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June 11, 2018 9:39 am
It is good to see tonight. What a blessing to be here to be a part of watching 10 people make public their profession of faith. We as a body can celebrate what God is doing among us then for students.
What a blessing to see the drama. There's something about a drama that's well done.
That tugs at the heart. I don't know if you felt that little tug as you watch that play out the reality of what was happening it at Jesus's death and how to affected those around him.
Thank you students for helping us with that tonight my assignment is to continue our series, the we believe series we been looking at our articles of faith and Calvary were up to. Article number 13 and it has to do with the church built the first question I would ask you tonight is, is the church really that important if you went out on the public street. You might get a number of answers. As far as what the value of the church really is. Is there important is it necessary in our lives. I would, I would highly recommend you that you not answer that question based on experience, no and no question that were asking to be based solely on experience, not even primarily own experience because our experiences are always in line with the truth. Even though we might perceive something we might experience something somebody might say you know I was in a church one time and that was full of hypocrites. And so it can't be important or somebody might say that they had a terrible experience in the church. Someone didn't speak to them or someone spoke to them and it was something that wasn't very nice and based on their experience. They somehow conclude the church must not be important. I would suggest to you as well that we not base what we think about the church all our opinion, have you heard people give opinions like I can worship God as much at home or on the golf course or out in nature as I can in a place like we might be meeting tonight. Of course, we've heard those kind of statements as this solely based on opinion there is no authority behind it. There's no Scripture behind that. The fact of the half-truth that we can worship anywhere and we should worship everywhere, but that doesn't negate God's call for us to gather together as the body of Christ in worship and fellowship and be equipped to do the work that God has given us so is the church really that important. I would say to you three quick things before I move more into the body of the message. Let me say first ask what did Jesus say about the church if if you want to know if the church is important in that whether or not you should be involved in a church.
What did Jesus say about it. I think that's a legitimate question for us in Matthew 16 verse 13 Jesus is interacting with his disciples and he says now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, who people say that the Son of Man is and they said, some say John the Baptist others say Elijah and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets, he said to them, but who do you say I am Simon Peter replied, you are the Christ, the son of the living God and Jesus answered him, blessed are you, Simon bar Jonah for flesh and blood is not revealed this to you but my father who is in heaven. And I'll tell you you are Peter, and all this rock petro you can see the wordplay. There when we look at that word rock in the Greek you are Peter, and on this rock I will be old.
My church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. Jesus said he would be old. His church, it sounds like it must be important to him because of what he said. He said I will build my church and the church is built on his death and on his resurrection he instituted the church but also should be judged on what Jesus did.
So what did Jesus say I will build my church. What did Jesus do acts 20 verse 28 bounce around for too a few passages before we settle in only one but asked 20 verse 28 says this pay careful attention to yourselves. As Paul was instructing the Ephesian elders. The leaders of the church. Be careful. A careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God which he obtained with his own blood. Based on what Jesus did to institute the church. I would say the church is pretty important. It's not optional for us it's mandatory based on what what Jesus said what he did but thirdly what he promised. Revelation chapter 19 in verse seven, gives us a glimpse of what's ahead. Listen to what said here. Let us rejoice and exalt and give him the glory for the marriage of the Lamb has come and his bride has made herself ready.
I'm always interested in this passage.
This particular verse because we know without Jesus we would never be ready and yet this text says the bride has made herself ready for shows us not only what God does for us, but our responsibility to grow and to put ourselves in a place to be led by the Spirit to surrender daily to what God's doing is making us more like Christ.
But there is a promised marriage of the Lamb. So Jesus is making his bride ready and of course we should be also making ourselves ready for his return, but he promised he was coming back for his church and so again I would say to you the church it really is that important. Based on what Jesus said what he did and what he promised Calvary's articles of faith tells us about a strong commitment to the church and what I've already shared with you how can we not have a strong commitment to the church. Listen to what our articles of faith says about the church. We believe that the church of Jesus Christ is composed solely of those who have been redeemed and washed in his blood regenerated and sealed by the Holy Spirit and that they are safe to worship and serve. That is the responsibility and privilege of all resaved to seek to win others to Christ to the uttermost part of the earth that they should seek to live a holy life to separate themselves from and forsake all that might dishonor God cast discredit on his calls.
