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February 20, 2021 3:00 am
The local church is a family group of believers that provides opportunity for fellowship and instruction and even when necessary discipline much like your own family. Every member has an important role. What part do you plan today untruthful life weekend Alastair beg concludes our series Christian basics with a message titled, belonging, what we have said so far I just give you a brief resume. We said that there is an important distinction for us to understand and I that important distinction is between the invisible church and the visible church. We are all in Christ, placed in an invisible church family in which there is unity and perfection.
But in order for the metaphors of the Bible to make sense, although one another passages, it is important for us to be involved in a local church family and that local church family is the special provision of the Lord Jesus Christ, the head of the church for his people. Providing within the context of a local church. The opportunity for fellowship, a partnership that is grounded in Jesus the opportunity to receive the instruction of the Bible as it is provided by those who have been given the privilege of being pastor teachers and also and this is where we left it that in the framework of the body of Christ, we would find that this is God's special provision for the nature of discipline and we noted that discipline is a vital aspect of the way in which a nuclear family functions where there is no discipline then there is chaos and we reminded ourselves that the Bible continually moves from the physical nuclear family to the church family and it is some time since the communion table. We have had the sad responsibility of announcing to the church. Essentially the end of a process outlined by Jesus in Matthew chapter 18 and I can remind you of it.
If I reduce the flavor of it.
Matthew 18 verse 15 if your brother sins against you could be your sister as well go and show him or her their fault, just between the two of you if you will not listen then take one or two others along, so that every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses, and if they refuse to listen to these individuals then tell it to the church and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector, quite striking statement isn't. And of course how would you treat a pagan or a tax collector. He would treat them the way you would treat anyone who doesn't profess faith in Jesus, you would seek to reach out to them it would seek to woo them and win them, hoping that God's kindness would lead them towards repentance. But you wouldn't serve communion to them because they would eat and drink judgment to themselves and you wouldn't put them in positions of leadership in your family because they would just be a downright nuisance of themselves and everybody else and it is in the context of the local church that I kind of discipline is supposed to take place.
We have it. Not only there in the instruction of Jesus, for you have it in the pastoral epistles. This is just one set point of many, so I won't belabor it, but for example we have to do something with the instruction that Paul gives the Titus and Titus three what he says. Avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and arguments and quarrels about the law because these are unprofitable and useless does not like your church fellowship become the kind of place where people are always bickering over stuff about which there is no clear statement in the Bible teacher people that the main things are the plain things in the plain things on the main thing and worn a divisive person.
Once and then worn him a second time, and after that have nothing to do with you may be sure that such a man is warped and sinful.
He is self condemn the hard work setting and the only way that you can ever wrestle with them and apply them is within the confident framework of the belonging. That exists in a family where you have made a commitment to then and they have made a commitment to you is much easier for me to hear a rebuke from Maureen or Kathleen. Those are my siblings, then it is to hear a rebuke from somebody that I that that I that doesn't really know me from along the ground, and maybe a valid rebuke and I may be in essence removed. I'm not denying that. But what I'm saying is I know without question that Maureen and Kathleen love me with a passion. We come from the same womb. Our hearts beat to the same end will in touch with one another. We care for one another, so I don't anticipate that my sister will take the site and drive a knife into me in order to despise me or to do me down, but she may have to stick a dagger in me to wound my foolish pride or to correct my silly focus or to remind me of the importance of the commitments that I have made to others within the speed of my life. It is in the family that it is to take place and it is in the family that it works in the special provision that God is made is the kind of provision that he makes and in the whole process of discipline which the writer to the Hebrews says is never pleasant experience of the time, but always painful but it later on he says produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by for those who have been trained by in other words, the exercise of discipline in and of itself is no necessary is not a magic answer and we know that as a church family because we have had to discipline individuals who have chosen to walk away from Christ who have chosen to walk away from the Bible who have chosen to walk away from their spouse and from their children, and instead of the process of discipline, producing a repentant heart and bringing about the end of discipline which is restoration there responded to with a jetting chin and a stiff neck, and they remain today on trained by and in our elders meetings routinely.
We pray for those sad individuals. We continue to pray for that God's kindness will lead them towards repentance. But as I mentioned this morning. It is not uncommon to find people.
Members of the family running away from home so as to in avoid the very discipline which garters or didn't. As the means to repentance and to restoration antifreedom. It is also God special provision so that in the context of the family. We might enjoy the privilege of service. It is in the local church that God intends for us to find our place and to discover our spiritual gifts and it is in the local church that are expressions of spiritual gift may be tested as we contribute to the overall ministry of the body.
It is here and again in the confidence of your family that you could sue. Perhaps if your sisters are your brothers. I don't know who's in your physical family you know I think that I would like to be an opera singer and then your siblings and say well why don't we.
When we finished the meal this evening. Why don't you do stand up in front of the fireplace and and and is given as a rendition serve your brave enough to stand up and you haven't got three bars injured when the disc heckle you to the ground. Oh no no no no no, try something else.
