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Andrew Fountain –
We are segueing into a new series today
8 part series on Newlife Church values, and then one about our plans for the future
We saw last week how God’s ultimate plans had been kept hidden for 1000’s of years
He had given pictures and symbolic prophecies
But after Jesus rose from the dead, all was revealed
The Mystery Revealed (Eph 3)
To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given,
to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, 9and to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery
hidden for ages in God who created all things,
so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places.
This was according to the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord
The “church” is God’s master plan
There are four pictures or metaphors for the church in the N.T.
Metaphors for the Church
Bride of Christ (love and relationship)
Army (victory and purpose)
Body (unity and love for one another)
Temple or city (dwelling place of God)
God does not have a “plan B” if the church should fail!
So what is the church—does anyone want to give a definition?
What does the word mean?
Greek ἐκκλησία(ekklesia) literally means “gathering”
Congregation would have been a better translation
Used for a riot in Acts 19:32 Now some cried out one thing, some another, for the gathering was in confusion, and most of them did not know why they had come together.
You cannot have an “internet church” with no real-life interaction
Sometimes the New Testament uses the word to refer to the Universal Church
Out of 114 references, only 19 are used like this—here are a couple of examples
So the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria had peace and was being built up. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it multiplied. Acts 9:31
to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen. Eph 3:21
But 80% of the time it refers to individual congregations:
And he went through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches. Acts 15:41
Is the Kingdom the same as the church?
Jesus spoke continually about the Kingdom, but the church had not yet come into being
God’s new creation life inside us
Power, rule, values
The church is the visible manifestation of the new Kingdom community
The true church will be revealed as the pinnacle of the new creation
What exactly is a church?
Do we have to have a building?
Do we have to have a name?
If a group of us happen to have coffee together one time—is that a church?
Bunch of Christians meet for lunch once a week?
Regularly meet together (the word “church”)
Significant commitment to one another (body life)
Committed to a body of truth
Operation of the gifts of the Spirit for the building up of one another