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October 17, 2016 12:30 pm
Where continuing this morning with a series next steps in following Jesus. And today, the subject is the church I what does the word church conjure up in your mind. What do you think what do you feel when I say the word church. What is being your personal experience of the church is very easy is noted to be critical of the church, but to criticize the church is a bit like criticizing family or marriage order country because no marriage, no family, no church is perfect, but marriage family, the church are divine institutions. By that we mean that they are ordained by God.
And when it comes to the church.
We know from Scripture that Jesus Christ is the builder and is the head of the church. He said to Peter, I will build my church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it. Yes, there is opposition to the church that always has been about Jesus Christ is saying I am building my church and while there's going to be great opposition against the church of Jesus Christ will prevail. Paul writes in Colossians 1 verse 18 and he Jesus is the head of the body, the church sought to despise the church or to think poorly of the church is to despise and think poorly of Christ, who is the head of the church in the New Testament the word church ecclesia is never used to refer to a building this word church is never used in the New Testament to refer to a denomination but rather the word in the New Testament most frequently refers to a gathering of believers in Jesus Christ, so Paul can say to the church in Corinthians, he writes in chapter 1 verse two to the Church of God in Corinth, so this Greek word ecclesia emphasizes that the people of God are gathered people we are gathered out of the world and were gathered to the person of our Lord Jesus Christ my grandparents. Interestingly, the thought about this never talked about going to church. They talked about going to the gathering going to the assembly going to the meeting. The emphasis was not on the building but was on the thought that the true church is an assembly as a gathering of authentic followers of Jesus so biblically this word church is not so much a place you attend, but rather as a community to which we belong.
So if a bomb drum dropped on the campus of Calvary church in the building and the campus were obliterated. Calvary church so continue. We are Calvary church. We happen to meet you in this wonderful sanctuary were very thankful for our facilities. These facilities are not the church. These are where the church meet.
We are the church and so in the series next absent following Jesus. I'm saying that the church is of the utmost importance, and I'm surprised when I meet people, even those who are sometimes in full-time ministry who may be in about a charger may even be missionaries who have such a weak view of the church. Martyn Lloyd Jones writes we must grasp once again the idea of church membership as being the membership of the body of Christ, and it is the biggest honor which can, man's way in this world.
I agree Dietrich Bonhoeffer rights. It is grace nothing but grace, that we are allowed to live in community with Christian believers. I counted one of the greatest privileges to serve as a pastor in the local church is a pastor you don't need to remind me of the faults of this church.
I live and breathe the church and confess that sometimes it's very frustrating. Sometimes I pettiness the lethargy, sometimes even the sheer meanness of some church members can be threatening to overwhelm us. Yet I love the church I'm saying. To this morning that you cannot be unauthentic growing violence follower of Jesus without a vital relationship with his body, the church, when God in his grace saves us on their sins are forgiven. He does not leave us as isolated individuals going out on the way for my out on little groups, but rather he calls us to himself.
He calls us to community causes to the church over the last few weeks I've been teaching the membership classes on Saturday mornings and Wednesday evenings, and it has been delightful to meet so many of you who want to become members of Calvary church and before we break bread this morning.
I want to give a biblical reminder than of the importance of the church.
If you have your Bible turn with me to acts chapter 2 Matthew Mark Luke John the book of acts when we will see in the New Testament, belonging to a local church is a sign that you belong to Jesus. Acts chapter 2, verse 41. This is the day of Pentecost, Peter has preach the gospel and notice what happens. Acts 241 those who received his word were baptized, and what I did that day about 3000 souls that is added to the church and they devoted themselves to the apostles teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers and all came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles and all who believed were notice they were together and had all things in common and they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need.
And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes. They received her food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people and the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved. Those saved by the grace of God become part of a local church.
