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December 11, 2020 3:00 am
Sharing of our common life building friendships.
The bearing of burdens, mutual care, mutual prayer. That's the life of the church is a life of sharing love. It's a life of sacrifice. It's a life of giving sacrificially both my my money and my time and my energy on behalf of others. I'm your host Phil Johnson in your church aren't what you want them to be. What do you do should you stay put or find a different fellowship and with so many local churches out there, why commit to just one well on this edition of grace to you. John MacArthur shows you how important the local church should be in your life and what it really means to be committed to the body of Christ commitment to the church. That's the theme and the title of today's message so follow along. Now, as John begins the lesson. I love the church through the years. Ministry I have had occasion an opportunity to consider other kinds of ministry as to mission field ministry and educational ministry in various and sundry kinds of opportunities that have come my way. But no matter how wonderful they might've been a matter how attractive, no matter how great the need. I have never found myself able to disassociate from the church and the ministry in the church.
I love the church. It is my life. I am committed to the church with every ounce of being that I have. I'm committed to. With all my heart and all my soul and there are people who say to me, why do you always, to write these books to deal with issues and why are you always concerned about all of these things going on. Can't you just sit back and enjoy your Christian experience administering the answer is I love the church so much I want to see it be all God wants it to be and that means I need to be a pastor because if I wasn't the pastor I'd be driving the pastor crazy Lord knew that. I don't understand people who don't love the church. I don't understand people who who who don't have a love affair with the church and can't wait to assemble with its people. There was a time when coming to Christ meant coming to his church there and there was a time when salvation meant union with the visible gathered body of Christ, becoming a Christian meant fellowship. That's really changed the emphasis the contemporary emphasis and evangelicalism is having a personal relationship with Christ in the process of personalizing this banging on this issue of personal relationship to Christ, which is become the pervasive theme of contemporary evangelism. Rarely is there any discussion about the church is extremely rare to pick up a gospel tract or a gospel presentation that ends with any discussion of a believer's relationship to the church.
There is very low emphasis on church involvement church membership being a part of the family of God. The visible gathered household of redeemed states now want to teach you some essential issues of church membership.
And these are things that I think will be clear to you and hopefully motivating. First of all, it's an obedience issue identifying with the church officially joining and being a partisan obedience issue. The New Testament clearly indicates that believers were baptized and assembled into gathered recognizable groups.
Their names are put on the list. They were identified as the flock and the shepherds knew they were and when they move from one place to another. Some letter went along with them in order that a transfer might be affected to another local assembly of believers, letters, epistles of the New Testament were written to those gathered believers, there was never any assumption that some Christian would be floating around loose all by himself. There was a real spiritual unity of saved souls and that real spiritual unity, just as it is today was manifest in local groups of believers gathered together for the purpose of sanctification and worship and witness. It's a biblical pattern and what we have today in this evangelical consumerism is not biblical. This church hopping and bouncing around.
We we do everything we can to track every person that comes and goes from our church.
I read one of the littlest someone had left our church and it is a little common at the bottom after they were called and we send letters.
We try everything we can to know where they go was we are now attending and they listed a certain church and a couple of other churches. That's a dead giveaway to me what that means is they're not probably going anywhere very frequently and when they do they have around where the action is utterly unknown to the biblical pattern of identification with the gathered group of believers to whom we commit ourselves for the glory of Christ.
It is an obedience issue and I think it may be a sin issue. Maybe things in your life that you don't want to expose let me encourage you by saying all rest of us have problems to. Don't wait to get perfect before you come. One lady said I want to join the church are too many hypocrites. I said fine we can always take more only a question of degree right out and say that anyone this morning that was I was when I was young. It is an obedience issue.
