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Belonging (Part 1 of 3)

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg
The Truth Network Radio
February 6, 2021 3:00 am

Belonging (Part 1 of 3)

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg

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February 6, 2021 3:00 am

When we become Christians, we also become part of the body of Christ, known as His church. So is it really necessary to be members of a local church? Join us on Truth For Life as Alistair Begg examines the Bible’s perspective on belonging.


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When you become a Christian, you're automatically added to the body of Christ. You're a part of the universal church. And while many of us attend church services regularly. There are people who are hesitant to join the local church today on Truth for Life.

Alister bag explains the value of local church membership in a message called belonging father. We want to turn out to the Bible and learn from it were not interested in hearing the views of a man we want to be like the Korean Christians examine the Bible every day. They examined the Scriptures every day to see if the things were so. And that was when Paul was preaching so we know that we ought to be very very careful here. And as we come to the subject this morning.

We pray for your grace and your help. In Jesus name, amen.

Turn with me if you would to first Peter just of these two verses which are well-known versus but we come to them equally purposefully.

First Peter chapter 2 and verse nine Peter writing to the scattered believers of his day, says to them you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light ones.

You were not a people, but now you are the people of God.

Once you had not received mercy, but no you have received mercy in our previous studies we ask these questions and sought to answer them first how does one become a Christian and then what does a Christian believe and then how should a Christian behave, and now where does a Christian along the importance of this question was brought home to me when in the last month or five weeks. I took a trip with three friends from out of state. All male friends all interested in the in golf and in the course of our journey together for some reason, the question of involvement in the local church came up. Specifically, the issue of church membership, and I was surprised and not a little discouraged to discover that none of my three friends were actually members of a local church wasn't that they didn't attend wasn't that they were disinterested it was that they had decided they did not want to be members of any local assembly of God's people, and not only were they prepared to address the matter, and to substantiate their position. But they were also very strong in arguing with. When I suggested to them that they were perhaps out of line in relationship to the Bible actually suggested to them that their position was not an uncommon position and expression of sort of aggressive individualism which of course is part and parcel of the upside of the American culture. In many instances, but not always.

And not only where the representative of that kind of individualistic spirit, but they also were displaying. I suggested to them, a completely inadequate understanding of the nature of the church, both with a large C and with a small C since then, having reflected on that the discussion that ensued and having pondered where we are at Parkside, I reached the conclusion that my three friends are representative of a significant company of those who attend Parkside so I thought well it would be good for us to address this matter, because what were dealing with.

When we think in terms of belonging is the priority of Christian fellowship and since that is a clich is good for us from time to time to try and unpack it and what I want to do it initially is to draw your attention to what I'm referring to is an important distinction and important distinction and the distinction is simply this, between the invisible church and the visible church now that terminology may be new to some of you it may not. But if it is, then let me try and help you with it.

When a person is placed in Christ when an individual discovers Jesus to be their Lord and Savior friend in King then they are admitted into the invisible church, the body of Christ, that great company of individuals throughout time, as some of whom are already in glory that if you like worldwide family of faith that exists and that exists in perfect harmony and unity. It is that family that is represented. For example, in our well-worn him the church's one foundation with the stands that elect from every nation at one or all the air that is not a him describing a local congregation that is not a him that was written about a small church somewhere in the plains of the United States. It is a hymn that is giving expression to the notion of the invisible church and if your Bible is open. At first Peter. You will notice that the Bible tells us that we have been born into a family uses that that he terminology does not verse 23, for you have been.

This is chapter 1, for you've been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God and some of you are saying is exactly what is happened to me. I have been born again.

The Bible used to be completely irrelevant.

We had a Bible we had a family Bible. None of us ever read it and then one day I began to read it and began to think about it. One of my friends at work told me about it and I began to study it for myself and the Bible came alive to me and showed me who I am and what I need and I became a Christian and I became a newborn baby.

Verse 21 Peter two and I began to crave the milk of the word of God so that I might grow up in my salvation. And as I began to read the Bible, I discovered that I had been born into a family and I also discovered verse five of chapter 2 that I was a living stone, and I was being built into a house born into a family and I built into a house. Not only that in verse nine.

I was part of a much larger company than I knew the Bible tells me that I'm part of a chosen people of a royal priesthood, a holy nation, and since I've been reading my Bible. I know that I'm also a member of Christ's flock. He is the chief Shepherd I've been reading my Bible and I discovered that I am part of Christ's body and he is the head I've been reading my Bible and I recognize that I am included in Christ's household.

Galatians chapter 6 and I have a part to play in the house note when we think along those lines. It very quickly becomes apparent to us that we are all members of this invisible body. If we are in Christ. But how does the invisible church takes seriously the commands and the privileges of living in Christ. The answer, of course, most obviously is that the invisible church finds expression in the visible communities of God's people who identify themselves with a local congregation and when we read the Bible and I hope to reinforce this for us today very quickly becomes apparent that God anticipates indeed expects that everyone who is a member of his invisible body will be a functioning member of a local body and indeed when you think in terms of the visible church. Each of the metaphors.