Or we can. Their testimony think about what the church actually means the word itself is an interesting word because it it it means called out once back out of clay. See called so the called out ones literally the church means the called outlets it came to mean an assembly of called out ones were called out from the world and were called into the family of God. All of those who are part of the family of God and the distinction should be made between the universal Church of the local church. When I say universal church.
Don't let that fool you into thinking that every body is a part of the church there not even in our articles of faith we see there's there's exclusivity composed solely of those who have been redeemed and washed in his blood. But universal means all of those who have placed their faith in Christ. No matter where they are, no matter when they live past, present or future if they placed their faith in Jesus Christ. There a part of the universal church.
But there's also the local church the local church is composed of a group of believers who regularly meet together who called out to assemble together to worship and fellowship, and to serve and to be equipped for the service that God has called us to. And these people meet in a specific geographical location like South Charlotte, North Carolina. We are a local church, Calvary church but were also part of a greater group of people who place their faith in Christ universal church. What the church doesn't mean is that it's a building. We say this is Calvary church. We have to be careful because we were not identified as a building is wonderful of a facility as the Lord is given a set Calvary. This is not who Calvary is Calvary's composed of people. People who place their faith in Christ. This is where we gather though at this location on Pineville Matthews Road is not a building is not a club is not someplace that we just calm and we hang out. There's intentionality to our meetings we worship. We fellowship were equipped to serve and we encourage one another. There's purpose in our meetings, so let me give you seven statements about the church to bring all of this together and I'm going to give you a keyword for each one of the statements in the first statement has to do with the churches exclusivity. A word of already mentioned earlier, the churches exclusivity. And here's the statement only those in the church of Jesus Christ are in his family. Would you turn over to Ephesians chapter 4 I want to just point out a number of things from this particular chapter about the church that hopefully will help us to better understand what the local church is Ephesians chapter 4 look with me in verse one, therefore, that is, is a great word that therefore, because chapters 1 through three has laid a wonderful theological foundation that shows itself that expresses itself in lives that are live for Christ. And so verse one of chapter 4 shows marks a change and what Paul is writing from more doctrinal foundational to more practical choices are therefore as a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you been called the first three chapters that calling how wonderful how gracious, how merciful, how bountiful, how generous God is the bring us into his family and so chapters 4 through six where to live up to that calling. Now this is what it looks like to live according to the way of God into the word of God. Walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you been called with all humility and gentleness, with patients bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the spirit and the bond of peace. Wonderful words to this church at Ephesus. This local church and then he begins to move further in verse four. Notice the emphasis on one here.
There is one body. That's the universal church. There is one body and one spirit, just as you were called to the one that belongs to your call, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and father of all who is overall and through all and in all, there is no other way to be a part of the family of God than to look to the one true God. There are not many gods there are not many ways to be saved and to be right with God. There is one God, one faith, there is one baptism. So we see exclusivity here.
Only those are in in the church of Jesus Christ are in his family.
We can look at the whole world and say were all part of the family of God. But we would be mistaken were all created by God but were not in the family of God into we placed our faith in Christ, and we do that were automatically a part of the universal church and should seek out a local church to be involved in serve in the churches exclusivity. But notice also its diversity.
That's your second keyword diversity look with member seven but grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ's gift to everyone as a part of the family of God. Those who place their faith in Christ. Everyone of us has been gifted to some measure or the other. Therefore, it says when he ascended on high, he led a host of captives, and he gave gifts to them. Quoting from Psalm 68 this victorious Psalm of someone who was conquered and now as a benefactor to all the people to give gifts Jesus gives gifts based on his conquering sin, death and hell and the grave. In the spirit of God indwells us and empowers us to carry out the work that he's given us in saying verse nine he ascended, what does it mean but that he also descended into look the lower regions of the earth he was.
He was married you to send it is the one who also ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things. The notice as you move on into verse 11 is going to give some specific gifts that he gives to the church but think about this diversity, there's diversity in the fact that were were given these different gifts. It's interesting to go back and read first Corinthians 12 in first Corinthians 14 and just see how all of these different gifts that are listed work together and even end up first Peter.
