Memory Verse: Hebrews 10:25 Lesson Verse: Hebrews 10:25
God established three foundational institutions on this earth: the family unit, civil government, and the group of Bible believers that He calls “the church.” Each group has a design, and is no less important than the other. Our focus in this lesson is on the local church which has been commissioned by God to carry out His commands of reaching the lost, and maturing the saved. Therefore, God's plan for a Christian's life will always be connected with a local body of believers called the church. The purpose of this lesson is to show the disciple the role which their church will play in their everyday life.
New Testament Kind of Church
A. What It Is, and What It Is Not
1. According to Hebrews 10:25, it is referred to as the “_____________ of ourselves together” – The purposeful getting together of Christians to encourage, and minister to each other as we grow, and reach the surrounding area with the Gospel.
2. A New Testament church therefore is not a building. If you are looking for a temple to worship in, the Bible says "your ________ is the temple of ... God" (1 Cor 6:19,20). Your place of worship is in your heart!
3. A church is not a denomination, or religious organization run by a central headquarters. It is local, and run under the authority and instructions of the word of God through its pastor, and for its own people (Titus 1:5-9). It also is not a social club - i.e., just for fun and pleasure!
4. The church is more than just a "group" or fellowship - it is a group of committed believers, who seek to worship and serve Christ together. It is called a "____________ of saints" (Psalm 149:1; Eph 1:1; Col 1:1,2).
5. The church is something that _________ started Himself, builds, and nurtures as a visible testimony of His grace for sinners (Matt 16:18).
7. This "group" of believers is called the "body of _________" in 1 Cor 12:27, because it represents His “body” (His physical presence) on earth today (like ambassadors, 2 Cor 5:20), and operates like a human body in the following ways (1 Cor 12:12,13,17-27):
a. Each member (part) of the body of believers has a different function - each ministering to each other's needs as a whole.
b. No one member can function alone - we need each other! When a Christian is not committed to others, especially to other believers, then they are hindering Christ’s work in the world today.
c. Each member's contribution is vitally important to the well-being of the entire body of believers - we can’t go it alone!
d. A properly functioning body operates as a single unit - unified.
e. All this shows that the church that Jesus started is a living organism constantly growing, and maturing under the never changing, and always perfect Head, Jesus Christ (Eph 5:23).
B. The local church is also called “the _____________ of God” (Eph 2:19), or in other words, the “family” of God (as His children). As part of His family, Christians MUST be able to get along (John 13:35) under the authority of the ________________ (Acts 2:41-47).
C. Remember that all members of God's family must be __________ into His family by the new birth (John 3:3; John 1:12,13)
Purpose of the Local Church
A. The main purpose of the church in Mt 28:19,20 is for Christians:
1. To GO - The world is not commanded to go to church, but the church is commanded to go into the world (see also Acts 1:8) with the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and compelling them to come to "_______" (Mt 11:28-30). Every Christian needs to be involved!
2. To ___________ - The world needs to be instructed about Jesus through preaching, discipleship, and teaching (Acts 20:25-27).
3. To _______________ - People need to turn away from their birth-religion, and begin following Christ only, according to the Bible, and that starts when a person is baptized!
These are the core reasons for the existence of a church. If there is a fault in churches, it is because they have other priorities besides these!
B. The church is to be a place for __________ and teaching the doctrine (truth) about Jesus Christ, and the Christian life (1 Cor 1:17; 2:1-5)!
C. The church is to provide Christians with _____________ with other believers (Acts 2:42) – you can’t find this at the local pub or disco!
D. The church must focus on praying with one heart about the needs of its own people, and also of the lost around them (Acts 2:42) - Christians should pray together about everything – it keeps our hearts united!
E. The church meeting is a time to remember the three main "____________" (1Cor 11:2), which are not “sacraments,” but commandments that the Lord left for the church to remember Him by. These ordinances are:
1. Baptism (Acts 2:41) - Baptism is vital to mark the commitment of a new believer to Christ, and to living separated from the old life and religions of their past.
2. The Lord's supper (“the breaking of ________,” Acts 2:42) – is meant to remind us of the high price Christ had to pay for our forgiveness!
3. Loving ____________ (Jn 15:17) – this keeps us humble and right!
F. The church is to openly testify of God's grace and power to the world (Acts 2:43; 1:8) - it is NOT a secretive society that locks its doors! A true church will boldy evangelise!
