The TREE OF LIFE weekly teaching summary from THE WEEK ENDING:
August 15, 1999
Tree of Life 08/15/99
Tree of Life for 08/15/99 In relationship to our main verse in PHI 2:25, we are now ready for the next doctrine which teaches who we are, why we are here, and the function of the many doctrines we have noted concerning this verse.
The Doctrine of the Church.
Point 1. Nomenclature and Description.
The church goes by a number of names throughout the word of God. The doctrine of the church is such a fantastic doctrine that it calls for many different descriptions. We have at least eight, which are illustrative of the wonderful relationship that we all enjoy with God:
1.The last Adam and the new creation. The Last Adam represents the royalty of The Lord Jesus Christ (TLJC) and His rulership of the world. The new creation is the royal family of God made up of all church age believers. These particular synonyms are found in 1Co 15:45-47; 2CO 5:17; GAL 6:15. This "new creation" is important because it focuses attention on the Church during the intensified stage of the angelic conflict.
2. The Church is the head and the body. The head focuses on the authority of our Lord as the King of kings and Lord of lords over the church. Christ is the Head, we are members of the body. Being members of the body emphasizes our difference in personality and function. This synonym is used in EPH 1:22-23; EPH 2:16; EPH 4:4-5; EPH 5:23;1CO 12:11-28.
3. The shepherd and the sheep used in the gospels prophetically. This is found in Joh 10, HEB 13:20; 1PE 2:25; 1PE 5:4. TLJC is the Shepherd and we, as members of the body of Christ, are His sheep. This emphasizes the providential ministry of TLJC. This analogy connotes the security and great blessings that come to us as members of the royal family of God. The analogy is apropos, for like us, sheep have no sense of direction, cannot provide for themselves, are helpless, and therefore need the guidance, sustenance, and protection of the shepherd. The sheep must be guarded and fed by the under-shepherd, the pastor of the local church.
4. The vine and the branches, Joh 15. There is a very strong relationship between a vine stem and its branches. They are integrated together and this emphasizes the baptism of the Holy Spirit and fellowship with God. This analogy is used for union with Christ, i.e., positional truth and positional sanctification. The vine always represented stimulation, production of the branches is your advance to maturity.
5. Christ as the chief cornerstone and we are the stones of the building. EPH 2:20; 1PE 2:4-8. Christ is the founder of the church and we are the stones in the building or in union with Christ.
6. The High Priest and the royal priesthood. This emphasizes our privacy and freedom. HEB 7:25; HEB 10:10-14;1PE 2:5,9.
7. The groom and the bride analogy. This points to the future of the church as royal family, 2CO 11:2; EPH 5:25-27;REV 19:6-8.
8. The King of kings and the royal family of God, 1PE 2:5; 2:9; REV 1:6.
Point 2. Definition.
The basic word that we find throughout the epistles of the New Testament to describe our unique relationship with TLJC is the word ekklesia or church. It is a very old noun taken from classic Greek or attic Greek. Used for the gathering together of citizens in a city, it actually means assembly or a calling out for a popular meeting. It is used for all believers on the earth, EPH 1:22-23; 5:25-27; Col 1:17-18. The word is also used in the New Testament in the concept of the local church or what we call the local classroom. It is an entire church, it is a classroom, a place of worship and a place for the purpose of spiritual growth.
Point 3. The First Use of the Word Church.
The rule in theology is that if there is more than one meaning to a Biblical term, the first use of it in the Bible will be that of its most important significance. This is called the first mention principle. The term appears for the first time when spoken by TLJC in MAT 16:18. Remember that the Jewish age was interrupted seven years short of its completion. The Jewish age will not be completed until the Tribulation period. First the Rapture occurs then the Jewish age resumes. This is important because some teach that the church-age began in Abraham's tent. This is called covenant theology and some call it kingdom theology. This is wrong. The church was future from the time of our Lord's earthly ministry. We know this from MAT 16:18 when the Lord said to Peter, on this rock "I will build" my church.
