Who is the Church?

Who is the Church?

Although everyone is familiar with the word ‘’church’’, it is too often misinterpreted today. Hence, as Christians, it is important that we check out how God’s word defines ‘’the church’’ This helps us understand our true identity; are the Church. If we begin to understand who we are, then the Church can be able to function the way it was designed to function (fulfilling her purpose). The church’s true identity is to be found in Christ. The clear description of who the church his, is to be searched out in the only book given by the founder of the Church, which is, the Bible.

Here is how the Bible describes the church:

1. The Church is the House of God
“But if I tarry long, that you may know how you ought to behave yourself in the house of God which is the Church of the Living God…(1 Tim. 3:15)”

The church is not a building where we meet, it’s the people who we meet with. It’s not a place, a building, or a venue. We who meet there, is the Church. Yes, I mean we – you and I – are the Church. The Church is not a physical building, it is we who meet there. I like how Paul separates these two things.

“I commend unto you Phebe our sister, which is a servant of the church which is at Cenchrea:” (Rom. 16:1)

“Unto the Church which is at Corinth….” (1 Cor. 1:2)

“The Church that is at Babylon…” (1 Peter 5:13)

“And to [your wife] Apphia our sister, and to Archipus our fellow soldier [in ministry], and to the church that meets in your house:” (Philemon 1:2 AMP)

The bible is scattered with numerous instances of how Paul describes the Church as the location or city where they meet. Where we meet is just a location, we are the church. The Church is the gathering place for the Sons and Daughters of God. We are the House of God not just the building where we meet. We are God’s temple.

“You also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ (1 Peter 2:5)”

2. The Church as a Body
“And He is the head of the Body, the Church :…( Col. 1:18)”

By “church” I don’t mean the various denominations we call ourselves. In God’s view, we are part of one church. The Bible describes us “as the body of Christ”. We are one. I love the analogy that the church is like a body with various parts. It really makes me understand that the church is one in purpose but with various assignments. For example, we can see one denomination as the “eye”, another as the “ear” and another as the “feet” etc. The whole body can’t be the “eye” then we wouldn’t have the ear. And the whole body can’t be the ear, then there won’t be the eye.

We must start to see the beauty God has deposited in the Church, our understanding of this will allow us to enjoy this benefit and stop the strife amidst ourselves. The various dimensions of grace that has been given to each denomination, is to be benefited by the whole body. But it’s a pity that most of us think we are the only ones proclaiming the truth while others are liars, which is definitely not true. Yes, we quite agree that we are all not equally grown-up, and some of us yet understand some things imperfectly, but no one throws away a baby or scolds a baby because he or she acts like a baby rather we show them love, nurture and care for them until they grow up.

“But He, well aware of their thoughts and purpose, said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself is doomed to destruction; and a house divided against itself falls” (Luke 11:17 AMP)

This crazy attachment of ourselves to a particular denomination must stop! The nation of Israel was divided into 12 tribes. Each tribe having different gifts and callings. Yet they all functioned together for all to benefit in the various gifts given to each calling. They were an Old-testament example to us.

In the Words of E.W. Kenyon, in the book “The Father and His Family”:

“We are God’s family representatives on the earth. We are not Methodists, Baptists, Episcopalians, or Roman Catholics, but we are God’s sons and daughters. We are God’s family. As a member of the family, we are to minister to each other and watch over each other in love”

Bill Johnson also said that “when a ministry is given to a man by God, it is because God has deposited a special gift in that one man and He wants to flow into the whole body”.

While I do encourage commitment to a particular group, this wall of partition we have set amidst ourselves must be pulled down. We are a Body and we are one.

3. The Church is God’s senate on earth.
When Christ was raised from the dead we were all raised with Him. In fact, we were not just raised, we were raised to be seated with him in heaven. We are his rule enforcers on the earth. We are part of his authority.

“And He raised us up together with Him (when we believed), and seated us with Him in the Heavenly places, (because we are) in Christ Jesus (Eph. 2:6)”

The book of Esther, gave us a little insight into the use of authority. King Ahasuerus words were not reversible even by himself. Anyone who possessed the King’s ring could make a decree with the same authority as though the king himself commanded. Haman had his ring, and could order the killing of all Jews throughout entire the province. Mordecai had this seal and could make a counter decree to save the Jews. All these are prototypes of Christ and his Church. We bear His seal. And by his spirit in us, we can decree and take charge and declare His reign wherever we find ourselves.

