The Church: Fellowship and Worship
Notes on Session 14, Sunday, February 7th:
- First Session on Lesson 9
- Welcome to new members of the class
- Personal highlights from MacArthur’s message?
- Challenges in filling in Answers in Lesson 9?
- Questions to be addressed?
- Objectives for Lesson 9:
- To understand the difference between the universal church and the local church
- To provide a set of guidelines of what to look for when selecting a church
- To exhort us to participate and minister within the church
- To understand worship within the church, including Communion.
Common Questions for Lesson 9:
- What are the biblical guidelines when selecting a church?
- What is the purpose of the church?
Class Plan for Lesson 9:
- Clarify the relationship between Christ and the church
- Clarify the difference between the universal church and the local church
- Review the biblical guidelines for church organization
- Look at true fellowship and worship within the church.
- What is your ideal view of the body of Christ?
- What do you think the difference is between the local church and the universal church?
1. The Church Universal [Section I of Lesson 9]
- The church is seen as the body of Christ
- Christ is the head, Eph. 5:23, For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior.
- The body is made up by those called by God, Col. 3:15, And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.
- Christ baptizes the believer with the Holy Spirit, 1 Cor. 12:13, For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.
- Each believer has a unique function within the body, 1 Cor. 12:12-27, For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. … that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together. Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.
- The church is seen as a family
- We are all children of God, John 1:12, But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God,
- We are all brothers and sisters, 1 Cor. 7:15, But if the unbelieving partner separates, let it be so. In such cases the brother or sister is not enslaved. God has called you to peace.
- God is our Father, Christ is our brother, Heb. 2:11, For he who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one source. That is why he is not ashamed to call them brothers,
- The church of Jesus Christ is an organism.
- Have you ever experienced closeness and unity with other believers whom you just met?
2. The Local Church [Section II]
Priorities of the early church:
- Devoted to the apostles’ teaching, Acts 2:42, And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.
- Teaching of God’s Word vital to growth of all believers, 1 Pet. 2:2, Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation—
- God gave the church gifted pastors/teachers for the equipping of the saints, Eph. 4:11-12, And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds [pastors] and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry [service], for building up the body of Christ,
- Involved in each other’s lives’
- Ministered to one another
- Remembered Christ’s sacrifice
- Devoted to praying together and for each other, James 5:16, Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.
- How do these essential components of the early church compare with life in a local church today? What, if anything, is missing or downplayed?
Structure of the early church
- Gifted men given to the church
- Apostles, one sent on a mission, one of the 12 Apostles plus Paul, Mark 3:13-14, And he went up on the mountain and called to him those whom he desired, and they came to him. And he appointed twelve (whom he also named apostles) so that they might be with him and he might send them out to preach; Gal. 1:15-17, But when he who had set me apart before I was born, and who called me by his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son to me, in order that I might preach him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately consult with anyone; nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me, but I went away into Arabia, and returned again to Damascus.
- Prophets, one who foretells of “forth tells” the truths of God to God’s people, Eph. 2:20, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone,
- Evangelists, one who is gifted in proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ
- Pastors/Teachers, one who teaches, shepherds, cares for, and protects God’s people; preaches the Word of God, 2 Tim. 4:2-4, preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.
- Office of elder/overseer
- Elders appointed in every church, Acts 14:23, And when they had appointed elders for them in every church, with prayer and fasting they committed them to the Lord in whom they had believed.
- Elders are to rule, 1 Tim. 5:17, Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching.
- Elders are to oversee and shepherd, 1 Pet. 5:1-2, So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed: shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly
- Members are to obey and submit to their leaders, Heb. 13:17, Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.
- Qualifications of elders stated in 1 Tim. 3:1-7, The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task. Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, … Moreover, he must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, into a snare of the devil.
- Office of deacon
- Qualifications in 1 Tim. 3:8-13, Deacons likewise must be dignified, not double-tongued, not addicted to much wine, not greedy for dishonest gain. … Let deacons each be the husband of one wife, managing their children and their own households well. For those who serve well as deacons gain a good standing for themselves and also great confidence in the faith that is in Christ Jesus.
