“Let’s Start A Church”

Posted: June 5, 2019 in Church, Philippians

(Acts 16, Philippians – Lesson # 9)

Have you ever wondered how “The Church” and local churches got started? What are churches supposed to be doing? Why are there so many different kinds of churches? What are Christians supposed to believe and how are they supposed to act? Where in the Bible do Christians find their rules for living? Why does it seem like there are contradictions in the Bible?

Before going to the cross to die for our sins, and rise again bodily from the grave on the third day, Jesus said, “I will build My Church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18). What did He mean? Did it exist in the Old Testament times, and before the Apostle Paul became a Christian (Ephesians 2:15; 3:1 ff; 5:32; See 1 Corinthians 15:9; Galatians 1:13)? Has the Church replaced Israel because of their rejection of Him as their Messiah (Romans 11)? Can Christians claim promises that were given to the Jews? What about the curses? (Read Deuteronomy 28).

Mosaic Law. It was through Moses that God the Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, gave to the Jewish nation the Law to regulate their daily lives. It included the Law, the statutes, and ordinances. These were not rules they had to keep to earn their salvation (Galatians 2:16). When Jesus came to earth, He gave the Jews some new rules (Sermon on the Mount – Matthew 5-7) to tell them what they had to do to enter the “Kingdom of the Heavens” (Matthew 4:17; See Daniel 2:44, 45).

Rejected. Because the Jews, as a whole, rejected Jesus as their promised Messiah (John 1:11; 18:40; Matthew 23:3-39), He postponed the setting up of His kingdom to a later date (See Matthew 16:20; 23: 36-39). This will take place when He returns to earth after the “Seven years of Tribulation” (Matthew 24:29 ff; Isaiah 9:6, 7; Daniel 9:27).

Church. It is also called “Christ’s Body” and it began on the “Day of Pentecost” (Acts 2; 10; 11). It will be complete when “all whom the Father has given to the Son have come to Him and been saved” (John 6:37, 44; Romans 11:25). Then Christ will return for the true Church, and make it His “Bride” and take them to the place that He has been preparing for them (John 14:1-3; Revelation 21:9 ff). This event is referred to as “The Rapture” (1 Thessalonians 4:16, 17).

Steward. The Apostle Paul was the one whom Christ chose to be the “Steward” (Household Manager) of this “Dispensation of Grace” in which we now live (Ephesians 3:1 ff). The Apostles Peter and John, along with Christ’s half-brothers, James and Jude provided supplemental information for New Testament Grace believers to believe and practice.

For/To. All of the Scripture/Bible is for us, but not all of it is directed to Christians. All of it is to be believed, but not all of it is to be believed and practiced (See Titus 1:9; 2 Timothy 3:16, 17). From the Old Testament we can learn much about the character of God (Exodus 3:14), what not to do lest we suffer the same kind of consequences that the Jews did for their disobedience (1 Corinthians 10). We also can count on God to keep His promises to us as He did with the Jews (Romans 15:4).

Witnesses. Jesus made it clear that He wanted His disciples to be His witnesses and for them to share the Gospel concerning His death for our sins…and His bodily resurrection with other Jews, with the Samaritans, and with the whole world (Acts 1:8). As a result of Peter’s preaching on the Day of Pentecost, 3,000 Jews became Christians (Acts 2:41). But it took some persecution of these Christians to get them to go to the non-Jews.

Persecution. God allowed, a devout Jew by the name of Saul/Paul, before he became a Christian, to persecute them (Acts 8). This caused the Jewish Christians to scatter out and share the Gospel with everyone wherever they went. On his way to Damascus to persecute Christians, Saul/Paul was stricken by a bright light and a voice from heaven that said, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me” (Acts 9:4). He soon came to recognize that is was the resurrected Christ who was speaking to him. He became a Christian at that time.

Education. Still being blind, Saul/Paul was escorted to Damascus where he remained blind for three days until Ananias came and prayed for him and his eye sight was restored to him (Acts 9:9-18; See Galatians 4:15). Saul/Paul then proclaimed Christ in Damascus before going out into Arabia for three years to be taught by the Lord Himself (Galatians 1:17). After spending a few days with Peter in Jerusalem, Saul/Paul went back to his home town of Tarsus for the next 14 years (Acts 9:30; 11:25).

