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October 5, 2021 12:01 am
Every Christian has a vital contribution to make to the life of the church. Today, R.C. Sproul presents the Bible's response to those who say they don't need to belong to the body of Christ.
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Coming up next on Renewing Your Mind. While religion is personal and private. And I don't need to go to church to have a personal relationship with God. Have you heard that if you say that it is possible that you are a Christian, it's possible that I can shoot 63 in the golf course.
Though, but it's not very likely will Renewing Your Mind. It is Tuesday and the library sees Rose Huber in making a very strong point does he mean that you have to belong to a church to be a Christian. Some might say the Bible doesn't make that claim but indeed there is a clear scriptural basis for being an active member in the body of Christ in our first session in this series on the church. We began by asking the question who loves the church in Ennis we spoke to that thing.
We look further at a definition of the church. We looked at the Greek word for church in the New Testament than the etymological derivation of our English word church and then from there we moved to begin to look at some of the metaphors or images that the Bible uses to describe the church in the first one of course, was the image of the bride of Christ. All I think the image that the New Testament uses for the church that is perhaps more widely known than any other is the one that the apostle Paul uses in his correspondence to the Corinthians into the Ephesian congregation and elsewhere where he refers to the church as the body of Christ heard the town in Texas, Corpus Christi, which simply literally means the body of Christ. Well, that idea of the churches being the body of Christ is a concept that in one hand is very simple.
In the New Testament but yet when we begin to probe its significance and turnover of the layers of meaning that the apostle invest in it. We say that indeed it becomes a profound and profoundly important idea for us before.
However, I probe the concept itself. Let me refresh your memories with a quotation from the great St. Augustine and arguably the greatest theologian of the first millennium of church history. Augustine has a famous quote that goes like this.
He who does not have the church as his mother does not have God as his father. We said again that he who does not have the church as his mother does not have God as his father.
Now, for short and say let me just the skip lightly over this dimension.
In a moment that there have been host of difficult theological controversies down through church history in an effort to interpret precisely and completely what St. Augustine meant by that phrase Roman Catholic Church appeals to it. In one sense Protestant churches appeal to that famous statement in another sense, not only those considerations aside and get at least to the simple core of what Augustine was driving at when he said if you don't have the church is your mother. You don't have God as your father well. We could look at that simply to mean that just as it's necessary for us to have a human mother to be born into the human family. So a person cannot be born into the kingdom of God unless it's the church who gives birth, but that's not the way I am understanding that at this point here, not anticipating a view of the church that sees the church as the institution that saves you or that saves me.
Christ is the one who redeems you, and if the Holy Spirit who begets your soul into newness of life. Now the church acts as a midwife. In many cases for the proclamation of the gospel and administration of the sacraments, and so on. But another crucial function of a mother in this world is the function of nurture the mother not only bears the child but the mother nourishes and nurtures the child in our culture. Traditionally, the mother cares for and nurtures the father disciplines well when we see this image of the church as the body of Christ we see in that image. One of the most important elements of it being the nurturing ministry of the church to its members, justice, and infant desperately needs the nourishment provided by its mother. So we as infants in the kingdom of God's spiritual babes desperately require the means of grace which are focused and concentrated in the church that I am aware and I'm sure you're aware that were living in a time where there has been widespread negative reaction against all traditional institutions of rebellion against schools a rebellion against parents of rebellion against politicians virtually every authority structure in our society and in our culture has been leveled by negative criticism I remember in the 60s.
We saw strange phenomenon in America with the Jesus movement of people called themselves quote Jesus freaks, and they established in many occasions, what was called then the underground church and so often that idea of an underground church was a thinly veiled protest against the aboveground church against the visible institutional or what we call the quote organized church and again I've heard it many many times repeated by people who say look, I'm a Christian I'm a religious person but I am not a member of any institutional church. I don't need to be a member of an institutional church I worship privately. My religion is personal and private. And I don't need to go to church to have a personal relationship with God. Have you heard that may be.