- An example of men selected, Acts 6:2-4, And the twelve summoned the full number of the disciples and said, “It is not right that we should give up preaching the word of God to serve tables. Therefore, brothers, pick out from among you seven men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we will appoint to this duty. But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.”
- Members of the body
- Why become a member?
- What does a good church look like?
- How do I choose one?
- Criteria of a good church:
- Focused on Scripture
- Teaching sound doctrine
- Be evangelistic
- Be loving
- Promote worship in believers’ lives
- Elders godly and qualified
- Should not tolerate immorality
- What are the gifted men to do for the saints? Who are the saints?
- Why are the saints to be equipped?
- Who is to build up the body of Christ?
- When you were looking for a church, were you looking for one in which you could best serve?
3. Fellowship [Section III]
Review of Section III on Fellowship
- We share a common purpose – to glorify God and to build up His church.
- Communion shared with other believers
- Communion with God
- 1 Pet. 1:22-23, Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God;
Unity within the church
- Be of the same mind, 1 Cor. 1:10, I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment.
- Promote unity with humility and gentleness, Eph. 4:2-3, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
- See others as more important, Phil. 2:1-4, So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.
No true fellowship with unbelievers
- 2 Cor. 6:14-15, Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever?
- Our desires are not the same as those of unbelievers
- We can share the gospel with them
Ministering to others within the church
- Give preference to one another, Rom. 12:10, Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.
- Admonish one another, Rom. 15:14, I myself am satisfied about you, my brothers, that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge and able to instruct one another.
- Comfort one another, 1 Th. 4:18, Therefore encourage (comfort) one another with these words.
- Encourage and build up one another, 1 Th. 5:11, Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.
- Have fellowship with one another, 1 John 1:7, But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.
4. Worship [Section IV]
- Worship means to ascribe worth or value
- Our worship of God must be genuine
- Only God is worthy of our highest devotion
- Our worship must involve praise and reverence
Worship belongs to God alone
- Our God is a jealous God, Ex. 20:4-6, “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the LORD your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments. ; Is. 42:8, I am the LORD; that is my name; my glory I give to no other, nor my praise to carved idols.
- God is worthy to receive worship, Rev. 4:10-11, the twenty-four elders fall down before him who is seated on the throne and worship him who lives forever and ever. They cast their crowns before the throne, saying, “Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.”
- God wants worship from the heart, Matt. 15:8-9, “‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’”
- We are to worship God in truth, John 4:23-24, But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”
5. Ordinances of the Church [Section V]
Review The Ordinance of Baptism in Section V
- Why Baptize? Commanded by our Lord, Matt. 28:19, Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
- Who should be baptized? Followers of Christ, Acts 2:41, So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.
- What does baptism mean? Believer’s identification with Christ, Rom. 6:3-4, Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.
- How should we baptize? Being fully immersed in water, John 3:23, John also was baptizing at Aenon near Salim, because water was plentiful there, and people were coming and being baptized.
Review the Ordinance of Communion in Section V
- Also known as the Lord’s Supper
- Initiated at the last true Passover, Matt. 26:19, 26-29, And the disciples did as Jesus had directed them, and they prepared the Passover. … Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you I will not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.”
- Warning in taking Communion, 1 Cor. 11:27-30, Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself. That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died.
- What was the Passover?
- Is the bread Christ’s flesh?
- Is the cup of wine Christ’s blood?
6. Application [Section VI]
- Are you part of the body of Christ, i.e. the family of God?
- Are you part of a local church? A local fellowship?
- Are you ministering your gifts within the church?
- Are you being ministered to?
- Have you been baptized?
- What have you learned from this study to improve your worship of God?
- The Gospel Coalition, What is the Church?
- John MacArthur, The Importance of Church Membership
- John MacArthur, How Do I Find a Good Church?
- John Piper, How Important is Church Membership?
- Tim Keller, What are the Sacraments or Ordinances?
- The Gospel Coalition, What is Baptism?
- The Gospel Coalition, What is the Lord’s Supper?
- John MacArthur, Taking the Lord’s Supper In an Unworthy Manner
- NCC Collection and Downloadable App
- Introduction to the NCC
- NCC (Keller and TGC)
- YouTube Collection of 52 videos on NCC Q&A
- NCC Project by Knox Seminary