Secondly, to fellowship issue believers were introduced into a church. The church of the Lord Jesus Christ for the sake of common shared spiritual life where those of like precious faith. We have entered into a fellowship, a partnership participation. Paul told the Corinthians. They been called into the fellowship fellowship of his son, God's son fellowship which was so wonderful and so unique and so blended that they were to make sure there were no divisions and no quarrels, no arguments, no debates in the fellowship. John the apostle, in writing, first John one verse three what we've seen and heard we proclaim to you that you may have fellowship with us and indeed our fellowship is with the father and with his son Jesus Christ saved to enter into the fellowship of the partnership. The word cunning means partnership Galatians 29 says in recognizing the grace of the been given to me. James and Cephas, and John Paul writing who are reputed to be pillars, gave to me and Barnabas the right hand of what fellowship what we do that, it's New Testament. You taken them by the hand and bringing them into the fellowship common participation in eternal life as its manifest in the visible life of the church in Hebrews chapter 10 is a wonderful section of Scripture verse 23. Let's hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the day drawing near the closer we get to the return of Jesus Christ. The more we need to fellowship.
Don't forsake the assembling of yourselves together stimulate one another to love and good deeds is the habit of Psalm. He says not to be together not to be in the assembly's wrong sinful sharing of our common life building friendships. The bearing of burdens, mutual care, mutual prayer. That's the life of the church. It's a life of sharing love. It's the life of sacrifice. It's the life of of giving sacrificially both my my money and my time and my energy on behalf of others. It's coming together for the sake of the Lord's table. It's coming together to sing praises to him in the collective choir the collective hallelujahs that rise from assembled congregation. That's the fellowship coming to the Lord's table is when we come for purging and purification repentance and confession and renew devotion. That's a precious precious treasure, and the fellowship should run deeper and deeper as our lives are more entwined and as we get to know each other more and more and we really do have spiritual friendships that are deep and profound and life changing and strengthening. It is a fellowship issue to be a part of the church local assembly.
Thirdly, it's an authority issue.
Believers are to be brought into the church under pastoral rule. Now we rule, not by might nor by power but by the word of God. I don't have any authority over your life. Some pastors like think they do, and you get these these pastors in these churches that are somewhat of abusive or dictatorial, where they tell you you can't marry this person you can't marry that person. You can't take that job. You can't move your family over here. You can't do this. They want to control your life. That is, that is an illegitimate authority. The only authority we have is the authority that comes out of the word of God and by the Spirit working through our giftedness. Applying the word to your life but you need to come under that authority. In first Thessalonians chapter 5 verse 12 the request of your brother that you appreciate those who diligently labor among you that your elders and pastors and teachers, and have charge over you in the Lord and give you instruction you need to appreciate those whose role it is to lead you and guide you oversee your life to instruct you to teach you to train you. You are to esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Hebrews chapter 13 verse seven.
Remember, those who led you who spoke the word of God do you imitate their faith and then in verse 17 he says, obey your leaders and submit to them, for they watch over your souls, as those who will give an account. Let them do this would join with brief, this would be unprofitable for you and it is a grief when you're responsible to shepherd people who won't be faithful to be in the flock were here to train and disciple support and serve you were here to pray. Teach were here to give you oversight were here also to admonish and warn them to reprove and rebuke, and exhort, and even the discipline in the application of the word of God in your life, but that's all for your good, isn't to evade that to avoid that is to your detriment were here to enforce the word of God. Occasionally, where we find a factious man we rebuke him once or twice and then rejected were we find someone who continues in sin. We we discipline and put them out of the church monitoring him to repent, but not allowing him to associate with us.
All of that is for the purity of the church.
All of that is for the cleansing of the church for the virtue and holiness of the flock were here to protect you from the wolves who tear you up from the people who would steal away your heart, your resources your energies confuse you about the truth you need the oversight. It is an authority issue. It is a is a soft authority.
It is a biblical authority is not a personal one.
It is not a harsh one.
It's for your benefit. The authority of a loving father to tender mother as Paul described it to the Thessalonians. You wouldn't imagine would you that a child would flourish on its own and yet how many Christians try to do that.
Little wonder they're confused and the battle was send their losing forcefully this matter of church membership is an identity issue is an identity issue. You are by title a Christian. That means a little Christ you have been joined together with Christ is no way to tell. In a sense where he stops and you start your life in his life are together. Your life is hid with Christ in God. Nevertheless, you live yet not you, but Christ lives in you. Galatians 220.
You are his own. You been bought with a price redeemed by the precious blood of Christ, you bear his name. That's who you are more than anything else. You are Christ's, by virtue of his salvation and you bear his name more than any other name you are his church. You are his body, and you are his bride.
