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Have you ever had questions about the Church? Questions like, why do we gather every week, or are we doing what God wants us to do? 

Welcome to the ABCs of Church. Over the next five days, we’re going to focus on the fundamentals of the church and work to deeply understand three simple ideas that will help us answer the questions: 

  • What is a church?
  • What should a church be doing?  

Understanding who we are as the Church and what our mission is on earth is crucial for every believer in Jesus. As we start our track, we pray that you will come to see yourself and the church you belong to in the unfolding redemption story of God. 

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11.10.2023

About this track

Have you ever had questions about the Church? Questions like, why do we gather every week, or are we doing what God wants us to do? 

Welcome to the ABCs of Church. Over the next five days, we’re going to focus on the fundamentals of the church and work to deeply understand three simple ideas that will help us answer the questions: 

  • What is a church?
  • What should a church be doing?  

Understanding who we are as the Church and what our mission is on earth is crucial for every believer in Jesus. As we start our track, we pray that you will come to see yourself and the church you belong to in the unfolding redemption story of God. 

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Day 02

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The Assembly of Jesus - pt.2

Day 03

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Built of People

Day 04

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Gathered and Scattered

Day 05

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The Church Continues

Have you ever had questions about the Church? Questions like, why do we gather every week, or are we doing what God wants us to do? 

Welcome to the ABCs of Church. Over the next five days, we’re going to focus on the fundamentals of the church and work to deeply understand three simple ideas that will help us answer the questions: 

  • What is a church?
  • What should a church be doing?  

Understanding who we are as the Church and what our mission is on earth is crucial for every believer in Jesus. As we start our track, we pray that you would come to see yourself and the church you belong to in the unfolding redemption story of God. 

Now, let’s get started by opening the Scriptures:

When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?”

They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”

“But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”

Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”

Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”

Matthew 16:13-20

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Summary

The Church belongs to Jesus. There are assemblies all over the world for all manner of reasons: some celebrate celebrities and some wonder at the works of men and women, but the Church is assembled to worship and glorify one name: Jesus. It’s so important in our culture today to realize that no matter where you go to church, if it worships Jesus, it belongs to Him. 

Look at how the Apostle Paul wrote it in his letter to the Colossians: 

For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.

Colossians 1:16-20

Jesus created all things, and all things were created through Him, and that includes the Church. We were created and later bought with blood, for and by Jesus. 

The Church is The Assembly of Jesus.

What's Next?

Read Matthew 16:13-20 and Colossians 1:16-20 again. Write in your notes all the ways that Paul describes Jesus in his letter to the Colossians.

Yesterday we learned that we, The Church, are the Assembly of Jesus. We were built and bought for and by Jesus, and we belong to Him and Him alone. Today, lean in as we learn what it means for Jesus to be the cornerstone of the church, just as Paul describes in his letter to the Ephesians: 

Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.

Ephesians 2:19-22

Video

Summary

As you look through the Scriptures, there are three dominant metaphors used to describe the Church in relation to Jesus:

  • The Church is His building. 

Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone.  In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.

Ephesians 2:19-22

Jesus Christ is building His church, starting with Himself as the cornerstone, the most important and first-placed piece. Then followed the Apostles and the prophets. Now each of us is being placed intentionally and specifically as a brick in the Holy temple of the Lord. You are not accidental today. You are a stone in the amazing construction of the church Jesus is building. 

  • The Church is His Body

23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.

Ephesians 5:23-24

Look at this beautiful illustration. Here Paul wants us to think about the Church as the body, and Jesus as the head. Where the head leads, the body follows. The head provides direction, vision, nourishment, and energy. Jesus cares for the Church, desiring to give us the things we need to flourish and to lead us to the places he wants us to go. He is the head of the Church, and we are His body. 

  • The Church is His Bride

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— for we are members of his body. 

Ephesians 5:23-30

Jesus loves His church the way a husband loves his wife. What a stunning relationship and life-changing thought. This isn’t a relationship that you can compare to the marriages around you; this is the perfect embodiment of sacrificial love. Jesus isn’t waiting for you to be perfect (Romans 5:8 says that He died for us ‘while we were yet sinners’) or for you to get your act together and earn your way to God, the truth is there is no amount of work that could have earned you that right. This is why Jesus chose to go to the Cross, to purchase for you the beauty and radiance you could have never earned no matter how hard you tried. Jesus paid with his blood so that we, his body and bride, could be presented to God without wrinkle or blemish. Thanks be to God!

