Week Two Introduction: What is the Church?

God is Doing Something New

Scriptural Text

Joshua 3:2-5 At the end of three days the officers went through the camp 3 and commanded the people, “As soon as you see the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God being carried by the Levitical priests, then you shall set out from your place and follow it. 4 … in order that you may know the way you shall go, for you have not passed this way before.” 5 Then Joshua said to the people, “Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do wonders among you.”

Isaiah 43:19-21 19 Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert … for I give water in the wilderness,
rivers in the desert, to give drink to my chosen people, 21 the people whom I formed for myself
that they might declare my praise.

Exposition

New Growth

God is doing something new and wonderful in the CHPC and FPVR churches! That is why a relocation process was begun, which led to the current discussions on merger of the two churches.   And even if merger is not the right answer, change is. If everything were going perfectly, these discussions would never have begun.  Usually, a church is either growing and does not have room for future growth, or it cannot grow at its present location due to one restriction or another. Since not growing is not an option, either the church should move to a location and facilities where growth is possible, change the current facility, or change the approach to ministry.  The changes may be expensive or uncomfortable. Yet one way or the other, big steps need to be taken. We do not have the option of continuing doing things the way we have been doing them – and please God. It is obvious that change must come.

This week’s devotions are on God’s church, some of the key verses and definitions are below. To answer our question, “What is the church?”, we begin by looking at the PCA’s foundational document, the Westminster Confession of Faith (WCF), Larger Catechism, and Scriptural basis.  Though the church is mentioned in many ways throughout the WCF, the following questions and their answers (found in the devotionals) offer the Catechism’s definitions and simpler explanations that directly address or define the church.

  1. 62: What is the visible church? And, Q. 64: What is the invisible church? The full list of scriptural basis of the answers can be found in the WCF and Larger Catechism. To conserve space and time, only some of key verses are included in the daily devotions.

Key verses included – John 12:34-36, 44-48, Isaiah 59:21, 1 Corinthians 1:2-3, 12-14, John 17:21, Ephesians 1:22-23, 5:25-33, 2:4-7, John 10:28-30, Matthew 9:36-38, John 4:34-36

Application

“Change is inevitable. If we do absolutely nothing, change will still come. At that point, however, the change may be the painful decline and death of (one or both of) our churches. We can sit by and watch the dreaded changes come, or we can adapt with God and experience the Christian adventure in a new way with God.”  Rev. Derek Gentle

Maintenance or Movement?

“Finally, the success of the church has been secured in the promises of God’s Word. We are told that the church built by Christ will never be overcome by Satan but will tear down the citadels of darkness, taking captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. The words spoken by Paul to the church of Rome resound to this day: “The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you” (Romans 16:20).’

“Now I have a question. Is this present hope a reality in our churches? Is our church a movement of the kingdom of God or is it a maintenance effort of an institution? Are we moving from victory to victory as the body of Christ and the army of Christ? Or are we attempting merely to survive from year to year? Where does the realization of the present hope of the church begin? Here is a place for us to start.’

“As a body of believers we must make a conscious commitment to developing corporate excellence of character for Christ instead of merely working on techniques in the name of Christ. The church, your church, needs to take the time to know who we are in Christ and, therefore, who we are to be for Christ. As a church, we must say “yes” to character excellence and “no” to cosmetic effectiveness. Then we as the church will be able to meet the challenges of a secular society with the salt and light of the kingdom of God.”  Dr. Harry Reeder

As God leads His people — whether to the Promised Land, to a new location, to merge, or to take a new approach to the “Common Mission” at their present sites — both churches will be able to say, “We have never been this way before.  What a Wonderful thing!”

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