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February 13, 2021 3:00 am
The New Testament, the apostle Paul explained that it is both a command and a privilege for us as believers to join a local church body.
So why is it some Christians are reluctant to make that commitment today on Truth for Life weekend. Alastair beg explains why church membership is a vital part of belonging to the family of God going to take seriously the question of belonging. We need to recognize that although we have come to Christ individually.
We do not live in Christ. So let's out 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. Special provision for his children. That special provision is a local church. 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. Some of us would like to, and many of our own siblings would would would have dispense with us a long time ago. 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 come when he comes he is absolutely morose. Try to get a smile out of him is like getting blood out of a stone Freda. Nobody really knows who Freda is, but she exaggerates dreadfully and Tommy 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 Gaeta wrote the song, I'm so glad that you're part of the family of God, but for a long time. Here we haven't sung that we have inside 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 and you want 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. Everyone old Lord, search grace, to qualify me as your own, I'm surprise is most only be surprised about yourself and ours was to be as surprised about your brothers and sisters, and when people get surprised about 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 dime sway goes up 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 join the half for a little while you go up the stairs, close your 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 and 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. As I sat in my bedroom for long enough. I realize beg 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 go 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.
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 to I can go on what I'm saying we can work it out. Life is very short, there's 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 this special provision of God for his people. In terms of belonging is a local fellowship because it's in this kind of context that we are able to work these things out. It's in this kind of context that, for example, we can try and make sense of a word like fellowship. What is fellowship is subject please is an abuser or having a time of fellowship back in mean were eating pizza. We have a coffee pot in the middle of the room are going to dance around it or wait, whatever it might mean it's it's is a loosely applied word to any kind of gathering an actual fight. It is a word from classical Greek and in classical Greek it was used of a business partnership where individuals committed themselves to one another to share in the risks and to share in the profits he was used classically of marriage. When a husband-and-wife committed themselves to one another to share everything in the church comes along and says what's the best possible word that we can use to explain what it means to be in relationship to one another and they said how about the word. I know how about this for that's exactly what they picked up the users not the only word but it is one of the emphasis that they sought to bring their was the primary thought of generous sharing.
Rather than of selfish getting that the nature of Christian fellowship is directly related to our coming primarily to give rather than to receive. Ask not what your church can do for you but ask what you can do for your church. This word actually doesn't appear until I chapter 2 it doesn't appear in the Gospels are tall. But once the community of God becomes the spirit filled Church of Christ on Pentecost, and following the preaching of Peter remember and he preached and 3000 people believed and where added to the church but that me but he were added to the invisible church and then having been placed in Christ and into that invisible body. They said we better make sure that we are committed at the local invisible level and that's why you need an extra aperture 42 and they devoted themselves to the apostles instruction to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and so on. You see, it is in the body of Christ that we have an opportunity to display to the world that were not committed to some principle of homogeneity that were not here as a student group, all between the ages of 18 and 23 there's up you need in life where that goes your way to school and everybody's the same age.
Apart from the professors. I'm hearing that you think is fantastic for a while and then you find yourself sick. I like to meet some older people. I like to get a decent meal. I like to find somebody like my mother, although not my mother. I miss my dad and so on, and I miss all of these other elements, and you save yourself eventually in your university career. I'll be glad to get out of here and into the broader dimension of life itself is only you see when people are prepared to commit themselves to a local fellowship that they then have the opportunity to mix with ages that they wouldn't otherwise mix with so you have somebody who's 86 and you have someone who is 16 and the person who is 16 is looking and say how terribly strange to be like that and the person is 86. Once he put his arm around the young following sake I was 16, 17 years all the fellow says, what was it like to be 1670 years ago the story unfold. How are we going to get people from different backgrounds and different intellectual levels in different social strata in different colors and different creeds and how are they all going to be together going to be together in the visible body and it is only as you commit yourself to that that you throw yourself into that great mixture and that was my problem with my three friends and what I pointed out to the man was you.
