Pentecostal Sermons and Bible Studies by Pastor Jim Feeney, Ph.D.

Seven Views of the Church

Summary: Christ’s church on earth is often described in Scripture in symbolic language. Seven of those symbols give us much understanding of the Lord’s grand purposes for His church.

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Matthew 16:18  [Jesus said] And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church....

•• Jesus declared His intention to build His church. We must never forget that He is the Builder — the one who brings the building from the beginning foundation to the completed edifice. Therefore He, Jesus, is the one who has the sole right to determine what He wants His church to be.

•• Our purpose today is to look at seven views of the church from the standpoint of what Jesus Christ wants that church to represent on this earth. Are there more perspectives than these seven? Certainly. But these seven will offer to us a descriptive snapshot of what Jesus intended when He said, “I will build my church.”
• Each of these seven views of the church deserves in-depth, individual study beyond the scope of this message. My hope and intent today is to sow seed-thoughts, which may lead you to more detailed, personal study of these grand biblical themes.

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Galatians 6:10  Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.

1 Peter 4:17  “...the family of God ... [that is, Christian believers in contrast to] ... those who do not obey the Gospel of God.”

1. The church is a FAMILY OF BELIEVERS in Jesus Christ.

•• This speaks of relationships. We become God’s “sons and daughters” (2 Corinthians 6:18) through faith in Jesus Christ.

•• We become a spiritual family — brothers, sisters, mothers (Mark 3:35) — from our personal relationship to Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.

•• Hebrews 2:11  “Both the one who makes men holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers.” Jesus relates to the faithful as His “brothers”.

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1 Corinthians 3:9  For we are God's fellow workers; you are God’s field, God’s building.

2. The church is God’s BUILDING, a STRUCTURE of God’s design.

•• Remember, Jesus said He would “build” His church.

•• We are to be built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone” (Ephesians 2:20).
• Ultimately, the entire building is dependent upon Jesus, the chief and only cornerstone (1 Corinthians 3:11). In addition, we have been blessed with the foundation-strengthening ministries of apostles and prophets.
•• Further structural soundness is provided by the full fivefold ministry (Ephesians 4:11), elders (Acts 14:23, Titus 1:5-9), deacons (Acts 6:1-6), and all the believers who represent “living stones” in the Lord’s church (1 Peter 2:5).

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1 Corinthians 12:27-28  Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. And in the church God has appointed first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then workers of miracles, also those having gifts of healing, those able to help others, those with gifts of administration, and those speaking in different kinds of tongues.

3. The church is the BODY OF CHRIST on earth.

•• This speaks of multifaceted ministry. Christian believers, “each one of you is a part of” this body of Christ. Each one has specific callings and spiritual gifts from God to enable you to contribute to the overall health and functioning of Christ’s body the church in its God-given earthly purposes.

•• Prophecy ... helps ... mercy ... preaching ... hospitality ... healing ... practical service ... teaching ... leadership ... and many more are “parts” of Christ’s body, the church, represented by you and me in our roles and placement by the Lord. Larger lists of spiritual gifts and ministries may be seen in 1 Corinthians 12:7-10, 27-28; Ephesians 4:11; Romans 12:6-8; and various other Scriptures.

•• The Holy Spirit’s intent in distributing these multifaceted gifts and ministries is to reach that condition wherein “the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work (Ephesians 4:16). Each part! Ask the Lord to reveal to you your part in the work of His “body” on earth.

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Isaiah 61:3  ...They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.

1 Corinthians 3:9  For you are God’s field...

4. The church is God’s PLANTING, His FIELD.

•• Plants have roots, and they bear fruit.
• As God’s “planting”, we thrive in our walk with Him if we sink deep roots in His Word (Luke 8:5-15).

• If we do this and build our lives upon the foundation of the Scriptures, we will in turn glorify God by bearing much fruit“Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit” (John 15:8, KJV).

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2 Timothy 2:3-4  Endure hardship with us like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No one serving as a soldier gets involved in civilian affairs — he wants to please his commanding officer.

5. The church is the LORD’S ARMY, a trained, armed, and fit corps of SPIRITUAL WARRIORS.

•• Like the Olympic athlete, the army of the Lord “goes into strict training (1 Corinthians 9:25). This speaks of the church’s commitment, dedication, and focused devotion to the cause of our “commanding officer” Jesus!

•• And as His soldiers, the church is well armed and protected by “the full armor of God ... the belt of truth ... the breastplate of righteousness ... feet fitted with the gospel of peace ... the shield of faith ... the helmet of salvation ... the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God ... [and] all kinds of prayers” (Ephesians 6:11-18).

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1 Peter 5:1-2  To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder, a witness of Christ's sufferings and one who also will share in the glory to be revealed: Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care...

6. The church is GOD’s FLOCK.

•• Jesus is “the Good Shepherd" who knows His sheep and who lays down His life for the sheep (John 10:14-15).

•• And Jesus the Good Shepherd has given to the church pastors and elders and other ministers to “be shepherds of the church of God” (Acts 20:17, 28). These dedicated leaders, nicknamed by some as undershepherds, are called to “tend — nurture, guard, guide, and fold — the flock of God” (1 Peter 5:1-2, Amplified Bible).

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2 Corinthians 11:2  I promised you to one husband, to Christ, so that I might present you as a pure virgin to him.

Ephesians 5:25-27  Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.

7. The church is called to the high privilege of being the BRIDE OF CHRIST.

•• This bridal church is to be “a radiant church ... holy and blameless”.

•• The church is espoused to Christ for presentation to Him as our “husband”. This speaks of a deep, spiritual love relationship with Him.

•• Holiness and love — these two factors should strongly motivate the Lord’s intended Bride. They give focus and direction to us in our daily walk with Him.

Summary: We have seen seven Scriptural views of the church:

1. A family of believers

2. A building

3. The body of Christ

4. The planting, the field, of the Lord

5. God’s army

6. God’s flock

7. The bride of Christ
 

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©1992, James H. Feeney.
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Pentecostal Sermons and Bible Studies
by Pastor Jim Feeney, Ph.D.