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Flashcards in The Church Week 1 Deck (77):
1

= the doctrine of the church

ecclesiology, from the Greek word εκκλησια (ekklēsia)

2

The church is the people of God who have been saved through repentance and faith in the gospel of Jesus Christ and incorporated into his body through baptism with the Holy Spirit. It consists of two interrelated elements:

The universal church is the fellowship of all Christians which extends from the day of Pentecost until the second coming, and which incorporates both the deceased believers who are presently in heaven and the living believers from all over the world. This universal church becomes manifested in local churches characterized by being doxological, logocentric, pneumadynamic, covenantal, confessional, missional, and spatio-temporal-eschatological. Local churches are led by pastors (or elders) and served by deacons, possess and pursue purity and unity, exercise church discipline, and develop strong connections with other churches. In terms of their ministry and mission, these communities regularly gather to worship the triune God, proclaim his Word, celebrate the ordinances of baptism and the Lord’s Supper, engage non-Christians with the gospel, exercise spiritual gifts, disciple their members, care for people through prayer and giving, and stand for and against the world.

3

The definition emphasizes at the outset that the church is

the people of God or, in the words of the early creeds, “the communion of saints.”

4

In contrast with some common notions today, it is not a building (the red brick colonial-style building with white pillars and a steeple just a few blocks down from where we live), a denominational tag (e.g., the Presbyterian Church USA), a national or state church (e.g., the Lutheran Church of Sweden), avatars worshipping together in the virtual world of Second Life, or the Catholic Church (with its claim that “the one Church of Christ…subsists in the Catholic Church”). Rather, the church is people; specifically, the church is the

new covenant people of God.

5

Though the people of God have existed from the beginning of the human race (one thinks especially of the people of Israel who lived under the old covenant), the church (adhering to the new covenant) did not exist prior to the first coming of Jesus Christ. (Thus, we can speak of the one people of God consisting of different and distinguishable expressions, e.g.,.)

the old covenant people of Israel, the new covenant people of the church

6

Christ is the Redeemer who accomplished salvation through his atoning death and resurrection for the people of God who compose the church. It is through the gospel, and a response to it of repentance from sin and faith in Christ, that Christians have been saved (and by this term I mean all aspects of the might work of God that are commonly regarded as encompassing salvation, including election, effective calling, regeneration, justification, adoption, sanctification, and perseverance). An additional aspect of the salvific work of God—one that is often overlooked but relates directly to the identity of the members of the church—is the

incorporation of Christians into the body of Christ as he baptizes them with the Holy Spirit (John 1:33; 1 Cor. 12:13). Accordingly, all who are “in Christ” are de facto “in the church” and compose its members

7

The church consists of two interrelated elements, commonly referred to as

explain these..

the “universal” church and “local” churches.

The universal church is the company of all Christians stretching from its inception (accomplished by the death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ, and created by the descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost) to its terminal point, Christ’s second coming at the end of this present age (or, specifically, the rapture of the church prior to his return). It incorporates both the deceased believers who are currently in the presence of Christ in heaven and the living believers scattered throughout the world. Whereas the former aspect is gathered together as the “heavenly” church, the latter aspect does not assemble, does not possess a structure or organization, does not have human leaders, and does not have a specific space-time address. These intangibles do not render the universal church any less real, however, as the next point demonstrates.

8

This universal church (at least its living members) is manifested (by Christ, its head, and the Spirit) and manifests itself (through Christians associating themselves with one another) in local churches, characterized by seven attributes:
what are they and explain them?

-doxological, or oriented to the glory of God;
-logocentric, or centered on the incarnate Word of God, Jesus Christ, and the inspired Word of God, Scripture;
-pneumadynamic, or created, gathered, gifted, and empowered by the Holy Spirit;
-covenantal, or gathered as members in new covenant relationship with God and in covenantal relationship with each other;
-confessional, or united by both personal confession of faith in Christ and common confession of the Christian faith;
-missional, or identified as the body of divinely-called and divinely-sent ministers to proclaim the gospel and advance the kingdom of God; and spatio-temporal-eschatological, or assembled as a historical reality (located in space and time) and
-possessing a certain hope and clear destiny while they live the strangeness of ecclesial existence in the here-and-now.