It is important for the church to come into the reality, that we are part of the Lordship of Jesus on Earth. His Lordship on earth is not complete without us. We are his “authority enforcers”. We are to stand against the operations of the works of the devil with the authority He has given us. We can’t afford to just learn about how to wield the power, through speaking in tongues, prayer and every other means but we must learn to put it to use.

He redeemed us for this very fact. That His will be done on earth as it is done in Heaven.

“But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name” (John 1:12)

When you exercise His authority, it is as good as if He was the one doing it Himself. He gave us that right. So when we stand against the operations of darkness, our words are as good as if Jesus Himself spoke them.

In our schools, our streets, our work places, and wherever our domain is, we stand against and stop every manifestation of darkness there. That’s the power that was given to us. Speaking in tongues is not meant to be an interlude between prayers, or something to make us feel along with the other brethren, but it is meant to communicate with heaven and deliver the exercising of the Authority of Christ.

The Greek word for church is “ekklesia” (ek-klay-see’-ah). From the strong’s concordance it means out of many things “an assembly of the people convened at the public place of the council for the purpose of deliberating”. This definition, tells us they are in charge. They are the senate. They decide what happens, not through physical violence but being in control spiritually and we know the spiritual realm controls the physical realm.

And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills, and all nations shall flow unto it. (Is. 2:2)

The above prophecy, may not come to reality, until the church comes into her real position of GOVERNING. The church of Christ was meant to govern, to RULE. Not to be a beggarly church. The Book of Acts clearly gives us an account of the birth of the church and its early life. We will notice that the activities of the church was seriously accompanied with the manifestation of power, ruling and taking dominion of activities of darkness. I must say, the tussle is still ON, the baton is in our hands. We must rule, we are not cowards. We must take charge.

…To be Continued Next Week.

Finally, friends, I encourage us to cultivate the habit of studying the scriptures and meditating in it, because as we nurture ourselves individually, the body (the Church) is also growing corporately. Your growth affects the entire Church. It’s a disadvantage for us (the Church) if you choose to remain ignorant and spiritually immature. It is our duty to support ourselves as Christians and together achieve God’s purpose of establishing the Church. Important also is that we are saved to save others. Remember that you are being taught by the Holy Spirit and by other people so that when you grow-up, you can teach others.

I Call You Blessed
Written By Samson Afolabi

The Benefit of Coming Together

The Benefit of Coming Together

Bible trends reveal that God often pairs or groups people together. One may wonder, why is it that after making a perfect man, one that God looked at and called ‘good!’, He said, “it is not good for man to be alone”?  Why did Jesus ask the disciples (day of ascension) to gather together in the upper room? When He sent out His disciples to heal the sick, why did He instruct them to go in twos? These are merely a few pointers to the fact that when doing the Master’s work, a one-man army is not better than a “mature body”.

Here are a few reasons why gathering together with other Christians regularly is important.

The Psalmist in Ps 133 talks about the blessedness of brothers and sisters dwelling in unity. The easy-to-read version says “Oh, how wonderful, how pleasing it is when God’s people all come together as one!” This seems to be a declaration of a truth that had been experienced. One can almost picture him reminiscing on past gatherings where he had glorious experiences of sweet fellowship, liberation, and beholding the beauty of the Lord’s holiness; hence he utters “Oh!”, revealing his longing. There are certain indescribable pleasures obtained when we fellowship together. Usually, an experience of awesomeness makes you hunger for more.

It will be appropriate at this juncture to answer this question: What happens when saints gather together?

God is pleased! Just like it will please any parent to have his children and grand-children gathered around him, so it is with God. And what does God do in response to that? He blesses the gathering with his presence. Jesus said in Matt 18:20, “For where two or more are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them”.

And this is where the fun starts.

God being among us
Naturally, some would wonder, “but God already lives in me through His Spirit”. Yes, that is very true. Nonetheless, just the way God is 3 and God is 1, there is a place for God in you and a separate place for God in our midst. They both have different yet interwoven roles and expressions.

It is important to remember that Matt 18:20 is referring to a gathering unto God. NLT says “when 2 or more are gathered as my followers, I am among them”. It is refers to ambassadors of Christ coming together to establish wishes of the One that sent them. Although the verse was used in the context of how an assembly should manage a misbehaving member, it was mentioned as a fact and used to support a specific context; hence it is not restricted to this case alone.