How To. It has been suggested that during this time he was learning how to live the Christian life himself before teaching other Christians how to live by “Grace Principles.” (See Acts 20:28.) He related his personal struggle with his sin nature and how he leaned how to overcome the temptations that come from it by the power of the Holy Spirit (Romans 7; 8; Galatians 5:16).

Age. Some believe that the Apostle Paul was about 50 years old when he began his missionary work, along with Barnabas. Having been commended by the Christians in the church in Antioch, they began their first missionary journey into central Asia Minor (modern day Turkey). When the work got hard, John Mark, whom they had brought with them, went home (Acts 13:13).

Stoned. As they went from place to place sharing the Good News (Gospel) concerning Christ’s death for our sins…and His bodily resurrection, they saw some people saved in spite of much persecution. While they were at Lystra, the Apostle Paul was stoned to death (Acts14:19; See 2 Corinthians 12:1-6). But since his work on earth wasn’t done, God revived him and he and Barnabas continued to evangelize the Jews and Gentiles. Today Jesus holds the “keys of death” (Revelation 1:18; See Hebrews 2:14; 1 Thessalonians 4:14). A few local churches were established along the way.

Account. Returning to their sending church in Antioch, they reported what God had done through them (Acts 14:27). When it was time for them to go back to the area where they had started some churches, Paul and Barnabas had a disagreement about whether they should take with them John Mark who had deserted them on their first missionary trip (Acts 15:36-41). Because of this, Paul took Silas with him, and Barnabas took John Mark with him and they went on separate missionary journeys.

Assistant. When Paul and Silas arrived back at Lystra, they found a young man by the name of Timothy, who had a good report from the brethren (Acts 16:1 ff) . In all likelihood, Timothy had heard about or perhaps witnessed Paul’s being stoned to death and hearing of his restoration back to life. Perhaps this resulted in Timothy’s being saved. So Paul invited him to come along with them as they continued on their missionary trip.

People Groups. Even though Paul had been commissioned to go primarily to the Gentiles (non-Jews), he didn’t neglect the Jews (Galatian 2:7). He tried to visit their synagogues on the Sabbath to proclaim to the Jews that Jesus was indeed the promised Messiah, who died for our sins…and rose again bodily from the dead on their third day. So when they crossed over the sea, they arrived in Philippi (in Europe), and encountered a lady by the river where there was a place of prayer.

God’s Work. He prepared Lydia’s heart and she received the Gospel message from Paul, and became the first Christian in Europe (Acts 16:14). She, being a wealthy business woman, invited Paul and his companions to stay at her house.

Demon. Later as Paul and Silas were sharing the Gospel with the people in Philippi, a demon possessed girl, who was making her masters much money, was following Paul around while saying, These men are the servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to us [Greek =“a”] way of salvation” (Acts 16:17; See John 14:6). Irritated by this, Paul cast the demon out of the girl. This resulted in the merchant’s financial loss, and Paul and Silas’ being beaten and thrown in jail.

Rejoicing. Rather than complaining about their mistreatment, even though Paul was a Roman citizen, they sang songs in the middle of the night. God sent an earthquake that caused their chains to fall off.

Question. Fearing for his life, the jailor came rushing in and asked, “What must I do to be saved?” “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved…” (Acts 16:30-32) was Paul’s reply. Upon believing, the jailor and his household were baptized (immersed). Read Acts 16 for “the rest of the story.”

Martyrs. While the Apostle Paul and his companions were evangelizing in Asia Minor and Europe, the other disciples of Jesus went elsewhere proclaiming the Gospel. All but the Apostle John were martyred for their faith. (Read John Fox’s “Book of Martyrs.”) Truly “The blood of the martyr’s became the seed of the church.”

The “Book of Acts” continues Dr. Luke’s record of the life of Christ that he began in the Gospel with his name on it. It transitions people from Law into Grace. Believers today have a new set of rules to regulate their lives. These “Rules for Grace Living – Dispensations” can generally be found between John 13 through Revelation 3. (See our “Understanding the Times, Dispensations Chart” for more details.)

What Is A Local Church Supposed To Do?