There is a flaw a building or body or whatever.

Each of the metaphors only works when you think in terms of a vital and close relationship with other Christians because for example, one sheep doesn't make a flock one break doesn't make a building. One limb doesn't make a body and one individual doesn't make a family and it is impossible to read your Bible without recognizing the plural nature of the way in which so much material is address. For example, take the letters that are written the majority of them are written to local congregations. They are written to places underwritten to express groups of people and you can turn virtually anywhere you turn to first first Corinthians. You don't need to turn to it. First Corinthians is written to the Church of God in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be holy, together with all those everywhere who call on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. So in other words, Paul is covering the express group that is there in Corinth and he's recognizing something of what is going to take place when this letter goes way beyond Corinth, he would never have imagined that coming to Cleveland, but Cleveland is covered in the second half of the verses in it. It is written not only to those who are gathering in Corinth, but it is written to all those everywhere throughout the world who are gathered Christ and therefore to one another Philippi the same thing to all the saints in Christ Jesus in Philippi. Also somebody, but of course I didn't say to Corinth is in such a street. How do you know he didn't. We know for sure that he didn't send it to a church building.

He didn't send it to a denominational headquarters but even just send it to nowhere, and when he said I'm addressing the elders. The elders knew they were when he said I'm addressing the servants.

They knew who was serving and when he began to address express in specific issues. He understood why send the letter to Corinth and not to Ephesus NY to Colossae another Philippi. They were expressly written to specific groups of people who without church buildings without denominational affiliations understood themselves not only to have been included in Christ great and invisible body but understood themselves to be part of the visible body of Christ as a give expression to itself within a variety of communities and in everything. The fellowship is first of all on a vertical dimension. First John chapter 1 verse three remember our fellowship is with the father and with his son Jesus Christ. And then as we walk in the light, we have fellowship with one another. So the fellowship is first of all that into which we are brought by the spirit of God through the word of God in Jesus, I am placed in Christ, and I'm part of a vast company that ultimately no one can number it is an amazing thing. But in order that I might make sense of the Bible I need to get myself involved where there is actual flesh and blood reality to this. But sometimes, of course, like invisibility, like invisibility, but you like invisibility, if you're a tennis player during the required good to be a member of the club and how long can you have balls and injure Gary's door and how you know if you're any good or not and if somebody saw a set of golf clubs sticking out of the trunk of your car and he asked you where do you play, you would tell them what you some of you would say I play anywhere I can get a game they follow up and stable. Are you a member anywhere you respond by saying no, I don't belong to any specific would you like to if I could.

I think I may or perhaps you should.

The same thing holds.

I see you have a Bible, yes, Starbucks what what what were you where do you praise God in and study the Bible all anywhere I get a chance. I see I are you are you a member anywhere on I don't belong anywhere. I would you like to my three friends, absolutely not. Okay what is clarity. Have a great day it is clearly possible to be a member of the invisible church without identifying with the visible church right some of your in that position. You're not in any doubt about whether you love Jesus with a been born again of his spirit is important for your comments.

Participate in any events here and in other places. That is not in question. You're not. You're not arguing that issue is possible to be a member of the invisible church without identifying with a local and visible community and it is also possible to be part of an identifiable group of visible Christians without yourself being made a member of the invisible church, the former is a better position than the latter. Better to be involved and committed nonmember than unknown involved in uncommitted member, so please don't misunderstand me. This actually is not driven by any desire to change the statistics as represented here. This is simply driven by the desire to complete our fourfold objective to discuss each question in turn becoming leading behaving and belonging, and if were going to take seriously the question of the longing we need to recognize that although we have come to Christ individually. We do not live in Christ solitaire early. We have been born again to a living hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. The second thing you I want you to notice is that in the church God has made a special provision for his children. That special provision is a local church. We understand it in family terms on we were born into a family a very sad thing when by dint of some circumstances that a baby is abandoned. A birth takes place in the news on the television.

Is that a child was found in a dumpster. A child was found left outside the door of a clinic and everybody says but that is a dreadful situation and the picture of children growing up as orphans. I unattached, unloved, uncared for sending. Therefore, themselves, is something that every sensible keyring community has always endeavored to do something about so taken from the nuclear family and to the church family and the application is fairly obvious. God is not only plan that we would be born into physical families, but is planned that we would be born into a spiritual family.

And when you're born into a physical family. You can choose your relatives. You can choose your friends but you can choose your family and the same is true in being placed in the body of Christ, so Thanksgiving dinner will come around and aunt Mabel will show up again from Minnesota. She talks far too much. Everybody knows it.