9

Local churches are led by qualified and publicly-recognized men who are called pastors or elders (as used in the New Testament, two other terms—“bishops” and “overseers”—are other interchangeable terms) who have the responsibilities of teaching sound doctrine, governing (under the headship of Christ), praying (especially for the sick), and shepherding (leading through exemplary lifestyles). These assemblies are also served by deacons, qualified and publicly-recognized men and women who serve Jesus Christ in the many church ministries. Because of divine grace and provision, local churches possess both purity and unity; because of sin, however, they must also pursue greater purity and maintain unity through both divine aid and Spirit-empowered human effort. When their members persist in sin, churches exercise discipline for the purposes of restoring erring members and rectifying entrenched sinful situations, containing such sin-saturated realities, and preserving the honor of Christ and their own reputation. Churches also develop strong connections with other churches for the purposes of cooperative high impact ministry, the sharing of resources, mutual accountability, and the like.

In terms of their ministry and mission, local churches regularly gather to worship the triune God, proclaim his Word through the preaching of Scripture, celebrate the ordinances of baptism and the Lord’s Supper, engage non-Christians with the gospel, exercise spiritual gifts for the building up their members, disciple them through education and sharing in community life, care for people through prayer and giving, and stand for and against the world by helping the poor and marginalized through holistic ministries and denouncing the evils wrought by sin.

10

God always relates to his people in

covenant relationship

11

covenantal elements:

covenants (1) are unilateral (established by God and God only); (2) create or formalize a structured relationship between God and his covenant partners; (3) feature binding obligations; and (4) involve covenantal signs or the swearing of oaths

12

Old Testament covenants

Adamic -between God, Adam & Eve and the rest of creations

Noahic - Noah and 7 members or his fam and the rest of creation

Abrahamic - promises Abram if he does all these things, God will bless his lineage

Mosaic/old - structure God’s relationship with the massive people of Israel

Davidic - God established with David and offspring - Solomon - ultimately King Jesus - eternal kingdom to come

13

in the Old Testament, two themes regarding the old covenant

1. the OC would be replaced/ don't away with
2. replaced with a fresh new out pouring of the Holy Spirit

14

two themes seen how?

1. John the Baptist
Luke 3:15-17 - > John the Baptist takes the prophesies of the new covenant and he associated with them with the Messiah; Jesus does this as well - future forecast of the Holy Spirit… day of Pentecost is the day of fulfillment of the prophesies… new church is born
2. Jesus Christ
3. the day of Pentecost

15

the New Testament view of the old and new covenants

the church is the church of the new covenant, which

4 things

(1) is a unilateral agreement, established by God and God alone that

(2) creates a structured relationship between him and his covenant partners, Christ-followers “from every tribe and language and people and nation” (Rev. 5:9);

(3) features binding obligations on the part of both God and his covenant partners (e.g., 2 Cor. 6:16-18; Matt. 22:37-40; 28:19-20; Gal. 6:2); and

(4) is sealed by two covenantal signs, baptism (initiatory rite) and the Lord’s Supper (on going rite)

16

the biblical vision: characteristics concerning the origin and orientation of the church

1. the church is doxological

doxa =
doxological =

doxa = glory
doxological = oriented to giving God glory

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God has created everything to be oriented to giving him glory:

this includes....

1. the heavens and the earth (Ps. 19:1; 108:5)
2. the angelic realm (Ps. 29:1-2)
3. human beings as the divine image-bearers (Ps. 8:5)
*problem (Rom. 1:23; 3:23) - we have ALL sinned
*reversal for Christ-followers (Eph. 1:11-12) - God by saving us has made us people who are living to praise the Lord

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similarly, the church is to be oriented

How does the church reflect the glory of God?

toward the glory of God (Eph. 3:21)


obedience, unity of the church

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specifically, the church is to be orthodoxological =

give God his proper honor
the possibility of false glory giving: the idolatry of the church (1 Cor. 10:14; 1 John 5:20-21; 2 Cor. 11:1-4) churches can be oriented to give honor and glory to something else other than God -social injustice, political agenda, idolize ministry, numbers..compromise on the gospel?, good reputation, legalism

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the biblical vision: characteristics concerning the origin and orientation of the church

2. the church is logocentric

What does this mean?
What are the two senses?