Point 4. The Beginning of the Church-age.
The church had its beginning on the day of Pentecost, roughly between AD 30 and AD 33, and began with the baptism of the Holy Spirit by which the royal family of God is formed in Acts 1:5. There are four reason why the church began at Pentecost:
a. There could be no church in the world until Christ's death.
b. There could be no church until Christ arose from the dead to provide her with resurrection life. ROM 4:25.
c. There could be no church until He had ascended upon on high to become the Head.
d. There could be no church on earth until the advent of the Holy Spirit.
The day of Pentecost was a brand new celebration, a celebration of a brand new dispensation, the church. A dispensation being a period of time where certain Biblical and divine principles are distributed.
Point 5. Dispensation Orientation or the Church as the Mystery.
This is the mystery age of the church. The church was a mystery from the Old Testament saints. ROM 16:25, EPH 3:1-8, COL 1:24-29. Under the concept of the doctrine of the mystery, the church was never known before this dispensation. It's doctrines were never proclaimed by Old Testament writers or communicators. In fact, the word "church" is not found in the Old Testament. When TLJC died on the cross and then was resurrected three days later, He was seated at the right hand of God. At that time something new was in heaven, royalty was in heaven with a resurrected body. On the day of Pentecost, God began to call out a royal family called the church. On that day God began by taking all of the Old Testament saints in Jerusalem and baptizing them with the Holy Spirit into union with Christ. The Church Age began in Acts 2, and will continue until the Royal Family of God is completed. Then you have the Rapture 1Th 4:16-17. This is when all members of the church receive their resurrected bodies. Then God does a great thing, He lets the Jewish age run out, the last seven years called the Tribulation. Then the Bride, the Royal family of God comes back with Christ and Christ becomes the ruler of the world and presents the Royal family of God to the world as His bride, REV 19:5-16. Some principles concerning some of the mystery doctrines of the church.
a. Certain people would become royalty at the moment of salvation which was a mystery to the Old Testament, EPH 3:6; 5:32.
b. The baptism of the Holy Spirit and positional sanctification which is taught in 1CO 1:2; 1:30; 12:13. Every believer lives in the Holy of Holies in this dispensation.
c. Every believer would actually be indwelt by God the Holy Spirit, 1CO 3:16,19; 6:19-20.
d. Then there's the indwelling of TLJC.
e. A new contract, the old covenant or contract was done away with, HEB 12:24.
f. The new priesthood. The fact that every believer is a priest is a dramatic change from the Old Testament.
g. The new ministry of God the Holy Spirit.
h. The completed canon of Scripture.
i. A new type of service.
j. The mystery of the Bride of Christ which is His body, the Church, EPH 5:32.
Point 6. The Rulership of Christ over the Church.
Many say I know who the ruler of the church is, but as we will see very few seem to understand what rulership and lordship means. Jesus Christ is the ruler of the Church. It is you as an individual that He rules or does not rule, depending upon your volition. He is your ruler but whether He is allowed to function in your life as your ruler depends upon whether you understand and apply the pertinent mystery doctrine. During the 1,000 year Millennial age of our Lord Jesus Christ, He rules the world and it's a perfect reign. But no matter how unique and perfect His reign is during the church age or during the millennium there are many who will rebel and reject His rulership, REV 2:27; 20:1-10. The church has a structure:
Christ is the Head of the church.
Then there are apostles. Then there are prophets. Fourthly, there are pastor-teachers. Finally, we have evangelists. Point 7. The Church Has Been Given a Unique Plan. This plan has been pre-designed and pre-fabricated just for you. Remember the principle God is perfect therefore His plan is perfect. A perfect plan designed by perfect God demands a perfect system of execution for that plan. Obviously man is not perfect so man cannot use his power to live in that system designed by God or to live the spiritual life. Therefore, only the omnipotence of God can execute the perfect will of God. For the plan of God to be carried out in the church age, it demands that the believer relies on divine power and not human power.