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March 1, 2021 7:00 pm
Dr. Steve Pettit begins a series entitled “Church Matters,” with a message titled “Why is Choosing a Church Important?” from 1 Corinthians 3:10-15.
Welcome to The Daily Platform from Bob Jones University in Greenville, South Carolina today on The Daily Platform were beginning a new study series called church matters. These messages were preached at Bob Jones University to help students choose a church home while attending college. However, these biblical principles apply to everyone helping us choose where to worship with the body of believers each week. Today's sermon will be preached by Dr. Steve Pettit, president of Bob Jones University. Each semester we have a discipleship theme, which this semester is run the race and then we also have a doctrinal thing this semester I doctrinal theme is entitled church matters. I'm not going to do most of these messages, but I'd like to begin this series by just sort of setting it up and really answering kind of the big questions like why are we doing this in what is the purpose of what is the approach that were going to take this is and do part two. Some changes that we made in our church policy here at the University and so I want to talk you through that and sorted give you the big picture as to why we do that and then as we go through the semesters. We talked about church and church. A biblical philosophy of ministry and worship, then we will dig deeper into the weeds and not deal with some more specific things, but today I'd like to do some high level conversation with you about why it is that the church matters of why were doing here at the University.
What were doing so with that in mind I like to ask you take your Bibles and turn with me to first Corinthians chapter 3 today.
First Corinthians 3 and I like to read a text of Scripture that was very instructional for me as a young believer and how it was that I would respond to the church. My background, I grew up here and in the state of South Carolina in the capital city Columbia. My father was a deacon and a Sunday school teacher in a Presbyterian Church in Columbia and so as far back as I can remember and I remember at least K for I remember that going to nursery so from K for all the way out to about my sophomore year in high school we faithfully and regularly attended church but I didn't become a believer until my first year of college at the age of 19 years old. After I became a Christian and I began to grow in the word I began to grow my understanding of the church and really by the time I came to Bob Jones University of the age of 22 years old for grad school. I'd established many of the convictions that I believe about the church today were really established in my college years, so your establishment of your thinking towards the church, especially in your college years is very crucial because in some ways your church's choice. You could say is actually more important in the big picture than even your college choice because it really has to do with your relationship with God and what God is doing in this world.
So let's read this morning.
First Corinthians 10 first Corinthians 3 verses 10 through 15 is just some foundational verses this morning.
Paul says in verse 10, according to the grace of God which is given in to me as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation is talking about the church and another builds their own, but let everyone take heed how we build with their pond so he's telling us that we are responsible for other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man builds upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones would have a stumble every man's work shall be made manifest for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is.
So he's talking about the judgment that will come upon all of us in the way that we have been involved in the building of the church. Verse 15 verse 14 if any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss, but he himself shall be saved, yet so as by fire.
As I said, this semester I doctrinal series is entitled church matters, it's a biblical philosophy of ministry and worship. So two questions I like to try to ask and answer this morning. Number one. Why is it that this series is so important in the number two what's going to be our approach. Let me begin with. The big question.
The question of why why is this series so important that like to give you lease for reasons this morning. Number one because of what we require as a Christian institution as a student here at the University you are required to choose and faithfully attend the local church in the greater Greenville area. Let me read to you right out of the BJ you local church philosophy statement you can actually read it online it says these words, the New Testament teaches that a local church is indispensable to the spiritual growth and the health of every genuine Christian because of these truths, we expect our faculty and staff to be active members in good standing of a local church. We require our students to regularly attend and faithfully serve in a local church is a part of the student experience. Failure to do so is a serious breach of our biblical conviction and institutional commitment to follow what Scripture teaches regarding the local church. We ask our faculty and staff to worship and serve in churches that are in agreement with our core doctrinal beliefs and theological positions and substantially aligned with our spiritual objectives. So why is it that we make this requirement of your faithfulness to the local church because the church is God's work in the world today. What did Jesus say in Matthew 1618, I will build my blood, my church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it. When Jesus gave the great commission in Matthew 2819. It was in the context of a local church for Jesus said, go ye therefore, and teach all nations literally make disciples and then he follows up by saying, baptizing them in the name of the father and the son and the Holy Ghost, teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I've commanded you and low I am with you always, when he said baptizing. That's a church ordinance. The great commission is actually the establishment of local churches through evangelization through enrollment into the church and through the edification or the teaching ministry of the local church. So it's really a part of the great commission and then in Hebrews 10. In verse 25 he warns us as believers, he says, not forsaking the assembling of your of ourselves together, as the manner of some is church attendance is a habit. It's a manner and he says don't forsake the assembling. That is, when do I go to church with my churches assembling together. I should be a faithful, loyal, regular attender of my New Testament local church and then Paul writes in first Timothy three in verse 15 about the importance of the church. He said, but if I tarry long, that now may us know how they'll call us to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth, the foundation of the charter of the truth is mailed within the body of believers. So this is no small deal. It's a big deal, therefore, is a Christian institution.
It is crucial that we be aligned with God's purposes in God's plans in the world. You could say this way church matters.