It is true, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and father of us all.
One spirit, one church, one whole. We are all united with the selfsame Christ are you ashamed to belong. Are you like Timothy maybe on the edge of that when Paul said and don't be ashamed of the Lord or of me his prisoner. Are you ashamed to bear that identification and to bear the identification with other believers of like precious faith. Amazingly, the Lord is not ashamed to call you his and that could ruin his reputation. Frankly, to be identify with you and me on though he's not ashamed to call us is always shame to call him hours or wishing to identify with him. You must be a part of what you believe in. I'm amazed how many things people join the reflect what they believe in mean people join all kinds of organizations for what they believe in, and more than any other thing. Any other organization on the face of the earth. If you want to talk about really belonging then then you really belong when you're Christian because you're not even a citizen of this world you belong to an eternal family, shouldn't you be willing outwardly to identify with the visible gathered members of that group to which you eternally belong church membership is an issue of obedience, fellowship, authority, identity fifthly to an issue of loyalty is an issue of loyalty where we are like a family. I love loyalty back. I can't think of anything I like better than loyalty. I love the fact that God is loyal to his own. Christ is loyal to his own. I love the fact that believers are loyal to one another and loyal to the Lord. But that isn't how people think today so you know I probably go to church tonight because it might be somebody there would need me might be somebody that I could pray for might be somebody that I could sit with and sing hymns praise to God. I better go tonight because it might encourage the pastor that I'm there I better go because the spirit of God might have something to say to me is going to make my life more effective as a witness to the people around me. You know I really need to be there because they're going to be people there who probably have burdens and maybe I'll run into one of them they'll share with me and I'll need to know what I pray about it. We don't think like that, we say well it's a should we go to dinner over here. Should we go to church all well we can go visit aunt Martha over there. You know she'll leave us in the will. If we show up enough times or whatever we we just grieve in our hearts or pastors at the disloyalty of so many people are loyal to their own interests, but they're certainly not loyal to the interests of others. The needs of others in the gathered church listen to Ephesians to Ephesians 2 yes verse well start verse 19 so then you are no longer strangers and aliens were not just floating around out there, but you are fellow citizens with the saints in your of God's household. While part of the family. We try to raise our children to understand family loyalty never do anything that violates family loyalty. These are the people God has given you these are the most precious people in your world.
These are the people you need most.
These are the people that mean the most. These are the people that offer the most to you families a precious thing and you need to be loyal should never be rivalries within the family or animosity in the family. It's too precious. We need each other to difficult world.
No one ever alienates your children from their grandparents.
You don't want to alienate brothers and sisters because they need each other in the spiritual dimension that is so true. How crucial it is to realize were God's family and there needs to be a high level of Laura loyalty to that family. Six. It's a ministry issue or service issue all spiritual gifts function in the church. The church is the place where spiritual gifts are to be ministered. It's what the New Testament calls the fellowship of serving unselfish love will make you serve, you come to service I want to go to my real talk somebody might give them counsel out of the Scripture. I've been reading a book on this in a maybe somebody will need the answers that I gain from this book. Maybe I'll be able to pray with somebody. Maybe I'll be able to encourage somebody or comfort.
Somebody maybe my spiritual gift can be used whether it's a gift of preaching or teaching or a gift of helps her a gift of giving her a gift of instruction, whatever that spiritual gift might be that all goes on in the church see where here is apostles, prophets, evangelists, and pastors and teachers. Ephesians 411 says for the perfecting of the saints for the work of service where here simply to pour our lives in you so you can serve each other. That's how the whole thing work. That's all body works right.
It just ministers to itself mutually meets all the needs of all the parts so it functions perfectly grieves me that people can be involved in a church superficially and have no ministry. They can be very busy and a whole lot of stuff that's gonna burn parish and have absolutely no heart for what will alone last forever.
I have a hero real hero in my life's name is a pancreatitis in Philippians chapter 2 tells about pulses. Verse 25 I thought it necessary to send you, pray for guidance, listen to this. My brother and fellow worker and fellow soldier.