The 3000 souls saved the Pentecost added to the church and they joined others who shared their beliefs who had a common faith in Jesus. So each person who receives Christ as their personal Savior and Lord becomes a member of the great universal church. But the visible manifestation of the universal church is seen in membership of a local church. I realize there are some people who dispute that. But to me the New Testament makes that abundantly clear. Anime wants to isolate us.
Sin isolates us are some people who go through life.
I met them. They never become a member of a church because they never find a perfect church is like a young man who never married because he never finds the perfect woman. What is he missing a lot. God wants you to belong to a local church will be wiser than God. Be a member of the local church. Paul writes in Ephesians 3 verse and he says that God's wisdom. In fact, he says the manifold wisdom of God is made known through the church, not to us in isolation but through the church writing in Ephesians 525 Paul says that Christ loved the church that you love us as individuals.
Yes he does but he loves the church and gave himself up for her.
So the church is God's new society. It is God's new community and the New Testament writers use rich metaphors to help us to understand this concept of community and to help us understand that Christ is the head, it is his church, Calvary church is not my church or your church early elders search it as the church of Jesus Christ in the New Testament writers also emphasize the interdependence that we need one another in order to bring glory to God, and in order to grow in the mature and the balanced way. So for example the church is described in the New Testament as the body of Christ. What a wonderful description Christ is the head of the body and we are members of the same body, the church is also described as the flock of God. Here Jesus is the chief Shepherd and we are sheep of the same flock. The church is also described as the building of God the temple of God, Christ is the chief cornerstone.
We were singing about that he is the cornerstone, but we in turn we are stones being built up in the same building. The church is described as that household of God by Paul God is our father. He is our heavenly father and we are children of the same family. Notice the emphasis in all of these metaphors and more in unity and headship and enter dependence. We need one another. We are so individualistic in our society where want to be independent of people that is not God's way was a beautiful interdependence New Testament is full of one another sweater pray for one another. What are bear one another's burdens were to admonish one another and encourage one another as I read the New Testament church annexed to devoted themselves, among other things, to fellowship over 10 years ago when I came to Calvary as pastor.
I was told by the search committee of four by elders was told by many people by one of the church consultants that Calvary had a lot of silo ministries little mini kingdoms and people like that the world says birds of a feather flock together, but were not birds. We are sinners saved by the grace of God and some people like to have their little group with their little friends meeting a little corner doing some little ministry isolated from and with no accountability. Do your own thing and their own way that's on the biblical pattern. The tall Scripture emphasizes the unity of the body and then the true church, young and old, male and female married and single whoever you are, whatever your background, whatever country you come from.
We all come together in a beautiful and meaningful harmony. Paul says that it is the church which is the pillar and ground of the truth. It is a church with the purity of God, the purity of doctrine is preserved not in the little group.
It is the church where discipline is exercise. It is the church where mutual accountability is practice. It is the church put biblical leadership functions. It's the church where missionaries are commissioned as a church where we gather for worship and prayer that is I believe an incredible privilege to be part of a local church. I know it's easy to point out the faults of the church.
I think my list of faults of Calvary is probably longer than yours, but I know so much about it but that's not the point. Is it all of us are sinners.
All of us of feelings.
All of us are frustrated sometimes as we work with people in the body, but one of the great ways that God has for us to mature to rebalance and to grow is to work with our brothers and sisters and if you are involved in a ministry with others. You know that that has been the source of one of the greatest ways of you growing in the grace of knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. And so Christ gives us this body, the church turn with me to Ephesians chapter 4 where Paul talks about the unity of the body and says we are to do all we can to preserve to maintain this spiritual unity of the church Ephesians 4: Ephesians really is about the church about the body of Christ.
Paul writes Ephesians 4, verse one. I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you being called with all humility and gentleness with patients bearing with one another in love, eager nose that were eager eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace, who creates spiritual unity. The Holy Spirit.
This is something supernatural we are all in 12 by the same Holy Spirit if we are authentic followers of Christ.
