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The Nature of the Church 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 ,

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nature of the church
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 church4
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.

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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 church8
Nature of the Church

What is the nature

of the church?

nature of the church9
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

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Nature of the Church

Church

  • Mystical – transcending time
  • Universal – transcending space
  • Local – defined by space and time
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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.
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Nature of the Church

Ekklesia (church)

not a “Christian” word

when Jesus first used it.

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Nature of the Church

What made the church special?

  • MY church
  • MY assembly
  • MY gathering
  • A new breed of people
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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.

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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!

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Nature of the Church

God is central to

our nature as the church

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Nature of the Church

The church does not

become the church

when we get together.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Nature of the Church

Three Implications

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Nature of the Church

Implication #1

We should feel free to use,

interchangeably,

the words Christian and church.

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Nature of the Church

Implication #2

We should look to work out

the purposes, practices and marks

of the church

wherever we are.

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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.

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Nature of the Church

We are all full-time workers

for the Lord.

There is no part-time option.

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Nature of the Church

The Puritan legacy

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Nature of the Church

The Puritan legacy

  • Work – Wealth-building versus industry
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Nature of the Church

The Puritan legacy

  • Work – Wealth-building versus industry
  • Sex – Self-gratification versus faithfulness
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Nature of the Church

The Puritan legacy

  • Work – Wealth-building versus industry
  • Sex – Self-gratification versus faithfulness
  • Authority – Power versus stewardship
nature of the church38
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.