Theology is the biblical study of the person and nature of God. Christology is the study of the person of Christ. Eschatology is the study of the end times. And Ecclesiology is the biblical study of the Church. If we ask 100 people their opinion about God, you could probably get 100 different opinions, and each one of them would feel fairly comfortable they are correct in their opinion. The one thing most people do not understand is that “Biblical theology” is not the study about people’s opinions about God. Rather, “Biblical theology” is an in depth study of what the Bible actually says about God. The Christian church has suffered through many major divisions and heresies as a result of erroneous (heretical) teachings about God. But we have survived to this day.
Yesterday, I spoke about the subject of fellowship in my Sunday sermon. Fellowship, as defined by the Bible (not by misguided opinions), occurs when people with similar experiences (accepting Jesus as Savior and experiencing the joy of eternal life) join together in worship, discipleship, ministry, and evangelism. Christian fellowship can only occur in the context of the Church. Please understand that we are not talking about “the church building.” The church is the gathering of believers in Christ for worship.
Today, like we have seen throughout history, heresies are rising up against the Church. The most common heresy about the Church is that Christians do not need the church to be Christians. I think these people are confusing salvation with the Church. They are in essence saying that you do not need the Church to be saved. While this is technically true, that is not the nature of Christianity. Jesus said many things related to this topic, but here I will mention two. First of all, Jesus said that “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). Based on this verse, Jesus was saying that salvation was based on faith alone and nothing else.
Second, Jesus also said that, “He would build His church.” During a conversation with the disciples, Jesus asked them who the people were saying he was. The disciples answered that some people were saying he was prophet. Others were saying he was Elijah, and even some others. Then, Jesus asked the disciples, “Who do you say I am?” Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Regarding Peter’s confession, Jesus said the following: “You are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church” (Matthew 16:13-20). From this passage we can gather that Jesus was going to build “His Church” based upon Peter’s confession that Jesus “was the Christ, the Son of the Living God.”
Therefore, we can conclude today that salvation is God’s gracious gift to anyone (and everyone) that receives Jesus Christ as his/her personal Savior. He also said that “he would build his church” which cannot mean anything less than Jesus’ purpose to gather together all of the saved (the ones that confess that Jesus is the Son of God) in a living organism we call the Church. Over the next few days I will be sharing with you the biblical definitions, teachings, and implications about the Church to counter the most common mistake people make today, which is to say that you can be a Christian without belonging to the Church. Please remember that the biblical doctrine about the Church cannot be based on opinion, but it must be based on what the Bible actually says about the Church. Follow me over the next few days (weeks?) while we travel through the New Testament exploring the Church that Jesus is building.