So we don't create the unity but we are called to be eager to preserve it and to maintain it. Member one of Jesus Christ sayings listed are the peacemakers for they shall be called sons of God, your peacemaker are your reconciler, Paul writes to the church at Corinth, where there was division where they were focused on man rather than God.
He says in first Corinthians 1 verse 10. I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree that there be no divisions among you by that you be united in the same mind in the same judgment you know if your mother or father one of your greatest sources of pain is of your family is divided. What a joy for a human family to be united. What joy it brings, our heavenly father.
When the unity which the Holy Spirit gives us is preserved again.
Paul writes in Philippines to a great chapter again and Philip either couple women who didn't get on to well and Paul writes in Philippians 2 verse two complete my joy by being of the same mind having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.
Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourself. That's what each one of us is to do as we function in the church very easy to destroy unity isn't that any fool can do that any fool can get people arguing with each other.
It takes no talent to divide to gossip to criticize the point the finger to choose to spread rumors that takes no skill, et al., that the work of an enemy who is the accuser of the brothers spirit of God on the other hand, unites us and binds us all of us as followers of Jesus should be committed to being peacemakers reconciler's unifier.
That's why Paul says in Ephesians 4 white patients and the forbearance are so important. He recognizes that there's going to be tensions if everyone agreed with you there be no need to be patient with them.
Everyone saw everything the same way as you did. Brother there be no need for forbearance but with different personalities different perspectives look at things differently and so how important it is as we function in the body of Christ, that we show humility that we look on others' interests rather than overgrown so belonging to local church is a sign you belong to Jesus Christ not having said that, I want to say just a word or two about the ordinances were going to break bread in a few minutes. The New Testament church practiced the ordinances I want you to go back in your Bibles to Matthew chapter 28 the first gospel in the words of our Lord just prior to his ascension. I will wait. Talk about an ordinance and ordinances, something which was taught by Christ practice by the early church and explained by the apostles, and in the New Testament letter to ordinances baptism and the Lord's supper, which reads, first of all, in Matthew chapter 28 verse 19 Jesus says go therefore and make disciples of all nations, but is what he says next often forgotten by those engaged in evangelism.
What does he say, baptizing them in the name of the father and of the son and of the Holy Spirit. Notice it is the name one God name of the father and of the son on the of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you. And Bolden with you always, to the end of the age so part of making disciples is baptism asked to verse 38, which I already read we saw what happened there.
As Peter preaches the gospel. Notice verse 38 of acts two Peter is preaching and they say to him what shall we do when you're telling us about Jesus. What are we to do notice what he says, verse 38 Peter said to them, repent, repent to repent of your sins, repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit verse 41, so those who received his word were baptized over to ask chapter 10. There's a man in Caesarea next week number of us are going to Israel and one of the first places will visit is Caesarea, and Cornelius is from Caesarea is a centurion he's a Gentile is not Jewish. The gospel is presented to him. Notice what Peter says in verse 48 of acts chapter 10, he commanded them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ commanding John Calvin writes whenever we see the word of God purely preached and listen to, and the sacraments administered according to Christ institution. It is in no way to be doubted that the church of God exists.
One of the characteristics of the true church is that it celebrates the ordinances of baptism and the Lord's supper and we do that here at Calvary we have these two ordinances baptism and the Lord's supper efforts of all the ordinance of baptism what is baptism in the New Testament is never administered to babies, absolutely not. In the New Testament baptism is the outward sign that an individual is an authentic followers of Jesus, how did you know in in the first century of someone was a follower of Jesus, not because they want to know, because it put up their hand and of these things.