You're not supposed to be an opera singer. You're absolutely dreadful. You're horrible at it.
Please don't do yourself a disservice and don't throw yourself onto other people without dreadful singing voice. You're no good brother painful. You brought your bedroom say what a shame and you go and get a book and look for other things you had reached all looking for something to do in life 90 P as ever.
Maybe I'll be a physician and and you go on from there but is within the family that you find this helpful responses and so the same is supposed to be true within the church and if you been here for the 23 years, you know that there are young men who have said, I think that God is calling me to pastoral ministry and in the course of their time with us and in the opportunity of their teaching in various places either garters confirm that Ari is not confirmed that. But again, given the confidence that they have that there within the framework of people who love and care for them, namely the family, then it is far easier for them to respect and respond to what is said it is in this context that spiritual gifts should be discovered and exercised in the matter of spiritual gifts say just this. Not everybody agrees about everything when it comes to spiritual gift, but everybody ought to be able to agree with this, that the nature of spiritual gifts as described in the Bible is very that the purpose of a spiritual gift is the common good of the family and that the criterion for evaluating the gifts is the degree to which they build up the church. It is also within the same context that God is made peculiar provision for the praise of his people, and I've used praise here, particularly rather than worship. We began the day with worship in the sense that we read from Romans chapter 12, I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a spiritual sacrifice of praise, which is your spiritual worship and the Bible speaks of worship in terms of the totality of our lives that all of our lives. Our work tomorrow and are reading a directly radiation as well as our praise is to be that which is glorifying to God, and it is again in the context of God's people that we discover the Psalms in the heavens and the spiritual song and that it is within the context of God's people that we make melody in our hearts to the Lord and it is in the context of God's people as we gather in small groups like this that we begin to put our choirs together as we prepare for the one great choir in which we are all going to participate when in the marriage supper of the land we fall down before the throne and worship Jesus in all of his splendor, and there is a sense in which Sunday by Sunday and week by week as God gives these gifts to the church.
He is preparing his people for that ultimate great convocation of praise plan with a number that no one can account we we declare that salvation belongs to our God and to the land, who sits on the throne and so we ask God to fill us with his spirit to come and meet with us by his Spirit to enable us so that we might bring a sacrifice of praise into the house of the Lord sacrifice of praise is an old song we used to sing it I did when I came here in 83, we bring a sacrifice of praise into the house of the Lord and we offer up to you. The sacrifice of Thanksgiving and we offer up to you.
The sacrifice of praise is an interesting phrase is noted sacrifice of praise that incidentally is why read from Mark chapter 14 in the story of the lady with the alabaster jar.
If I go to it now become a sermon all of its own and then I will build to finish this and I'll be frustrated and you will be annoyed, but I want you to read that story again for your homework this week and I want you to notice that what that lady did was unique in its thoughtfulness. It was costly. Women did not walk around with those jars of perfume routinely. That perfume would've been part of her dowry for marriage or it would've been perhaps even a family heirloom as to be used as an anointing for her burial and what you determined to do was to take something that was costly to her that represented her future either in the joy of marriage, or in the eventuality of debt and she took that and she broke it in order that she might see to the watching world that she loved Jesus and she loved him and unashamed way and she loved him with a passionate love and that outworking all of her sacrifice evoked criticism didn't the people are harsh with her. He said what a waste of perfume and Jesus has to say why you even asking these questions why are you saying these things about her. She has done a beautiful thing she has done all that she could.
There won't be a place in the world where the gospel is preached where this lady isn't mentioned.
Can you imagine walking in one of those streets in the evening with a friend and say other magnolia trees here. What is the what is the fragrance on the air this evening and then suddenly realizing it's that lady man. She must've put a lot of perfume on Moshe did actually, but not on herself. She sacrificed Nancy just a little question. Have you ever consciously brought sacrifice of praise. Can you remember one moment in your entire pleasing life where you were prepared to risk everything the criticism of friends and family and work colleagues and you said I don't care. I love Jesus this March and I'm prepared to let the whole world know icon and I bring a sacrifice of praise into the house of the Lord.
Of course you see there's great comfort in doing it in the family because your family are able to say well that's just him.
He's like that sometimes but he's okay she's all right she's a little crazy but we love her. I have one other question, and it's this is a personal question that we need each to ask. When I answered four years briefly as I can.
The question is if this nature of belonging is as crucial as it is, what part should I play in the local church, seems to me to be an obvious question. What part should I play in the local church.
I'm going to give these to you and I'm not going to expand on them otherwise will be here all night.
Number one I should determined to discover and fulfill my God-given role. I should determined to discover and fulfill my God-given role. I'm only one I'm not beyond one I can do everything I can do something. What I can do. I ought to do and what I ought to do with God's help, I will do and is Colossians 3 says whatever you do, just work at it with all your heart.
