Presentation on theme: "N EW D URHAM B APTIST C HURCH P ASTOR F RANK C UOZZO L ESSON 6 T HE S TRUCTURE OF THE F IRST C ENTURY C HURCH."— Presentation transcript:
N EW D URHAM B APTIST C HURCH P ASTOR F RANK C UOZZO L ESSON 6 T HE S TRUCTURE OF THE F IRST C ENTURY C HURCH
Weve been doing a series of lessons on the First Century Church. We have already seen, The Formation of the Church, started by Christ and His disciples. The Measure of the First Century Church in its likeness to Christ. The Power of the First Century Church, the Holy Spirit. The Authority of the First Century Church, Gods Word. The Doctrine of the First Century Church, from God to Christ to the Apostles. Today we want to look at the Structure of the First Century Church L ESSON 6: T HE S TRUCTURE OF THE F IRST C ENTURY C HURCH
Acts 2:41-47, Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles. And all that believed were together, and had all things common; And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need. And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved. The distinctive of the First Century Church was its obedience to the Word of God. We must examine all things by the Bible.
I want to look at several Scriptures concerning the structure of the Church, Matthew 16:13-18, When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am? And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets. He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church (Ecclesia-called out assembly); and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. Jesus said, I will build my church.
Matthew 18:13-17, And if so be that he find it, verily I say unto you, he rejoiceth more of that sheep, than of the ninety and nine which went not astray. Even so it is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish. Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church (Ecclesia): but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican. These verses are dealing with church discipline of a member. We can see by these verses that there definitely was a structure in the first century church. There had to have been some form of structure or there could have been no organized body to whom one could appeal. They were to, tell it unto the church.
Never, no not one time in the Bible is the word Church used, For a national church. For a denomination. For a group or body of churches. The church was never meant to be known as The Church of England or the Church in Scotland etc, etc. The word church means a called out assembly. Nothing more and nothing less. Lets look at a few things about the structure of the First Century Church, #1) The Mandate for the Structure of the First Century Church Look at Acts 2:41-42, Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.
Several things that we see about the mandate of this First Century Church, The New Testament Church is made up of only Redeemed people. The New Testament Church is to continue in the Apostles Doctrine. The Only Head of the local assembly (Church) is the Lord Jesus Christ! He alone is to have the pre-eminence in the church. Colossians 1:17-18, And he is before all things, and by him all things consist. And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.
#2) The Membership of the First Century Church Look at the example of Paul is regards to membership in a local church. Acts 9:26, And when Saul was come to Jerusalem, he assayed to join himself to the disciples : but they were all afraid of him, and believed not that he was a disciple. Note the word join. It means to glue together or to cement together. Acts 9:27-29, But Barnabas took him, and brought him to the apostles, and declared unto them how he had seen the Lord in the way, and that he had spoken to him, and how he had preached boldly at Damascus in the name of Jesus. And he was with them coming in and going out at Jerusalem. And he spake boldly in the name of the Lord Jesus, and disputed against the Grecians: but they went about to slay him.
Paul wanted to identify himself with that local assembly in Jerusalem. Barnabus had to stand up for him because of his past prior to his salvation. Also notice in Acts 4:23, And being let go, they went to their own company, and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said unto them. *Notice that there was some group or assembly of believers to whom they could report. Notice another thing in Acts 5:12-14, And by the hands of the apostles were many signs and wonders wrought among the people; (and they were all with one accord in Solomon's porch. And of the rest durst no man join himself to them : but the people magnified them. And believers were the more added to the Lord, multitudes both of men and women.)
In Acts chapter five we see that after Ananias & Sapphira were struck dead by the power of God, great fear came upon the church. Not a terrorizing fear but a fear in reverence and awe of God. The people gave serious thought as to whether or not they wanted to join a group of people who were having such things happen. They understood from the outside looking in how serious a matter is was to be identified with Gods people! Lets look again at another example concerning church membership in 1 Corinthians 5:9-10 where Paul warned, I wrote unto you in an epistle not to company with fornicators; Yet not altogether with the fornicators of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or with idolaters; for then must ye needs go out of the world. In other words, Paul was not saying that they could not have any contact with these types of people because is you were going to get away from all sinners, you would have to leave the world.
What Paul was saying to this local assembly was that it is one thing when sin is in the world, but it is quite another thing when sin is in the church. He goes on to tell them in 1 Corinthians 5:11, But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat. Paul is telling this local church that when a brother in Christ is involved in these sins, we must invoke church discipline in love. This is how much God is concerned about His name and the testimony of His church in this world!
Paul continues in 1 Corinthians 5:12-13, For what have I to do to judge them also that are without? do not ye judge them that are within? But them that are without God judgeth. Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person. He is saying that God will judge those without or outside of the church; But within or inside the church, for the sake of the testimony of Christ, the believers must mutually agree to deal with the sin in the Church via church discipline. We are talking about the Structure of the First Century Church and weve already looked at the mandate and the membership, lastly, #3) The Metaphors used to describe the First Century Church
Metaphors are earthly figures of speech used in the Bible to describe something spiritual. Here are just a few metaphors that the Bible uses to describe the church. -The Body Of Christ: The local assembly was called a body. This body has only one head, the Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Corinthians 12:12 says, For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. 1 Corinthians 12:26 says, And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it. When we enter into membership of a church, we are entering into one body. When we are in obedience to our Head, the Lord Jesus Christ, we will treat every member of this body the way every member of the body should be treated!
When one member of the body suffers, we all suffer with that member or members. Likewise, when one member is honored, all of the members rejoice over that honor. It is a wonderful thing to be a part of a local body of Christ, where the members suffer together, rejoice together and praise God together! Another metaphor used for the local church is, -The Household of God: Ephesians 2:19 says, Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow-citizens with the saints, and of the household of God. Praise God that we are a family, a household of God!
-The Building of God: Ephesians 2:20-21 says, And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord. The church is referred to here as a building. The Lord Jesus Christ being the foundation. The Bible says that we are fitly joined together. Ephesians 4:14-16, That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.