November 12, 2017 – Bible Doctrine # 11 – The Church

Survey of Bible Doctrine, Week 11 – The Church’s Nature and Work


  1. The Church’s Nature
    • Local – Acts 2:46
    • Visible – Acts 2:42-45
    • Body of Baptized Believers – Acts 2:41, 47
  1. The Church’s Work
    • Carrying out Ordinances – Matthew 28:19; 1 Corinthians 11:23-26
    • Evangelizing the Lost – Mark 16:15
    • Teach its Members to Obey the Bible – Matthew 28:19-20
    • Glorifying Jesus Christ – Ephesians 3:20-21

Lesson Date: November 12, 2017

Focal Scripture Passage: Matthew 28:19-20; Mark 16:15; Acts 2:41-47; 1 Corinthians 11:23-26; Ephesians 3:20-21

AIM: To lead students to understand the nature and four-fold work of the church, and to evaluate their service to determine if they are helping the church accomplish its work.


Before class: Get enough copies of the lesson outline handout for your anticipated attendance. For added interest you could bring a vacuum cleaner to class. Love God, Love Others – This is the big day! Make guests feel welcome and loved. Invite guests to an upcoming class fellowship. Give each guest a copy of the Sunday School Member Quarterly.


INTRODUCTION (Create Learning Readiness): Ask: “What is the purpose of a vacuum cleaner? What is a vacuum cleaner supposed to do?” (pick up dirt and dust, help clean the house). Ask the students to imagine they had a vacuum cleaner that was broken and would no longer pick up dirt. Ask: “What would you do about that? Would you keep pushing it over your floors as if it still worked?” (no, you would get it fixed or throw it away and get a new one).

Explain that a vacuum cleaner is a tool to help clean the house. It helps the house function as it should. As Christians, we are supposed to be God’s tools or instruments to help the church function as it should.

Tell the students today we will consider the nature and work of the church. We will discover what the church is supposed to be and do, and evaluate our own personal service in the church.  Give each student a copy of the lesson outline handout.


HEART OF THE LESSON (Central Truth):