Also, since we make this a requirement of your education that it is crucial that we teach a basic philosophy of ministry and worship to help guide you in your choices. So were trying to be faithful to teach what is a sound biblical philosophy as you have to make these decisions now.
The second reason why this series is so important is because many students for the first time in their life are making their own decision regarding a church. Fact is, let me ask you this how many of you would say coming to Bob Jones University from where I've grown up is actually the first time I personally have had to make a choice as to where I'm going to go to church. How many of you would acknowledge that, would you raise your hand. Okay, it's basically the large percentage of our student body is therefore a big deal. This is a big deal, you're going to be here hopefully for four years 3 to 4 years and so your weekends, your Sundays will be invested in the local church.
This is a big decision so it's important to understand that Bob Jones University is not a church.
We do not hold worship services here on Sunday morning. We do not have a pastor.
This is not BJ you Baptist Church day. We are not a church. You become your own Sunday morning were not going to be here. We are a Christian liberal arts university.
We have never aligned ourselves as an institution with one single denomination. We never joined a church convention church Association or a church fellowship for 92 years of existence.
However, we love and we support the local church. Furthermore, we have sought to align ourselves with people who believe the Bible and who seek to love the truth live the truth proclaim the truth and defend the truth we stand with them.
So as a university we have no authority over local churches.
I do not call it pastors in Greenville and say you need to do this we have.
We actually have no means to appropriately evaluate churches. We don't have a team here that goes out and evaluates all the churches. Furthermore, we have no single denomination or individual church that we exclusively recommend don't say this is the church all of our student should go to buy we do require that you go to church. Therefore, we have concluded that it is vital. It is vital in this decision-making process to have your parents involvement and let me explain clearly why when Bob Jones University was started by Dr. Bob Jones Senior he started the end when he started the institution here was his desire. He wanted students to come here earn a degree and go back home to their home churches and serve he would not ask students coming to be GU from different denominations and traditions to change their denomination that I will make that very clear fact is for 86 years of our histories of the institution's history. We actually held Sunday morning worship service here worship services here on campuses and during some of those years we actually we require that students go to the Sunday school class of their denomination. So here Bob Jones, for example, we have a service let's say 11 o'clock on Sunday morning, all students came here before that you would have to go to Sunday school class you had to go to the Sunday school class of your denomination. So if you are a Baptist, you had to go to Baptist boy. Sundays Baptist girls Sunday school class Presbyterian Sunday school class method is Sunday school class. The reason he did that because he wanted people to stay within their denomination and they would have their own services here on campus. And so in a way it was very simple, or simpler. I could say to assure that the founder's vision for church affiliation would be maintained because you come to Bob Jones go to the services here. Go back to your home and there really wasn't in between church if that makes sense, but six years ago we change the church policy and we opened up the opportunity for students to go to Greenville area. Local churches and I I am appalled that I came here one year after that policy had been in place and not only got plotted on not sure I would've come here is the president if we did not have that policy in place because of my personal belief about the importance of the local church.
So now we are requiring all of our students to go to a local church on Sunday instead of here on the campus. However, it's important to realize that we do not control local churches. Therefore, in order for us to be in alignment with the founder's vision of the church. We have decided to require students to be in alignment with their parents because that's really what the founder wanted. He wanted you to be aligned with your mother and father where you came from.
When you came here due to the University so we have put in the way of church choice back home. Families in order to practically accomplish this because there has to be a practical method, we require that all incoming freshmen receive their parents. Validation of church choice by the end of the first semester so you don't have to make the decision within two or three weeks, but you do have to by the end of the semester. In other words, you can't church shop every single week and not land down anywhere. Now we have put together a church list of some hundred and 20 churches that we believe reflects the kind of churches that the majority of our students come from. We have done this very carefully. We we recognize that about 75% of our students come from an independent Baptist or Bible church background that's reflected in this list. This is the same list, more or less, that we had last year as a list for our students, but I want to know that is not the out there.
They're not the only churches in Greenville.
Fact is, there are about 400 gospel churches within a 20 mile radius of this campus. Obviously we we don't go to the mall visit them all and so we were not to put all of them on the list. If you're not a classmen you do not need your parents validation. If your church is on that representative list is not a restrictive list as a representative list. If your church is not then you have to do as an upperclassman, get your parents validation. Also, by the end of this semester, so I just want make sure that's very, very clear so let me ask you question what could be more important than making the right choice about where you worship God. I believe this is more important. As I've said, than anything else in our Christian life in the long run.
At this stage of your life making a good decision about a church choice requires good counsel and what could be better counsel than your own parents and your own pastor spirit filled students want to be in alignment with your parents in this matter. Maybe perhaps you are frustrated and some may be that we require your parents validation because maybe you think were not treating you like an adult will think with me a moment. Are there not still lots of things where you're still under your parents like car insurance or how about health insurance or maybe perhaps your parents phone plan.
In other words, I think you're glad that you don't have to pay for all of these things that you're still under now let me ask you question what would be more important then for you to be in harmony with your mother and your father as to where you worship God, we are going to let this matter be be between you and your parents because church matters, then there's 1/3 reason why having this series and that is because of our accountability to God.