logos = focused on the word of God

logos (sense 1): Jesus Christ, the incarnate Word of God

logos (sense 2): Scripture, the inspired Word of God

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logos (sense 1): Jesus Christ, the incarnate Word of God


scripture with this and explain

John 1:1, 14 - Church should be centered upon Christ


the church is centered on Christ as the Word of God
-Matthew 16:18 - on this ROCK I will build MY church
-Ephesians 2:20 - Jesus is the metaphorical CORNERSTONE; fives direction, guides the church
-Ephesians 1:20-23 - Jesus is HEAD over all things; Lord, King, Ruler - let us be focused upon Him

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logos (sense 2): Scripture, the inspired Word of God

explain 7 points

1. expired, not inspired..2 Tim3:16-17 -product of the created breath of God… divine..

2. sufficient.. everything non believers need to know to embrace salvation and all that we as Christ followers need to know to please God fully (2 Peter 1) if God calls you to a task, He will equip you

3. necessary - instructs us, can do nothing without it

4. truthful (inerrant) - everything it affirms is true

5. clear - God has written this revelation in a way for us to understand it - expect to understand it

6. authoritative - ultimate authority in our life.. to obey Scripture is to obey God himself

7. productive - word of God works

P. T. Forsyth: “If we are not going to use our Bible, it is of no use building our Churches.”

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other than the 2 senses...
the church is logocentric .. other aspects of this...
1.

1. the word of the gospel (2 Thess. 2:13-14; 1 Pet. 1:23) - chosen by God to be saved - salvation actualized by the Holy Spirit; born again of the Word of God

John Webster: “Scripture is not the word of the church; the church is the church of the word….The church exists in the space which is made by the Word.”

Romans 10:13-17 - committed to be sent to announce the good news to all over the world… the church will be born when we do this

P. T. Forsyth: “Our first business is neither to gather men nor to move them, but to preach in the speech of our time…the universal and moving Gospel. Let it gather them, and let it stir them. The first condition of a true revival is a sound Gospel. To revive the Church, revive its Gospel as given once for all in its Bible.” let the gospel stir them

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other than the 2 senses...
the church is logocentric .. other aspects of this...

even more so...
(2.-4.)

1. the word of sound doctrine; the word against false doctrine (Titus 1:1; 1 Tim. 4:6; 2 Tim. 1:13-14; 1 Tim. 6:3)

2. the word against the church - Scripture is our adversary; always stands against us; always convicting us; lukewarmness, relying on self, course talk, false teachers


John Webster: “Scripture is as much a de-stabilizing feature of the church as it is a factor in its cohesion and continuity”

the sins for which Scripture chastises the church - 15 works of the flesh - 8 of them are about divisiveness of the church

3. the church as “a pillar and buttress of the truth” (1 Tim. 3:15) - church takes a stand for truth


25

pneuma =

spirit

the church is pneumadynamic

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the church is pneumadynamic, or

specific ministries of the Holy Spirit are directed at

created, gathered, gifted, and empowered by the Holy Spiri

inaugurating, building up, and strengthening churches

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pneumadynamic scripture

-Acts 2:1-5 day of Pentecost - HS sent by the Father and Son and inaugurates the church of Jerusalem -
Holy Spirit gives birth to the church itself and gives birth to new churche
-Acts 1:8 Spirit empowers the church to do the work of the Kingdom
-1 Corinthians 12:7, 11 - each member of Christ has been given gifts, soverignly been given by the HS - purpose to further the church
-Ephesians 4:3; Romans 15:30; Colossians 1:8; Romans 14:17 - HS gives the gift of unity; be eager to maintain the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace; HS gives us love for one another; HS fostering an atmosphere of joy, peace, and righteousness
-Acts 20:28; 13:2-3 - HS establishes leaders in the church

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pneumadynamic
by these means, the Holy Spirit works powerfully to

inaugurate, build up, and strengthen churches

29

he biblical vision: characteristics concerning the gathering and sending of the church

the church is covenantal

the church is covenantal, or

gathered as members in (new) covenant relationship with God and in covenant relationship with each other

30

the church is covenantal
two senses

1. the church in new covenant relationship with God through Christ
-God always relates to us through covenants - with covenants, comes signs
-symbols of the new covenant - baptism & the Lord’s supper



2. church members in covenant relationship with one another

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P. T. Forsyth: “The same act which sets us in Christ sets us also in the society of Christ. It does so ipso facto, and not by a mere consequence or sequel, more or less optional. To be in Christ is in the same act to be in the Church. . . . It puts us into a relation with all saints which we may neglect to our bane but which we cannot destroy.”
what this mean?

in Christ = not just an individually reality, but puts you in the church

insertion into the body of Christ

must be apart of the church if true believer

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what is a church covenant?

