Are we the Church or Something Else? 5-26

church, body of christ, holy spirit, pentecost, jesus, bride of christ, empower, be the church

Unfortunately, due to a power outage, this sermon was not recorded.  Notes will have to suffice.  Enjoy!

Acts 1-2

The Kingdom of God and the Church are not separate. Though one was, is, and will, be the other is now and will become. They, together, belong to God and are here and now.

“Have you seen the Church?” The Ekklesia of God? The Church was conceived in the mind of God before the creation of the world.

All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast–all whose names have not been written in the Lamb’s book of life, the Lamb who was slain from the creation of the world. – Revelation 13:8

Ekklesia is the Greek word we translate as “Church.” Never in the New Testament is the word “church” referring to a building. In fact, at the end of his letter to the Roman church, Paul asks them to greet the church that meets in Priscilla (Prisca) and Aquila’s house.

Fellowship, worship, and ministry are all conducted by people, not buildings. Church buildings give us a place to have fellowship, a place to worship, and were intended to be a place to help us with, and in, the ministries we are called to do as the church. But buildings alone cannot meet every ministry need nor are they essential for a congregation to be the Church where they are placed.

“Ecclesiology” comes from two Greek words meaning “assembly” and “word” – combining to mean “the study of the church.” The church is the assembly of believers who belong to God. The Church is made up of everyone who is on the way to becoming completely free from all sin, as Jesus is. It is those who have started down the path that will lead them to Christ likeness (2 Peter 1:4) and are continuing on that journey. Some people may be farther along that path than others. Some people may have just begun. But everybody who walks, moves forward,  and is committed to taking their next step along that path is a member of the body of Christ. Jesus does not expect his church to be perfect but He does expect us to be committed! 

They are the ones who love Jesus. They are His followers. They are those who ache with longing to be with their Lord and Master, who are seeking to grow in their relationship and serving Jesus with all of their heart, all of their soul, all of their being. They are the ones whom Jesus cleanses, purifies, and makes holy, “Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her, that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that He might present the church to Himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish” (Ephesians 5:25-27). These are the ones who are preparing themselves to be the bride of Christ. They are making themselves ready.

The Holy Spirit, through Paul in his second letter to the Corinthian Churches, and to us, “For I feel a divine jealousy for you, since I betrothed you to one husband, to present you as a pure virgin to ChristBut I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ. For if someone comes and proclaims another Jesus than the one we proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or if you accept a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it readily enough” (2 Corinthians 11:2-4).

I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. – Revelation 21:2-3

“Hallelujah! For the Lord our God the Almighty reigns.  Let us rejoice and exult and give Him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His Bride has made herself ready; it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure”— for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints. – Revelation 19:6-8

Body, Romans 12, family  

Those who fail to learn from history are condemned to repeat it.”  Winston Churchill.  The Church has forgotten our past and, in doing so, we have forgotten who we are, what we are supposed to be, and what our mission is. We are not learning from the Word of God. The Old Testament is full of the history of God’s people, of how they drifted from God, how they rebelled against God, and how God first removed His hand of blessing and then His hand of protection and then how He handed them over to their sin. Romans 1 pointedly warns His Church, the people of God, believers, that we are not exempt from this as individuals, or as a congregation, and that we too can be given over to our sin.

The further a society drifts from the truth, the more it will hate those that speak it.” ― George Orwell

When the people that gather every Sunday start being the church, coming together more and more to learn, to break bread, and to pray, we will experience the messiness of relationships. But in that messiness, in that struggle, there is growth, transformation, and change that if we are obedient to God’s commands will make us more Christlike.

You know the biggest lie we tell ourselves? “There is no punishment, no wrath of God for my God is a God of love, mercy, and grace.” The God of all creation is those things but He is far more; God is just! Look at the cross that is the guarantee of God’s justice to come! There the price was paid, there sin was crucified, there justice and mercy and love were displayed all at once. The cross should be a constant reminder of God’s hatred of sin and His love for us.  There are many that attend a church service but are not committed Christ followers: I am good enough, a member of the local congregation, I attend services regularly… I am very concerned for you.

For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil. – 2 Corinthians 5:10

In the book of Revelation we read, “Then I saw a great white throne and Him who was seated on it. From His presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done.” What if all you have “done” is warm a pew a couple of hours a week? Would that make you a part of God’s Church? Are you serving as a part of God’s Church or are you looking to be served, entertained? Does this congregation meet your needs?

And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire. – Revelation 20:11-15

There are many people sitting in pews who believe they are going to heaven simply because they are attending church services. This is wrong, it is incorrect, and unbiblical! Salvation comes to us only through faith, and it is only for those who believe in Christ and are a part of His Church. Not Church of God, Anderson, not the United Methodist Church, or the Baptist Church, or the Presbyterian Church, or any other congregation that calls themselves a church, but only God’s true Church. Oh, many claim to be a part of God’s Church, they will tell you they are Christians,  may say they believe, but they do not live it: actions speak louder than words!

Jesus said that He is against those who have abandoned the love they had at first, that He knows the congregations whose work in not complete, and that He would spit out the lukewarm. There are some here that truly believe; they are saved and heaven bound, but let me quote God’s Son, “On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.

Do you know why Jesus will say this? Because in order to be a part of God’s Kingdom there—you have to be a part of His Kingdom here. That means following the Kings Word, doing His Will, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” Don’t take my word for it, go see what God says for yourselves.  See Matthew 7:21-27. Over and over we are told to be doers of the Word.

But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. – 1 John 1:7

Discipleship is not an option in God’s Church. We, each and everyone of God’s blood bought, born again children, are to be disciples who are making disciples.

The Church is to be a new society in which the world can see what family dynamics, business practices, race relations, and all of life can be under the kingship of Jesus Christ, who is the head of His body The Church! God is out to heal all the effects of sin: social, psychological, emotional, and physical.

That can only happen as we come together as the Church, in the love that we claim to have and are commanded to have for one another.

The Church is to be an agent of change in the world for the Kingdom. It is not only to model the healing of God’s rule but it is to spread it, “You are . . . a royal priesthood, a holy nation . . . that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light” (1 Peter 2:9).                                   

Matthew 16 – “I will build my Church” – keys to the Kingdom…

The Church—Christians go into the world as witnesses of the Kingdom (Acts 1:6-8). To spread the Kingdom of God is more than inviting others to a service or even leading people to Christ. It is also working for the healing of persons, families, relationships, and nations; it is doing deeds of mercy and seeking justice. It is coming under God’s authority and helping others to do so in order that our lives and relationships and institutions and communities receive the blessedness of the Kingdom.

Church is made up of those who have answered the call, who gather around Jesus the crucified Son as His people and to embody the life and teachings of Jesus together. The Church knows that Jesus is with them as they align themselves with God’s mission and will. The ekklisea of God does not take for granted the teachings and warnings of God to His people. Those of the Church know the history of drifting and rebellion that happened in the past, they know how easy it is to lose sight of Jesus, to have Him on the outside of what we have  going on. The Kingdom of God is not automatic for the gathered people of God, the Church, those who call themselves Christian. It takes effort, forgiveness, growth, and, more than anything else, it takes love and love is spelled T-I-M-E.

Love… one anothers…

Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you? – Luke 6:46

Be doers of the word, and not hearers only. Otherwise, you are deceiving yourselves. – James 1:22

Colossians 3, Romans 12

Does a spring bring forth both fresh and salt water, can a fig tree… bear olives or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring yield fresh water. – James 3:11-12

Digging Deeper

  • Have you seen the Church?
  • Are you a part of God’s Church?
  • Are we a congregation of God’s Church or something else?

Further Reading:

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