Online Reading – Ecclesia Responsibilities

Ecclesia Responsibilities

“Christ himself being the chief corner stone; In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord.”—Ephesians 2:20, 21

The word “ecclesia” is commonly used to refer to a regular gathering of individuals who desire to study the scriptures. No commitment of membership is required and no attendance is taken. The origin of this word comes from the Greek word “ekklesia” (literally, those called out) and is translated as “church” or “assembly”. The meaning refers to a meeting, especially a religious congregation. Therefore, “ecclesia” is an assembly or congregation of God’s people in the same context as the church or “ekklesia” at Ephesus. As the theme text suggests, Jesus Christ is the foundation of the true church of God and all members conform to his example and instruction. Ephesians 5:23 says that “Christ is the head of the church.” All ecclesias of God’s people have Christ as the common head and are bonded in love.

The Ecclesia Arrangement

Jesus promised: Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them (Matt. 18:20).

Certainly this is an encouragement to meet together with those of like faith and to organize “ecclesias.” In recognizing His presence at such gatherings or meetings, the utmost care is taken to honor His presence with proper conduct and spiritual focus. Being with fellow brethren is a privilege and opportunity to please our Lord by leaving worldly concerns and distractions behind. Gathering together provides an opportunity for spiritual refreshing and reconfirmation of Christian focus. Truly the church class is as strangers and pilgrims on this earth and the ecclesia is a temporary oasis of spiritual refreshment while waiting for a heavenly country. See Heb. 11:13,14.

Each member has a responsibility to embrace the privilege of an ecclesia arrangement and must recognize that every member has an effect on the overall spirit of the class. As the holy spirit develops the fruits of the spirit in individuals, so these same fruits of the spirit are reflected in the collective members of an assembly of God’s chosen people.

Personal Growth

Personal spiritual development is uniquely interwoven with ecclesia experiences. Attending studies, participating in choosing leaders, supporting class activities, and serving in various ways stimulates Christian growth. Interrelating with the trials and joys of other members, making brethren’s needs a sincere concern and an important part of daily prayer is vital for Christian development.

“For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding.—Colossians1:9

“Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.”—James 5:16

The Loss Of Self

Intimacy with fellow brethren increases when self is removed and the true focal point is on the spiritual well being of a brother or sister because they have been made meet to be partakers of the “inheritance of the saints in light” (Col 1:12).

The apostle Peter reminds us to love the brotherhood (1 Pet. 2:17) and this concept carries with it the insistence to be attuned to others needs to the degree that self becomes not only unimportant, but actually non-existent in sacrifice and preference for fellow members of the body. By “not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together” (Heb. 10:25) and actively participating as a member of such an arrangement proves a sincere appreciation for the privilege of meeting together.

“Speaking the truth in love, may {we} grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love. And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.”—Ephesians 4:15, 16, 32

Individual Maturity

Truly, the free grace received from God and the privilege of the high calling has a humbling effect. Sincere concern for the spiritual well being of others, and a determination to encourage them to be faithful to their calling reflects the maturity of the new creature; the selfish desires of the old man are replaced by true Christian love.

“Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.”—Matthew 22:37, 39

Provoking Others

Paul encouraged the Hebrews to “draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having their hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and their bodies washed with pure water” (Heb. 10:22). Upon achieving this condition the consecrated member is in a position to consider others and to provoke unto love and good works (Heb. 10:24). A commitment to fellow brethren is required in order to assist them in their Christian walk.

Indeed, we are our brother’s keeper (Gen. 4:9). By “keeping” our brother we guard him, protect him and attend to his needs. Listening, caring, and sharing in daily experiences in a nonjudgmental fashion and with an attitude of brotherly love is not only a privilege, but a responsibility to each ecclesia member.

“We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death. Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.”—1 John 3:14, 16

Class Affairs

The new creature strongly desires to do all things pleasing in God’s sight. (1 John 3:22) He is sensitive and conscientious in behavior and attitude when dealing with class affairs. When the new creature is watching and praying for personal guidance within his own life and concentrated on obedience to God’s law of love, spiritual maturity naturally turns outward and overflows into the lives of others. Through faithfulness and trust in God’s promised grace the fruits of the spirit have a fertile heart in which to develop and flourish. Feature each member contributing his “fruits of the spirit” in an ecclesia setting. The atmosphere is filled with the holy spirit and an awareness of God’s presence. Unity of the spirit prevails and selfish desires are totally absent.

“Fulfill ye my joy, that ye be like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.”—Philippians 2:2-5

Serving One Another

Love for the brethren reflects love for the Lord. “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” (Matt.25:40) The assembling of brethren together provides a wonderful opportunity to serve one another and to provide spiritual gifts for one another. Encouraging, forgiving, and praying for brethren are means of truly supplying them with a “drink of water”, lifting them up and refreshing them. Let us be cheerful, zealous and generous in giving spiritual gifts.