  1. Review.
    • Remind the students that we are in a study of a “Survey of Bible Doctrine.”
    • Review the first nine lessons by reading the lesson titles found on page 3 of the Sunday School Member Quarterly.
    • Ask: “What was last week’s lesson about?” (the Christian’s worship, work, and walk).
    • Ask if any volunteer would recite last week’s memory verse (Hebrews 10:25)
  2. The Nature of the Church – What is a Church?
    • Ask a volunteer to read Acts 2:41-47.
    • Briefly explain the setting of these verses. This is a summary of the things God did after Peter preached to the Jewish crowd in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost (an annual Jewish religious gathering fifty days after Passover).
    • Tell the class these verses tell about the birth of the church. They also give us a brief picture of the nature of the New Testament church.
    • Briefly lecture on the nature of the church, based on the three sub-points of the outline.
      • The word church in the Bible generally refers to a local assembly, meeting in a specific town or in a specific person’s house (see verse 46).
      • Since it is a local body, the church is visible (see verses 42-45). Jesus died for the church; the only visible expression of the church is a local church.
      • The church is a body of baptized believers (see verses 41 and 47). Church membership is not open to unsaved persons or to those who have not been baptized into its membership (or previously baptized into a church of like faith and doctrine).
  3. The Work of the Church: 1. Carry Out the Ordinances.
    • Tell the class that the remainder of the lesson deals with the work of the church; in other words, what is a church supposed to do? That work can be summarized under four headings. Read those headings from the lesson outline.
    • Tell the class that the word ordinances comes from the word “ordain.” There are only two ordinances: they are the two things that the Lord Jesus told the church to do.
    • Explain that some groups call these and other things sacraments. By definition, a sacrament is a ritual or activity through which one receives saving grace. In other words, if you carry out the sacraments, you will be saved, or stay saved. That is totally unscriptural, because it represents salvation by works rather than by grace. That is why we do not use the word sacrament when referring to the two ordinances.
    • Tell the class the first of the two ordinances is baptism.
    • Read Matthew 28:19.
      • Tell the class the Lord commanded us to baptize believers. That is why we do not baptize infants. A person must be saved before he or she can be scripturally baptized.
      • Explain that the word baptize is a transliteration of a Greek word that means “to immerse or plunge under.” That is why we baptize by immersion only. Through immersion, baptism pictures the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, as well as the believer’s death to his or her old life and new birth in Christ.
      • Tell the class the Lord Jesus spoke the words we just read to the apostles as a group, representing the church. Baptism is therefore carried out under the authority of the local church, not a preacher or other person. The church baptizes believers into its fellowship.
      • Baptism identifies a believer with the doctrinal beliefs of that church. That is why a Christian who has been baptized in a church with erroneous doctrinal beliefs must be baptized to enter the membership of this church.
    • The second of the two ordinances is the Lord’s Supper (sometimes called Communion).
    • Ask a volunteer to read 1 Corinthians 11:23-26.
      • Explain that Jesus commanded us to carry out the Lord’s Supper in remembrance of His sacrificial death.
      • The Lord’s Supper is a church ordinance limited to believers only.
    • Remind the class that neither baptism nor the Lord’s Supper carry with them any saving power. They are symbolic reminders of what the Lord Jesus has done for us.
  4. The Work of the Church: 2. Evangelize the Lost.
    • Read Mark 16:15.
    • Stress that the church is commanded to take the gospel message to every person on earth.
    • Ask: “How can the church do this? Is the entire church supposed to meet together and then go together to carry the gospel to every person?” (the church will carry out that function when every member individually carries the gospel to their acquaintances – each member is responsible for helping the church do part of this task).
    • Explain that evangelism is the work of the Sunday School. That is why the Sunday School is divided into age-graded classes. Each class is responsible for carrying the gospel to a certain age group of people in our community.
  5. The Work of the Church: 3. Teach its Members to Obey the Bible.
    • Tell the class another name for this task is edification.
    • Ask a volunteer to read Matthew 28:19-20.
    • Explain that a church that is not trying to help its members grow in obedience to the Lord is failing at a very important task.
    • Note that evangelism is directed outside the church, while edification is directed inside the church.
    • Stress that teaching members to obey the Bible is also the work of the Sunday School.
  6. The Work of the Church: 4. Glorify Jesus Christ.
    • Ask a volunteer to find and read Ephesians 3:20-21.
    • Ask: “Who is the ‘Him’ referred to in these verses?” (the Lord Jesus Christ).
    • Ask: “According to verse 21, what is the church supposed to do?” (glorify Jesus Christ throughout all time).
    • Ask: “How does the church glorify Jesus Christ?” (some ways include worship, praise, and godly living).
    • Explain that the church also glorifies Jesus when it carries out the ordinances, evangelizes the lost, and edifies its members.
    • In reality, everything the church does through the power of God brings glory to Jesus.


PERSONAL APPLICATION: Ask: “What is a church?” (a local, visible, body of baptized believers). Ask the class to name the four-fold work of the church (1. carry out the two ordinances, 2. evangelize the lost, 3. teach its members to obey the Bible, and 4. glorify Jesus.

Make the following statements:

  • A religious group that is not local, visible, and made up of baptized believers is not a genuine New Testament church.
  • A religious group that is not carrying out the ordinances, evangelizing the lost, teaching its members to obey the Bible, and glorifying Jesus is not a true New Testament church.

Ask the students to think briefly about their service for God in the church; in other words, what are you doing in and through your local church. Ask: “Is your service for God helping the church do its work of carrying out the ordinances, evangelizing the lost, teaching the members to obey the Bible, and glorifying God?” Stress the fact that these are the things God has commanded the church to do.

Remind the class about the vacuum cleaner you mentioned at the beginning of the lesson. If a vacuum cleaner is not doing its assigned work it either needs to be fixed or replaced. If our work and activity in the church are not helping the church accomplish its tasks then something needs to be fixed or changed. Ask: “Is your service for the Lord helping your church do its assigned tasks? If not, what needs to be changed about your work so it will help the church do its work?”

Allow a brief time for discussion, and then lead a prayer of commitment. Ask the Lord to help all of our church members work toward accomplishing the tasks He has given the church to do. Encourage any who are not members of the church to join and then get to work. Lead a closing prayer.


CONCLUSION: Tell the class next week’s lesson is about angels and demons. Encourage everyone to do the Daily Bible Readings found on pages 4-5 of their Sunday School Member Quarterly each day, and then to read the lesson and answer the questions near the end of the week. We can’t help our church do its work if we don’t come, so urge everyone to come to church each Wednesday and Sunday.

Love God, Love Others – Members should escort guests to Worship Service. Sit with them, if possible. Introduce them to the Pastor after church. Offer to take them out to lunch to get better acquainted. Plan to make follow-up contacts during the week.

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