You've even set it if you say that it is possible that you are a Christian, it's possible that I can shoot 63 in the golf course to but it's not very likely. Why do I say that because when we look at the pages of the New Testament, even a cursory reading of the Scriptures tells us that when Christ redeems an individual he never leaves that individual in isolation, the redemption is not a group activity.
Karl Barth once said that were members of many different groups were members of the family were members of the school were members of a community, we may be members of the club or members of the state are members of a nation in the final analysis when you stand before Almighty God used in a long your brother, your sister, your mother your father your friends your club, your nations, your churches face will not avail you when you stand before God. God will deal with you as an individual and it says an individual that you enter into the kingdom of God but don't confuse that with individualism again when Jesus redeems the individual he places them in a group and he calls that group. Beloved his own body.
How in the world can a person love Christ and hate his own body.
How can a person embrace Christ for any period of time and continuously absent himself from fellowship and involvement with the company of God's people. The family of God. That's another image in the Bible to let us that the family of God. We know that when babies are born. If once they are delivered. There simply set on the table in the delivery room if they're given no nourishment, no water, no food, they will quickly die and yet modern studies have indicated that if they are given food and water but no human companionship.
No fellowship, even though they have all of the physical nutrients necessary to maintain life they will perish will again let's look now than at this image, the body of Christ.
For those who find it unpleasant to think of the church is an organization you think of a body not so much as an organization as an organ is an organism is something that is alive. It's vital, it can move that's exciting is not inert or lifeless or inanimate. When we talk about that body were not talking about a corpse but a living, vital thing and people usually respond to that idea of the body of Christ. Yes they want to be part of a group that's exciting that the lives it's vital, and so on.
If the organizational part of it that turns them off let me just to direct your attention from I went to Paul's discussion of this concept of the body of Christ that he gives in his first letter to the Corinthians he says in chapter 12 verse 12 for as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ.
For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, and so on for. In fact, the body is not one member, but many if the fortune say because I'm not a handout not of the body, is it therefore not of the body. He goes on, he says if the ear should say because I'm not and I are not part of the body, is it therefore not of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be by, could you see wonderfully if all you were weren't intricately constructed, magnificently sculptured. Imagine being married to someone that was 6'5" tall. It ever did was she a sous chef. Can you have within or as opposed to Trinidadian for 6'4" a you could talk to it but couldn't see and couldn't talk back. It couldn't touch you and hold you and love you yet how important our ears to us. How much do we value our eyes but the eye can't say to the year I don't need you the year can say to the II don't need to.
The I can't say I'm not a part of the body.
What's the point. I mean this is so elementary that the apostle Paul is speaking here but in elementary nests that I think carries with it profundity basis the church is like a human body.
It is an organism. But, beloved, if you know anything about biology anything about living organisms. You know that the one absolutely necessary precondition for an organism to remain alive is that it stay organized, you find an organism that is disorganized and you have filed an organism that is dying and Paul here is talking organically about the church but God compose the body. He said, having given greater honor to the part which locks that that there be no schism in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another so that if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it, or if one member is honored, all members rejoice with it. What a magnificent model there's anybody honored in the church anybody been honored in your work environment or in your school or wherever your when he saw somebody else honored that you ever feel a pang of envy or jealousy. Christ said when the body is working together when one member suffers, everybody suffers when one part is honored. Everybody rejoices because the individuals never lose their individuality.
They don't lose their distinctive characteristics.
You don't submerge your personality into an organization.
When you join the church. You retain your individuality but that individuality makes its own contribution to the whole. That's what you say and that we all need each other and we have a tendency that the context of Paul's using here's he's talking about spiritual gifts. The thing that provoked the letter nothing to provoke three chapter 7, at least here is that people in the Corinthian community were fussing and fighting about whose gifts were most important and whose gifts for the greatest will I speak in tongues. Will I have the gift of prophecy. While I can do this and I can do that and they're starting to have factions based upon pride I'm in.
I can see I'm a mouse. I can talk on the new year.
