Summer 2021 Bible Reading Plan, Week 2 - Be The Church Again

SUMMERReading

This week we'll read through selected Scriptures.

(Click here for a PDF of this week's study.)

 

As we, as a local church, take up the call to 'Be the Church Again' let's continue to look to His word for our strength, encouragement, and inspiration.

Matthew 16:16-18

Peter said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.”  Jesus said, “On this rock I will build my church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”

Some 30-35 years later Peter, that same former fisherman now an experienced apostle, writes:

1 Peter 2:4-10

4 As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious,

5 you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

6 For it stands in Scripture:

“Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone,

    a cornerstone chosen and precious,

and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.”

7 So the honor is for you who believe, but for those who do not believe,

“The stone that the builders rejected

    has become the cornerstone,”

8 and “A stone of stumbling,

    and a rock of offense.”

They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do.

9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. 

10 Once you were not a people, but now you are God's people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

Paul writes to the churches at Ephesus and Colossae in:

Ephesians 1:22

And he put all things under his feet and gave him (Jesus) as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.

Colossians 1:17-18

17 He (Jesus) is before all things and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent.

Paul writes to Timothy in:

1 Timothy 3:14-16

14 I hope to come to you soon, but I am writing these things to you so that, 

15 if I delay, you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, a pillar and buttress of the truth

16 Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of godliness:

He was manifested in the flesh,

    vindicated by the Spirit,

        seen by angels,

proclaimed among the nations,

    believed on in the world,

        taken up in glory.

 

Questions for Reflection and Discussion:

1. Are you aware that God has not only saved you out of darkness, but also into a people

You were not saved to live alone for God, but to be in active fellowship with His body, His church. (See 1 Peter 2:4-10 above)

Colossians 1:13 says, “He has delivered (rescued) us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, ...”

From Acts to Revelation the history of the local church takes center stage. As people are saved they are added to local churches that are formed in their cities. 

Before Paul was dramatically saved (Acts 9), he (then Saul) persecuted Christians who were members of local churches.

Acts 8:1-3 - And there arose on that day a great persecution against the church in Jerusalem, and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles. 2 Devout men buried Stephen and made great lamentation over him. 3 But Saul was ravaging the church, and entering house after house, he dragged off men and women and committed them to prison.

Paul's letters were written to local churches in Galatia, Ephesus, Colossae, Philippi, Corinth, Thessalonica and Rome. Titus and 1&2 Timothy were written to pastors of local churches.

In the first 3 chapters of the book of Revelation, Jesus himself addresses the spiritual condition of 7 particular local churches in cities located in Asia Minor (now a part of western Turkey).  Please read Revelation 1, 2, and 3. Your heart will be convicted, inspired and challenged to live for Jesus, in your personal walk with the Lord and in the life of your church.  

2. Paul calls the church the body of Christ with Jesus being the head of the body, the church. Meditate on this analogy. Why does God, thru Paul, use this word picture to describe the church? What similarities do you see between a body and the Lord's church?  See 1 Corinthians 12:12-31, 'one body with many members'. 

3. In 1 Timothy 3:14-16 (above), Paul writes to Timothy, a young pastor who Paul considers his spiritual son (1 Timothy 1:2). He is giving him directions about various issues in the local churches Timothy helps to pastor. In verse 14 Paul refers to the church as a pillar and buttress (support ) of the truth.  The local church is where the word of God is proclaimed, preached and taught. It is also the setting where God's proclaimed word is walked out in fellowship with other believers in our daily lives. Consider the description of the church as 'a pillar and buttress of the truth'. What does this speak to your heart about the importance of your involvement in our local church?