G. The church makes it possible for people to minister to each other's needs (Acts 2:44,45).
H. It encourages, and enables Christians to love and enjoy God (Acts 2:46,47).
I. It edifies (build up, strengthen) the saints (all of us, Eph 4:11-16).
J. All with the focus of reproducing itself throughout the world through soul-winning, baptizing, training, and then repeating (Acts 1:8)! A true New Testament church is not what it ought to be until it has reproduced itself somewhere else.
Person's Function in a Local Church
A. During your Christian life, you should grow in three general stages:
1. Observe and learn - Your first priority should be to submit to the teaching of the word of God to learn how to be the man or woman that God designed you to be (Matt 11:28-30). Be teachable. Discipleship is the beginning of this stage. The key is not to stagnate!
2. Participate - In time, you will naturally grow to the point where you can begin to serve and take on basic functions through the ministries of your church (Matt 4:19; James 1:22-25).
3. Lead - As your growth continues, you should reach the point where you can begin to minister to others in the same way that you have been ministered to (2 Tim 2:2).
B. These three stages can be roughly compared to the stages of growth physically: child, youth, adult.
C. Be patient! It all takes time. Work hard, and watch yourself grow!
Structure (Blueprint) of the New Testament, Local Church.
All believers are to be _________ (Mt 16:24) -
students, followers of, and committed to Jesus Christ.
A. The guide and final authority of a church is always the _______ (Acts 20:32; John 17:17). In Christ’s church, the final authority is not placed in people, pastors, or princes, but in the living and pure words of God! As disciples, we must follow the Bible’s design for Christianity, and not try and improve on it, or adjust it – just live it!!!
B. A church has five positions of authority under the Word (Eph 4:11):
1. Apostles: It means “specially chosen and sent out by God.” Twelve apostles were chosen by Jesus personally (Mt 10:1,2) who would be the first to establish Christianity throughout the world - they laid the foundation by writing and preaching God's word. The twelve were made apostles by the supernatural empowerment of Jesus Christ. Their powers were specific only to themselves (2Cor 12:12), and not to all of Christianity. Once the apostles died, their powers died with them!
2. Prophets: A special class of people used by God to declare His word until the completion of the Bible (1Cor 13:8-10). The Apostles were also prophets, but there were some prophets who were not apostles, like _____________ (Acts 11:27,28; 21:10).
a. The Old Testament was written by ____________ (Rom 16:25,26)
b. The New Testament was written by prophets and apostles.
c. Now that the Bible is completed, the role of prophets and apostles has ceased (see again 1 Cor 13:8-10)
3. Evangelists: These are Church-starters (like the Apostle Paul), who evangelize the lost to a surrendered faith in Jesus Christ, and then group those believers into a local church fellowship (a flock), that is dedicated as a group to obeying and living by the commands of the Lord (Mt 28:19,20) under their own pastor. The evangelist moves on and starts more churches as each church obtains its own permanent pastor.
4. Pastors: These are Shepherds, the Bishops, the Overseers of the “flock” of Christians that seek to serve Christ. They have the primary job of leading the flock of Christians to serve God, and of protecting that flock from spiritual danger.
5. Teachers: These labour in teaching the word along-side pastors. No pastor can do all the work to keep a church going, so God gives people a heart to minister with the pastor, so that the Gospel can go further!
The primary leadership in the church is
provided by the __________ (1Tim 3:1-5; see
also Titus 1:5-9). The Biblical “bishop”
is very different from modern
1. A bishop is a shepherd over a “flock” (1 Pet 2:25; 5:1-4). That is what “pastor” means. Pastor, bishop and shepherd are all the same thing. He is to minister, preach, care for, instruct, and equip the believers.
2. Every church is to be lead by a pastor. If a church has no pastor, then its primary goal should be to pray for, and get one and then follow him.
3. A pastor/shepherd does the following (Acts 20:28-31)
a. He ________ his flock with the word of God (Bible teaching)
b. He _______ his flock - knows them; cares for their needs.
c. He warns them - that is what preaching and teaching is for! He has a responsibility not just to the “flock” but to the Great Shepherd who called him to preach (Ezek 3:17-19; Col 1:28)!
d. Therefore, a pastor is to oversee and spiritually care for those to whom he ministers (by living like them, among them, and for them)! He is not to dominate their lives, but guide, love, protect them, and if need be, give his life for them as Christ did!
e. The pastor is not to be a ________ (1Tim 3:1,6), but an ________ (1Tim 5:17) - He should be mature in the Lord, and should be respected, and followed (2Tim 2:2; Jam 1:22). All pastors first are elders (mature Christians), but all elders are not pastors.
