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October 21, 2020 12:00 am
When you came to faith in Christ.
This way every one of us were photoshopped into the family of the pictures are added by the power of the Holy Spirit discovery, your family, let me let me just a little further and say this is a picture of many families. Local church is a picture of one family regardless of race standing income we read it together. We believe, but it's also God's design that we associate ourselves with the particular local church. Why is it important to attend a local church. Why is it important to join. What's the main idea behind church membership.
Is it really important that you attend a church or is it okay to go it alone. What are some biblical reasons for joining a church stay with us to find out this is wisdom for the heart with pastor and author Stephen Davey Stevens, continuing through his series on the church called upon this rock Stevens entitled today's lesson why we belong. Stay with us. As you may know, I push the pause button are studies in Paul's letter to the Philippians and we launched a series of messages on the church. In our last session, I covered the foundation of the church. I simply call the message who we are. We talk about the fact that we have been bought by and built upon the foundation of Jesus Christ. He is both our founder and our foundation. We are as a church mastered by our master and we are messengers of his manifesto that was as far as we got on that subject today I want to address a different subject, and I want to try to do all these in one part maybe two part were not sure but I want to address the subject of why we belong, much as who we are. But why we belong animal to address the subject starting from 35,000 feet fly over it and touched on every so often with a lot of different texts all probably reference more than will actually turn to address this subject and in order to sort of get our hands around such a massive subject. Let me give them to you in the form of five statements why we belong first, we belong because we are part of a resistance movement.
Now when I say that you probably think of you know the old French resistance and German resistance movies your thinking in terms of well with Stephen probably means is working to start resisting the government not actually talking about something far more dangerous than the government to the church that the church never needs freedom to flourish around the world. I'm talking about how belonging to the church enables me to resist my own pride and this innate desire that comes naturally to one unaccountability and any authority in my life living in the writings of Chuck because of the federal prison Fellowship.
Now the Lord he wrote this many Christians have been infected with the most dangerous virus of modern day American life.
He said sociologist Robert Bell referred to it as radical individualism. Christians erode virus-infected act as if all that matters is Jesus and me, so they entirely miss the point altogether for Christianity was never solitary belief system, somebody might say that Christian and I meet with two Christian guys at Starbucks and we talk about the Lord.
So we're church for the church. Otherwise, it will I attend a Bible study during the week and raw Christian. So we are effectively the church university student might say I attend the gathering during the week of other County students vaguely saying, and we even have a preacher show up and so we constitute effectively church this is all the church I need the problem with that thinking is that it confuses the biblical definition of the local church. Let me put it this way, every believer belongs to the universal church that is the body of Christ which is composed of believers all around the world. Paul told the Corinthians that we we were all baptized spiritually into one body. The body of Christ. That's a reference to the church universal. You want to turn quickly. The first 20 chapter 12. He refers to that degree that is our chapter at your leisure. But I want to focus in on where he now shifts the metaphor to talk about body and uses language that is not a serial not universal, not mystical, but literally tangibly locally physically present when other Christians today are gathering all around the world.
In this one body there gathering under a tree and can either gathering a mod block building with a tin roof and in Bolivia and by the way the local churches meeting in a gymnasium and tearing but not all shifts from the global universal church to the local church is a team without God's place, the members each one of them in the body. If they were all one member, where would the body be, but now there are many members but one body, and the guy cannot say to the hand that is in this body I have no need of you Oregon the head to the feeds I have no need of you look, the last part of verse 24 but God is so compose the body, giving more abundant honor to that member which lacks or that member, which seems to be insignificant so that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another and if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it physical or literal, tangible way we can play a role in the meeting of that assembly in Kenya or Bolivia.
We can't care for them physically, tangibly, regularly weekly, daily. We don't suffer physically tangibly with them. We can serve each other in this manifestation we can care for each other here and he's referring to this local body and God intends us to were not hand that doesn't have a body connected to it were not random body parts just floating around that we are connected to the life and the structure of the local manifestation of the body of Christ immediately clarify an important distinction, although every Christian is a member of the universal church. When Christians gathered together, they are not necessarily a local church.
Put it this way several months ago my wife and I gathered together with sit with several thousand believers at concerts that gathering was not a local church, but it was a gathering of believers. Those university students gathering and maybe even hearing preaching that isn't a local church to say that the church is made up of the people of God which it is, is not the same thing as saying whenever the people of God gather there you have a church and I say that because I've heard people say to me over the course of my own ministry my Bible study is my church's were believers or my hiking actually heard that is my worship service at all.
I need that you can worship him there she can get her Starbucks and worship them either. But that doesn't constitute a local church ID that people say to me, my own church that's convenient. I'm sure it's always unanimous. Whatever it decides to do what we observe in the New Testament is that a church is a body of believers that has or plans to set aside qualified elders and deacons, church defines a body of truth: a doctrinal and ethical standards to which it commits a church develop structure and method that disciples and discipline its members.
