Christ and His Church - Lesson 1
Christ: The Builder of the Church
Background Information for the Teacher
- The student can connect Christ's statement that He will "build his church" with the statement that God has made known "through the church" His manifold wisdom.
- The student can trace some of the key steps in the revelation of the mystery for which the church was the fulfillment.
- The student will rejoice in being part of God's carefully crafted, and patiently developed plan for the church.
- Each person should have a Bible.
- Access to a chalk board, marker board, or use the PowerPoint provided.
- Each person should have a song book or song sheet to sing "The Church's One Foundation."
Before the world began, God had a plan by which He would reconcile to Himself those who sinned. Sinners could be forgiven by the sacrifice of Jesus and those thus saved would constitute the body of Christ, due to receive many blessings.
Lesson Plan for Conducting the Class
Introduction: (15 minutes)
- Make a class roll and check it. Checking the roll will give people a sense of identity with the class and make them more likely to attend. If those in the class are not acquainted with each other, let those in the class say a sentence or two about themselves so the class can get to know them better.
- Have a prayer for the class and for those with special needs. (We will suggest a song later in the class period.)
- Briefly introduce the topic of the study with something like this. Our study this quarter is about Christ and His Church. Q: Let's start by asking, what does the word "church" mean? A: (Likely someone will say "called out.") Q: Does anyone know the Greek word often translated as "church?" A: Ekklesia. And the root meaning of this word is "called out." By the time of the New Testament, however, the term generally referred to any "assembly." Read Acts19:32. The word here translated "assembly" is the Greek word ekklasia. Like many words, however, this word has a broad and a narrow meaning. The broad meaning is "any assembly." The narrow meaning as typically used in the NewTestament is for the "special assembly of Christians," (1 Cor. 11:18) and, by extension, those who meet in such assemblies whether they are assembled or not (Eph. 5:245-25.)
- Read Ephesians 5:25-26. Q: From this passage, how important is the church in the Bible story? A: Christ loved the church and gave His life for the church to save the church. So in studying about Christ and the church, we are studying the very heart of the gospel story.
- Since the church is such a vital part of the gospel message, we will spend this quarter considering many aspects of Christ and His Church. One cannot know the gospel message without understanding these concepts and one cannot teach others the essential gospel message without being able to explain them. Especially since there is much misunderstanding about the church and its place in God's plan, it is important for us to be able to see clearly how the church fits into God's plan and the many things the Bible teaches about Christ and His church.
- We will begin today's lesson with a study of Matthew 16:18. So open your Bibles there.
Learning Experiences: (25 minutes)
- Jesus had withdrawn far to the north to the area of Caesarea Philippi, about twenty-five miles north of Capernaum. Jesus knew that His time on earth, and thus His time for training the apostles, was drawing to an end. Soon He would be going to Jerusalem for the last time. After asking them what people have been saying about Him, Jesus asks, "Who do you say that I am?" Q: What does Peter answer and what does he mean? A: "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." By saying Jesus was "the Christ," Peter was affirming that Jesus was the long awaited Messiah of the Jews predicted by the Old Testament prophets. By saying He was the Son of the living God, Peter was affirming that Jesus' was divine.
- Q: What does Jesus mean by saying, "you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church?" A: Jesus is making a play on words since the name Peter means "small stone." So what Jesus actually says is that you are a pebble, but on a foundation rock (different word in Greek for rock) I will build my church. Q: Does this mean that Jesus would build His church on Peter as the foundation? A:No. Jesus would not build His church on a fallible man and, in fact, 1 Corinthians 3:11 says that Christ is the foundation. Q: So, what does Jesus consider the foundation on which He will build His church? A: On the fact ofPeter's confession, that He is the Christ, the Son of God.
- Q: What does Jesus mean by using the term "church" here? A: Those who will be gathered in His name, His followers. Q: So, to what is Jesus referring whenHe says He will "build" this church? A: He will take those steps it takes to prepare the way for such a group of followers to be created.
- Now let's read Ephesians 3:2-6. Q: What is the "mystery" that has been hidden for a long time but which is now being made known? A: That through the gospel, God would bring into one body both Jews and Gentiles. Now read Ephesians 3:8-12. Q: What is Paul's connection with the mystery? A: He had been allowed to preach it to make it plain to all. Q: How long had the mystery been in God's mind? A: This was His eternal purpose and therefore it had been in His mind from before the time of creation (Eph. 1:4). Q: What are some of the steps God took along the way to gradually unfold the mystery? A: Genesis3:15-seed of the woman will bruise the head of the serpent; selection of a family through Abraham, giving of the law through Moses, the ups and downs of Israel as they obeyed and disobeyed God's will, statements in the prophets like Daniel 2:44-God will build a kingdom; Isaiah 53:5-7-the suffering servant; Micah5:2-the messiah will be born in Bethlehem; and many others. Piece by piece, the Lord was revealing the message which was a mystery until all the pieces were in place. Q: Read Ephesians 5:12. Who had been observing to see how everything worked out? A: The rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms. Q: Who is included among these rulers and authorities? A: Satan and his leaders (Eph.6:12). Q: Who else is included in the heavenly realm? Read Ephesians 1:20? A:Christ and the good authorities. Q: Who else exists in the heavenly realms? Read Ephesians 2:4-7. A: All Christians. That is, we have a spiritual nature that is part of this unseen realm even while we are also part of the physical realm. Read Ephesians 3:10-11. Q: What does Paul say has been the culmination of God's eternal purpose that has demonstrated to all those in the heavenly realm the manifold wisdom of God? A: The church.
- So let's summarize. Q: When did God begin His plan to save the world through Christ? A: Before the world began. Q: Did God reveal some bits and pieces of this plan through the ages? A: Yes. Q: When was all finally revealed? A: Not all was revealed until after the death and resurrection of Christ (Eph. 3:5) and that began to be preached. Q: So who has been observing to see how this all worked out? A: Those in the spirit realm, including the bad authorities. Q:What came as the climax, the final culmination of the plan God had worked on throughout the ages? A: The coming of the church. Q: How does God's church show the culmination of this mystery which has now been made known? A:Those saved by the plan for salvation Christ fulfilled on the cross and by his resurrection have all been gathered into one body, both Jews and Gentiles, and this is the church.
- Q: How does all of this connect with Christ being the one who "built the church?" A: By His perfect life, death on the cross, resurrection, and exaltation to the right hand of God, He has made salvation possible. Thus, those saved by His actions are gathered in His body so that all can see how God's plan came to fruition. This is what Christ meant by building the church.
Application: (5 minutes)
- Q: From this lesson, how would you define the church? A: The body of those saved by the blood of Jesus which became possible through God's eternal plan.
- Q: How can we show our gratitude to God for giving us the opportunity to be apart of the church? A: Honoring the church; gathering with others in the church to praise God and Christ; bringing others to a knowledge of the church as the Bible describes it.
- Think of the words and sing "The Church's One Foundation is Jesus Christ her Lord."
- Some oral questions at the beginning of the next class period.
Read Acts 2.
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