1) Every young as well as older man in a church needs to be surrendered to the Lord if He should call them to preach.
2) If a man is called of God to preach, then his local church is his training ground to prepare him to pastor someday!
f. Christians are to ______ the instruction of a godly pastor, knowing he watches for your _______, and will give an account to God for how you lived your life (Heb 13:7,17). God has given him the responsibility to instruct you as you grow (1 Tim 4:12), and to rebuke you when you don’t grow. Every Christian needs a godly pastor.
g. Pastors come from within the flock being ministered to by godly pastors – one of the jobs of pastors is to train more pastors (2 Tim 2:2). That is how God supplies men that will go and reach the world with the gospel!
D. Every church must have lots of helpers - called ___________ (1Tim 3:8)
1. A deacon is a dedicated servant, who takes care of the needs of folks like widows, allowing the pastor to labour in the study and teaching of the word of God (Acts 6:1-4).
2. All Christians are deacons - they are servants in the local body!
3. Some deacons are ordained (specially chosen and paid by the church) like the pastor is, so they can serve full-time (Acts 6:5,6)! They serve along side the pastor, and take some of the load from off him, so that he can minister without being crushed by the work-load. A deacon must see his role as very important, and be committed to serving - not being served, even though being paid!
E. Teachers are people God calls to work along with a Pastor to train and mature believers in a church (Eph 4:11-12).
1. Teachers of the word need themselves to know the word! They need to be discipled, so that they can disciple others!
2. Every person in a church needs to be surrendered to God should He need them to teach a Sunday School class, or help with a Bible Club, or disciple a new Christian!
F. Beside the above “official” positions, God refers to all Christians as ___________ (Mt 20:25-28; 25:21), with hearts that are committed as a team to obey our Lord’s command to reach this world with the Gospel of Jesus Christ!
G. Notice what is NOT in a church: priests, canons, altar boys, monsignors, prelates, clergy, popes, cardinals, and nuns! Every religion has to “add” to God’s clearly defined standard – but these additions are only destructive.
can you tell if the church to which you belong (or wish to join) is a true New
Testament type of church (meaning, that it matches
the pattern found in the New Testament)? Below are key marks of Christ’s
What is a Baptist Church?
A group of believers that base every belief and every aspect of
Christianity solely on the Bible – to the exclusion of all traditions.
A group of believers that were first branded with the name “ana-baptists”
(which means re-baptizers) because they always required people who got
saved to get re-baptized, and to come out of the catholic church or any church
that did not follow the Bible. The Baptists down through history were tortured
and burnt at the stake by the tens of thousands during the dark ages – all
because they would not submit to a pope or king who required people to either
worship himself, or follow an unbiblical belief. Please realise that what we
take for granted as freedoms today, were totally against the law just a few
hundred years ago – like the right to own a Bible; the right of free assembly;
and the right of disagreement with the government.
Baptists are politically and monetarily independent (free) from any other
church organization or government.
All Bible-believing and practicing churches are ‘baptistic’ even if
they don’t have the name “Baptist” – but they ought not be ashamed of
The Financing of a Local Church (More about
this in Lesson Fifteen)
A. The giving of our tithes (1/10th of our income), and offerings to our local church is God's way of supporting your local church and its ministries. Faithful stewardship (the responsible handling) of our possessions involves giving the "firstfruits of our increase” to ____ (Pr 3:9,10)! Not because God needs our money (Ps 24:1), but rather, out of obedience to His word by faith.
B. According to Malachi 3:8-10, the Lord is very serious about the Christian making sure money does not become a “god” (1Timothy 6:10). He helps by requiring us to keep Him in first place with our finances. This is called the tithe. If a person does not tithe, no matter how hard it may be, he or she is _______ God, and are worse off by keeping their money, than by giving it!
C. Giving our money to the Lord is like the giving of our time, and our love - it always costs us something - and it should! Giving demonstrates the proof of our love for ___________ (1 John 3:18; John 14:15). If a person has a problem with giving, then it is because they do not love Jesus Christ supremely, or they are not willing to follow the word of God by faith.
D. So, why give regularly to my local church (1 Cor 16:1,2)?
1. To obey God (Prov 3:9,10) - do it first out of obedience!
2. So that it can be self-sufficient (not dependent upon the government, bazaars, or bake sales, but upon the people who assemble together).
3. So that God’s man (the pastor) can be full-time for serving the Lord, serving you, and reaching the lost, instead of having to work both a job, and do the ministry (1 Tim 5:17,18)!
