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October 4, 2021 12:01 am
The church is not an optional addition to the Christian life. If we love Jesus Christ, it is essential that we be involved in the church He loves. Today, R.C. Sproul helps us understand what the church is and what it means to belong to Christ's church.
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Cultural anthropologists have studied this phenomenon that is true of human beings in cultures and nations all over the world that were ever people are religious. Whatever religion they embrace and they practice they somehow find a way to establish sacred building why Renewing Your Mind with thank you for being with us. We emphasize in every turn. Wigner ministries that the church is not an option for us as Christians it's essential and that's one of the reasons Dr. RC scroll taught the series were featuring this week communion of saints is going to address the question he just posed at the beginning of the program, along with several others like what is the church is in a building or people. If the church is people what kind of think of Westminster is RC.
Recently I heard a minister, give a sermon that was somewhat unusual. The title of the sermon was simply a question who loves the church and it was a poignant experience for me to listen to that sermon because I realize that in this day and age in our culture and in our nation. There are many people who have expressed a serious disenchantment with the visible church with the institutional church, and many people feel that somehow in these days the church has let them down in the church is not met their expectations and we don't find people very often were jumping up and down and elation and excitement said all how I love the church, but if no one of us loves the church. We know with certainty that Christ loves the church and indeed if we are of Christ, we can't possibly despise what is so lovable to him what I want to do in this brief series on the churches explore the question. Basically, what is the church. What is the church comprise of what is the church's vocation. What is the church's mission and often when we say the word church we think in the first instance of a building, a building that looks something like the saying that appears behind me. Even now I remember a few years ago I went to the holy land, and we visited Jerusalem and of course one of the most important tourist sites in Jerusalem is the famous mosque that is found there. That is called the dome of the rock. It is one of the most important Islamic shrines in the world and I was intrigued. As we approached the entrance to the dome of the rock and our guide spent 5 to 10 minutes giving us careful instructions on the proper protocol for someone entering into this sacred place we were told. For example, that we would not be permitted to escort our wives by holding onto their arms because that gesture itself was deemed inappropriate for such a holy place and then of course we had to take our shoes off as we entered that holy shrine I thought isn't it strange the religions of all sorts all of all places in this world all have their sacred sites there holy places, and again we think of the church so often as a building as a structure as a place where people come and gather for worship and for religious activities. Let's think about that for just a second.
I think we will discover very soon through our study of Scripture, that in the first instance, the church is people. It's not a building. Yet even in the Scriptures, the church building, at least in the Old Testament was very important to the religion of Israel. If you recall the tabernacle was built by the expressed detailed provisions and commandments of God. The articles that were placed in that building were crafted by men who were uniquely endowed, charismatic Lee endowed, if you will, by the Holy Spirit to perform their tasks and of course we remember the garments of the priesthood of Aaron, how intricately they were designed by God's command and after the tabernacle gave way to the temple the same kind of detailed consideration was articulated by God for the building of this particular edifice will again if the church is not a building. Why should buildings mean anything to us and we've lost so much of the mystique of former ages in former generations regarding church buildings, church architectures, change it's rare that we see a church built today in the Gothic style of the vaulted ceilings and the lofty sense of transcendence that is communicated by the very building itself. Most of our buildings today are designed in a more functional way there built to facilitate fellowship in many cases they hardly differ at all from civic meeting houses yet. If you go down the main street of any city in the United States of America and you come upon a church you will be able to recognize it immediately. There something different about the building. Cultural anthropologists who carry no brief for Christianity have studied this phenomenon that is true of human beings in cultures and nations all over the world that were ever people are religious. Whatever religion they embrace and they practice they somehow find a way to establish sacred building why again according to the anthropologists. They say that there is an insatiable hunger that is in the heart of every human being.
Somehow, somewhere, sometime in this world to make contact with the who and all religions in all cultures throughout the world have their individual examples of what we call technically here often eats well that's probably aware that most of you have never heard in your life. How many never heard that term before you're okay, but it was right that it is a majority report saying there are such a war.
