Monday, June 9, 2008

Question #5 Who is the Church as used in Scripture?

OK, I'm back from a needed weeks vacation. Just a note of interest, perhaps, we went to Nashville, Tenn. I was born and lived in Tennessee good portion of my life and never went to the Grand Ole Opry, but now I can say, I've been there and done that. Saw Carry Underwood, Montgomery Gentry, Old Bill Anderson, Jim Reeves and other's I don't remember. Stayed one night at Opryland Hotel. One night is all I could afford, and now I have to eat crackers for a week to make up for it. Went to the Hermitage(President Andrew Jackson's home) and obviously sought out every mall between Atlanta and Nashville. Ok I'm back and ready to talk about the church.

I told you in my last blog, that I'm a pretribulationalist and it's safe to say that pretribulationism depends upon a particular definition of the church, and any consideration which does not take this major factor into consideration will make any communication, beside the point.

If the term "Church" includes saints of all ages, then it is self-evident that the church will go through the tribulation, as all agree that there will be saints in this time of trouble. If, however, the term "church" applies only to a certain body of saints, namely, the saints of the present dispensation, then the possibility of the translation of the church before the tribulation is possible and even probable.
So, defining the "church" is all important in order to determine what and how we should believe concerning the Rapture.
In the New Testament, the Greek word "ecclesia" is found in at least four important meanings. It is used to mean, 1. an assembly of people. In this sense it has no special theological meaning. it can refer to Israel as a gathered people in the wilderness (Acts 7:28) or a regular assembly of citizens (Acts 19:39) or a group of people gathered for a religious worship.(Heb. 2:12)
2. The same word is used for an assembly of Christians in a local church (Acts 8:1,3; 11:22,26) and in the plural for a group of such churches (1 Cor. 16:19; Gal. 1:2) Each assembly or church has a local gathering composed of professed Christians. That all in the assembly are not necessarily true believers is clear from messages to the seven churches of Asia. (Rev. 2-3)
3. Ecclesia is also used of the total of professing Christians without reference to locality and is practically parallel in this sense to Christendom. (Acts 12:1; Rom. 16:16, 1 Cor. 15:9; Gal. 1:13, Rev. 2:1 3:22)
4. The same word is used of the body of Christ, composed of those baptised by the Holy Spirit into the church. (1 Cor. 12:13) Ecclesia used in this connection becomes a technical word referring to the saints of this age.

The church future in Matthew 16:18. The teaching that the body of Christ in the New Testament is a separate entity is supported by the predictive statement of Christ. "Upon this rock I will build my Church." The figure of speech rests upon the concept of a future undertaking. Christ did not say, "I am building" but "I will build". It is significant that this is the first reference to the church in the New Testament, and is here regarded as a future undertaking of Christ Himself.

The body of Christ was formed at Pentecost. (Acts 1:5) Christ predicted: "John indeed baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized in the Holy Spirit not many days hence". Ten days later was the Day of Pentecost. The classic passage on the baptism of the Holy Spirit, 1 Cor. 12:13 declares: "For in (by) one spirit were we all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether bond or free; and were all made to drink of one Spirit." What does this mean? The Baptism of the Spirit is the act of God by which the individual believer of Christ is placed into the body of Christ. The Spirit is the agent by whom the work of God is accomplished.

Now let me say, that The church age, Daniels seventieth week, the mystery of One Body, The church as an organism, Christ in you, Christ the fullness of the Godhead bodily, the indwelling Christ the hope of glory, translation of saints as a comforting hope, are all issues which we could discuss, but you would leave me before I could say any of these things, so let me conclude with this;
Based on the usage of the word ecclesia in the New Testament and the obvious contrasts in the character of the church to believers in either the Old Testament or the future millennium, I have to conclude and I believe scripture validates this, that the body of believers in the present age which composes the church has a distinct place in God's plan and program and as such is contrasted to saints who will come to know Christ in the tribulation period or in the future millennium.
Therefore, when the question is considered whether the church will go through the tribulation, the last generation of the church living on earth at the time is in view and must not be confused with those described as saints or with Israel or with the elect in the tribulation period. One other note: Never are tribulation saints referred to as a church , or as the body of Christ, or as indwelt by Christ, or as subject to translation or as the bride.

Now you have to decide if these questions spur your thinking and what of all this do you believe. Remember faith is the substance of things not seem. Does this help you as you go forward to knowing that you know and does it put things in place for you as you give thought to the provoking Question of Rapture of the Church. Stay tuned and I will give you some thoughts to consider when you think
"Tribulation" as contrasted to "The Great Tribulation".


Mommyluann said...

I've been "at" the Grand Ole' Opry and AT the hotel, but never stayed.
Sounds like a nice trip. We just got home from a week at the Outer Banks. We, too, will be eating crackers, my friend.

Saw Beth's house on the way home from our trip. Nice!

Mommyluann said...

Oops! that's a major oversight on my blog added to favorites coming up. I get the blessing from being Beth and Donna's friend. wink.

Eddie said...

I smiled REAL BIG when I saw the wink!

Greg P. said...

I just filled up my gas tank. Don't eat all the crackers!

Your post is very thought provoking. I have to read it a few times to totally comprehend. But, I am a pretrib believer. I believe that the tribulation believers are not included in the "church saints". The church is not even mentioned in the latter part of Revelation because we are not here...... or there.

Am I correct? I think all these crackers are soaking up the blood flow to my brain!

alliekat said...

It's time to purchase a laptop so you don't have to "vacate" from blogging!

BethAnne said...

Yeah, why dont you get yourself a laptop? And what are winking with Luann for? hahahhaah