Those of you have a factory and I use this illustration all the time. Having worked in a factory. I work most places. I crammed many many work careers into a short period of time so that I would understand the nature of things, but it is a wonderful thing if you come on the factory floor and you find two or three of the young interns are the people that are working for the summer have actually started to do something worthwhile just nothing. Invite your prepared to forgive them if they move everything to the wrong side of the plate just because you're so excited that he could take the initiative and do something as opposed to three characters standing like this, what it what he wants to do. I want you to go home and never come back. Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart.
Don't spend your whole life trying to figure out what it is. Do something small, your brothers or sisters Italian fusion be an overseer. Don't worry about that. The corrective balance will take place. Secondly, keep yourself spiritually fit the fitness of a team. The fitness of the support team is directly related to his weakest member if you're not that you shouldn't go out on the field. It is imperative to keep yourself spiritually fit. First Timothy 47 is the overall health of the body is the sum of the individual parts.
If you're healthy and your health will express itself in caring for the well-being of others.
Healthy Christians are on the lookout for the French people. Healthy Christians are ready to volunteer and help healthy Christians are involved without being asked and saw thirdly give regularly and generously and systematically to God through the local church and this is a whole sermon on its own, but I won't make it one. Some people say well we look at the balance sheet of the church and if it doesn't look like it needs any money than we just don't give are not making it up as I see what some people say well this is what you need to do.
You need to see your local church is your first place. Forgiving you want to give beyond that, and you should should bring in money is aware and later the elders feed welder that I do that my wife does that I don't give in order to achieve a certain end, but I give as systematically and consistently as I'm able to do in order that like you and along with you. I might see the gospel extended in the community and beyond, and indeed around the world in order that I might have the joy of seeing the people with material needs of their needs met in order that we might have the privilege of developing and maintaining the things that God has given us.
Fourthly, establish your priorities and be prepared to reevaluate them as time passes. In other words work out sensibly.
Your level of involvement find out what's right for you at this stage in your life. If you're a young parent with with little ones you're going to operate differently from those who are empty-nesters, but my encouragement to you. I think it is valid is to make six points and then work around them and be in a position to make exceptions for three.
Cultivate the habit of thinking about giving not getting of serving rather than being set. Sixthly, respect pray for and support your spiritual leaders look for a local church that is marked by the teaching of the Bible in a way that isn't gibberish in a way that isn't legalistic in a way that isn't confusing in a way that is clear and in a way that suggests the persons who are teaching the Bible are being taught by the very Bible their teaching where there is prayer taking place a church where there is worshiping taken place the worship of all of our work. Well done. The worship of the consecration of our lives and our careers to to God and in the midst of that worship, the reality of praise, a local church where there is genuine care amongst the members in the local church that is engaged in an ongoing endeavor to see unbelieving people become committed followers of the Lord Jesus Christ. Because those who are committed to Jesus will be committed to others who love Jesus and they will then in turn want to see other people attached to Jesus. And when that happens, then the body is built-up. The church family is strengthened and were better equipped to serve God in the routine of our daily experience. Alister Megan challenges us with the importance of being part of a local church is titled this message belonging and it concludes our series called Christian basics on Truth for Life weekend. Alister will return in just a minute to close with prayer so please keep listening as Alister mentioned, it's important for us as Christians to be spiritually fit. That of course means that our hearts have to be healthy. The Bible actually has a lot to say about the heart that the word is used more than a thousand times in Scripture to refer to our love. Our faithfulness even our sin.
What is it mean when this month's recommended book dives into this very topic. The book is called with all your heart and the author explains that our heart is the very center of our spiritual being, he highlights the fact that it's the most important word in the Bible that describes who someone truly is because as the heart goes, so goes that person. We carefully select books your Truth for Life on unique topics, all designed to bring helpful biblical insights and this is a book that fits the bill. It's packed with scriptural references and Puritan wisdom.
Orient your heart to truly love and obey God.
You can learn more about the book with all your heart on our website the Truth for Life.org now if you're a frequent listener to Truth for Life. You know that all of Alister's teaching can be accessed online or in our mobile app for free.
We make our resources available either for free or at cost and we do this because we want men and women everywhere to have unlimited access to what God's word teaches, we don't do it alone. We share this passion with an important team of blisters called truth partners and it's the generous and faithful giving of our true partners. That makes all of this possible. If you are one of our true partners. Thank you for the vital role you play in the Ministry of Truth for Life. Now here's Alister to close with prayer father, thank you again for the Bible and I thank you that these pointers at least set our minds in the right direction. I teaching us what it is to learn to be instructed to care to discover our place to play our part to offer our lives to you to offer our gifts to you and we pray that it may be, in some measure us as a sacrificial jester that we might give, not out of our largess that we might give in such a way that we express to you overwhelming desire to make much of Christ.
We pray in his precious name. Amen about the pain for listing today.
Join us again next weekend as we start a new series called amazing love unpacked the lessons from the parable of the prodigal son. The Bible teaching of Alister bag is furnished by Truth for Life Learning is for Living