Yesterday’s Bible study on the subject of “the church”

We have a monthly men’s breakfast at my church and yesterday it was my turn to lead it. Like most similar organizations, we have a statement of what we believe and we have being going through this. We were on statement 7 (of 9) and like all the statements it was a biggie. I volunteered for this because imo it was the most contentious but nevertheless profoundly important. Here is my hand out (commentary and ensuing discussions largely missing):


  1. Of the church (7of9)

One: We believe that the ‘church universal’ is the body of Christ of which He is the Head, embracing all the redeemed called by God through the Gospel, born of the Holy Spirit and justified by faith in Christ

Two: We believe the ‘local church’ to be the embodiment of the ‘church universal’ in a local area and as such we believe it to be duty and privilege of every Christian to be united to their local church and not to neglect the gathering together of the saints in collective worship, so that they might be under the regular nurture and discipline of the church and to be actively involved in it’s life and mission, which is to bring glory to God.

Three: We at Providence Baptist Church believe in the autonomy of the local church and that we are not subject to any external authority other than that of the Lord Himself to whom alone we are responsible for the stewardship of the gospel, the defence of the truth, the discipline of disorderly members (as laid down in the Scriptures), the appointment of its officers and for the administration of the ordinances.

Ekklesia (same word used 111 times in NT (KJV) – translated “church” – but also 2 or more believers together)

  • an assembly of Christians gathered for worship in a religious meeting
  • a company of Christian, or of those who, hoping for eternal salvation through Jesus Christ, observe their own religious rites, hold their own religious meetings, and manage their own affairs, according to regulations prescribed for the body for order’s sake
  • those who anywhere, in a city, village, constitute such a company and are united into one body
  • the whole body of Christians scattered throughout the earth
  • the assembly of faithful Christians already dead and received into heaven

Note: church is not a building, not an organization one joins by signing up as member or by initiation

First mentioned by Jesus: Matthew 16:18, 18:17

Not church but very important: John 17:15-23, also John 13:34

First mention post Jesus departing: Acts 2:37-47 (also Acts 5:11, 7:38, 8:1, 8:31, 11:32, 12:1, 13:1 etc.)

Church as a bride: Ephesians 5:22-33, Revelation 19:7, 21:2,9

Church as a body: 1Corinthians 12:12-28, Romans 12:4-18

Church as a building: Ephesians 2:19-22, 1Peter 2:4-5

Other interesting verses: Ephesians 5:10, Colossians 1:18, Song of Solomon (allegory Christ and Church)

Reflections on one, two and three “of the church” statement of faith (item 7): (bear in mind they were of the “Reformed” tradition, product of their times and likely emphasized certain important aspects but not all)

  • What do these words mean/imply?
  • Do the scriptures agree?
  • Has anything important been missed?

J.R.Barber 01/07/2017 Providence Baptist Church – Men’s breakfast


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