• James McMaster

What is a Church?

So, what is a Church? A collection of antiquated people who enjoy boredom? The old ladies’ spiritual equivalent of going to the pub? People who haven’t caught on to the fact that we are living in the 21st century? Contrary to popular belief the answer is no!

In Acts 2 the apostle Peter has just finishing preaching the Gospel on the Day of Pentecost (a special Jewish celebration in Jerusalem) with the glorious end result that 3,000 people come to faith in Jesus.


Right from the word ‘go’ it is clear that ‘church’, contrary to popular belief, is not a building but a people; a people who are in a saving relationship with Jesus through faith. In the Bible ‘Church’ is not a place you go to but a people that you are!


With that understanding we are ready to add a few more pieces to our definition. In Acts chapter 2 verse 42 we have a wonderful summary of what a Church is called to be; ‘And they (that is all the people who have responded to the Gospel) continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers.’


First in the list is ‘apostolic doctrine’. This is shorthand for the core truths which make up the heart and soul of the Christian faith. Unsurprisingly, given that it is faith in Jesus that makes one a Christian, these all important core truths are all about Jesus; his virgin birth, his deity, his sin bearing death on the Cross, his glorious resurrection and ascension into Heaven. As we often say ‘Christianity is Christ’!


Secondly, we read of ‘fellowship’ and the ‘breaking of bread’ in Acts 2.42. Someone has jokingly defined Fellowship as two fellows in a boat which isn’t perhaps such a bad way of thinking of it. Fellowship is people coming to together to share time together as they worship God. ‘Sharing’ is a key concept here- the sharing of our lives as God’s people as we seek to encourage one another in serving the Lord. It is this shared life experience that really helps me to be a Christian.


Part of our fellowship will be partaking of the Lord’s Supper (the breaking of bread) together. Despite how this sacrament has developed in many churches this was a very simply practise in the apostolic Church. It was a plain meal where simple bread and wine symbolically represented the body and blood of the Lord Jesus. In much the same way as Christ used parables to symbolically communicate truth so the Lord’s Supper is an enacted parable to communicate the truth of Christ’s once and forever sacrifice of himself on the Cross. In the Lord’s Supper you don’t receive a piece of Christ but what you do receive is a better understanding of what he did on the Cross 2,000 years ago.


Back in our summary verse the last item on the list is prayer. Prayer is simply talking to our Heavenly Father. For this reason it is something that we value in the church and make a priority during our services. Both on Thursday evening and on Sunday morning we delight to have what we call ‘open times of prayer’ so that everyone, not just the Church leaders, but everyone who wants to can come directly to God in prayer. Indeed Scripture exhorts us to make our wants and petitions known to God as He delights to hear and answer prayer.



Let me just end by saying to you, my dear reader, that if you would like something prayed for either come to our meetings or simply email me at jmcmaster@eircom.net and I will be very happy to make sure that your issue is brought before the Lord.

Thanks for reading!

James

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