All that I hear often. He is is an outward visible manifestation of the sacred and we notice this difference somehow about the church building that we want to see in the building itself a distinction between the secular and the sacred between the profane and the holy again one theologian, or say nearly a day once made the following observation that the front door of every church in America has a symbolic significance for people. It is a special is a line of demarcation that once you step over that threshold you are leaving behind you. The secular and the profane and you are entering now into the presence of the holy of the sacred of the transcendence that we have to be extremely careful with that because we remember Jesus teaching to the woman of Samaria, how she wanted to engage Jesus in a theological dispute about the proper place of worshiping God is God in this mountain, she said, pointing to terrorism or is he residing in Jerusalem and Jesus had to free this woman of her narrow conception of the localization of God as she had to instruct her that God is never contained in buildings made by hands that God cannot be captured within defined boundary that God's presence is as much in the secular realm as it is and what we call the sacred realm, but in spite of that warning that we have from Jesus, we cannot not ignore how basic it is to our humanity that for each person among us.
There is a desire to set apart certain times. Certain places for special significance and holiness through the Bible wherever God intersects the sphere of history. It is a holy place where the patriarchs when they would encounter God would take a rock and anointed with oil and building over there because here God manifested his presence here was a here often a and that's what we try to do with churches we try to make a building that is different that will open the door for us into that realm where we can sense the presence of God. But as I said the church is in the building. The church is people the Lord for church that we find in the Bible comes from the Greek word, a Clay seah ported here in Clay seah we get the English word ecclesiastical from it, but this simple word which is the Greek word for church is built upon a root with a prefix. This Clay seah or epic appear comes from the Greek word X or X, which means what if you're in a building and usually assigned little red sign at the top that says exit.
What does that tell you that's how you leave the building. If you need to leave the building because ask the prefix means out of or from an Clay seah, the root of the word comes from the Greek call at home, which means simply to call so that in the first instance the rudimentary meaning of the word church in terms of its etymology is that the church is something or someone that is called out of something else there. Clay seah, are those who have been called by God out of the world. The church are those people whom God has given a divine summons a sacred vocation or calling by which he has commanded them to cross that line that I was mentioning to tread into the inner sanctum to cross the threshold into the area of the holy.
This was symbolize an illustrated in Israelite worship in the Old Testament when the people were summoned by God to gather for corporate worship so often this occasion was signaled by the blowing of the shofar or the Rams for that was a signal like a bugle call to the people that now the time has come.
The moment is here that you are to leave your daily tasks you are to leave your commonplace activities and assemble now in the presence of God and so often that solemn assembly would be initiated again by a prophetic summons here oh Israel lesson for the Lord your God is present in your midst, and he is about to speak. So even in today's church service we begin with the summons a call to worship because the church in the first place is an institution that is called to worship. It is an institution act call at all called out of the world and its members are those who have been called by God for a vocation which word simply means calling for a destiny to be his people to be holy. Even as he is holy, leads me in the time that I have left in the session to one of the most important images that we have for the church in the Bible and that is the church is called the bride of Christ, the bride of Christ. What a fascinating figure or metaphor is obviously the roots of that idea are found deeply established in the Old Testament where when God takes a people to himself. He makes of he enters into a solemn covenant with Israel. He pledges his everlasting faithfulness to his people, and in response the people enter into an agreement with him and they recite their violence and so a contractual union is affected in Israel and the image of marriage is found throughout the God is both proposed to Israel and when Israel is unfaithful to God. The sin of her disobedience is couched in the language of harlotry and of adultery in Israel following this metaphor of the broad but no matter how deeply that concept is found in the Old Testament, it doesn't begin to approximate the idea as it is solicited in the New Testament because in the New Testament below, but there is a whole new dimension to the marriage just in my seminary class the other day I was reading the beginning verses of Exodus chapter 21 which is the beginning of the so-called holiness code. If you remember the book of Exodus, you know that Exodus 20 is the landmark chapter because it contains what the Decalogue the 10 Commandments, and so on will Exodus 21 begins the broader exposition of the law of God into what is called the holiness code, but it begins with some strange and foreign teaching to our ears in our culture. It talks about the laws and the rules governing the handling of indentured servants or slaves and it says that if a man goes in the slavery format purchases the slave that after six years when the sabbatical year comes that slave must be freed and the text says that if the servant when he entered into his indentured servitude brought his wife with him. Then when he goes free.