Remember what Paul wrote in his letter to the Colossians: 

For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.

Colossians 1:16-20

The one who created everything wants a relationship with you, and wants to elevate you to what you were always meant to be. 

We are His building, His body, His bride, and we belong to Him, the Assembly of Jesus. 

What's Next?

Consider the verses in Ephesians again. Have you ever thought of yourself as being intentionally built by Jesus? As being led by Jesus? As being loved by Jesus? Maybe this is the first time you are hearing these truths, or maybe you’ve been in church your whole life and have grown numb to them. Today, write these three statements where you can see them, a note on your desk, or your phone background, and reflect on them often. I am being built by Jesus. I am being led by Jesus. I am loved by Jesus.

For the last two days, we’ve investigated what it means to be the Church, the Assembly of Jesus. We’ve seen how Jesus is the head of the Church and its cornerstone, the stone upon which the whole thing is constructed. So where do we come in? What is our place in Jesus’ Church?

Let’s start to answer that question by reading the scripture and watching this teaching from Pastor Ben Stuart:

As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to him—you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For in Scripture it says: 

         “See, I lay a stone in Zion, 

         a chosen and precious cornerstone, 

         and the one who trusts in him 

         will never be put to shame.” 

1 Peter 2:4–6 NIV

Video

Summary

you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

1 Peter 2:5

This friend, is good news. This is what separates the Church from a building that could weather, crack, and crumble with age. The Church of Jesus is not a building but a people. All over the world, we gather in classrooms and cathedrals,  houses and renovated Home Depots, under rooftops, and in the rain. We are each of us, a living stone added to the noble fabric of Christ’s Church, our spiritual house. And we are both the temple and the priests. Notice why peter says we are being built into a spiritual house:

 you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

1 Peter 2:5

If you are a follower of Jesus, you are intentionally placed in the spiritual House of God in order to offer the gifts God has given you back to him in sacrifice. All of us will have different abilities and offerings (don’t make the mistake of envying someone else’s) that God desires for us to bring to His house. This is a beautiful thing. This is the church. All of us bringing what we can offer on behalf of the whole. 

What's Next?

Have you ever stopped to consider what it is you can bring to your church? So often, we get caught up in a consumer mentality. We spend our time and energy focusing on what our church “should” be doing for us, and unfortunately, we can miss the part God wants us to play in the lives of others.

Here we are in day four of studying the ABCs of Church, and you may have started to ask yourself, if we are a united assembly of Jesus, then why are there so many churches? Is this dispersion of believers all over the world because they simply cannot get along? Why wouldn’t we want one singular location where we all come together and exist in a perfect bubble? 

In the book of Acts, we see the word “church,” used in two ways and these two different uses provide for us a glimpse into the purpose and even the identity of the local and global expressions of the Assembly of Jesus. As we begin our journey today, copy these key verses into your notes as you listen to the way Pastor Ben Stuart illustrates this point:

So the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria had peace and was being built up. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it multiplied. 

Acts 9:31

And he (Paul) went through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches.

Acts 15:41

Video

Summary

The Church is universal, and the church is local. It’s global and local. There’s one Church, but it’s expressed all over the globe. Why is this encouraging to us? Because we want to be part of a cause, and here the cause of Christ is racing around the globe.

Let that fact settle on you for a moment. Odds are that with the race and pace of life you have been hoodwinked into a small idea of God’s Church. Whether you are new to the faith, or sometimes, especially if you have been in church your whole life, the enemy has a way of narrowing our focus so tightly on what is directly in front of us that we can forget the expansive nature of the Church of Jesus. 

Reflect on this truth: at every moment, of every day, somewhere on our planet is a group of people gathered to worship in the name of Jesus. Somewhere unbeknownst to you, someone is praising God for a newly born child, while elsewhere family members are praising God as they commit a loved one who has passed away to His presence. Somewhere on this Earth, fervent songs of worship have broken out as a revival is springing up, while somewhere else the quiet but faithful prayers of a grandparent are being poured out from their bedside. 

You are not alone. No, in fact, you have been grafted into a global and local family, and you have brothers and sisters everywhere. 

This remarkable thought encourages us towards compassion and not comparison. It should lead us to pray for each other, even for those members of our global family that we will never meet. 

