This course not only describes the church (where it came from, how it began, what will happen to it in the future), it also shows how each member of the body of Christ can be more useful as they put into practice what they learn. This 110-page course by Donald Smeeton gives the believer a better understanding of their place in the church and also shows them how to go about fulfilling their potential as one of the indispensable parts of the body of Christ.
Jesus said, "I will build my church, and not even death will ever be able to overcome it" (Matthew 16:18). This is a wonderful promise!
God had a plan for the church from the beginning of the world. We will see that God’s plan reaches into the future also. God has prepared great things for us! Even if we have problems now, we can look in faith to the future.
In the first lesson, we saw the church from the viewpoint of eternity. God planned the church, and God is working in His church. One day, God will finish His plans for the church. Jesus will come to earth again and He will take the church to be with Him in heaven.
Now, we will look at the church from the viewpoint of the earth. When Jesus said, "I will build my church," He implied "here on the earth." In this lesson we will take a very brief look at what happened from Pentecost to the present.
Jesus said, "I will build my church" (Matthew 16:18). What did He mean by the word church? What did His disciples understand by this word?
Perhaps you have noticed that the word church has been used many times in this study. It has been used in different ways. In Lesson 1, we used the term church to mean "God’s people." In Lesson 2, we used the same word for the visible organization. Both ways are correct.
We have studied much about the church’s past. We have also studied the meaning of the word church. So now we are ready to look at the present. We do not live in the past. We do not live in a world of ideas. We live today.
What does the past mean to me? What does the meaning of the church matter to me? In this lesson we will look at the church and at you. This is a very personal lesson. It might be the most important part of this book.
Only believers are true members of God’s church. In the last lesson, we saw that believers are called many names. They are called disciples, saints, brethren, and Christians. Each name tells us something about them.
In the same way, the church is called different names. Each name tells us something about the church. The Bible often says the church is like a body. In this lesson, we will learn what that means.
In the last lesson we saw how the church is like a body. We saw that people can be different from each other and still have unity. We finished the lesson by considering what we can do for others.
This lesson carries on the same theme. We have a duty to other believers. If we do not share with others, or strengthen others, we are hurting them. This lesson should help you to do your part in the body of Christ.
In the last lesson, we saw that believers have responsibilities to other believers. All believers are part of God’s family. Christians have a special contact with brothers and sisters in Christ.
But the church also has a duty to non-believers. A Christian must never forget about those outside the church. In this lesson, we will look at the believer’s duty to unbelievers.
In Lesson 6, we studied how Christians help each other in the body of Christ. In Lesson 7, we saw some of our responsibilities to unbelievers. Also, the church must do special service for God.
In Lesson 1, we learned that one of God’s purposes for the church is to bring glory to Himself. What does the church do to obey and glorify the Lord? These are some of the things we will look at in this lesson.