The Church | Gathering of the Saint
The Bible does not recognize any denomination or any visible church on earth as the church which is redeemed by the blood of Christ and transformed by the Holy Spirit. Only a small part of the church is on earth now for a great part has already gone to be with the Lord.
The Supreme work of God in this age is the gathering of the church (Acts 15: 14 - Simeon hath declared how God at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name). The church has no visible head on earth but an unseen head, Jesus Christ, in heaven.
1. What exactly is the church?
2. The church foundation and the condition of its membership
3. When and how should discipline be taught in the church?
4. What are we to teach regarding discipline?
WHAT EXACTLY IS THE CHURCH?
The word church originates from the Greek word, ’ecclesia’ which means ‘called out’ (from the world into Christ). Christians are called out from the world system beginning with Pentecost and ending probably with the rapture at the second coming of the Christ.
The Church is the people who are absolutely ready to obey and keep the commandments and the doctrines of Christ (Acts 2: 41-47). The word church can also mean the church universal (1 Corinthians. 15: 9). These are people of godly faith, who are referred to as Christians firstly at Antioch and are the people Christ is coming to take to himself at Rapture (Acts 11:26; Ephesians 5:27).
The visible church is made up of the local church, the universal church and its membership comprises of the Godly (and the ungodly, which ought not to be). The invisible church is purely made up of saints whose names are written in the lamb’s book of life (Rev.21:27 - And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb's book of life).
THE CHURCH FOUNDATION AND THE CONDITION OF ITS MEMBERSHIP
Jesus Christ found the church on Peter’s confession that Jesus is the Son of God. The Messiah, The Christ and God incarnate in human form (Matthew 16:16 - And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God).
Our savior did not build the church on Peter but on Peter’s words. Historically, it was physically founded on the day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit baptized the people with fire and thereafter about three thousand souls were converted (Acts 2:47 - Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved).
The church founded on the day of Pentecost met on daily basis in Solomon’s Porch (Acts 5:12 - 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 it comprised of the following membership:
a.Members who had repented of their sins. (Acts 2: 38 - Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost).
b. Members who had a deep faith in the Lord Jesus Christ (Matthew 16:18 - And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it).
c.Members who were genuinely saved or born-again (Acts 2:47 - Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved).
d.Members who were baptized in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:19 - Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost).
e.Members who live their lives according to the scriptures (Acts 2:42 - And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers).
WHEN AND HOW SHOULD DISCIPLE BE TAUGHT IN THE CHURCH?
Disciple ought to be taught after conversion but before baptism. Disciple should be taught as often as necessary to prevent members from running into sin. Whenever a church member errs, discipline should be applied in humility (I Corinthians 10: 12). Discipline should be applied in sincerity (Matthew. 7: 3-5) and applied in love (1 Corinthians 13:4 - Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up). Use the Scriptures to guide discipline and share relevant experiences on the matter, as this will ensure confidence on the part of the person who is to be disciplined.
WHAT ARE WE TO TEACH REGARDING DISCIPLINE
There are three basic things to be taught about discipline. The first thing to be taught is the basics of the authority of church leaders to discipline and the necessary step before discipline is administered (Matthew.18:15-17). If a man sins and another member finds out:
i. The pastor goes to the erring member and exhorts him to repent.
ii. If the person resists, take two or three witnesses along to exhort, the erring member.
iii. If the person still refuses, then, inform the church.
iv. If the member still refuses discipline, he or she should be considered as a sinning heathen and be treated accordingly.
The second thing to be taught is what could lead to discipline. Some sins merit outright ex-communication from the church (1 Corinthian 5:5, 1 Corinthian 5:13).
This is applied where the erring member refuses to accept his or her fault and refuses to repent.
There could also be suspension from active service for a period of time e.g. three months, six months etc. The period of the discipline is proportional to the offence. During the period of discipline, the person being discipline must attend all church programs and obey the Pastor’s instructions.
The secret of the strength of the church is its rigorous disciple. A Christian is called to be soldier, not a civilian. A disciplined church is a powerful foe to Satan, just as a discipline member is a terror to the devil.
Abba Elijah also known as elija_god (elijagod)