There's a list of gifts and of course, here in Ephesians chapter 4.
It shows the diversity we don't all have the same gifts. God is blessed us in different ways to do the work of God together would be a sad thing to be all alike. God did make us that way is his spirit though empowers us, and we use these gifts for his glory. Where there's a diversity and gender in the body of Christ where it doesn't matter if you're a man or a woman or a boy or girl.
Jesus died for your sins. There's that inequality that's there that were wanting Christ and then there is also the ethnicities when you read about the wonderful scene in Revelation 5 in heaven. You see people from all all tribes all nations. What a wonderful thing to be a part of Calvary where we see 70 nations represented in this church body. We we get to experience a taste of heaven. Every time we meet together but that's the kind of of diversity that forms the church of Jesus Christ. Thirdly, keyword notice, it strategy. Ephesians 4 versus 1112 and he gave the apostles, the prophets know I want you to know that the apostles and the prophets are foundational when you read the whole book of Ephesians.
You can back up in chapter 3 and you can see how that the the prophets and the apostles.
They are that the foundation that faith that was delivered to VL and as it was written down in the canon of Scripture as we have it now.
We no longer have those offices in the church we have the word of God that's been given to us inspired canonized written so that we would have those things and so those are offices those are gifts that we don't see operative in the church body any longer.
But then he moves on talks about the evangelist the evangelist or what I would say are similar to the modern-day missionaries.
Those who were itinerant evangelist going from place to place to share the gospel all over the world and then he mentions the shepherds when he mentions the shepherds he he then says and teachers it's the first word teachers that's not preceded by the definite article in so many interpreters take that to be one person. Shepherds/teachers as opposed to two separate offices, some room for some interpretation there. I lean in that direction as well that it's more that pastor teacher role that is given so maybe were looking more for offices that the church is been given so those missionaries we see them very active today in the shepherds.
Those that word is used interchangeably with elders and overseers in their specific qualifications to serve in a local church.
Paul wrote to young Timothy, the pastor in chapter 3 of first Timothy and gave us that list of qualifications. Peter also wrote about that office in first Peter chapter 5 and then one gift. I think too that we can talk about an office that we can talk about is the office of deacon we see the precursor of that next chapter 6 and as Paul was writing Timothy Nunnally to give a list of qualifications for for elders/overseers/pastors but he also gave a list of qualifications for deacons in first Timothy chapter 3, and so we see the strategy the church is to be led. It is to be equipped. That's the statement that I would. I would give you these gifts are given to the church of gifted people to equip the saints for the work of the ministry you see that in verse 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ. So pastors and teachers shepherds elders there to be eight there to be able to teach so that they can only protect the church with sound doctrine, but to communicate and to disciple people and how to love God walk with God lead their families.
There are different ministries that were all involved in it starts in our own homes and equipping men to shepherd their homes and wives to come alongside of their husbands to be helpmate parents to disciple their kids and all of us. In general, reaching out and going baptizing in teaching so that we can make disciples's. The strategy and then notice the unity of the church. The church is to be united. That's the fourth keyword in statement the church is to be united.
Notice in verse 13 until we all we we we are not going to quit doing this work, church, work, the body of Christ does not quit doing its work.
Verse 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the son of God, to mature manhood to the work is finished.
You see, the church is to be united were united in the Savior.
We are authentic followers.
Because where were acting like Jesus were living like Jesus. We have received him, and will becoming more like him.
This is the common denominator that we have among us to keep us united as a church were united in the Scriptures. The Bible is a book all about Jesus, from Genesis to Revelation. We are united in the Scriptures because the unit in the Scriptures are true and there about our Savior, but were also united our meeting together.
Hebrews chapter 10 were told explicitly. Do not forsake the assembling together of our sales we we are to meet together God intended for this to be a regular practice of people who love him and follow him were united in that we we need each other. He made us to need community but were also united and how we conduct ourselves Paul.
He was writing Timothy one of the reasons he wrote Timothy was to teach the people of Ephesus how to function as a church we we have biblical guidelines where biblical parameters we follow the Scriptures. It is our final authority because it is the very words of God.