It was through baptism. The gospel is preached the apostles preach the gospel. People respond by saving faith and their baptized tonight. Chapter 8 here's a man he's from Ethiopia and he's going up to the temple to worship God on these on his way home is a wealthy man is God is on chariots and he's reading the Bible is reading the Old Testament is reeling from what we know is Isaiah 53 Philip preaches Jesus throughout the man believes and undermines his leg is water here need to be baptized, but I would need being in Jerusalem. He learned about Christian baptism and so Philip and Haley stop the charting to get down into the water and Philip baptizes her baptism means emotion is immersed as a visible sign that he is now a follower of Jesus Christ. Please note that in the Bible. Baptism is not an optional extra over the years. I met many people that don't die, that they are followers of Jesus, but have never been baptized, and I wonder why this is a command. This is an ordinance of the church is a public confession of your faith in Jesus Christ. It's a biblical uniform that we wear as authentic followers of Jesus were saying were not ashamed to be a follower of Jesus were not ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ people use uniforms today. The Panthers are playing in New Orleans all the way things will get tough game but I guarantee you mother the Panthers not been playing very well this season finds the panther friends are in New Orleans and are wearing the colors during their ashamed to be known as panther fence.
No, even when the team is losing where the uniform as a shouts of weather is a Hatteras car for undershirts there wearing the uniform and when you see the uniform you know there is a panther fan without uniform baptism when we baptize.
We are saying to the world that we identified with the Lord Jesus Christ. What are the secret disciple that on many secret disciples. There are people who are true followers of Jesus with them never told their families never told people work the keep it secret is not what God wants wants us to take a stand for Christ in the preliminary stand is through baptism know the gospel states that the extent of her love for Jesus is shown not by what we say, not by what we say, not by what we preach, but is demonstrated by our pigeons to Christ. He was a good test. How much do you love Jesus, according to Jesus, to the extent of your love is demonstrated by your obedience to him.
Let's see this. This is so important. Turn with me to John chapter 14 the other day I spoke about the importance of getting a good Bible and some of you have bought your Bible so he is a good chance that breaker men John chapter 14, the fourth gospel teaching of Jesus. John 14 verse 15 Jesus says if you love me you will keep my commandments that it is I don't know much simpler. It could be what's one of his commandments baptism great commission. Verse 21 whoever has my commandments and keeps them here. This who loves me one of the characteristics of you love someone is that you seek to please the verse 23 Jesus answered them.
If anyone loves me, he will keep my words and my father will love him and will come to him and make our home with him. Verse 24 whoever does not love me does not keep my words. First John I epistle of John chapter 5 was the end of the Bible John Weiser gospel first John second John third John this is first John is five chapters chapter 5 verse one John says everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God and everyone who loves the father loves whoever has been born of him. By this we know the love by this we know that we love the children of God. When we love God and obey his commandments, for this is the love of God that we keep his commandments and his commandments are not burdensome.
Don't say that this is very hard to do. Jesus doesn't tell you to get on your hands and knees and go to Columbia and back in a high of winter. His commandments are easy members. Jesus has come to me and I'll give you rest for my yoke is easy and my burden is light's. This is difficult to stand up and sent him a photo of Jesus and to be baptized is not burdensome. So I ask you some of you. Why are you not baptized. Baptism is also a symbol of our union with Christ, a symbol that we belong to the body of Christ.
Christ died our death, he took the sins of John Monroe when our Savior died on the cross. He took all of my sins when he was buried. I was buried with him when he rose from the dead. I have been raised to walk in newness of life. This is symbolized by baptism so him saying obey Christ commands the baptized. We got baptism coming up very soon and Nathaniel mentioned the class and so those of you. And there are many of you have never been baptized as a believer by motion. I'm asking you to obey Christ and be baptized know what about the ordinance of the Lord's supper, which were going to celebrate Justin. The minute turn to first Corinthians 11.
Notice we don't celebrate communion by ourselves. We do that in fellowship with others.
It is something that the church does the ordinance of the Lord's supper first Corinthians 11 verse 23 Paul says I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you is as a divine institution of divine ordinance that the Lord Jesus, on the night when he was betrayed took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said this is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me. In the same way. Also he took the cup after supper, saying, this cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me for as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's day on two becomes ordinances of the church, one baptism.
