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The Importance of the Local Church

Beacon Baptist / Gregory N. Barkman
The Truth Network Radio
March 21, 2022 2:00 am

The Importance of the Local Church

Beacon Baptist / Gregory N. Barkman

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Well I chose a passage of Scripture to preach from tonight that would be in harmony with the testimonies that I knew we were going to hear tonight so that's why I chose this passage from acts chapter 2 and I'm also mindful of the time and I will be fairly brief this evening.

So in this passage in acts chapter 2. I want us to know some things. First, I want you to note the biblical pattern that we see here that is consistent throughout the New Testament, you will not see a pattern different than this is what we heard this evening. What is that biblical pattern notice with me after in response to the preaching of the word of God, then verse 41 those who gladly received his word were baptized, and that day about 3000 souls were added to them. What is the biblical pattern biblical pattern is receiving the word of God, believing the word of God, and in response to that obedience to the Lord's command to be baptized and to identify publicly with the local church. That's the biblical pattern.

You will not find anything in the New Testament that contradicts that. That's the biblical pattern. Note secondly with me. The reference to church and that is in verse 47 it's important you understand that this is in the context it's not referring to the exact same thing. There were 3000 souls added to the church in verse 41. It tells us, and then we read about the activity. The church gathering together their breaking of bread together.

Their praying together verse 46 is so continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, verse 47 praising God and having favor with all the people and the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved and that suggests further activity of the work of the Spirit of God in regenerating people and birthing people into the kingdom of God that something was happening daily. The Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.

Now there is been and continues to be a lot of debate about the idea of the visible church versus the invisible church or universal church versus the local church. So let's clarify these four different expressions of the church. I think we need to be clear about this. The invisible church.

What is the invisible church with invisible church includes everyone who has ever been born again from every age of church history includes all those who have come to Christ that is the invisible church. The visible church and contrast consists of believers who are alive and meeting together right now like you and I are in this local assembly.

So the invisible church.

The visible church than the universal church. The universal church is not any particular local assembly. But it's all of God's people around the world. That is the universal church. And lastly, the local church the local church is a regular gathering together for worship and ministry of a specific group of people in a specific area. Beacon Baptist Church meeting here in Burlington, North Carolina, that expression of this local assembly. So when we see references in the New Testament to the church. How do we know in any given reference of Scripture which of these four aspects is the correct interpretation, what makes this challenging is that there is only one Greek word that means church that's translated church in the New Testament, and you probably know what that word is it is the word Iglesia it's the same word used for each of those four expressions or aspects of the church. Whether were talking about the universal Church of the local church of the visible church or the invisible church and it is the context surrounding the reference that is the key to understanding which aspect of the church is the correct one in a given situation.

We have a reference thereto. Church in verse 47 the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved. You might find it interesting that there are only 110 references in the New Testament of church and each time it is that Greek word Iglesia those who have done careful study. Of those, 110 references have determined that 93 of the 110 references are clearly referring to the local church universal church, not the invisible church, but the local church.

If you do the math on that. That is 84.5% of all references of church in the New Testament are references to the local church that is very important to keep that in mind, so in the New Testament Scriptures speak of church, the vast majority of the time the references to the local church and not the universal church and in verse 47 that we've made reference to several times.

The Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.

It's clear the references to the local church.

The Lord was adding to the church in Jerusalem. Daily those who were being saved. Now there's a principle that I think we can derive out of that verse and what is that what it is this that not only does the Lord require those who are saved that they unite with a local church. That's the biblical pattern received the word of God, and in response to the word of God obey the Lord in believers baptism and be identified with a local church. That's the biblical pattern but notice he himself joins them to the church, the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved. There's a human side to this. There's a divine side to this. We've seen the human side of that sharing of testimony this evening following the Lord in believers baptism. That's the human side but we don't want to miss the divine side when people are obeying the Lord in his instructions. God himself is adding people to the church he's adding them to this local assembly beacon Baptist Church, for which we give him thanks and praise an amazing thing.