There was a man who would come alongside the apostle Paul and served within.
He is a servant to my need.
He says and he said the reason I'm sending him because verse 26 he was longing for you all and was distressed because you had heard that he was sick he was upset, not because he was sick, but because he thought they'd be upset because they found out he was sick. What a compassionate, selfless man. Indeed, verse 27 says he was sick to the point of death almost died, but God had mercy on him and not on him only been on me, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow.
If there's one God and one loser was him how to get sick. Verse 30 became close to death. The work of Christ risking his life to complete what was deficient in your service to me almost killed himself in service or that's a far cry from what many people.
Most people are willing to do almost killed himself in serving someone else did he ever preach.
I don't know.
None of the sermons are recorded that he ever had a front I don't know. I don't know if he ever said anything profound or significant or life-changing.
But whatever he did on a personal him into a large group or whatever dinner a personal level was life-changing.
And Paul couldn't imagine anything but sorrow upon sorrow. He wasn't there. That's how he had endeared himself to Paul by being a servant is an issue of ministry belonging to the church is an issue of sharing your life and your spiritual gift and pouring yourself into the needs of others service. This is the place for that. This is where that happens. We always say that when you become a part of the church are saying I'm ready to serve, and when you don't become a part of the church are saying I want to serve get me into that responsibility well is it you're also gonna miss privilege and blessing and joy and peace in fulfillment and eternal reward, and then seventh and lastly, it is a bit as a witness issue is an evangelistic issue.
You know I I just grieve in my heart sometimes right when I ask myself what do people in the world think Christians are just these floating people who sort of call themselves Christians and just kind of wander around out there and say well I'm a Christian summarizes will what what church you blonder well I'm on the free Christian just like arrange chicken.
You know they had over those are just sort of float around in John 1334 35 Jesus said by this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you have love one for another. They're going to see your witness is going to be believable on the basis of your relationship prescriptions 14, 24, 25, an unbeliever comes in of the assembly hears the word being proclaimed. He sees you worshiping falls on his face.
He repents first Peter chapter 2 verse nine says you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation.
I love that you you are a nation you are a group of people for God's own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him was called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Here we are collected together proclaiming the reality of Christ.
This is powerful as reality here. We don't need to dramatize will to show your reality, not becoming a member obedient to the scriptural standard not fellow shipping faithfully with other Christians not submitting to the applied authority of the word taught by pastors and teachers not being willing to identify with Christ and Christ's own not being eager to accept the rich privileges of family and its loving loyalty is sent and not joining the church is saying I don't want to serve the only institution the Christ ever built, not joining the church hampers our witness because it shows a lack of a of noncommitment on the part of people who name the name of God, how wonderful can Christ be if were not even committed to being associated with his church commitment in a day like today is so that's John MacArthur helping you evaluate your commitment to the church. That's the title of today's lesson here on grace to you. Commitment to the church along with teaching each day on grace to you.
John also serves as Chancellor of the Masters University and seminary John this is a great message on commitment to the church and this year especially the events of this year have tested people's commitment to the church like nothing ever before and I know you've been in the news because of that, so talk a little bit about this talk about what Christians should keep in mind wherever they live with respect to whatever restrictions the government may be putting in place on church activities will week we took a stand pretty early on the fact that the church needed to be open that we were going to be the church we were not irresponsible in that sense because it had become clear to us that the initial old death warnings. You know that said millions of people are going to die.
Didn't proved to be true. I was preaching in an empty church for a number of weeks and then slowly as people begin to think this is not happening. They didn't buy the narrative anymore. They started coming back and coming back, and pretty soon a number which we had hundreds and then we had thousands and then there was every Sunday, seven, 8000 p.m. record attendance react constantly growing in and in the last what 3 to 4 weeks. 300 people have joined our church and they've come almost all of them from other churches. So what is happened in this time is we've been opened.
The interesting thing is, we been to court with the county trying to shut us down. They've never been able to do it because we have basically made our case on the First Amendment. We have freedom of religion and they can't get past that they can climb that wall they have theft away pillars of full trial before they could rule anything else so so they've allowed us to be open they don't like it, but they can shut us down, and in being open