“a church covenant is a series of written pledges based on the Bible which church members voluntarily make to God and to one another regarding their basic moral and spiritual commitments and the practice of their faith”

33

the Mars Hill member covenant
includes..

statement of faith
statement of biblical doctrine
obligation of Mars Hill Church to its members
my obligation to Mars Hill Church as a member
my commitment to the mission of Mars Hill Church

34

some benefits of a church covenant

the relationship between these two aspects: first, the new covenant, then the covenant between members


the church is not first and foremost a voluntary society
the church is not a club or just another social organization
as church leaders, we are called to be thankful recipients of Christian fellowship
-not a voluntary society
-not a club/social organization
-divine reality with humans
-be thankful for the church that God has given you
-pastor and shepherd the church you have; don;t complain - play the role God has design you to play

35

the church is confessional, or

united by both personal confession of faith in Christ and common confession of the historic Christian faith (faith in the first sense refers to the act of faith, whereas faith in the second sense refers to the substance of faith)

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two senses
confessional 1.

personal confession of faith in the saving Lordship of Jesus Christ
Romans 10:8-13 - personal confession of each believer

a verbal confession: “with [one’s] mouth” - seen in baptism
the visible expression of this confession (Acts 2:38; Acts examples)
personal confession of faith in Jesus Christ is a requisite element of salvation

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two senses
confessional 2.

example: 1 Tim. 3:15-16 (also Phil. 2:5-11) - exerts from an early church confession of faith
who is this mystery of godliness? - Christ - how one should act

the church must “speak” or “confess” the truth in love (Eph. 4:15): this truth confessing was the antidote to heretical teaching (v. 14) and key to maturity (vv. 13, 15)
-speak the truth in love - clear statement of what the church believes

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the practice of the early church: the rule of faith or the canon of truth; early church confessions of faith:

the Nicene-Constantinople Creed (381), modifying the Creed of Nicea (325); the Apostles’ Creed; the Chalcedonian Creed (451)

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the historical practice of the church - let this be the

practice of our churches as well

P. T. Forsyth: “a Church is made by what it believes”

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a modest proposal - when the church is gathered together what if we

what I’m not advocating -


what I am advocating -

problems

-confess what we believe together - reciting, confessing what we believe as the body of Christ on a regular basis

-not advocating a particular creed or how much

-as one voice making confusion of what we believe
reasons for advocating this practice?
need to know what we believe
help understand the Bible
helps to give us courage when hear anti gospel, but our flag down and stand for the truth of sound doctrine

-so formal, what if people don't know what it means
should not be a going through the motions type deal
historical elements and reformed current church

41

the church is missional, or

identified as the body of divinely-called and divinely-sent ministers to proclaim the gospel and advance the kingdom of God

42

John 20:19-23
the Father commissioned the Son: what is this commission, the missio Dei?

peace be with you - as the Father has sent you, so I am sending you
mission - accomplish salvation - Father -> Son -> us… our church to share the gospel - same commission - church becomes part of the missional aspect - commission given to us, originated with God

as the Son was commissioned by the Father with this mission, so the Son commissioned his disciples with that mission

announce salvation!!

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two metaphors of the missional church

a lit lamp (Luke 8:16, 18)
a lampstand (Rev. 2:5-6)

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three implications: the missional church is

1. expansive - day of Pentecost - 12 disciples - 1000s repent and believe.. 1000s more… go tot he gentiles, goes to Rome.. 6000 new believers every day

2. contextually sensitive (compare Acts 2:14-41; 14:8-18; and 17:16-34) - for different cultures; simple message - be sensitive to where you are; no matter where you are you have to - have to have balance - don't under or over…. must stay true to the gospel, but get on the peoples level too

3. (potentially) catholic or universal (Matt. 28:18-20; Acts 1:8; Rev. 5:9) - make disciples of all nations and of all peoples; to all parts of the world; every part of the globe - plant and be missional churches

