Nature and Mission of the Church

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Nature and Mission of the Church

By | Feb. 2011
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A RENEWED UNDERSTANDING of the CHURCH I. THE NATURE OF THE CHURCH (anchored on Her History) A. Her HISTORY 1. Jesus attracted bands of followers during his lifetime. His chosen group of apostles, and some others, particularly some women, traveled with him as he went about preaching the message of the kingdom of God throughout Judea and Galilee. 2. This little band of Jesus‟ followers would not have known the word „church‟ or the word „Christian.‟ The appellation „Christian,‟ as we are told in the book of Acts, was first given to the infant church in the city of Antioch (in modern-day Turkey) years after the death of Christ. 3. Despite the fact that early bands of followers attached themselves to Jesus during his lifetime, the day that traditionally marks the beginning of the Christian church is the day of Pentecost. Pentecost, the Jewish Feast of Weeks, is one of the three great feasts of the Jewish law and is kept on the fiftieth day after the feast of the Passover (hence the name Pentecost). The first Christian Pentecost thus occurred 50 days after the resurrection, which is why today we celebrate Pentecost 50 days after Easter. (Acts 2:1-12) 4. From being a rather insignificant and somewhat frightened group, the apostles were transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit and boldly preached the message they had learned from Jesus. Wherever they preached, those who came to believe in Jesus and who accepted baptism formed themselves into small communities. These communities would meet for prayer and particularly for the celebration of the Eucharist. They also supported and helped one another, and shared their goods in common. (Acts 2:42-47) 5. The early communities ultimately came to be called ecclesia, the Greek word for church, which means a grouping or assembly of people. In most northern European languages, the word church comes from the Greek word Kyriake oikia, meaning “the family of the Lord.” Always, therefore, the essence of church is a gathering, a...

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