Acts 9:31; Rom. 16:5; 1 Cor. 1:2; 16:19; and Col. 4:15. 

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There stood the Lamb – Revelation 14:1

Previously: The Lamb and the 144,000 — Revelation 14:1-5

The scripture

Rev. 14:1 – Then I looked, and there on Mount Zion stood the Lamb, and with Him were 144,000 who had His name and His Father’s name written on their foreheads.  on Mount Zion stood the Lamb

There stood the Lamb on Mount Zion

John writes in verse 1 that he sees the Lamb standing on Mount Zion. The identity of the Lamb clearly is Jesus, as we know from other scriptures. In John 1:29, John the Baptist declares, “Here is the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” Seven verses later he tells two of his disciples, “Look! The Lamb of God!” Every faithful Jew would know the significance of this cry. Jesus is the fulfillment of every precious, beloved lamb slain as a sacrifice to God under the Old Covenant. 

BibleIn a message at the Metropolitan Tabernacle in Newington, England, Aug. 25, 1889, Charles Haddon Spurgeon reminds his congregation that the Lamb of God is seen first in the lamb for one man as Abel offers up a more excellent sacrifice than his brother Cain. Next, there is the lamb for the family as portrayed in the Passover. Then there is the lamb for the people – two young lambs sacrificed every day for the children of Israel. We then see the Lamb for the whole world – the Lamb John beholds, who takes away the sin of the world.

Spurgeon declares, “There was nothing of greater wonder ever seen than that God Himself should provide the Lamb for the burnt offering, that He should provide His only Son out of His very bosom, that He should give the delight of His heart to die for us. Well may we behold this great wonder. Angels admire and marvel at this mystery of godliness, God manifest in the flesh; they have never left off wondering and adoring the grace of God that gave Jesus to be the Sacrifice for guilty men” (www.spurgeon.org/sermons/2329.htm).

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