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THE CHURCH / A CHURCH (Kent Smith notes 8/27/23)





  • Singular - The only one.

  • Made up of all believers in Jesus Christ (Universal since the Day of Pentecost when the Spirit came upon the disciples until the time of Christ’s return.

  • All believers gathered under Christ as the Head of His church, His body.


Ephesians 1:22-23 And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.

Colossians 1:15-18 The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church;



‘A church’ is a group of Christians who meet together regularly,


Not every group of Christians who meet together regularly is a church.


So what are the defining characteristics that make a regular gathering of Christians a church?



(What Is a Church: 9Marks) by Chris Hutchison)

A church is a group of Christians who:

  • Meet together regularly and

  • Who have some measure of commitment to each other to be the body of Christ together, which includes (at a minimum)

    • Biblical leadership and

    • Biblical teaching and preaching and

    • A proper celebration of the Lord’s Supper and

    • A right application of Christian discipline.


What Is a Church? : 9Marks by Chris Hutchison

Today we are going to look at just the first two main points

Meet Together regularly

Have a level of commitment to one another to be the body of Christ.

which includes biblical leadership and

biblical teaching and preaching and

a proper celebration of the Lord’s Supper and

a right application of Christian discipline.

There may be more to being a church but this is a good start.

Let’s unpack this definition a little.


Where do we get the understanding that the church is a gathering of Christians?

Deuteronomy 4:10

“Assemble the people before me”

Hebrew ‘qahal’ Greek ‘ekklesia’

A church is an assembly of believers who are called to meet together.


Deuteronomy 4:10 “Assemble the people before me”

From the Hebrew word qahal

In noun form it is a called assembly or gathering

In verb form it is to call to an assembly – or to congregate

When the Old Testament was translated into Greek in the 3 centuries before Jesus (Septuagint), the Hebrew word qahal (to assemble) was translated “ekklesia” in the Greek.

118 times the word ekklesia is found in the Bible, 115 times it is translated “church” and 3 times “assembly”

Clearly a church consists of some gathering of Christians together. A church is not an individual, but multiple believers purposefully gathered to be the body of Christ.

During COVID many churches suspended regular gatherings for a season. There have been some who have never truly returned to gather as a group. If you are watching online I am truly grateful, but I ask you to prayerfully consider all that you are missing in not being a part of the assembly, the gathering here at River Hills.

Background: From Etymology of the word “Church” – The Calendar of Scripture (

An interesting quote from the 1915 “Gospel Advocate” (Pg 589) says:

“The word ‘Church’ is really not a translation of any word that was used by either Christ or His Apostles, but is the Anglican form of a different word which Roman Catholicism substituted in place of the word used by Christ and His Apostles… It is in our English scriptures by order of King James, who instructed his translators of 1611 not to translate the word “Ecclesia” by either ‘Congregation’ or ‘Assembly’ but to use the word ‘Church’ instead of a translation.”

The word “Church” is neither Hebrew nor Greek. In point of fact, when these languages were translated into English Bibles, the word “Church” was already in existence. The Greek word used in the renewed covenant for “Church” is “Ekklesia” which basically means “Called Out ones”.

Ekklesia does not refer to a building, but rather a group of people. Proper English translations should read: Congregation, Assembly or Group.


A group of Christians who are committed to one another.


SOME characteristics of those “in the group.”

  • They are known by one another

  • They are accountable to one another

  • There is a commitment of mutual care for one another

  • There are expectations for participants in the group



Known by one another Acts 5:12-13 says that the Jerusalem church was “all together in Solomon’s Portico. None of the rest dared join them, but the people held them in high esteem.” So in other words, it was a definite group. It wasn’t just whoever showed up on a given day. They knew, and the other people knew, who was a part of the church—and who wasn’t.

Acts 6:2 says that “the twelve summoned the full number of the disciples.” This assumes they knew who all the disciples were. It wasn’t just whoever wanted to show up. They knew when they were all present and accounted for.

1 Corinthians 5 A man was to be removed from the church for unrepentant immorality, and Paul’s instructions say that “When you are assembled in the name of the Lord Jesus and my spirit is present, with the power of our Lord Jesus, you are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord” (1 Cor. 5:4–5).

Notice, first of all, “when you are assembled.” That’s important. It means that they had a way of knowing, “yes, we’re assembled,” or “no, not everybody is here yet.” Which means they knew who was and who was not a part of their church. It wasn’t just whoever showed up on a given day.

YOU CAN BE A CHRISTIAN and NOT be a part of a local church.





We should always give thanks to God for you,

Brethren beloved by the Lord,

Because God has chosen you

From the beginning for salvation

Through sanctification by the Spirit

And faith in the truth.


I am thankful for each person here today.

Some of you are members of this church, and others may be visitors or those who regularly attend but have not made the commitment to membership.

I am thankful for each of you. We have traditionally practiced “open communion” at River Hills. Which means you do not have to be a member of the church to participate in the Lord’s Supper.

However, we are committed to the practice of the Lord’s supper as something to be shared by Christians.

As we prepare to worship through the ordinance of the Lord’s Supper I ask you to consider this verse.

Do you know that you are loved by God?

Do you know that God has chosen you for salvation?

Have you been sanctified by the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit?

Have you sincerely trusted in the person and work of Jesus Christ, who lived a sinless life, who died a cruel death on the cross willingly to satisfy the Father’s justice against your sin, and trusting in His Name alone you know that you have been forgiven of your sin, born again by the Spirit, and reconciled to God.

If you know these things to be true in your life, we welcome you to share the Lord’s supper with us.

If not, we ask kindly that you refrain from sharing this practice, as it is would undermine the real significance and meaning for us.

Let’s take a few moments to focus our hearts and minds on the work of Christ and the significance of the Lord’s Supper. __________________________________________


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