She goes free as well. But then he goes on to say. If, however, he was single when he entered into his spirit of slavery at his master provides a wife for him and the wife bears children to the slave at the end of the six year what happens. The slave is freed but the wife and the children stay with the master hello, we read that at first blush and we scramble every front of the text, not only because of the whole concept of indentured servitude, but how cruel it seems that when the slave is freed, the master keeps the wife in the bank.
Why, because in Israel. Ladies and gentlemen when a husband wanted to marry a woman and often receive a nice dowry from the bride's family and so on.
But before he could marry a Jewish woman he had to pay what was called the bride's price he had to pay a fee that was a substantive fee and that fee proved and demonstrated that he had the wherewithal to take care of his bride, and whatever offspring they would have and so the father would not grant the hand of his daughter until the bride price was pay down the case of Hebrew servants. The Hebrew master had the responsibility of seeing to it that that bride and at those children were taken care of.
The reason why the slave became owned by the master in the first place was why he couldn't raise. That's he had no money. He's working off his debts. He certainly doesn't have the money to take care of his wife and his children. In the event of his liberation, and so the law of God required that the master would still be responsible for caring for the wife and the children until such time as the husband could get on his feet be financially solvent and have the wherewithal to buy and the pay the bride's price. Now I just take that little track for for this reason, we have to understand that concept if were to understand the image of the church is the bride of Christ. Because the primary reason why the church is called the bride of Christ. Beloved is because Jesus purchased his bride. He paid the ultimate bridal price with nothing less, than his own blood. We also see in the imagery of the New Testament that this bride, whom he purchased was damaged goods in the Old Testament from woman pretended she was a virgin at marriage and it was discovered that she was not there were severe penalties that were meted but our Lord bought a bride who was not pure he died for that bride, who was damaged but he is promised to the father that he would present his bride. At his final wedding feast in heaven without spot and without wrinkle because he laughs is for who loves the church Christ loves the church and purchased by his death bundle bug you, but that puts additional wind in my sales as I look forward to attending church this coming Sunday.
Hope it does for you as well. Listening to Renewing Your Mind on this Monday and a portion of Dr. RC Sproul series communion of saints and will see as the week progresses, that God is given is very clear instructions for how the body of Christ should be ordered. Looking around us today. We see confusion regarding the church and so our resource offer today is an attempt to right the ship so to speak. It's Dr. Robert Godfrey series, the necessity of reforming the church. Dr. Godfrey is a look in your teaching fellow and the chairman of the board here at Wigner ministries. He's observed trends in the church for decades and in this series provides tools to bring reform. You're welcome to contact us and request all six messages will send the DVD to you when you give a donation of any amount to litigator ministries again is called the necessity of reforming the church. You can reach us at 800-435-4343 or you can go online to give your firstname.lastname@example.org when it comes to understanding the church is comforting. I think to to realize that Scripture has a fixed true meaning God is spoken and it's our responsibility to regulate our thoughts with his thoughts and that's what Dr. Godfrey series does force it reminds us of God's unchanging plan for his church. So again request the necessity of reforming the church when you call us at 800-435-4343 or when you go online to Renewing Your Mind daughter work well.
As we look ahead to Dr. Sproles message tomorrow. There is a refrain that we hear throughout the culture, my religion is personal and private. And I don't need to go to church to have a personal relationship with God.
You heard that if you say that it is possible that you are a Christian, it's possible that I can shoot 63 and the golf course to but it's not very likely Marcy's humor coming through there but on a very serious matter. We hope you'll join us tomorrow for Renewing Your Mind