The fact that we teach you biblical principles means that will ultimately we are accountable to God for our decisions. This was my experience I mentioned it earlier. I attended church in Columbia. I was converted my freshman year of college when I started going back to my church after I was. I became a believer I began to realize some things that didn't seem right. I didn't understand it all at once, but over time I began to realize it. Of that, in effect, the church I attended was a liberal church that is it denied the inspiration of the Bible. It did not teach salvation by grace through faith. It really question a lot of the basic issues of Jesus like his resurrection and his virgin birth.
These were things that the church did not believe in it, denied it was a liberal church, and over time I realized that I could not stay in this church and I wasn't going to change the church so I ended up leaving and after that I found my self looking for church and I had one thing I didn't want to do.
I didn't want to be a part of a liberal church and so I decided to go to a church that was committed to the Scriptures because I felt no real loyalty to one church or one denomination I decided I wanted to be a part of a church that was as close to the New Testament as possible. I knew that it would be based on biblical principle. I also realized even in college that there were differences among churches over doctrinal interpretations. I knew the Bible spoke to these issues and I wanted to have scriptural clarity on these matters and, ultimately, I knew that above all things. I was going to give an account to God and how do I know that because of what we read this morning at first Corinthians, where Paul says he laid the foundation of the church through the preaching of Jesus and the church was built on top of that foundation. But people are judged in the hell that churches built what kind of materials are they going to use the kind of materials that are going to pass through the fire test or will they be consumed, and so I realize I wanted to be a part of a ministry that built the church with materials that were fireproof the kind of judgment that I would go through that when I went through that there would be right motives in right materials because not only did I fear the Lord, but I feared the fire. I did not want to make a decision based on what I want. The worst decision you could ever make in attending churches. What do I want the question is not what I want. The question is what does God say and then you pray and ask the Lord to lead you, so by the time I came to Bob Jones University at I had already made many of the choices about the local church and I had clarity in my mind because I saw the Scriptures as a student, Bob Jones why you're here. This is a crucial time for you to think these things through and seek to follow God and his word. Why because were accountable to God because church matters and then the fourth reason is because of the nature of worship when it comes to the worship of God. I want to be very clear that man never gets it right without divine revelation. The natural mind always leads to idolatry always think about it the first two commands in the Scripture reveals the most common sin of man and what is it it's always idolatry the creation of a God in our own image of God in our own mind and what I want God to be for me. Therefore, worship has always been regulated by truth we worship God. Jesus said, in spirit and in truth we worship God according to Revelation. For example, under the old covenant, God was to be worshiped. According to God's strict commands man could not come up with his own ideas. So God gave a blueprint for worship.
He gave it all.
Mount Sinai wanted that include things like the tabernacle sacrifices special days, the priesthood, a regular schedule or itinerary, but when we come to the New Testament that worship is not physical like the old covenant, but it is spiritual.
Why because Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of all of those pictures that we find in the Old Testament. He is the ultimate tabernacle, but high priest. The ultimate sacrifice so the New Testament worship is actually spiritual, not so much physical but we are not permitted to worship God as we please. Worship is always for God's pleasure. It is about him. It is not for our entertainment.
It's not for me just to feel good although I can feel good by going to church is a place where God is to be worshiped as I mentioned in the New Testament the practice of worship is not material like the Old Testament. Our worship is focused on the word of God and the person of Jesus Christ, our worship should be primarily based on the revealed principles that are found in the New Testament, and that's what were going to teach you this semester. So practically Greenville, South Carolina is filled with churches where you can go and truly worship God. However, there are churches where you should not go either because of doctrine or worship. We live in a world where the tendency is to be very market-driven. If I make a church choice based on what I like or with a consumer mentality like choosing a restaurant or phone at or what ever been. You're making a really bad decision about worship when it comes to church.
I should passionately desire to do all things for the glory of God and not for the attraction of man. The New Testament warns us to be careful there are wolves in sheep's clothing. There is bad theology. There are man centered motivations for building churches based on what men want out of the church. Paul said it would hay and stubble instead of what God wants in the church and in this series we are going to present a grid or a filter through which you can make sound decisions a grid that includes eight doctrinal and theological markers that support a God centered model model of worship is not presbyterian. It's not bad. This is not met the decisions very clear principles. This will be contrasted with a man centered attraction will model that is very prevalent today within our culture. So why are we doing this because of the nature of worship and because church matters now.
I got to one of two points. I'm not going to go through the second point, which I'll do another time, but I want you to understand this is a really big deal, and also that over the course of the semester you will be strengthened and your faith will be built up as you understand the biblical principles of worshiping God father, thank you for your word and thank you that church matters in Jesus name, amen. You been listening to a sermon preached at Bob Jones University by Dr. Steve Pettit from the series called church matters. I'm Steve Pettit, president of Bob Jones University. Thank you for listening to The Daily Platform, the Bob Jones University school for continuing online and professional education offers convenient and affordable online programs.
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