A Royal Priesthood – A Holy Nation
Church, considered as a social organism, the mysteries
inevitably degenerate into beliefs.
church is the one institution that exists for those outside
The Lord your God is in your midst; he is a warrior who can deliver. He takes great delight in you; he renews you by his love; he shouts for joy over you. ©NET
We began Discipleship Basics by learning that our lives do indeed matter to God (Lesson 1) and that we can enter into a new relationship with Him through the Good News (Lesson 2). We then unpacked the Good News in terms of God’s desire that we fellowship with Him daily, in His word and prayer (Lessons 3-4; Quiet Times).
Now, as we grow in our relationship with Christ, we begin to gain a real sense of His deep love for us and His calling upon our lives. It is no easy thing to walk with God in this world. So, we need to know that He is faithful and can be fully and implicitly trusted even as we pass through cycles of sin and repentance (Lesson 5). We also need to gain an increasing awareness from scripture as to what a faithful Christian life looks like and how to live it (Lesson 6).
In order to help us live faithful, Christlike lives, God has been faithful to give us a community to help us grow. So, in this lesson, we take a brief look at the people of God corporate, i.e., the church. We’ll look at a few of the many scriptural metaphors for the church, the fundamental nature of the church, and some aspects of God’s purposes for the church.
Images & Metaphors for God’s People
There are scores of images/metaphors used in Scripture to describe God and His people (e.g., Jesus is the vine; we are the branches in John 15:1-11). Read and reflect on the following images. Record your thoughts. What do these passages tell us about God, ourselves as His people, and our God-given mission in the world? What might each image imply?
- We are God’s Family (2 Cor 6:18; cf. 1 John 3:14-18)
- Christ is the Head; We are the Body (Ephesians 4:15-16)
- List the metaphors in 1 Peter 2:4-21
- We Are Salt & Light (Matthew 5:13-16)
The church is also referred to as a “house” which Jesus builds (Heb 3:3-5), field (1 Cor 3:9), wild olive branch (Romans 11:17ff), harvest (John 4:35), firstfruits (Rom 8:23), a possession of God (Eph 1:14), the pillar and bulwark of the truth (1 Tim 3:15), bride (2 Cor 11:2-3; Rev 19:6ff), etc.
The Fundamental Nature of the Church
The church is not just a human institution, though, of course, it is composed of people, and often with buildings, bi-laws, social responsibilities, etc. Nonetheless, the church is fundamentally a spiritual people, born of the Spirit, united in the Spirit, worshipping in the Spirit, led by the Spirit, empowered by the Spirit, glorifying Christ and the Father by the Spirit, cleansed and sanctified by the Spirit, etc. We must take this truth seriously as we make decisions that impact God’s church. Because the church’s life is rooted in the Spirit, there is always hope for struggling churches that turn to the Lord for help, guidance and spiritual power. But, because Christ’s church is sacred (i.e., a creation of the Holy Spirit), we need to be careful how we treat it and how we make decisions in connection with it. Members of the Corinthian church were guilty of sins against Christ and his people and were warned by the apostle Paul (See e.g., 1 Cor 3:10-17; 11:1-16).
God’s Purposes for His People
Let My People Worship
The primary reason God redeemed us from bondage to sin and ignorance is so that we might worship Him. This is the churches first and abiding privilege and responsibility. We are to worship alone, in our families, and together as the people of God. We are instructed to worship in Spirit and in truth. Reflect on John 4:22-24 and Jesus’ interaction with the woman at the well.
As I Have Loved You, So You Must Love One Another
As God’s people collectively, we are called to build each other up, encourage and instruct each another, sacrifice for each another, give to each other, be gracious and humble toward each other, forgive and pray for each other, etc. In other words, through the power of the Spirit we are to be Christ to each other, if you will.
- Serve One Another (Mark 10:45)
- Use Your Spiritual Gifts To Build Others Up (1 Cor 12:4-7; 1 Peter 4:10-11)
Go into All The World
Together we have been called by Christ Himself to go into the world to share the love, light, and truth of the gospel. We know that not all will welcome us and/or our message about Christ (cf. John17:14), but our verbal witness will be strengthened by our love for each other and our unity in Christ (cf. John 13:34-35 and John 17:22ff).
- What does Paul say about his feelings regarding the gospel (Romans 1:16)?
- What did Jesus command us to do (Matthew 28:19-20)?
God has been profoundly faithful to us by giving us a community, in which, and through which, we can know, love, worship and serve Him faithfully. God loves His church and desires that she be pure and blameless…to the core! So, let’s faithfully walk out together his purposes in worship, serving, witnessing and making disciple malers of others!.
Quiet Times & Scripture Memory
- Continue to build daily Quiet Times into your life.
- John 3:16
- Ephesians 2:8-9
- Philippians 4:6-7
- Galatians 6:7-8 (This week’s passage)
- 1 Peter 2:9 (try this one out!)