I can hear Moses. So what good is a very educated spray but is this baby carrots. They and the thing I thinks been missed so deeply in this day is what I read briefly what he says the same spirit who redeemed you pours out his gifts on every member in the body of Christ. Every person has a supernatural endowment from God is a part of the body of Christ and the body to be healthy needs, your gift, whatever it is for the body to be complete. It needs you. Martin Luther spoke in the 16th century about the priesthood of all believers and many of us are familiar with the concept or lease the words but there's great misunderstanding that associates with that.
What Luther meant by the priesthood of all believers is not that that's an end of clergy.
He wasn't trying to do away with preachers right but what was he saying the concept of the priesthood of all believers is that the ministry of Christ. The priestly ministry of Christ is not given exclusively to the clergy that the mission and the ministry is given to every person in the church to play their part. We are all responsible for the ministry of the body of Christ where you may do evangelism, you may do administration, and you may not be called to be an evangelist and he may not be called to be an administrator but you in your evangelism are to support his administration and he and his administration is to support him in his evangelist, but we have a tendency because of our human pride to exalt our own gifts. That's not the way it works. I should be doing everything in my power as a theologian to assist and support the work of evangelism and the work of ministry to the poor and to the work of administration because we need and that all of us are called into this task. Now there is a concept that is been linked with this idea of the body of Christ, and that is the church has been called in some circles as the continuing incarnation. That is, since the body of Jesus refers to his physical nature to his human nature. The human manifestation of the second person of the Trinity and now the human body of Jesus has been removed from the world by ascending into heaven and being seated at the right hand of God. Now, the incarnation continues through the church. I have ambivalent feelings about the concept. On the one hand, I can say with Luther that yes, the church, the people of God are to be Christ to their neighbor. You are to put flesh and blood on Jesus to your neighbor. Luther says not in the sense that you actually become Christ, of course not.
But as his ambassador. You may be the only thing that person sees to learn anything of Jesus. You are his presence as his ambassador to your neighbor, or we can say that the church continues the incarnation in the sense that the church continues in this world.
Some of the ministry of Christ aware this becomes exceedingly dangerous and I believe heretical is when we think that the church continues the redemptive atoning work of Jesus as some have assumed, Paul says, for example, in his letter to the Colossians where he says that he is suffering in his body and that he is filling up what is lacking in the sufferings of Christ through his own suffering. Some of jumped on that text and say hi. Not only does Jesus perform a redemptive work of satisfying the demands of God's law with his suffering and with his passion, but we can add to the merit of Jesus suffering through our own suffering. As we continue the incarnation, no, no, no, my friends. When Paul said that he fills up what is lacking. He didn't mean to suggest for a second that that there was any deficiency in the merit of Christ, but rather there is a history and a mission and a task that Christ gives to the church and in so far as we are in Christ and he is in us. We as his people must be willing to and inevitably show to some degree or another, participate in his we will participate in his dishonor in his humiliation not meritorious like, but as his witness, for we are the body of Christ. This Dr. RC Sproul with a message titled the mother of God's children. Glad you joined us today for Renewing Your Mind as we continue RC series on the church.
It's called communion of saints, you have more than likely heard someone say that you don't need to belong to a church to be a Christian. Today's message evaluated that statement from a biblical perspective also reveals how far the church is drifted from its biblical roots and that's why we want to get today's resource offer into your hands, Dr. Robert Godfrey is a look in your teaching fellow and he also taught a series on this important topic is called the necessity of reforming the church.
Dr. Godfrey is also a noted church historian and that's evident as he explains important. The Reformation in the church will send you the six messages on one DVD when you contact us today with your gift of any about. Let me give your phone number it's 800-435-4343 you can call us or you can go online to make a request and Renewing Your Mind.Ward church history is just one of the many topics we address here on Renewing Your Mind. We also cover apologetics, biblical studies, philosophy and ethics, theology and personal holiness. Dr. Sproat was serious about seeing the historic Christian faith advanced around the world and that's why were thankful for your generous donation of any about the church is the only institution that I know of that absolutely requires that you be a center to be a member so you I'd expect the church fathers in describing the church to call it the one on the hallway, Catholic and apostolic church, but no fathers called it over.
That's of review Dr. Spruill's message tomorrow and we hope you'll join us for Renewing Your Mind