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how does the missional identity of the church differ from what the church has practiced, more or less, from its inception in terms of evangelism, sending and supporting missionaries, and other types of missionary endeavors?

the ENTIRE church should be missional.

not just a function of the church. we should all be a part of this

be aggressive in pushing evangelism

should be part of your DNA

part of all you do - core part of who your church is

not what a committee is called to do what believers, what the church as a whole is called to do

46

church should be missional part 1

Jurgen Moltmann: we must understand “not that the church ‘has’ a mission, but the very reverse: that the mission of Christ creates its own church. Mission does not come from the church; it is from mission and in light of mission that the church has to be understood”

George Hunsberger: “a missional ecclesiology—an ecclesiology that sees the fundamental missionary character of the church as critical for its self-understanding in a post-Christian, postmodern setting”

this contrasts with missions being seen more as an activity of the church rather than in terms of the church’s essential image of itself: missional is a matter of identity first, then function
“A missional ecclesiology stresses that the church’s very existence has been sent into the world….The fundamental point is that missions is not peripheral or additional for the church. The fact that is has been sent is of its essential nature, so much so that the sending is implicitly and explicitly formative in all aspects of its life—its worship, its koinonia, its engagements, its witness, its birthing of new communities, its sociopolitical engagements, its compassion and mercy.”

this emphasis underscores that the missional task of the church has been given to it; it is a divinely given mandate, not a responsibility the church takes to itself

moreover, missional is a matter of corporate identity first, then individual engagement

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church should be missional part 2

Hunsberger is critical of “an evangelical bias that sees Christian identity fundamentally as individual. That has the tendency to obliterate the communal, or at least to overwhelm it so that it is not fundamental to the notion of church that shapes Christian practice.”

he applies his criticism to the church’s missional identity: “If, for evangelicalism, Christian faith and identity are first personal and individual, its sense of missions tends to be the same. The responsibility to give witness to Christ is one each person bears….Missions is not conceived to be first of all the ‘mission of the church,’ to which every member is joined. First it is the mission of the Christian, which in the church becomes a collective responsibility.”
accordingly, missions is commonly relegated to the domain and responsibility of the Christians in the church, which itself is “mildly irrelevant” to the whole matter; thus, “missions in the end does not belong to the church”

[Christopher Wright’s The Mission of God provides a robust biblical-theological framework for the missional church

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church should be missional part 3

“The Bible renders to us the story of God’s mission through God’s people in their engagement with God’s world for the sake of the whole of God’s creation. The Bible is the drama of this God of purpose engaged in the mission of achieving that purpose universally….Mission is, in that much-abused phrase, ‘what it’s all about.’” (22)

Luke 24:44-49 (cf. Acts 26:22-23) is key: Jesus “seems to be saying that the whole of the Scripture (which we now know as the Old Testament) finds its focus and fulfillment both in the life and death and resurrection of Israel’s Messiah, and in the mission to all nations, which flows out of that event.” (30)

“Mission is not ours; mission is God’s. Certainly, the mission of God is the prior reality out of which flows any mission that we get involved in. Or…it is not so much the case that God has a mission in the world. Mission was not made for the church; the church was made for mission—God’s mission.” (62)

“God’s will to be known is the mainspring of our mission to make him known….So all our missional efforts to make God known must be set within the prior framework of God’s own will to be known. We are seeking to accomplish what God himself wills to happen. This is both humbling and reassuring. It is humbling inasmuch as it reminds us that all our efforts would be in vain but for God’s determination to be known. We are neither the initiators of the mission of making God known to the nations nor does it lie in our power to decide how the task will be fully accomplished or when it may be deemed to be complete. But it is also reassuring. For we know that behind all our fumbling efforts and inadequate communication stands the supreme will of the living God, reaching out in loving self-revelation, incredibly willing to open blind eyes and reveal his glory through the treasures of the gospel delivered in the clay pots of his witnesses.” (129-130)]

moving to become a missional church (or ensuring that a new church is missional from its inception)

49

the church is spatio-temporal-eschatological

(here and not-here; already, but not yet), or assembled as a historical reality (located in space and time) and possessing a certain hope and clear destiny while it lives the strangeness of its existence in the here-and-now
-sojourners/strangers - one foot here, one foot in heaven

50

the church’s spatial characteristic
1-3

-“church” = building (common notion today) no it is not
-Hunsberger: the church is the “place where certain things happen”
get together to disciple
-Bonhoeffer: “The Body of Christ takes up physical space here on earth.”

