In Your Bible Read This
Revelation 19, 1-10, Ephesians 5, 22-32.
Here Is Your Memory Verse
His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms. Ephesians 3.10.
Afterwards Talk About This
Compare the all complicated programmes that you find in many modern churches with the simplicity and necessity of obeying the basic commands of Christ in the tree of life concept.
Something To Do Before Next Time
If you are married talk with your spouse, and see if your marriage contains the same love, attention and goals as Jesus has for the Church. If you single prepare yourself with the right attitudes for marriage, pray and let's see what the Lord will do for you.
Written Diploma Work
Draw the tree of life yourself and write in at the side your own church's programmes or plans. Write a list of your conclusions.
Meditate Word By Word On This Verse
Spend a Minute to Change the World
Pray For Comoros – 500,000 Indian Ocean islanders. Underdeveloped, poor, Muslim, 120 believers, intense persecution
Be sure to teach this lesson to others. Always pray and prepare well adding your own verses and stories to bring it to life.
What Is a Church?
Whether we are talking about the universal Church in all the world or whether we are referring to the local church round the corner, 'church' is always the people and never, never the building, however nice it may be. We are the Church, the only 'House of the Lord.'
The Importance Of Church
Church is the Father's purpose, Ephesians 3.10
Church is the promise of the Son, Matthew 16.18
Church was one result of Holy Spirit's arrival at Pentecost, Acts 2.42-47
Church in Antioch was planted by ordinary believers and made strong by gifted men, Acts 11,19-26
Church planting was one of Paul's major goals, Acts 13; 14.23;19; 20,17
God is blessing new church planting movements today, all over the world.
What Does A Good Church Look Like?
Spiritually, Ephesians 5, 25-27 says that the church is loved by Jesus and he gives himself to her with undivided attention. A good church becomes holy, clean, full of the word of God, fit to be presented to Jesus as a desirable, beautiful bride, without stain, wrinkles and blemishes, blameless in every way.
By the way . . .
Although everyone says 'Amen' and wants this for their church, notice that the context is all about marriage. "Husbands love your wives," Paul says, in just the same way as Jesus loves the Church and gives himself for her, even to the point of dying for her. That is how we should love, protect, and nourish our wives too. Can we do better?
What does a good church look like in practice? Look at the illustration on the next page. You will say it is a palm tree, in fact it was called 'A Tree of Life' by an African pastor who really grasped this revelation from the Spirit of God.
The Church As A Tree Of Life
Invisible Roots Go Deep
A good church has invisible, hidden roots that go deep under the surface, continually seeking the life that only comes from the living waters of God.Therefore a deep foundation is vital, in prayer, with wisdom from the word of God, and love and power from the Holy Spirit. Jeremiah 17, 7-8; Psalm 1
The Trunk, divided into three ascending parts:
The trunk is most visible part of the tree. It grows in stages as a seed gives a shoot, which then grows to become strong, lasting and resistant to ill winds.
The Base Of Evangelism
A good church begins its visible ministry with evangelism, and of course never ceases to evangelise. Without constant evangelism in its many forms people will remain in their sin and ignorance of God. Why do we evangelise? Simply because Jesus said we should. See Mark 16.15,16
The Mid-section Strength Of Discipleship
Now the trunk grows and becomes strong to support the tree's destiny of bearing fruit. Without for one moment ceasing to proclaim the good news, a good church will now dedicate much time to turning the new converts into disciples. Next it will turn those disciples into leaders who take responsibility for advancing God's work. Why do we consider discipleship training to be so important? Simply because Jesus said to make disciples.
See Matthew 28.19 and Basic and Advanced Discipleship Sections.
The Tops – the Noble Height Of Care Of The Poor
Without for one moment ceasing to evangelise and make disciples, a good church will now follow the example of Jesus in Acts 1.1, and 10.38 by doing good. More than 300 times in the Bible God declares his love for the poor and the needy. He expects his body the church to be his caring hands and lips. Not everyone is called to preach or lead but every believer can show God's mercy to the poor, particularly to widows and children. Care for the poor is important because Jesus said so. See Mat. 25, 34-45, James 1.27, and God's Passion for the Poor section.
The Shady Foliage Is The Covering Of A Kingdom Economy
Here is the issue that many churches neglect at their peril. Think about this. Prayer and the grace of God for the roots is absolutely free, but evangelism costs something, discipleship costs a lot more, and caring for the poor is very costly. Where will the money come from? And now consider this . . .
In Acts 2, 42-47 and 4,32-35 we find the church in Jerusalem to be so wealthy that there were no needy people. Some years later that same great church was in such poverty that Paul was raising offerings for them in the new churches across Europe. What happened?
In Acts 6, 1-7 the church leaders delegated the issues of racism, discrimination and finances to seven good Grecian men, probably preachers. So the leaders no longer handled the finances. Preachers like preaching, not papers. That preaching sadly cost Stephen his life and then Philip went to Samaria. If the other 5 Grecians were also preaching or scattered by the Acts 8.1 persecution, who was handling the economy? Anybody? We do not know.
The poor surely came from far and wide, hearing that needs were met, heard the gospel, received Jesus and joined the church. Expenses increased but income did not. The lesson is clear. Unless someone, probably not the main preacher, takes serious responsibility for the church economy using faith and works, poverty will be at the door. Why is handling the money so important? Simply because Jesus said so. See Luke 19, 11-26, and Finances in God's Kingdom section.
Fruit Of Seeds In The Wind Of God
A good church will always bear fruit in season. That fruit will bring glory for God seen in new baby trees of daughter churches, nearby and far away through missions. Each new tree has its own roots into God, with evangelism, discipleship, own financial cover and fruit.
To Close Pray for the World's Most Unreached Peoples by Name
Taken from the Joshua Project Unreached Peoples List these people have no church and as yet no cell, church or mission has committed themselves to prayer, adoption or church planting among this people.