You guys are committed to an ideal that you can control. You only want to be with people who look like you have the same money as you and are prepared to reinforce the principles your strong political economic principles. I don't have a care in the world about your principles or whatever else it is, but I think you're flat out wrong because you are not allowed to control who it is you relate to unless you absent yourself from the family, but once you are in the family then you gotta deal with, you got a deal with reader you got a deal with and Mabel and everybody else and aggressive American individualism says I don't want to do with Freda and Tommy and everybody else I didn't work as hard as I am today to get myself in the in the in the elite access line and and get access to every club in America to sit around with with Tommy and Freda and something some communion service as a crass way of stating but that's exactly what it said.
Hence, the challenge you see when it says when you think the one another, passages of the New Testament. For example, this year to encourage one another to love and good works, who's the one another in the invisible church, or if you're isolated from the church you go choose your one another. I like to encourage you to love and good works is I like you and you don't threaten me and Frank you. You're a lot like me and I can kind of control. This relationship all sure. But that's not the way the New Testament sets and to care for one another. What I want to care for who I want to care for. I don't have to care for somebody who's on this prayerless under the person or so when he got run over by a motorbike or whatever else it is what it what is what is that about the seniors get up and walk out the door so I don't know who it is. Somebody is a member of Sunday. I don't know I don't like another to do a religious go the fellow talks.
Sometimes the songs are good.
Sometimes a fantastic and and I just get out and get on with my life. You see, it is not only in the body that we deal with fellowship but it is also there that we deal with instruction on to say a word about this.
How are we to learn the Bible. While we read it ourselves, and we have those who help us with that Jesus and his disciples out. Remember, he said go into all the world and make disciples and baptize them and teach them to obey everything that I commanded you.
And he then turned the ascended Christ gave gifts to the church Ephesians chapter 4, and one of the gifts that he gives to the church was pastors and teachers. You can read all out for yourself.
Ephesians 4 and these pastors and teachers are supposed to be set apart to labor in the word and in doctrine and these pastor teachers along with their fellow elders who don't all teach in in the public forum but together they are watching over the flock as men who must give an account. Therefore, every word that is spoken every expectation that is given is given in the awareness that God will keep a record of what is said and will hold to account those whose mouse have been open most and the purpose of God in relationship to instruction is that in terms of Ephesians 411 and 12. The pastors and teachers are to edify the saints. The word is all I could to me it means to build up the saints. They are to instruct them to encourage them to build them up so that those saints may then do the works of ministry. So it is not that there is a clerical listen that holds ministry to itself in the hands of a few, but it is that within the framework of the local church. God has purposed that the instruction should come in such a way that people are saying to one another. You know I can be involved in this, I may have a part in that I haven't really been able to discover much of what I can do but you know the question of the recreation for the VBS. I think I think I can. I think I can do that well my dear friend is not just going to be about recreation recreation may be the mechanism for you're going to be in the company of all these dear youngsters, their parents are to become and picking them up as the time man is at noon.
The parents are going to get in the car. The going to drive home in the gravy saying to themselves, especially in the unchurched parents, I wonder why it is that lady because she seemed to be about my age.
The lady says herself on the line is that she that she was running around there and in the drizzle and and getting her shoes all all messy. If I see her tomorrow. I might ask her. And then of course you could tell her our times gone come back to let me just take you one further, the special provision of God within the local body is the context not only for fellowship and for instruction, but also for discipline see the local church is the only place the only proper place for discipline.
Discipline should take place in the house. There's nothing more embarrassing than spending time in a family that is undisciplined, no table manners, no respect for mom and dad know waiting on each other language that is unkind and untrue and unhelpful and it all was around, and you sit in the house and it is absolute chaos and you said yourself, why doesn't dad do something here. Why doesn't somebody exercise some kind of restraint or some kind of intervention I use my three friends of the illustration. Don't anybody ever send this to the mother will be my friends anymore never golf with him again, but one other great concerns was church discipline. I said why would you be concerned about yours.