Second, the Lord's supper communion, the breaking of bread isn't this the highest privilege we have as worshipers of the living God. You must notice the command.
Jesus said do this is a command. Do this in remembrance of me.
Another large supper is rooted in the celebration of the Passover, which was written into the life of the children of Israel so that they would never ever forget the day of their deliverance from slavery through the Red Sea by the hand of the mighty God and with the death on Passover of that unblemished lamb that was the anticipation of the coming Lamb of God, our Lord Jesus. So John the Baptist says of him, behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world and that with the Lord supper. We who are followers remember a greater deliverance than the deliverance from Egypt Egyptian slavery we remember a greater redemption we think of our deliverance and I will redemption from sin and from Satan on death itself. As we celebrate the Lamb of God who was slain for us and through his death and through his resurrection, that is offered life forgiveness and eternal life for us. So what do we do today when we take the bread with the redoing we remembering the Lord will remembering the wonder of his incarnation, the word became flesh and dwelt among us is not amazing that Jesus is God with us. Remember his sinless life, unlike us, he never sinned. Remember his medicals. When a member is teaching him the soldier said nevermind spoke like this month will remember his love, his outstretched hand to the child to the leper to the blind man remembered the betrayal. As Paul says that this was instituted on the night in which he was betrayed on the dark and solemn nights when he was betrayed by Judas that night in which he was betrayed remember them and we as we do that, we anticipate that great day when he shall come and we has bright shall be caught up to be forever with the Lord we take the cup what we do will remembering the Lord remembered the agonies of Gethsemane. Remember the unjust trials.
Remember the lashing to the plucking of the hair from his beard. The spitting in his face a shame the darkness we remember him bearing his own cross.
As he walked through the streets of old Jerusalem going outside the city outside the old city up to the hill of Golgotha, the place of the skull there. They take his hands. His innocent hands which it always reached out and blessing and the puts nails through his hands. The ticket streets these feet. Which 100% had always walked in the will of his father. The nail is feet to the tree Roman soldier not knowing what he was doing took his spirit thrusted into the side of our Lord. We remember him were commanded to do that last week, ever, ever forget the wonder of our salvation at the cost of our salvation and redo it today.
Not as isolated individuals, but we do it as part of God's new society as part of the church is why I love the church why love the church because Christ loved the church so much that he gave himself up for why love the church because Christ is building the church. Why love the church because Christ is beautifying the church and one day the church will be presented faultless. The perfect bride and all of her glorious splendor, and because the church matter so much to the childhood triune God should matter so much to us.
We committed to the church, serve others involved in the life and ministry of Calvary church. Enjoy the privileges and responsibilities of being a member in the most glorious community in all of the world. The church of our Lord Jesus Christ.
As we break bread remember Christ's great sacrifice and love for the church and we praise caught it in his grace. That grace and that love reached down to you and to me so that we are members of his body, where members of the body of Christ. The church is a genre not sure if I have with you to do your to do as Peter commanded you to repent of your sin.
All of us here whatever from a fallen we mess up with sins we let ourselves time let families that, and we certainly offend God and so we have sinned with technology that, but we don't wallow in our sin. We look to Christ, the Lamb of God, every single sin that I have committed was borne by the Savior taken away from what John says behold the Lamb of God who does what, who takes away the sin of the work is not wonderful that we come and all of our sin has been taken away. It's been forgiven, the debt has been paid. There's this tremendous debt of sin and there's been paid by Christ not only loves the church who loves me and gave himself for me. If you never open your heart to the Savior. Would you do that, turn from your sin sick Christ come and save me and cleanse me, give me forgiveness and eternal life. Father, help us, we do pray we prepare our hearts to break bread.
Thank you for the church, sometimes with a very casual view of it. Forgive us, we do pray thank you for the love of Jesus for the church. Thank you that he loved us, and no help us to remember him as he has commanded and for each of us to open our hearts to the Savior that we will partake in the world the way we ask it in his name