Our Creator, the church is to be united its unity for word, its maturity. This is the statement that goes with that. The church of the be a place of spiritual growth.
A good word for that is discipleship. Notice again at the end of verse 13. What were all moving toward to mature manhood and for you ladies, I think it's okay to say to mature womanhood there. But what were what were looking at is become more like Christ. We should be maturing.
We should be growing. We should be the same that we were a year ago or five years ago. We should be making progress in our patients and our humility in our self-control. When our love.
We can go through a long list. We should be making progress in our Christ likeness. Discipleship is very much a part of that, even as we celebrated the baptism tonight were carrying out the great commission of making disciples were going were intentionally trying to reach people for Christ.
We are baptizing were helping them to identify with Christ and with the church and were teaching them to observe all things.
Matthew 28 makes that really clear that we continue to teach and disciple people. Discipleship is a bit of a big part of what we do as a local church discipline is also to be a part of our church where it were a family where the family of God. We hold each other accountable. We encourage each other we we would not be loving if we saw someone walking away. That was contrary to the word of God and we just didn't care or we didn't try to restore that brother or that sister we we been taught in Scripture that were to seek to restore that fallen brother or that fallen sister. We've received grace and we want to extend grace and without discipline were not able to do that because the per the church is a place of spiritual growth. We should also be about doctrine were speaking truth look further in verse 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the son of God, to mature manhood to the mat to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes whether speaking the truth in love, were to grow up in every way into him who is the head, even to Christ. So instead of being tossed back and forth with every new thing that comes along were grounded in the Scripture we know doctrine. We know truth in the Bible gives us the truth that we need so we think about maturity. Discipleship is a place of spiritual growth. The church also has only one head, it's authority. That's your sixth word its authority to church only has one head again verse 15 whether speaking the truth in love or to grow up in every way into him who is the head into Christ.
He's the authority, the chief Shepherd, the one who calls the shots.
The one who is the good shepherd to lay down his life. The one who is the great Shepherd who leads his people.
He is the chief Shepherd. He is over the church.
He is the head of the church is the body where the branches were connected to him were depended on him. We draw our nutrients from him and from his very words that he's revealed to us. The church has only one head it's authority and then finally it's eternity seventh word.
The church will be gathered for eternity to the fullness of time will come one day we will we will reach as a as a universal church. We will come to a place where we've done the work that God's been given to us, that time will come when the bride of Christ will be parking will be called out of this will be called out ones will be to call out the world completely.
Not just spiritually but physically he will gather us together. The bride of Christ.
Yesterday was a pretty important day in the life of our family. My walk to my daughter down the hall and gave her away. My wife and our prayers are our hearts were that we would prepare her one day to be a bride that was our our life's work in those 22 years. A large part of our life's work. We wanted to help her to be ready just in the same way. There was a lot of work that went into getting ready for yesterday. Not just the weekend but really 22 years was God doing in our lives to make us radio we cooperating or we go to be ready when he returns when when that sky opens up. We are called out and we meeting in the air. Are we going to be a pride that's ready for his entrance for his coming for us, gathering us together to take us home. The bride of Christ.
One way that he helps us to be ready for his return is the observance of the Lord's supper communion because it's a way to keep us focused on him to remember him to be ready when he comes back the Lord's supper is about examination. Remember first Corinthians chapter 11, Paul taught the church at Corinth. He said he said let a man examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks from the cup examine yourself. Are you making progress. Are you growing in Christ likeness. Are you where God wants you to be knowing your spiritual growth. But right now are you are you killing CN orders and killing you examine yourself so that when he comes back you're not ashamed. But you're confident as his bride and you're ready for his return. As I pray when asking us to do some soul-searching right now. Are you ready Jesus came back today. Are you ready father, we thank you for your word how it speaks so clearly your plan for us. We know that you instituted an organized ordained the church. May we see what is important as you see what's important and I pray that just as you value the church that we would value it not only by attending but participating in making ourselves ready as your bride for your return as a as individuals but as a group search our hearts right now. See if there's any wicked way in any of us right now convict our hearts that we might be right with you as we celebrate and as we remember what Jesus has done for us in Jesus name we pray.