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The Glory of the Church Series: #1 The Church: No Spiritual Option!

12 May

       placeforyou2
 With all the uncertainly in our world today about the individual need for “the church” as compared to a person simply “believing at home,” I want to begin with a statement of conviction that I hope can receive a hearty “Amen” from most.

What is needed is a ringing affirmation that the church is God’s idea, that it is the living incarnation of Christ in the world, that – for all its flaws and faults – it is now God’s instrument to reconcile the world to Himself.

There is a serious need for those of us who call ourselves Christians “according to the New Testament pattern” to reaffirm the church’s place in the plan of God and in our own lives.

  1. There is no doubt that many congregations have lost their calling and sense of mission. But if that has occurred, we have allowed it to occur and we are partly to blame. At least, it is something we can change.
  2. We should respond to the leadership of Jesus Christ, and keep our attention to people’s hearts and souls and away from brick/mortar, and personalities and politics.
  3. While every member is part of the universal church, failure to be part of a particular congregation is failure to obey Christ as a member of a local body that carries out the work of the church in the world.

THE LOCAL CHURCH

If the relationship of the individual Christian to Christ is primary or fundamental, then what place does the local church have in God’s plan?

Why Have the Local Congregation?

Some religious teachers see no reason for a local church. Even some individual Christians apparently see no need for the local church since they do not place membership with one or refuse to participate actively in one. Never-theless, it is better for Christians to gather together into local churches than for them to try to “go it alone” as Christians. How do we know that? Because the local church was a part of God’s plan!

Ephesians 3:9–11 says, And to bring to light what is the administration of the mystery which for ages has been hidden in God, who created all things; in order that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the church to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly places. This was in accordance with the eternal purpose which He carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord.

If someone says, “I can get along without the church just as well as I can get along with it,” he is really saying that he is smarter than God! Why did God make the local church a part of His plan? In general, to help nurture the relationship between each Christian and Christ, and to help bring more people into that relationship.

To be specific, the local church plays an important role in God’s plan in that:

(1) It is easier to be a Christian, to remain a Christian, and to grow spiritually, in a loving, caring group than by oneself.

(2) Christians joined together in a local church can accomplish works of edification, evangelism, and benevolence that it would be impossible for them to accomplish individually

(3) God is glorified in a special way by the corporate worship of a group of His children.

It’s in the context of a congregation that we commit ourselves to intimate relationships with fellow Christians and submit ourselves to accountability, duties,  responsibilities.

Remember from our studies in Acts:

  1. Individuals confessed faith in Jesus, were immersed in water for remission of sins, and became part of a local congregation.
  2. It is at the very heart of what it meant to be part of God’s kingdom.

My church?!#

It is typically said by some: “Faulty people, flawed preacher, flailing leadership, sinning saints. We can’t get people to participate in ministry. I often feel lonely and isolated when I come to church. I always have a hard time finding a good parking place. Decisions are made I don’t agree with….”

There is a great tension between the church of faith and the church of fact.

There is a cantankerous bunch of stubborn, non-working people who attend some of our congregations. There are people who don’t live as they should. Some ministries need some talent and enthusiasm added to them…but…there is the shining, pure, beautiful, faithful bride of Jesus…loving, harmonious, humble, and hard working! And then there is all of us!

Two sayings that apply?

To live above with those we love, O that will be glory! But to dwell below with those we know..well, that’s another story.

“The church is like Noah’s ark. The stench inside is sometimes unbearable except for the storm that is always outside.”

The Nature of the church

  1. The “called out” (2) body of Christ.

(1 Peter 2:9 NIV)  “But 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.”

I Cor. 12 and Romans 12 develop physical body contrasted to the spiritual body, the church.

  1. The “household of God.”

(Ephesians 2:19 NIV)  “Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household,”

 (1 Timothy 3:15 NIV)  “if I am delayed, you will know how people ought to conduct themselves in God’s household, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth.”

  1. The kingdom of God.

Kingdom preached at hand.

(Matthew 3:2 NIV)  “and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.””

Parables set forth the church as the kingdom.

(Matthew 13:24 NIV)  “Jesus told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field.”

(Matthew 13:44-45 NIV)  “”The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field. {45} “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls.”

(Matthew 13:47 NIV)  “”Once again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was let down into the lake and caught all kinds of fish.”

After the day of Pentecost and the coming of the Holy Spirit, the kingdom is spoken of as ‘past tense’..in existence.

(Acts 8:12 NIV)  “But when they believed Philip as he preached the good news of the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.”

(Acts 20:25 NIV)  “”Now I know that none of you among whom I have gone about preaching the kingdom will ever see me again.”

(Acts 28:23 NIV)  “They arranged to meet Paul on a certain day, and came in even larger numbers to the place where he was staying. From morning till evening he explained and declared to them the kingdom of God and tried to convince them about Jesus from the Law of Moses and from the Prophets.”

  1. The temple of God.

 (1 Corinthians 3:16-17 NIV)  “Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you? {17} If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him; for God’s temple is sacred, and you are that temple.”

A temple is a place where God meets those who worship Him…and it is a place where the Spirit of God lives. It must be built according to God’s plan (Christ and the apostles are the foundation).

5. The vineyard of God.

 (Philippians 2:15-16 NIV)  “…so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe {16} as you hold out the word of life–in order that I may boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor for nothing.”

 
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Posted by on May 12, 2017 in Church

 

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