4. And also, so that God can bless you, knowing that you seek first to bless and honour Him (Matt 6:33).
Does A Person Join a Local Church? Every Christian
is to be a dedicated member of a local Bible believing church (Heb
A. Fulfill God's requirements. There are only two requirements to be added to a church: _________________ and __________________ (Acts 2:41).
B. Know whether it is God's will to join that church (Acts 2:47). Every Christian must be associated with a Bible believing local church, and committed to getting the Gospel out to everyone in their area. Ask the Lord where you should commit yourself, and your family, and then go for it!
C. Request membership. Don't expect to be a part by osmosis (just by attending). You have to ask, or people won't think that you are serious.
D. Be accepted. The local New Testament church is exclusionary (it does not have to accept everyone). You will only be accepted if you have a testimony of your salvation, been Scripturally baptized, and are in agreement with the doctrines of the church you wish to join yourself to.
E. Make the church, YOUR church! Be there for every meeting, pray for your pastor, and for the other people there, and ask God where He needs YOU to work so that souls get saved, and young Christians grow!
a Place to Serve the Lord in Your Local Church (Acts
13:1,2). When the Lord places you in a
Bible believing church, it ought to become “your” church, where you dedicate
your life, efforts, and talents in service to God so that souls get saved, and
Christians are fed. Look around you and see where the pastor, or someone needs
help teaching in Sunday School, or picking people up for church, or cleaning up
the church, etc. Find SOMETHING to do, like:
Teaching a Sunday School Class, or helping another person teach it.
Going out soul-winning regularly with other believers.
Helping the pastor with secretarial tasks like sending out birthday
Start up a Bible study at your workplace during lunch.
Correspond with missionaries to encourage them and pray for them.
Singing special music, or even starting a choir.
Playing a musical instrument.
Holding Bible Clubs in your home and back-garden.
Going with the pastor on visitation calls to people’s homes.
Visiting people who are sick and in the hospital.
Helping in a puppet ministry.
Picking up folks who need a ride to church.
Ministering to older folks by mowing their grass, or repairing their
And the list goes on… Just add your own ideas!
Are There So Many Churches?
A. The Bible warns that not only does God have His church (Matt 16:18), but so does __________ (2 Cor 11:13-15). It is called "religion" and it is not Christianity. Satan's "church" is full of: False ___________ (Matt 7:15); False believers (Matt 7:21); Traditions (Col 2:8); and doctrines (Jude 3,4)
B. When comparing "Religion" with Christianity, it is important to find out whether it is founded upon what God said (the Bible), or what man said (tradition, see Mark 7:1-9).
C. A brief History of “Churches,” beginning with the New Testament Church!
And then there are the 7th Day Adventists, Christian Scientists, Church of God, and a host of others! Every year there are new “cults” and flavours of “faith” for people to choose from. Bible believers (from the time of the apostles on) have never been a part of the religious "system" listed above, but have always been separate from it, and required anyone who believed the Bible to separate themselves from it (2 Cor 6:14-18). Whenever the religious system caught a Bible believer, they tortured and burned them at the stake for their beliefs (Acts 8:3; 9:1; 24:14)
D. The answer to why there are so many churches lies in the fact that people believe that there can be so many different approaches to God and the Bible, which is not true (Rev 22:18,19; John 14:6). People must take God’s word literally and completely, and come to God, only God’s way - the Bible way. Religion has no authority other than itself, instead of the word of God. Therefore, religions are constantly changing, while in Biblical Christianity, believers are always anchored to the unchanging words of the living God!
E. How can a Bible believer identify false religions?
1. They have another authority besides the Bible. Either it will be in place of the Bible (Book of Mormon, Koran), along side with the Bible (having equal inspiration), or they will produce their own translation!
a. In the Catholic church, the authority is in about 135 volumes of church traditions and writings, along side the Bible.
b. In other churches, the authority is in visions, or secret revelations.
2. They require blind obedience to a human – like a pope, or charismatic leader, or miracle worker.
3. They have a history of killing and suppressing those who do not agree with them (i.e., Islam, Catholicism in the Dark Ages, religious wars).
4. They usually emphasize obscure passages in their Bible instead of clear ones (i.e., Matt 24:13 and Acts 2:38 instead of Rom 10:13).
5. They emphasize secret societies and special revelations from God that cannot be verified! (Mohammed’s visions, Fatima, Joseph Smith, etc.)
The Bible believer promotes an honest and clear revelation from God in the form of a Book that can be tested, and verified as authentic!