51

the church’s spatial characteristic
4-6

-specific churches were established in specific places with concrete addresses (e.g., 1 Cor. 1:2) God called people it there. In space and time.

“God called the churches there for his purposes—and the there was not inconsequential, seeing God’s providential ordering of peoples, times, and places (Acts 17:26).”


Revelation 2:5 - the church is a lamp stand - if we move so far way from Christ we will lose our lamp stand;

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NOT:

NOT: the location of the church is an essential matter (John 4:1-42): the issue is about the identity of worshippers, not the location of worship; but Jesus does not mean that genuine worshippers engage in genuine worship no where; it does not have to be on Mt. Gerizim, nor does it have to take place in (the temple of) Jerusalem, but worship must take place some where: “The church is not geographically bound to one place…but it is not geographically agnostic, in that it lives, moves, and has its being in some spatiotemporal reality.  It can be anywhere, but always is ‘somewherealso.’”


NOT: a building is an essential matter for the church, particularly a building owned by the church; but when there is a church building, the spatio-temporal realities of the church prompt theological reflection on its design, structure, aesthetics, upkeep, etc.

53

an important question: does the physical space—the building—advance or obstruct what the church is seeking to be and do?

does the space in which the members gather together for the weekly service(s) enhance or hinder the worship of God?

does the space in which the educational programs are conducted contribute to or detract from learning and life transformation?

does the space in which the congregants come together stimulate or encumber genuine fellowship?

54

Application:

-engage in theological reflection regarding this investment in its location requirements

-consider reasonable and appropriate expenditures for new construction and renovations that will enhance what the church is seeking to be and do

-don’t complain about and object to spending money on the church’s physical space, but welcome such expenditure as part of God’s will for the church and seek to make it redound to the glory of God and the advancement of the church’s identity and purpose

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the church’s temporal characteristic

-the heritage that goes before the current manifestation of gathered people exerts an influence on the church’s present reality, an influence either for blessing or for curse

-a future that goes beyond the current manifestation of gathered people demands that the church work diligently to establish and maintain a good reputation in the community

56

the church’s eschatological characteristic

-as “here” yet also “not here,” the church lives in a

“boundary epoch” between the two advents of Jesus Christ; hence, the church is composed of “sojourners and exiles” (1 Pet. 2:11)

57

the church has experienced the decisive intervention of the age to come,

bringing salvation (in part), the knowledge of God (in part), deliverance from sin (in part), the power of the Holy Spirit (in part), purity and unity (in part), eternal life (in part)

58

when Christ returns in glory, then the “not yet” will be

fully realized: the church will be presented to Christ “in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing…holy and without blemish” (Eph. 5:27), experiencing salvation (in full), the knowledge of God (in full), deliverance from sin (in full), the power of the Holy Spirit (in full), purity and unity (in full), eternal life (in full)

59

-this “already-not yet” reality means that the church must develop realistic expectations of itself

1. the “already” aspect encourages the church to have

2. -the “not yet” aspect cautions the church not to overreach with its expectations; indeed, it warns the church to expect the

1. high expectations for its worship, obedience, faithfulness, unity, holiness, consecration to the Lord’s will, spiritual fervor, fruitfulness, purity, good decision-making, etc.

2. continual presence of idolatry, disobedience, faithlessness, division, sin, worldliness, lukewarmness, stagnation, immorality, wrong decisions, etc.