Church is a body of believers accountable to spiritual leaders church administrates its ordinances of baptism and communion as a testimony to the community at large proclaiming that he's coming back and that we are identifying with his death, burial and resurrection that we are submitting to our highest authority. Our chief Shepherd Lord Jesus. In other words three guys studying at Starbucks or people having a Bible study does not constitute a local church, although they may provide a function of the church in that they encourage each other in the word. Can I give you some symptoms of how this is infected. Our church at large.
The average Christian, especially when the church, by the way is fast becoming simply a one hour event on Sunday. Maybe even on Saturday John Lehman wrote a book, simply titled church membership. I notice on the back was endorsed by Tim Keller and Mark government have a wide influence pastor or some of the symptoms. Lehman catalog and read this book recently and on a boiler done about these 45 observations said this is how the virus infects this individualistic independent attitude Christians.
He writes now think it's fine to attend church indefinitely without joining it's obvious he goes on Christians today think of getting baptized apart from the body or joining a church more subtle, Christians view the Lord's supper is a private, mystical experience and not an activity of shared experience by the body Christians. He goes on assume they can be absent from the gathering of the church and worship without affecting their spiritual life, no matter when more Christians make major life decisions without considering the effects of those decisions on the relationship to a local church that is they buy homes and rent apartments with scant regard for how factors such as distance and cost are going to affect their ability to serve the body. I gave a lot of symptoms. It does, but let me say this, if you're slightly irritated. Hearing me read the sentence it probably means you're infected with the virus.
Jesus Christ said that he would build his church.
Matthew 16 that's universal.
The commission his apostles to gather disciples together and what you have been in the unfolding of the New Testament is the supplanting of local churches. In fact, when Paul the apostle wrote his New Testament letters. Keep in mind he is either writing to local churches or to local church pastors and threw them to the church like Timothy and Titus is letters are inspired direction from God's Spirit to encourage to define to structure these local assembly below to God never intended for any of us to be an appendage to the church never intended for the church body to be sort of a supplement to us. He didn't design the Christian life is some solitary pursuit. He doesn't intend for the New Testament Christian to simply believe the intent is for us to belong came across another book in my research this summer for this series by Joshua Harris.
He pastored for a number of years.
He's the guy that wrote this best-selling book called why I kissed dating goodbye. If you ever heard of that book so that it would read when I was dating as a kid. My parents never read it would mess up everything at any rate, he wrote a book on on on the church. The entitlement stop dating the church is obviously against the idea of dating in any way shape or form but his opening comments to me were tree fact the entire book is an easy read and reread all he likened the typical Christians attitude toward the church as a reflection of the typical dating scene. He wrote, how can you spot a church dater. First, their attitude toward the church will focus on themselves.
In other words, it will be all about what they are looking for social interaction, programs, and maybe weekend activities. The driving question will be what this church do for me. This is another sign of a church dater's unwillingness to commit everyone good on the altar to get too involved to obligated, they don't pay attention to God's larger purpose for them as a vital part of a family that is eternal. He said they go through the motions without ever specifically investing your money or time. Finally, he writes, church daters are short on loyalty. The primary problem is that they have a consumer mentality that is they are they are simply looking for the best product for the price of the Sunday morning only. He says take my friend Nathan Josh Wright intends to churches on Sunday morning one because he likes the music and the other because he likes the preaching's involvement in both go no deeper than his own interests at the first church he slips out just before the last song winds down and he drives to the other church five minutes away. He's even factored in the time to stop by McDonald's to pick up an Egg McMuffin. He walks in just in time for the sermon to begin.
Josh writes I guess you could say that Nathan is to time. Interesting leather we join a local church is a statement that we have joined the resistance movement that pervades our culture and our church culture is so easy and tempting incident to the church for what it does for me what to do for my family together provide that. I like to give me I'll stick around.
We resist together our own pride, our own consumer mentality. Our own self-centeredness and our own desire to exercise radical individualism by submitting and belonging. We belong to the church.
Secondly, because we've been included in the family portrait. Matthew ransacked the New Testament the church is referred to a number of different ways we looked at one and for Sweeney's 12 is a physical body, find the church referred to as a bride Jesus Christ the bride groom a beautiful study that's in Ephesians chapter 5. If you read through that infected brings up the thought that if you really love Jesus Christ, wouldn't you love his bride. While I love Jesus but I don't like his bride, you segmented the bride messes up so often the bride is unlike the bridegroom. In fact, it occurred to me in my study that the greatest problem in this church is that you and I are part of the greatest threat to this church is you and me.
If anybody has the right to abandon his bride. It is Christ the bridegroom, but he is chosen to redeem us, his bride is chosen to faithfully love us and allowed nothing to ever separate us from him. Romans 839. Aren't you glad about that.