So when we gather together as believers, God comes to be in our midst and fellowships with us as a group. An atmosphere is created for amazing things to happen.

When God is among us, Warmth is generated. Though physical warmth is not totally ruled out, warmth here means tenderness of heart causing genial disposition towards others which helps to build/foster cordial relationships. This will eventually lead to agreement. The hearts and desires of the members are unified by the same Spirit and the group develops what I like to call it the “tower of babel potential”. Of course this does not mean it is a sin for Christians to disagree on certain issues. Nevertheless, the Spirit of God should be given headship, so he works out peace and unity. Eph 4:3 reveals that members have to “ensure” that it happens this way. The fruit of the spirit in the form of patience and love plays out and in time, the truth will prevail. Sometimes both parties are wrong and sometimes both parties are right. Tommy Tenny in his book, Secret Sources of Power said: “An atmosphere of disunity is especially attractive to the enemy because it empowers him. … His kingdom is secure for a moment, because just as unity brings revival, disunity dispels it!”

Coming together will cause us to be united in faith and united in the knowledge of Christ Eph 4:13. As a result, we can do things in one accord and come to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ. Such a unified group easily defeats others, but cannot be defeated easily.Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 (please read!).  Other

Praying Together!
Prayer is simply communication with God, ideally a bi-directional one. As important as it is to separate yourself from others to pray, it should not replace the corporate prayer and agreement. Many times, corporate gatherings help to fuel your private worship. Nonetheless, this is not an attempt to prove which is more important.

A noteworthy occurrence was when God told the 120 disciples to stay in one place/room and pray, until the Spirit came upon them. I must confess that such is no more common. Are people ready to commit? I believe the Christians realized the power of praying together and they applied the same principle and got Peter delivered from prison in Acts 12.

An opportunity to build, help and strengthen each other though:

  1. Wise counsel. Matt 18:15-20. In the church, one has the privilege of getting a combination of “brains” controlled by the Lordship of Jesus. Where else can this be found? There are people in your gathering that can easily judge that problem you are going through often because they have more experience in walking with God than you. Prov 11:4, 15:22, 24:6; Luke 14:21.
  2. Pooling resources (both spiritual and material). As a church we can pool our resources to help our brother who is in need, instead of letting him bear the burden alone. We can also pool resources to achieve set goals! What do you have to offer?

Ephesians 4 reveals the “capital investments” the Holy Spirit made in the church (vs 7, 11) and the purpose for them: for perfecting the saints, for the work of the ministry, and for edifying the body of Christ (vs11-12). Did you notice the transition? In vs 11, it says “He gave to some…”, but goal in vs 13 is “Till we all …” I believe God is an advocate for division of labour, because the gifts are meant for duties. The gifts you’ve been given are not for you alone, but for the benefit of the whole group as well. Team work! It is better, faster, more efficient and more fun when like-minded people work as a team than when either of them works alone.

The proper working of each part contributes to the growth of the whole body (Eph4:16). Once you play your role as an individual, the whole church will grow a little more. Everyone is encouraged to take responsibility for their duty. Passionately steward it! Care a little less about the person who isn’t doing his part correctly. The body of Christ depends on it. You are more significant and influential. (Heb 10:25) Let’s come together to form a mature body, striving towards attaining the fullness of Christ.

Be present! Be available!

Written by Boluwatife Falaye

Hope for the World

Hope for the World

the earth sees and trembles (Ps 97:4b)

Every day when I consider the world, it ways, its values and moral balance it seems the devil has won the earth completely and Jesus has no chance at all. It often saddens my heart, to see a world so completely detached from its saviour. A world without God. Every day getting more and more evil, and the heart of men growing and turning farther and farther away from God. Immorality, Nudity and Evil and all sort of ungodly ways increasing everywhere. The story is even worse in many advanced countries of the world.

Personally, my concern and worry has been the way the devil has made our entertainment sector even more ungodly, typically every movie or song now has completely gone weird. Ladies almost or completely naked, all in the name of shooting a movie and hear-by driving the serious consciousness of Sex into our society, as a tool of “FUN” as they call it. The devil knows that a man is shaped by what he sees and hears, so he is careful to pump into the society very ungodly things through this media so Man completely remains DEAD. But it’s all a lie, because “the world will turn”. Yes I shout it, “the world will turn”.