This why are you afraid these guys are good. These ladies are fine never have to be afraid. Problem with church discipline. Why don't want anybody interfering my life. I don't want to become in telling me anything I don't want. I want to set your flat out wrong and the same guys that don't want no discipline in the local church are on committees of really nice golf clubs all across the Midwest getting the understand about rules and regulations and dress codes and the length of your shorts off the course your auger missing by 387 inch disgusting. Two more times a year out of the membership. What you talking about I'm talking about rules that were on target about Chuck Colson in his book the body and with this I stop. He says no one should expect to join a church which, after all, involves a free decision, and then refused to accept its authority for failing to attend a few meetings one can be thrown out of the Rotary club for failing to live up to a particular dress code, one can be dismissed for most private clubs for failing to perform the required community service. One can be thrown out of the Junior League. Yet, when the church imposes discipline denying the benefits of membership to those who floated standards discharge with everything short. Often, sometimes including fascism question.
The church have at least the same right to set standards as the Rotary club people you don't like it can and should go elsewhere.
So you know I never said anything like that. The people join the church sale when you to pastor me.
I want you to care for me. I want you to discipline me. I want you to help me I'm coming in here because I want to be in an exercise program. I'm joining a joint in a spiritual gym. I want you to exhort me and encourage me and keep me on track and if you see meeting 700 doughnuts. Then I want you to say you might want to back that up to just 650 donors because I don't want to be going down the road let us could you please help me with all of that you will help you with all that hey, watch the doughnuts don't tell me what to do with doughnuts. I am my own person. I do my own thing know you asked me to help you with the doughnuts either. That was three months ago.
I know that I I cared about going is that I don't care about them now.
You are not about to leave your husband yes I am no you're not who you think you are on your brother in Christ yell I want to hear from you.
I know you don't but I'm your brother in Christ and your sister in the Lord.
Let me tell you, you are walking into a rats nest.
Let me tell you are going to make a full of yourself. Let me tell you going to destroy your family. Let me tell you this is idiocy. Let me tell you this is wrong. Let me dear Alister as of this minute, please remove me from membership parts I church that will push because of return next weekend to part three message title belonging from her series called Christian basics your listing to Truth for Life weekend with Alister bag. Be sure to keep listing because Alister will be back in just a minute to close with prayer. Today's message shows that pure Truth for Life.
We don't shy away from teaching about difficult parts of the Bible. That's because, as the apostle Paul says all Scripture is God breathed and it's profitable for teaching, it's our pattern to teach verse by verse directly from the Bible, knowing that the biblical text is without error. In fact, it is the authoritative word of God, and it is sufficient for all we need in life you may even hear Alister begin our program with the praise I invite you to open your Bible, and the reason is because our mission at Truth for Life is to teach the Bible clearly and in a way that applies to our daily lives.
Most importantly we do this with the assurance that God will work in the lives of many who listen to bring them to saving faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. We also choose to recommend books to supplement the teaching you hear on this program were currently recommending a book titled an ocean of grace early on in this book, pastor and author Tim Chester mentions how important it is for us to turn from distractions and to fix our gaze on Jesus.
He also explains that the Christian season of Lent provides us with a special opportunity to focus on the death and resurrection of Christ. So this six week devotional is designed to do just that for each day. Tim has selected a writing or prayer from a well-known historical author. People like Augustine or Martin Luther all on the topic of Jesus death and resurrection. What's most remarkable about the notion of grace is that since these authors lived centuries ago. Their insights on the saving power of the cross will strike you and maybe a unique way. They will renew your thinking and engage your imagination about the life-changing events that took place long ago learn how to request an ocean of grace today by tapping on the image on the mobile app or by visiting Truth for Life.org again that's Truth for Life.org but don't delay this is the final weekend. This information will be available now here is Alister close in prayer.
Father, thank you for the Bible.
Thank you for the clarity with which it speaks any confusion is on my part. Save us from ever in understanding and an application but help us to be ruthless in taking the principles of your word as it relates to belonging to your people in such a way that our homes and our hearts and our families and our relationships are guarded and kept by your amazing life and made a grace of the Lord Jesus, the love of God our father and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit go with us into the hours of this day and the days of this week and forevermore on then about the team. Thanks for listing. Be sure to join us again next weekend for the conclusion of a message title belonging the Christian basics series. Learning about the characteristics of a biblically sound church Bible teaching of Alister bag is furnished by Truth for Life Learning is for Living