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The Church - Lesson 1

The Church in 25 Lessons

Jon Gary Williams

Lesson 1 - The Church: The Calling

The church is the Lord's most precious possession. This is evidenced by the fact that he gave himself for it by the shedding of his blood (Eph. 5:25; Acts 20:28). The vast importance of the church is seen in that from all eternity it was in the mind of God (Eph. 3:10,11).

What is the church found in the scriptures? It is not a building. It is not a social club. It is not a civic organization. It is not a political system. Rather, it is a people. But, not just any people. It is a people which have been "called" - called with a special calling. This is the fundamental nature of the church found in the New Testament. From its beginning those who have been called by God have been brought into the Lord's church. Of what does this calling consist?

I. The meaning of the word "church"
A. The English word "church" is derived from the ME term chirche, which has its roots in the Greek term kyriakos, and means "of the Lord."

B. In the New Testament, however, the word "church" comes from the Greek term ekklesia (from ek - "out" & klesis - "to call") and carries the idea of being "called out." 

  1. It is used to describe Israel coming out of Egypt. Acts 7:38
  2. Two times it is translated "assembly" describing a riotous mob. Acts 19:32,41
  3. Applied to Christ's church it describes a "called out" spiritual group of people.
C. With reference to Christ's "church" it is used in three ways.
  1. Of the church universal. (Mt. 16:18; Eph. 5:23-25)
  2. Of churches regionally. (Gal. 1:2)
  3. Of churches locally. (Acts 8:1; I Cor. 1:2; I Thess. 1:1
II. The nature of this calling

A. This calling is of God - a divine calling. (II Tim. 1:7-9; I Pet. 5:10)

B. A calling into the "fellowship" of Christ. (I Cor. 1:9)

C. A calling into the "peace" of Christ. (Col. 3:15)

D. Christians are called to be "children" of God. (Rom. 9:25,26)

E. Christians are called to be "saints." (Rom. 1:7; I Cor. 1:2)

F. This is a "holy" calling. (I Thess. 4:7 II Tim. 1:9; I Pet. 1:15)

G. This is a "heavenly" calling. (Heb. 3:1)

H. This calling is into "liberty." (Gal. 5:13)

I. This is an "eternal" calling. (I Tim. 6:12)

J. This calling is into "glory and virtue." (II Pet. 1:3)

K. This calling involves the humble. (I Cor. 1:26)
III. How are people called?
A. This calling is made possible by the "suffering" of Christ. (I Pet. 2:21)

B. This is a calling of people from "darkness" to "light." (I Pet. 2:9)

C. This calling comes only one way - through the "gospel." (II Thess. 2:13,14)
IV. The hope of this calling

A. To be counted worthy. (II Thess. 1:11,12) (cf. Eph. 4:1)

B. To inherit a blessing. I Pet. 3:9

C. Unto perfection. (Php. 3:13-16) 

V. The need for making this calling sure (II Pet. 1:10)