Nature of the Church We will understand the nature of our calling only when we have understood the nature of the church of Jesus Christ.
Nature of the Church The church of Christ comprises individuals who make up God’s earthly community, and involves an existence that compels the ongoing practice of godly living.
Nature of the Church The practice of communal life is foundational to the church’s self-understanding, but it is not determinative of its nature. And the Christian ekklesia simply refuses to be reduced to either mere existence or a set of practices – it “exists” in order to “practice”!
Nature of the Church What is the nature of the church?
Nature of the Church “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.” Matt 16v17-18
Nature of the Church Church • Mystical – transcending time • Universal – transcending space • Local – defined by space and time
Nature of the Church Essential nature of the church • God’s people • The nation of God • The body of Christ • The temple of the Spirit.
Nature of the Church Ekklesia (church) not a “Christian” word when Jesus first used it.
Nature of the Church What made the church special? • MY church • MY assembly • MY gathering • A new breed of people
Nature of the Church Other biblical words used to refer to the church – e.g. the saints, sanctified, believers, faithful, slaves, servants, household, family, the new exodus, vineyard, flock and new humanity tended to point to the relationship between the church and God, not among its members.
Nature of the Church So, it is only within this understanding of the nature of the church, as the people of God, that we would rightly add that Christians are a plurality and must naturally exist in a spirit of community. This is our mark!
Nature of the Church God is central to our nature as the church
Nature of the Church The church does not become the church when we get together.
Nature of the Church The neighbourhood, work and family are, for the Christian, all contexts in which we practice the reality of our being the church of God.
Nature of the Church We come to the chapel because we are the church; we do not become the church when we come to the chapel.
Nature of the Church The fact of our being the church is purely an act of grace given to us by God. It is now in our nature to be the church, because that is the immensity of the change that God has brought about in us.
Nature of the Church You are called to be God’s people. Period. Everything else is an expression that emanates from an understanding of what this call is all about.
Nature of the Church Three Implications
Nature of the Church Implication #1 We should feel free to use, interchangeably, the words Christian and church.
Nature of the Church Implication #2 We should look to work out the purposes, practices and marks of the church wherever we are.
Nature of the Church Implication #3 We should view organised churches such as First Baptist Church or Cheras Gospel Centre, as hugely important dimensions of the practice of our Christianity in the neighbourhood, but far from being comprehensive for living out our call.
Nature of the Church We are all full-time workers for the Lord. There is no part-time option.
Nature of the Church The Puritan legacy
Nature of the Church The Puritan legacy • Work – Wealth-building versus industry
Nature of the Church The Puritan legacy • Work – Wealth-building versus industry • Sex – Self-gratification versus faithfulness
Nature of the Church The Puritan legacy • Work – Wealth-building versus industry • Sex – Self-gratification versus faithfulness • Authority – Power versus stewardship
Nature of the Church The activities of the church can be replicated by anyone. But the nature of the church cannot. What you and I are called to do is to be mindful of this nature wherever we go.