Ecclesiology: An Introduction by Matthew Howden

Matthew Howden

Introduction

In this article we will be taking an introductory look at ecclesiology, or the study of the church, including key Bible passages, issues, my personal statement and a warrant for position.

Bible Passages

Matthew 16:16-19: This is the most famous passage on the church. Here Jesus said that he would build his church on a rock and that the gates of hell would not prevail against it.

It is also here that Jesus gives to Peter and the other disciples “the keys to the kingdom of heaven” and where the church’s authority is established.

Today, the church still has the power to forbid and permit what ordinances and rites should or should not be allowed according to how close such suggestions align with God’s Word.

Matthew 18:15-20: This passage shows us the role the church plays in the handling of disputes between members who sin against one another.

Specifically, it teaches us how to deal with this as brothers and sisters in Christ. If we go to the person that has sinned against us and they listen we have gained them.

If they do not listen we are to bring two or three witnesses and if they still do not listen then we are to bring them before the church.“The early church gathered and ate together and shared resources. This continues to be the call of the church today.”

If their impertinence finds no end, they can be considered as heathen men. Jesus also speaks again of the binding and loosing role of the church which means its authority under God to permit and forbid things according to God’s will and word.

Acts 2:37-47: This passage takes place on the day of Pentecost when the Spirit came upon the disciples.

Accordingly, Peter stood up and gave a sermon to explain what was happening. At the end 3000 people believed in Jesus and they were baptized into the church.

They would then devote themselves to the apostles’ teaching, to fellowship, the breaking of bread (this could mean the Lord’s Supper or the sharing of a meal together) and prayer. (Acts 2:42)

The early church gathered and ate together and shared resources. This continues to be the call of the church today.

Moreover, we are to gather together, praise God, listen to teaching from both the Old and New Testaments, have fellowship with each other, break bread as part of the Lord’s Supper and meet the needs of our fellow believers.

The early church met at the temple together and in their houses.

1 Corinthians 12:14-31 and 1 Corinthians 14:1-26: Here we learn that the Holy Spirit does the work when it comes to salvation and bringing people that make up the church together.

And, when we come together we make up the body of Christ. Therefore Christians are known as the body of Christ.“The Holy Spirit does the work when it comes to salvation and bringing people that make up the church together.”

As such, when the body of Christ suffers we all enter into that suffering and likewise we also rejoice together.

Also, Christians have Spiritual gifts given to them by the Holy Spirit for the common good of the church, and when we gather we are there to build up and encourage each other.

Lastly, when we come together to worship God we are to meet in an orderly manner.

Ephesians 2:11-22: In this passage, Paul takes the time to remind the Gentiles of what it was like for them before they came to know Christ.

Then he lets them know who they are for knowing Christ . They are no longer strangers and foreigners but fellow citizens with the saints (the people that have been part of the church for all time) and members of the household of God.

These same claims that Paul made to the Gentiles in Ephesus have the same meanings for us as well.

Key Issues

Some of the issues regarding the doctrine of the church center around how we are to meet.

The early church met together in homes every day, and its not uncommon today to hear people asking if we need to return to this model.“The Bible is clear that God wants his people to come together to worship him, to learn from the Scriptures, to pray together, care for each other, and to partake in the ordinances.”

In fact, the house church movement has been gaining traction once again. People in this movement believe that if the church meets in this way then the spiritual gifts of all of its members can be equally utilized.

Regardless, to me there seems to be a place for both large gatherings and a place for small gatherings in regards to the church.

Personal Statement

I believe that the Bible is clear that the church is the gathering of the body of Christ.

Likewise, when the church comes together there are things that we need to do. First, we must worship God with songs and praise. Second, we are to honor him through the public reading of Scripture.

Third, we must teach and preach from the Bible, and fourth we ought to follow the two ordinances of baptism and the Lord’s Supper.

Warrant for Position

The Bible is clear that God wants his people to come together to worship him, to learn from the Scriptures, to pray together, care for each other, and to partake in the ordinances.

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