Also told the church as a family. First Thessalonians chapter 4 verse 10 Peter writes in first Peter chapter 2 verse 17 he says will allow the family of believers. Most people never really think of loving anybody outside their own family and if you ransacked the New Testament and you discover the significance. In fact, the priority of your spiritual family. Paul writes to Timothy in fact informs us that were told in the church to treat older men as fathers younger men as brothers older women as mothers and younger women as sisters in all purity you happen to have joined the family and you have plenty of fathers and you have plenty of mothers and you have plenty of brothers you have plenty of sister when you came to faith in Christ. This way every one of us work photoshopped into the family of the pictures are added by the power of the Holy Spirit.
The discovery here in that family only let me just a little further and say there's a picture of many families. Local church is a picture of one family regardless of race status rank standing income.
We rented together. We believe it.
Some people think that a drawing contest like we did for the first-graders of love cats way to work on the curriculum, but if we as people to draw a picture of what they think of when they think of a church. I think many Christians would draw a picture of a gas station.
This is where they come in around a little longer to be filled up so they go to their nearest church for service and the others would draw a picture of a movie theater because to them. Church is a place you know where you're entertained where you can go for the show. If the seats are nice the climate is right.
I think others would draw a picture of a pharmacy to place where you go. Only if something ails you, and you need attention.
Others would draw a picture of them all a big one a one stop shop for everything you could ever winds and options are endless like that the church can be all of those things. By the way their other metaphors and withdraw hospital draw racetrack. Whatever but it's much more than that, collectively, it isn't what it does for us. Jesus Christ gives us a picture of who we are, where his bride, which means we learn to love and to serve our faithful bridegroom is a picture of a body where we learned up to flex our individual endowments are our gifts. We roll up our sleeves and serve the picture of a family we learn to get along.
We learn that take care of this house and adjust our needs and our personal tastes and desires for the good of the family at large in the unity of family. This is why we belong, we belong because were part of the resistance movement with a lot because we're included in the family portrait. Thirdly, we belong to the church because we've exchanged observing for owning sort of address vocabulary issues for little bit here were not just members or owners of the staggering trees to discover about even the coming kingdom. We will have a talk about. I think we don't really think about all that much will call Carl Raynor's that's another way of saying Ricardo errors that this is our inheritance, the kingdom, this is someplace we just attend. This is this is joint ownership. Let's start with the idea of membership because I been asked many times you know where the Bible does it say or talk about church membership with the understanding the Bible the New Testament correctly you'll find the idea everywhere.
In fact, you'll find the amazing reality is this, the Christians were so closely attached to a local church that they were actually viewed as and talked about is simply the church as if they were individuals. The church princes were told at Paul before he was saved he went by the name Saul the Old Testament name Hebrew that he began to persecute the church without some ethereal thing that people who are attached. We read in acts chapter 11 verse 22. That the news of what was happening reach the ears of the church. Interesting. Again, a reference to a physical body. The people are hoteliers in acts 1427. They gathered the church together. Acts 15. Three.
The church commission. These missionaries on their way, sent them on their way. Acts 15 verse four.
They were welcomed by the church. In fact, it's interesting were told. Acts 12 one.
The King Herod arrested some who will be along the to the church in a very real way, biblically speaking, you could say that the church is its members, the church is its members on a practical notice impossible for elders and deacons to serve the church unless they know who belongs Peter give the elders in fact a serious command to shepherd the flock of God among you is a thing shepherd the church universally sings shepherd the church among you that local assembly where you've been given oversight. First Peter 52. That isn't the suggestion for elders at his command. In fact that's a command that elders lose sleep over and agonize over and pray over Paul said effectively the same thing to the elders at the church in Ephesus. He said to them, in acts 2028. Be on guard for yourselves and for all flock is that mean all of the churches everywhere know all of the flock, which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers are missing. The owners were to accept the responsibility for real people. For real lives not just some gathering shepherd the church of God. You likely have more questions on this topic and Stephen has more to teach but were just about out of time.
Organist stop right here for today and Stephen will conclude this lesson on tomorrow's broadcast. This is wisdom for the heart. Stephen Davey is working his way through a series on what it means for the church to be the church. The series is entitled upon this rock. The lesson you heard today was part one of a lesson called why we belong, and again Stephen will be back tomorrow to bring you the conclusion to this lesson. Make sure you're with us.
The church was established by Jesus Christ and is guided by his teaching.
That's part of the reason why the sayings of Jesus that we find in the Gospels have a special significance for us as believers in the daily devotionals of our heart-to-heart magazine, you'll be able to reflect on key teachings of Jesus like I am living water, and I have overcome the world and I am the resurrection and the life of Christ's words demand our deepest concentration and devotion. If you don't receive heart-to-heart magazine call us at 86 648 Bible and ask how you can get the next was also a request firstname.lastname@example.org and join us tomorrow for more wisdom for the hearts