So the conclusion here is the church membership applies to and should be a part of every true believers Christian life you will search the Scriptures in vain to find an example of someone who is not a member of the church who has repented of their sins.

There's nobody in the New Testament. You can find an example of a nonchurch believer. Believers become parts of local churches. Wherever that might be. You see, it is not enough for us to merely say that we are part of God's universal or invisible church and as I've talked to people. There are myriads of reasons why once a myriads of reasons, but there are many reasons that people give as to why they did not join the local church so I don't want to oversimplify the matter here, but as I talk to people.

It seems to me that there is this one reason that seems to rise above other reasons and is this really don't see the need to join a local church.

I'm already a part of the invisible church is already made made a part of his church through the new birth.

We have to reconcile that with the instructions in the New Testament where 985% of the references to church are not to the universal church. They are to the local church so that we are part of that. What that universal church by virtue of salvation, we must also make a commitment to a specific global group of God's people and that's what we witness this evening and that's what we covenant together concerning.

I have a church covenant here in front of me. Mrs. what are church covenant says when people join the church.

This is what their company with others of this local assembly having been led, as we believe by the spirit of God to receive the Lord Jesus Christ as our Savior and on the profession of our faith, having been baptized in the name of the father and of the son and of the Holy Spirit, we do now in the presence of God in this assembly, most solemnly and joyfully, and are into covenant with one another as one body in Christ we engage, therefore, by the aid of the Holy Spirit, to walk together in Christian love to strive for the advancement of the church in knowledge, holiness, and comfort. To promote its prosperity and spirituality to sustain its worship, ordinances, discipline and doctrines to contribute cheerfully and regularly to the support of the ministry, the expense of the church, the relief of the poor and the spread of the gospel through all nations.

We also engage to maintain family and secret devotions to bring up our children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord to seek the salvation of our kindred and acquaintances to walk circumspectly in the world to be just in our dealings, faithful in our engagements, and exemplary in our department to avoid all tattling, backbiting, and excessive anger to be zealous in our efforts to glorify our Savior. We further engage to watch over one another in brotherly love to remember one another in prayer to aid one another in sickness and distress to cultivate Christiansen with sympathy in feeling and Christian courtesy in speech to be slow to take offense, but always ready for reconciliation, and mindful of the rules of our Savior to secure it without delay. We moreover engage that when we remove from this place we will as soon as possible unite with some other church where we can carry out the spirit of this covenant and the principles of God's word and then we ask people to sign that covenant is there evidence of adhering to it. Here's a couple of formal definitions of church that I thought were helpful to people forcibly know what were talking about on, but the local church or the church is a group of Christians who dedicate themselves to meeting together for the regular preaching of the word of God, who submit themselves to biblical eldership as described in first Timothy three and Hebrews 1317 who regularly celebrate the ordinances of the church that is baptism and the Lord's supper and who practice and submit themselves to church discipline is laid out in Scripture. Matthew 1815 through 17. That is one definition of the church. Here's another from nine marks local church is a group of Christians who regularly gathering Christ's name to officially affirm and oversee one another's membership in Jesus Christ and his kingdom through gospel preaching and gospel ordinances.

So as we think about local church and local church membership, let me say a few things as we are moving along quite nicely here this evening church membership. What is it, what have we witness this evening one of we heard church membership is number 18 public declaration of one's faith in and allegiance to Jesus Christ as public a public declaration of one's faith in an eagle allegiance to Jesus Christ. Number two. It is the biblically described prescribed way of identification to Jesus Christ and his church. It is the biblically prescribed way of identification to Jesus Christ and his church. That's what he's given to us.

That's the way we identify ourselves with the local church in acts chapter 2 this passage were looking at church membership is the clarifying means between believers and unbelievers on the day of Pentecost in response to the preaching of the word were told 3000 people repented and believed on Christ. Verse 40 and with many other words he testified and exhorted them, saying, be saved from this perverse generation, then those who gladly received his word were baptized in that day about 3000 souls were added to them.