God’s primary purpose is to glorify Himself (Exodus 8:22; 10:2; Isaiah 49:3; John 17:4; Ephesians 1:6, 12, 14). This means that He tells us what He’s like and then demonstrates it to us in various ways. In the end, God the Father will be glorified when everyone acknowledges that Jesus Christ is Lord (i.e. the God/man – Philippians 2:11). This verse doesn’t teach “universalism” or that eventually everyone will be saved (See John 3:18, 36; Matthew 25:41, 46).

The primary objective/purpose of a local church is/should be to glorify God by making Him known to others (1 Corinthians 10:31; Psalm 34:3). Christians can do this by/through –

Worship. Believers today are to worship God in spirit and truth (John 4:24; Ephesians 4:23; John 14:6). This can be done anywhere at any time. When Christians gather together, they should rehearse the attributes and character of God to remind each other of who and what God is. His attributes include His goodness, righteousness, omnipotence, omniscience, truth, holiness, and love. Meditating on these things will enable us to magnify God in our thinking (Psalm 1:2; 34:3; 1 Timothy 4:15).

Preaching. In order for believers to grow spiritually ( 1 Peter 2:2; 2 Peter 3:18), they need to have the Word of God proclaimed and explained to them (2 Timothy 2:2, 15; 4:2; Titus 1:9). The Scriptures are to be interpreted normally (literally), historically, grammatically, and contextually. God gave to the Church Pastors/teachers for the edification of believers (Ephesians 4:11-16).

Stimulation. Believers should look forward to the assembly meetings of the church (Hebrews 10:24, 25) so they can use their spiritual gifts with love to assist others in the fellowship (John 13:34, 35; Galatians 5:13; Romans 12:3-9; 1 Corinthians 12-14; 1 Peter 4:10).

Ordinances. There are two ordinances that the Lord gave to the Church: Baptism/immersion (1) to identify us with Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection (Romans 6:3, 4; Galatians 2:20), (2) to be obedient to His command (Matthew 28:19, 20), and for us (3) to have a good conscience toward God (1 Peter 3:21). Baptism/immersion is not a condition for salvation, but an evidence of it to other people (Acts 8:36-39). The “Lord’s Table,” when observed, is designed to remind believers of the Lord’s sacrificial death until He comes back for us (1 Corinthians 11:26).

Unity. When God saves people today, whether they come from a Jewish or non-Jewish background, they are placed into the spiritual “Body of Christ – the true Church” and are made one “in Christ” (Galatians 3:26-28; Ephesians 2:15; 1 Corinthians 12:12, 13; 2 Corinthians 5:17). Believers are to “keep” (guard/maintain) the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:3).

Evangelism. Without the proclamation of the Gospel (that Christ died for our sins…and rose again bodily from the dead) lost people cannot be saved from eternal condemnation in the lake of fire (1 Corinthians 15:3, 4; Romans 10:9-17; Matthew 25:41, 45; Revelation 21:8). This particular Good News is the “power of God” unto the salvation of both Jews and non-Jews (Romans 1:16, 17). A person needs to know the facts of the Gospel, agree with the facts, and then place his/her faith in Christ alone, apart from any good works, if he/she is to be saved (Ephesians 2:8, 9; Titus 3:5).

Fellowship. Each local church, under Christ’s headship, may choose to fellowship with other Bible believing local churches as the Holy Spirit leads them (Ephesians 1:22, 23; Romans 8:14). God is opposed to the unequal yoke with unbelievers and with those who teach another Gospel and/or heresies (2 Corinthians 6:14; 11:4, 13-15; Revelation 2:20; 18:4; Titus 3:10).

Conclusion: The Church which is also known as “The Body of Christ” was a mystery in the Old Testament times (Romans 16:25-27). Are you are member in this body and the new creation (Ephesians 2:15; 2 Corinthians 5:17)? You can become one by placing your faith and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ, who died for your sins…and rose again bodily on the third day. Once you’ve been saved, God wants you to grow spiritually, serve Him by serving others, and making Him known to others within your circle of influence and those whom you encounter in life.

Help. We’re here to help those who are teachable and willing to change (2 Timothy 2:2, 15; 3:16, 17). We can be reached through our website: www.kelseypeach.com. To receive future articles as they come out, click on “Follow.” Join us on Facebook and Youtube for our Bible studies. Please SHARE this with others who want to know what God says in His Word.

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