Nutshell Theology: Ecclesiology


Ecclesiology

Theology in a Nutshell Graphic

Big Picture

The name Ecclesiology comes from The Greek word for “church” which is εκκλησια (ekklesia) which means “called out”. That definition will help you to identify what the church is. So what is the church? It's not the building we meet in; it's the saved people that meet in it who are called out of the world. Whether we are talking about a local gathering of believers or about the universal church we are talking about Christians and nothing less.

Throughout the Bible lots of terms are used to describe the church. We are the sheep while Jesus is the shepherd (John 10:16; 1 Peter 5:2-4). We are the body and Christ is our Head (Ephesians 1:22-23; Colossians 1:18, 24; ). We are the Bride, Christ is the Groom (Isaiah 62:4-5; 2 Corinthians 11:2; Revelation 19:7-9). We are the Temple, Christ is the cornerstone (1 Corinthians 3:9-17, Ephesians 2:19-22, 1 Peter 2:4-5). We are a priesthood, and Christ is the high priest (Hebrews 4:14-15; 1 Peter 2:5, 9; Revelation 1:6, Revelation 5:9-10; Revelation 20:6).

Each of those analogies in their scriptural context reveal something about what the church is. Like Sheep we are following Christ. Like a Body we can do nothing without our head. Like the Bride we live in purity, humbly obey Jesus and eagerly anticipate Jesus' coming. Like the Temple we are Holy and sacred and we are called to stay that way. Like the priesthood we – every believer – have access to God through Jesus Christ. The church therefore exists by and for Jesus.

God has designed the church with a specific purpose and he has equipped the church to function a certain way (Government).

Purpose

God has designed the church to Worship Him on earth to Evangelize the lost and through educating and training to turn all Christians into mature disciples and to fellowship with and encourage other believers. In order to illustrate this, I have long used the acronym W.I.F.E. Which stands for Worship, Instruction, Fellowship, Evangelism. (Acts 2:42-43).

To fulfill the purpose of the church God gave to the church Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists and Pastor-teachers (Ephesians 4:11) the purpose of each is to train every believer to fulfill the church's purpose. Every believer in turn is given a specific gift or ability from God so that they will use that ability to benefit the church (1 Peter 4:10).

Government

As far as administration in the church is concerned the New Testament paints a clear picture of Elder based Government. The pastor is a teaching elder (though all elders should be able to teach). Elders in general are given the task of governing the local church body. Deacons answer to and serve the physical needs of the entire congregation. Both Elders and Deacon's are to serve the church while keeping Christ as their master.

Daily Life

Many times people who claim to be Christians, also refuse to go to church; claiming that they can worship God better at home (or in the woods, or at the mall) than they can with “all those hypocrites.” Sometimes even you might be inclined to skip church thinking that you don't need it or that it is unimportant to go to church.

Whether or not you need church isn't really the question (you do). The point, as 1 Peter 4:10 illustrates is that the church needs you. You have something we don't have, and we cannot grow to full maturity if you do not get involved.

The church is much more than a social club or even a location from which to practice good deeds. It is a gathering of people who have answered Christ's call to turn from sin and follow Him. The church is a place to worship, to train, to be restored, to encourage and be encouraged and to work.

Memory Verse

Acts 2:42 They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles' teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.

Questions For Personal Study

  1. The study of the Church is much larger than what has been presented, what topics should have been included?
  2. What is the church?
  3. In your own words, what is the purpose of the church?
  4. What is your purpose in the church?
  5. How do you benefit from others in the church?
  6. Who are you serving in the church?
  7. Can you find any instances in the Bible of Christians who didn't “do Church”?
  8. What can you say to people who claim to be Christians but refuse to go to church?