“He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully. Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.”—2 Corinthians 9:6, 7

“And whosoever shall give a drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water only in the name of a disciple, verily I say unto you, he shall in no wise lose his reward.”—Matthew 10:42

Ecclesia Maturity

The Christian maturity of each ecclesia will vary depending on the maturity of the individual members. But, Christ is the ultimate goal both individually and collectively, and with the power of the holy spirit the fruits of the spirit are manifested—love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance. (See Gal. 5:22) In recognizing the influence of the individual’s role in the ecclesia, each member endeavors to keep the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace. (Eph. 4:3) Following in the footsteps of Jesus, all strive to keep the law of love and dwell together in unity. (Psa. 133:1)

Blest be the tie that binds
Our hearts in Christian love;
The fellowship of kindred minds
Is like to that above.

The Example At Antioch

As an example of an ecclesia organized under the teachings of the apostles, the following verses describe and reflect the Christian character of the brethren at Antioch: “Who, when he came, and had seen the grace of God, was glad, and exhorted them all, that with purpose of heart they would cleave unto the Lord. For he was a good man, and full of the Holy Spirit and of faith: and much people was added unto the Lord. And it came to pass that a whole year they assembled themselves with the church, and taught much people. And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch. And in these days came prophets from Jerusalem unto Antioch. And there stood up one of them named Agabus … that there should be great dearth throughout all the world . . . Then the disciples, every man according to his ability, determined to send relief unto the brethren which dwelt in Judaea: Which also they did, and sent it to the elders by the hands of Barnabas and Saul.”—Acts 11:23-30

Barnabas recognized the grace of God manifested amongst the believers at Antioch revealed by their faith and conduct. The cleansing and sanctifying power of the truth amongst these believers was quickly discerned, and Barnabas “was glad” for them.

This is a beautiful example of Christian development in a young assembly of brethren. They assembled together and studied the scriptures diligently. They were sensitive to the needs of their fellow brethren and were organized in such a fashion that agreement and action could be taken jointly. Their spirit of sweet sacrifice both spiritually and monetarily reflected in their decision to send aid to the church in Judaea. They chose leaders with much prayer and fasting and trusted according to God’s will. The result of their obedience permitted them to serve the Lord by providing for His little ones. The example of the Christians at Antioch continues to serve as a stimulant to good works for the church class today.

Let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.—Hebrews 10:24, 25

Ecclesia Elections

Following the example of the early churches, each ecclesia has the privilege and responsibility to elect leaders by stretching out the hand. (2 Cor. 8:19)

“For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee”.—Titus 1:5

Among the brethren are usually found those who have leadership qualities either as an elder or deacon. They are humbly devoted and obedient to the Lord, and they are self-sacrificing. Their knowledge and understanding of the scriptures is doctrinally sound, and they have a sincere desire to serve their fellow brethren. Each should be totally willing to either be elected or not.

In electing servants of the class a serious responsibility falls upon each consecrated member. All candidates for office should be prayerfully considered, leaning upon the Lord’s spirit of love and wisdom to make a final decision.

Once elders, deacons and other assigned roles are determined, the responsibility does not end. Even more important is to continue praying and fasting in support of the leaders. Preparing and participating in studies and other meetings, cooperating in activities, and assisting when possible, strengthens the class and permits the leaders to fulfill their responsibilities to the flock. Each member has an opportunity to be a blessing by contributing to the spiritual nourishment of all.

Liberty

As the new creature progresses in his Christian walk, he recognizes his failures, weaknesses and imperfection. An appreciation is developed for the heavenly Father’s mercy and patience, and the provision of the robe of righteousness to cover fleshly weaknesses. In the humbleness of this reality, liberty for fellow brethren is achieved.

Each individual called is entitled to a personal walk with Christ. The necessary experiences to make his calling and election sure is unique. No one is capable of fully understanding the personal trials and experiences of each member, and only God knows their needs. Therefore, liberty and mercy toward fellow members must prevail!

“For the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.”– 2 Corinthians 3:17

“Brethren, let every man, wherein he is called, therein abide with God.”—1 Corinthians 7:24

“For the body is not one member, but many. . . . But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him. There should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another. And whether one member suffereth, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it.”—1Corinthians 12:14, 18, 25, 26

“Be ye kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another.”—Romans 12:10

Conventions

Each ecclesia is recognized as Christians bonded together in the faith, and each in turn is bonded to other ecclesias of like faith. Thus, as the theme text indicates, each class is “fitly framed together”, growing unto the same holy temple. Consecrated Christians gather in various ecclesias around the world. Continuing to this day is the blessing of uniting with members from other ecclesias in a convention setting to share the depth and beauty of the riches of God’s plan, and participate in an even greater realization of the bond of love in one body, one faith. Praise the Lord!

“In all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling”.—Ephesians 4:2-4

(11) Bear with one another’s peculiarities of disposition, freely forgiving, learn to correct ourselves (2:13). The Lord’s body is viewed arrayed in these qualities of heart, and love is the “girdle” which holds in place the folds of the robe of Christ’s righteousness with its various graces. These graces are not matters of courtesy or policy. We will not be perfected in heart nor fit for the Kingdom until these graces of our will are bound by cords of love—for the Lord, righteousness, the brethren, and the world. We do the will of God by praying for knowledge and wisdom to know his will. Love is the spirit of the Lord. Let the peace of God rule in our hearts (Phil. 4:7) as the regulator of our hearts.

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