Uncle Leonard doesn't usually, when he comes he is absolutely morose. Try to get a smile out of them is like getting blood out of a stone and Tony sees every glass half-empty but their family and therefore we bear with one another and so it is in the church family. I know the billing Gloria Gaither wrote the song, I'm so glad that you are part of the family of God, but for a long time.

Here we haven't sung that we have a son because I destroyed it for you for for for all time by suggesting to you that it would be far better if it were written.

I'm surprised that you're part of the family of me, far more honest with starting with ourselves. You look into the mirror of God's word in your to be surprised that he is included you in his family aren't you. I hope you are, you know all the things I've ever done, but your blood is canceled every one, old Lord, search grace to qualify knee as your own surprise is most only be surprised about yourself and ours was to be as surprised by your brothers and sisters, and when people get surprised by the brothers and sisters in my experience here in the land of the free and home of the brave people just take a baseball bat and head down the street for another diamond sway goes up don't like it here anymore going down to another diamond with my back to my tennis racket and will go find another club you do that in your family just because of freedom know you don't do that you may go in the half for a little while you go up the stairs closure door ruminate about everything. Describe your sisters in horrendous terms. Plan your exit strategy.

I will run away from home. I'll build one of those things, like Huckleberry Finn, that's what I'm going to do is to read Mark Twain when I was a boy and when I got in my blues that I say I'll get one of those handkerchiefs and I'll tie it to the end of a stick and I'll put everything in their and then I'll go off on my rack.

How my going to go down the Mississippi.

When I live in Glasgow, Scotland, is absolutely impossible. And as I sat in my bedroom for long enough.

I realize bag your biggest problem is you.

You are your own biggest problem go back down the stairs and say sorry go back down the stairs and say forgive me back down the stairs and say I am not flat out idiot. Now go on and that's what we have to do, and that way we repair and restore family relationships only some of you are here and you haven't done that you didn't go back down the stairs.

You never wrote the note. You never said the sorry and as you sit and listen to me now is like a dagger in your heart because you been distance from a physical family member for years without any reconciliation and restoration.

And you know and they know that is wrong you are to take care of it.

Love always takes the initiative.

Love always takes the initiative when I regard myself as the offended one, especially within the family of faith, especially when the options are so many and the temptation is simply to quit to run and hide to keep the discussion going. While I don't recommend that I don't recommend think of what I'm saying though I have to keep on talking like a long of what I'm saying we can work it out. Life is very short. There is no time for fussing and fighting my friends. I've always thought that it's a crime so I will ask you once again. Think of what I'm saying. But here's the rub. What happens in the nuclear family is imported into the church so 50% of marriages go down the Suwanee River. Those people are then in the church and as soon as Mabel didn't get her just desserts. She headed for the hills of Alabama and now she's happily settled in a little church family in Alabama and suddenly she doesn't get what she expected in the church family in Alabama so she want to do the same thing in the church as she did in our marriage. Think of what I'm saying we can get it right your listing to Truth for Life and Alastair back with the message title belonging part of her series called Christian basics. Truth for Life teaching the Bible is at the heart of all we do.

Our mission is straightforward to teach the Bible in a clear relevant way every day of the year. We do this because we know that when God's word is taught directly from Scripture, hearts and lives of those who listen will be changed. Those who don't know Christ can come to saving faith as they hear the truth of the Bible. Those who already trust in Jesus can grow more deeply in their faith and finally the body of Christ God's church is strengthened and encouraged when God's word is taught.

If you're a regular listener to Truth for Life know that we take this mission seriously. In addition to Alistair's teaching. We carefully and prayerfully select books to help you grow in your faith and when you support the mission of Truth for Life by becoming one of our truth partners you're able to request these books at no additional cost. It's our way of saying thanks for your support.

So the benefits of becoming a true partner are twofold. You strengthen your own understanding of Scripture and you give the gift of the gospel to listeners around the world today. I'm excited to tell you about our featured book for this month, the Christian life is often been compared to a race but it's important to know that were not running alone.

In fact the writer of the book of Hebrews tells us that we are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses, believers who gone before us and who are cheering us on pastor and author Tim Chester gives us the opportunity to hear the voices of those who have gone before us in a book called an ocean of grace. Tim is selected and edited a collection of daily readings and prayers written by Christians from across the centuries of church history will enjoy hearing from people like Augustine of hippo, John Bunyan, Martin Luther, Charles Spurgeon. This six week devotional is designed to help you focus on Jesus in the days leading up to Easter. If you're looking to find fresh insight into the wonder of the gospel will be encouraged by an ocean of grace. You can learn more on our Bob Lapine thanks for joining us today.

I hope you'll be back next week as Alister examines the significant role the local church place in the life of a believer. The Bible teaching of Alister bag is furnished by Truth for Life. Learning is for Living

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