Table of Contents
Study of the Church
Ecclesiology – The root of the term is derived from the Greek word ‘ekklesia’ meaning “those called out.” Originally meaning an assembly(group of people) of any kind, secular (non-religious) or religious, but has developed into a specific meaning concerning those people who are called out of the world, into Christ. In Hebrew the words ‘qahal’ or ‘edhah’ could be translated with the same meaning in reference to Jewish faith being practiced in the synagogue. This word is mentioned over 115 times throughout the New Testament.
Issues addressed in Ecclesiology
- What is the Church
- What are the relationships within the Church
- What is the Authority of the Church
- What does the Church Do
- How is the Church Governed
- What is the Destiny of the Church
What is the Church & What is the Meaning of the Church
The Church is specifically the reference to the people of God, with God as the head over them. It is both the reference to any group of believers and also the entire assembly of all believers throughout time under God. The Church was founded by Jesus Christ and is the assembly of all believers joined to His body spiritually by the Holy Spirit.
For through the baptism of the one Spirit we were all formed into one body, Jews or Greeks, servants or free men, and were all made full of the same Spirit. – 1 Corinthians 12.131 Corin 12.13
And he has put all things under his feet, and has made him to be head over all things to the church, 23. Which is his body, the full measure of him in whom all things are made complete – Eph 1.22-23Ephesians 1.22-23
A believer becomes a part of the body of Christ at the moment of regeneration when they put their faith in Jesus as their Savior.
For in the past we were foolish, hard in heart, turned from the true way, servants of evil desires and pleasures, living in bad feeling and envy, hated and hating one another. 4. But when the mercy of God our Saviour, and his love to man was seen,5. Not by works of righteousness which we did ourselves, but in the measure of his mercy, he gave us salvation, through the washing of the new birth and the giving of new life in the Holy Spirit,6. Which he gave us freely through Jesus Christ our Saviour; – Titus 3.3-6Titus 3.3-6
Have faith in the Lord Jesus, and you and your family will have salvation. – Acts 16.31Acts 16.31
A ‘church’ or body of believers is formed anytime any group of believers come together in Jesus name.
where two or three have come together in my name, I am there among them.” – Matthew 18.20Matthew 18.20
Who is the Church
There are a few terms used to differentiate between the location and / or reference to specific parts of the Church:
The Universal Church – This constitutes the invisible body of all believers, throughout all of time in both the earth and the heavens. Also known as the bride of Christ.
The Local Church – A visible manifestation of a part of the universal Church within a specific location. This would constitute any or all of the physically visible part of the body of believers on earth. Local Churches have their own organized structures and even specified governance’s setup which is different between each of the Churches (small part of the larger body).
The Invisible Church – The part of body of believers that already have entered into heaven.
Comparison of the Universal & Local Church
|Universal Church||Local Church (es)|
|Structure||A Living Organism||A Group of People|
|Composition||Saved Members||Saved and Lost Members|
|Member Status||Living & Dead Members||Living Members|
|Leadership||Christ Visible Head in Heaven||Christ Invisible Head on Earth|
|Human Offices||None||Elders & Deacons|
|Ordinances||None||Two Primary Ordinances|
|Number of Parts||One Body||Many Parts (Churches)|
|Which Part||Whole Body of Christ||Separate Parts of the Body|
Systematic Theology – In One Volume; Norman L. Geisler. Bethany House, Minneapolis, MN.