60

-this “already-not yet” reality means that the church must develop realistic expectations of itself

3. the “already-not yet” characteristic explains why the church always


4. this attribute also explains why the church should hold its members to the

3. champions grace and counts on it to overcome entrenched sinfulness, yet at times appropriately exercises church discipline

4. high standards established for them by Scripture, yet bear with their mistakes and failures and forgive them when they sin (Eph. 4:32)

61

summary of the identity/nature of the church: the church is

doxological, logocentric, pneumadynamic, covenantal, confessional, missional, and spatio-temporal-eschatological;

62

Ecclesiology: Growth

the vision actualized: the growth of the church

from _____________________? —creation, fall, redemption, and consummation—the church as part of the redemptive work of God looks forward to the consummation of the divine plan; thus, the church anticipates a glorious participation in the new heaven and new earth (Rev. 21-22)

a metanarrative perspective

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God has graciously make known to the church “the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ, as a plan for the fulfillment of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth” (Eph. 1:9-10)

this omega point features a Christotelic element, or ultimate Christological orientation (all pointing to Christ):

64

this cosmic, Christ-centered plan of the summation of all things—which includes

human beings, angelic and demonic powers, even the physical creation itself—has been initiated in the church, and it is toward this end that the church travels on its earthly and temporal pilgrimage

65

this movement is away from immaturity (Eph. 4:14) and toward maturity (Eph. 4:15)
and while it must be born of and assisted each step of the way by divine grace, it also demands

intense effort from each and every member of the church (Eph. 4:15-16): the dynamic of the divine and human dimensions working together—Christ doing his part, which only he can do, in ways appropriate to his divine agency; Christians doing their parts, which only they can do, in ways appropriate to their human agency—will bring about the growth of the church in accordance with the cosmic, Christotelic plan of God

66

such growth comes about through the pursuit of the

purity of the church, the maintenance of the unity of the church, and the exercise of church discipline

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the purity and unity of the church

the growth of the church involves both purity and unity, understood in three ways:

1. in a positional sense, both of these are realities for the church: the church is already holy (1 Cor. 1:1-2) just as it is already united (Eph. 4:3)


2. in an etiological sense, both of these are essential aims for the church as it grows: the church is to be “holy and without blemish” (Eph. 5:27), and it is to “attain to the unity of the faith” (Eph. 4:13); thus, the church orients itself and is pointed toward purity and unity


3. in an instrumental sense, these two are essential processes fostering the growth of the church: as it pursues greater and greater purity, and as it maintains its unity, the church grows

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“the purity of the church is its degree of

freedom from wrong doctrine and conduct, and its degree of conformity to God’s revealed will for the church”

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the reality of less-pure and more-pure churches: both scripturally and empirically, we acknowledge more pure churches;

+Antioch, Ephesus, Thessalon. - Cor, Gal.

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this distinction is between true churches; there is another category of churches —____ _______—that have fallen away from the gospel of Jesus Christ and sound doctrine

false churches

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diagrammatically, this discussion may be represented as the following:

false churches true churches

true churches: are we more or less pure ?

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churches may evaluate themselves by asking: As a church are we more or less pure with regard to .....?

Are we more free from error and more fully conformed to ....?

the essential characteristics and ministries of the church?

God’s revealed will for the church in a particular area, or are we less free from error and less conformed to God’s revealed will for the church in that area?

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churches can be more pure in some areas and less pure in other areas

true

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churches have a tendency to consider the areas in which they are more pure to be the most important areas, and the areas in which they are less pure to be of lesser importance

see them as secondary areas

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work toward greater and greater purity is a process that demands

vision, patience, prayer, hard work, etc.

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too often, people give up on true though impure churches and leave them for more pure churches

1. the majority does so because of

2. they feel a sense of


but this practice should not be as commonplace as it appears to be today: indeed, Scripture gives no warrant for it, and it harms the unity of the church

1. personal needs not being met: they believe that their current church is failing to help them to grow spiritually, or they do not feel engaged in meaningful work in the church

2. disillusionment with the people in their current church: those who leave have felt judged by the others, or consider the others to be hypocritical

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four questions for Christians to ponder as they consider leaving their current church:

5 questions

-these questions serve only as indicators, not strict determiners of one’s actions, so positive responses may indicate that leaving the church is the proper course of action but they do not demand departure

-indeed, leaving a true church should be a fairly rare step, particularly because it violates the unity of the church

1. have I expended all of my opportunities to effect change in this church?

2. will continued participation in this church exert a negative impact on my relationship with and worship of God, my ministry for Jesus Christ, the use of my spiritual gifts, etc.?


3. do I have to compromise too much—essential doctrines and practices, a lifestyle in accordance with biblical values and principles—in order to remain in this church?

4. do I have a legitimate reason for leaving?

5. has God released me from my current ministry and is he is directing you to a new ministry? (for staff)