Our hope for you is that in being planted into a local church, an expression of the assembly of Jesus, your church can become a community where you worship and open the Word of God alongside, and who you gather with to celebrate and mourn. Each local expression can be beautiful and unique, and part of the global Church of Jesus called to encourage and exhort one another, not to pick each other apart in the spirit of competition.

We, the Church, are simultaneously gathered and scattered, the children of God carrying His very Spirit. Praise be to God that He would use us, as He did in the time of Acts, to carry His message to the ends of the Earth. 

What's Next?

Let’s be truthful today as we reflect on what we just heard and read. Are you a part of a local expression of Jesus’ Church? Have you been intentional in making the time to serve that church body? For some of us today, just committing to being a plugged-in, dependable member of a church is a huge step, but one we need to be prayerfully considering. In today’s culture, church-shopping and church-hopping are common practices, but what if instead of basing our belonging on our preferences, we stopped and asked the Holy Spirit to lead us to where He desires us to be? If you are faithfully plugged into a church, maybe your call to action is different. Today, we learned that being a part of the local church also means being a member of God’s Global Church.

Every organization you will ever join; every team, every company, every fraternity or sorority, every club, group, or party will stop at the gates of death… 

…except one. 

Today, on our last day journeying together on this track, Pastor Ben Stuart encourages us around the shockingly simple but eternally significant truth that there is only one cause we can commit to, which does not end, which in truth only continues, even when we pass through the gates of death. 

And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. 

Matthew 16:17-18

Video

Summary

This section of Matthew chapter 16 is incredible. Look again at the text and the way that Jesus firstly states that death itself will not stand against His church, and secondly, that the time had come for Him to pass through those gates. At first glance, this could seem bewildering, how could you then have hope in Jesus if even you are going to be mocked, beaten, and killed? 

Christian, our confidence comes from the continuation: 

From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer man things at the hands of the elders, the chief preists and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.

Matthew 16:21

Don’t let it pass you by today, no matter how many times you have heard it before, that death itself could not hold Jesus, and because it could not, it cannot hold those of us in Christ either. 

Why should this encourage us? Because we are a part of something larger than ourselves, a movement of God built of Jesus and continuing His work. We are witnesses to the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, ambassadors of reconciliation in a world in search of destiny. We are the Church, and we must continue the work. Where the head (Jesus) goes, we must follow. 

Will there be opposition on you today? Yes. Does it have the power to snuff out the light in you and, therefore, one by one extinguish us as the Church? No. 

Take heart, brother, take heart sister; press on. Do not be quick to discouragement. We are people who will stumble and fall. Do not pass judgment in haste, for we are imperfect yet knitted together with the perfect one. Do not fear, the grace of God covers you today, lifting you up, dusting you off, and moving you forward.

What's Next?

As we finish our track, let’s take stock of our lives. What have you committed yourself to? Make a list! What opportunities, operations, or organizations have you extended effort towards? Odds are there is nothing wrong with being a part of these teams; however, the question we want to ask ourselves today is one of prioritization. Are you actively prioritizing the things of eternity over the finite? Today is another chance to right-size your relationship as a son of daughter of God and to see all other opportunities through that lens, not leaving behind your focus on God but instead asking God to help you focus on those things through His lens, always asking Him how He wants to use you in those places, and among those people.

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Scripture References

  • Matthew 16:13-20
  • Colossians 1:16-20
  • Ephesians 2:19-22
  • Ephesians 5:23-24
  • Ephesians 5:23-30
  • Colossians 1:16-20
  • 1 Peter 2:4–6
  • Acts 9:31
  • Acts 15:41
  • Matthew 16:17-18
  • Matthew 16:21
Ben Stuart Ben Stuart is the pastor of Passion City Church D.C. Prior to joining Passion City Church, Ben served as the executive director of Breakaway Ministries on the campus of Texas A&M. He also earned a master’s degree in historical theology from Dallas Theological Seminary. He and his wife, Donna, live to inspire and equip people to walk with God for a lifetime.

Day 02

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Gospel Aimed Surrender

Day 03

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You Are The Instrument

Day 02

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May I Have Your Attention?

Day 03

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Glorify Your Name

Day 04

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The Fragrance of Heaven

Day 05

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Practical Keys to Prayer

Day 02

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Sourcing Sustenance

Day 03

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Stay Steady

Day 04

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A Well That Won't Run Dry