The world will turn back to its redeemer. The world will turn to its saviour, she will turn to her creator. This Statement looks almost un-realisable and un-achievable, but true. There is something in Man that responds to God. Kill everything in Man, kill the Man himself and make him dead spiritually, and take him very far from God, but whenever it sees or hears the voice of his creator. Man will respond. Just as the dead tree jerks back to life at the scent of water.

“For there is hope for a tree, If it is cut down, that it will sprout again, And that its tender shoots will not cease” (Job 14:7)

“Though its root may grow old in the earth, And its stump may die in the ground.” (Job 14:8) 

“Yet at the scent of water it will bud, and bring forth branches like a plant.” (Job 14:9)

The Conversion of the Apostle Paul on the way to Damascus is also a good example. Saul as he was then called, was SPIRITUALLY DEAD. I mean completely spiritually dead. He was even against the cause of Christ. The Devil had taken over him completely, He was going everywhere killing Christians. But when his soul heard the voice of his saviour, HE TURNED. He came back to its Creator.

“And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutes thou me? Acts 9:4 

“And he said, who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutes: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks. Acts 9:5 “

And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do…” Acts 9:6 

Quite Amazing right? Saul called Him Lord. Even when he was fighting against Him. That “part of man” will always respond to God when he hears him.

Another Example, is the resurrection of Lazarus. Although it happened in the Physical. It is likewise in the Spiritual. (John 11:38 – 45). Even Lazarus sisters said by now he stinks, he is completely dead without hope again, without any sign of life again. They said it is late. Yet Jesus said, roll away the stone. I know there is something in Him that will respond to my voice.

“And when He had thus spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth” (John 11:43)

“And He that was dead came forth…” (John 11: 44)

Jesus’s coming to the world was also quite significant. Heaven was completely quiet for about 400 years. No message from anywhere about God, save the normal traditions of the priest and the other remains from the prophets. Yet when Jesus came, Men followed Him after hearing him speak.

I say it again, there is Hope for the World. I believe God hasn’t given up on the world. He is still patiently waiting, like the father of the prodigal Son that one day the world will return (Luke 15:18 – 22). “The prodigal son said to himself I will arise and I will go to my father”. He remembered he had a FATHER. I know the world will remember she has a Father. The Father also knows this. No matter how long the devil holds the world, the world will turn to the father.

In-fact He sent His Son Jesus to die for the world. The act of seeking each-other by two lovers in the songs of Solomon is a perfect explanation of how the father seeks after the world. The Bible is littered here and there with many such examples. The parable of Jesus, about the lost sheep (Matt. 18:12 – 13) is also a good illustration of the father seeking that the world be found. Just as E.W. Kenyon said “the reason for the creation of man, was because of the lonely heart of the father”. The father needed fellowship, and that’s why man was created.

So if then we have the mind of Christ (1 Cor. 2:16), aren’t we suppose to seek what he seeks? Our disposition to the world, is not to cast them off and to discard them as though the father doesn’t care about them, but we should endeavour to arise, and seek to show the world Jesus. We should seek to speak the word of Jesus to them, because we are the Sons of God, our words are as good as God’s word.

If we speak to them, and they do not respond, we keep speaking to them. Because one day, they would.

“The earth is the LORD’s, and all its fullness, the World and those who dwell therein (Psalm 24:1)”

God has the whole earth in is mind. He doesn’t just want Nigeria or some street in Africa to turn to him, He wants the whole earth and all its people to be truly His. So as His son’s we need to keep seeking this as well. We need to make this pre-occupation. And the good thing is that “there is hope for the world”.

If you have been speaking with some people about Jesus and it seems they aren’t listening or responding to your message (gospel) or you look at the mission field and it seems all the labour of our missionaries are not showing forth. Or you look at many strange happenings in the world now like, lesbianism, homo-sexuality, suicide bombings, terrorism and all this makes you wonder if ever the whole earth can ever accept Jesus? Have got good news, and it is that the world will turn. Yes, the world will turn to Jesus. The world will hearken to the voice of her master. So let’s not be tired, but rather let’s put on a new zeal and a new passion and let’s cry out and shout out to all people on earth, in every race and country about Jesus, the way, the truth, and the one and only life of the father.

I CALL YOU BLESSED!
Wriiten By Afolabi Samson