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Just What Did Jesus Establish?


The word church, ekklesia, means those called out. The church Christ established are those called out from a sinful life into a holy and righteous life of obedience. They strive to live a life following Christ, the righteous one who had no sin because without holiness no one will see the Lord.  (Hebrews 12:14)

Jesus asked his disciples " 'But what about you?' he asked. 'Who do you say I am?' Simon Peter answered, 'You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.' Jesus replied, 'Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, 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 16:15-19).

He was more specific about the time: "he said to them, 'I tell you the truth, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God come with power'." (Mark 9:1). Therefore, we see Christ would be establishing his church during the lifetime of some of his hearers.

Following Jesus' ascension to heaven the apostles returned to Jerusalem as he had commanded them. Many Jews were gathered there, because it was Pentecost. The great sound of rushing wind brought them to the assembled Apostles. Peter and the other apostles seized the opportunity to remind them of what they and their religious leaders had done stating, " 'Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.' When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, 'Brothers, what shall we do?' Peter replied, 'Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off-for all whom the Lord our God will call'." (Acts 2:36-39)

A short time later Luke records "The apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders among the people. And all the believers used to meet together in Solomon's Colonnade. No one else dared join them, even though they were highly regarded by the people. Nevertheless, more and more men and women believed in the Lord and were added to their number." (Acts 5:12-15) "So the word of God spread. The number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly, and a large number of priests became obedient to the faith." (Acts 6:7)

But things changed. The Jewish leaders who had rejected Jesus' miracles and crucified Him now turned against His Church. "... On that day a great persecution broke out against the church at Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria" (Acts 8:1). "But Saul began to destroy the church. Going from house to house, he dragged off men and women and put them in prison." (Acts 8:3)

Note that the church is referred to as already in existence during this persecution. This persecution resulted in even greater growth as "Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went." (Acts 8:4)

Paul, previously known as Saul, was now preaching the Gospel in Antioch. "While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, 'Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.' So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off." (Acts 13:2-3)

"From Paphos, Paul and his companions sailed to Perga in Pamphylia."(Acts 13:13a). "On the next Sabbath almost the whole city gathered to hear the word of the Lord. When the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy and talked abusively against what Paul was saying. Then Paul and Barnabas answered them boldly: 'We had to speak the word of God to you first. Since you reject it and do not consider yourselves worthy of eternal life, we now turn to the Gentiles. For this is what the Lord has commanded us: 'I have made you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth. When the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and honored the word of the Lord." (Acts 13:44-48a)

"At Iconium Paul and Barnabas went as usual into the Jewish synagogue. There they spoke so effectively that a great number of Jews and Gentiles believed" (Acts 14:1). On this and several other trips they preached in many cities, Lystra, Derbe, Lycaonia, Corinth, Ephesus, Athens, Phillipi and eventually Rome, the Imperial city, where "For two whole years Paul stayed there in his own rented house and welcomed all who came to see him. Boldly and without hindrance he preached the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ" (Acts 28:30-31). Everywhere he went he preached the Gospel, the good news about what Jesus did and taught. It is this Gospel that Paul said "I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile." (Romans 1:16)

God, the Son, intentionally left Heaven, became flesh and lived among man whom he had created. This Jesus intentionally gave his life as a sacrifice.The atonement for man's sin, allowing the Roman government to crucify him. They buried him in a secure grave with guards to prevent the theft of his physical body. But God, the Father, raised him the third day before his body decayed, conquering death and the grave. Some forty days later his return to Heaven was witnessed by the apostles. The Holy Spirit was sent to guide them in preaching and recording the Gospel, the power of God unto salvation. Initially many Jews and later many Gentiles acknowledged Him as God, the Christ (the anointed one). Many witnesses who had lived with Him while He lived and taught in Judea, Galilee and Samaria testified of His coming back to life (resurrection) and His return to Heaven (ascension).

It is of grave importance for mankind to know what His Gospel (the power of God unto salvation) instructs us to do. God adds to His church those being called out of a life of sin by putting their trust in Him and obeying based upon knowledge through faith that Gospel and doing what it [He] requires. These called out people are His Church, His Body, His Kingdom, ekklesia.

He built a community of changed people and referred to them as His body. He did not build an unorganized group of people without direction. He called these people His body, having many functions and compared it to the human body. Each person (member) has something to do, their function, in the spiritual body. But Jesus is the head of that organization, giving it direction. (Ephesians 5:23)



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