It also says in the passage that they work together and they were added to the number of those who believed again. It is what the clarifying means of distinguishing making the difference between the believers and nonbelievers see the same thing. In acts chapter 5 in verse 14, which tells us, and believers were increasingly added to the Lord.

I'm sorry and believers were increasingly added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and women so that they brought the sick out into the streets and laid them on beds and couches that the lease at the look at lease the shadow of Peter passing by might fall on on some of them but the important thing here. Believers were increasingly added to the Lord added. It's clear that the early church had a membership roll or a cow of the people who were part of their group. They knew who was part of that group and they knew who was not a part of that group. So I don't see anything about what it's it's a logical deduction in first Corinthians chapter 14 in verse 23 Paul says therefore if the whole church assembles together and gives instructions concerning the manifestation of the gift of tongues but the important part. There is, therefore, if the whole church assembles together. This statement implies that there was some way of knowing who belong to the church and who did not belong. Otherwise, how could it be determined if the whole church was there or not. You see, so it seems obvious that there was some kind of formal membership roll that served to distinguish believers from unbelievers. I want to listen to this quote from Charles Spurgeon because it addresses what's often a common argument for those who profess to know the Lord Jesus Christ. But for whatever reason have not publicly identified themselves with a local church. This is what Charles Spurgeon said, quote I know there are some who say well, I've given myself to the Lord but I don't intend to give myself to any church. I say now, why not an answer because I can be just as good a Christian without it. I say, are you quite clear about that. You can be as good a Christian by disobedience to your Lord's commands as by being obedient.

He says there's a brick. What is the brick made for its made to build a house. It is of no use for the brick to tell you that is just as good a brick while it's kicking about on the ground, by itself, as it would be as part of the house pretty vivid illustration is an know were were made for fellowship were made to be part of the body were made to be part of a local church now. I want to be clear, church membership does not save anyone, but while it is not a prerequisite for salvation.

It seems to me it is a necessary consequence of salvation. I do not understand how a genuine believer can continually justify abstaining from joining a church for whom Christ died. You solenoid a minute he died he died for the invisible church he died for the universal church will listen to what Paul said Paul speaks of Christ's dying for his church and he III did have a hard time not seeing this in the context of a local church. Keep in mind hundred and 10 referenced is look to local church in the New Testament 93 of those hundred and 10 are reference to the local church not the universal church listen what Paul said to the elders in Miletus he says therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God. Now here's instructions to elders about shepherding the Church of God there's I don't see how you can take that word church and applied to the universal church. It is a reference to local church. Therefore, take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit is made you overseers to shepherd the Church of God, which he purchased with his own blood again. I do not understand how a genuine believer can continually justify abstaining from joining the church for whom Christ died were going to sing in a moment Timothy delights him I love I church or of the kingdom Lord. I love thy kingdom Lord, the house of thine abode the church are blessed Redeemer save with his own precious blood.

I love I Church of God.

Her walls before the stand dear is the apple of thine eye engraving on Diane for her my tears shall fall for her. My prayers ascend to her. My cares and toils be given till toils and cares shell land beyond my highest joy I prize her heavenly ways. Her sweet communion, solemn vows, her hymns of love and praise sure as thy trust shall last to Zion shall be given the brightest glories earth can yield and brighter bliss of heaven by with me as we pray father thank you tonight for the testimony of two who have identified themselves publicly of their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and their allegiance to him. Father deepen our love for your church deepen our commitment for your church grow the number of your church. Safeguard your church. Build your church and may the gates of hell not prevail against it. Thank you father for what you're doing in your church, and the authority you've given your church. Thank you for the incredible privilege to being made a part of your church that which we know will succeed, that which we know will triumph in the end.

Thank you that you are gathering a brine for your son from all the four corners of this earth. Lord, thank you for the incredible privilege of being part of that bride. Bless your word to our hearts, Lord, we pray tonight in Jesus name, amen

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