Summary: As with any gift, it is easy to take church membership for granted. In order to avoid that, we must understand the gift and how we came to get it so that we will treat it like the gift that it is.
Introduction: How many of you have ever been a tourist before? You know, you travel to a new place intent on seeing all the wonderful "new to you" sites. If it was an international excursion, you get to have your passport stamped, exchange currency, maybe learn a few phrases in the local language, then you are off to mix and mingle with the natives. You might wander through museums, visit famous buildings and land marks, and if you are the adventurous type, sample the local cuisine. You might take lots of photos and purchase a memento to remind you of your time there. After a short visit, you head home with some pleasant memories but not much heart change.
"It seems to me that what I've just described is very close to many people's understanding of the congregational life of the local church. On any given [weekend], many tourists can be found in church. They pop in for forty-five minutes or an hour, sing a chorus or two, and exchange niceties with the locals …. They sample some of the local cuisine, they might purchase a book or CD to remind them of their visit, and then they race to their cars to get to their favorite restaurant before the rush or home before the game. For many people, church is simply … about being a tourist, and our land is filled with tourist-friendly churches." Based on an excerpt from Elyse Fitzpatrick, Because He Loves Me (Crossway, 2010), pp. 173-174
Today, our message based on I Am A Church Member is about church membership being a gift. As with any gift, it is easy to take it for granted. In order to avoid that, we must understand the gift and how we came to get it so that we will treat it like the gift that it is. That is why we find ourselves in Ephesians chapter 2 this morning.
I. WHERE WE CAME FROM (Once were far off...)
a. Paul spent a lot of time reminding the Ephesian believers of what their life before Jesus was like.
b. In relation to God, scripture says that apart from Christ, believers were...
i. Dead in trespasses and sins (v. 1)
ii. Following the Devil (v. 2)
iii. Pursuing the passions of our flesh (v. 3)
iv. Children of wrath (v. 3)
c. In relation to the family of God, believers were...
i. Outsiders (v. 11)
ii. Separated from Christ (v. 12)
iii. Alienated (v. 12) (Aliens don't belong)
iv. Strangers to the covenants of promise (v. 12)(God had made promises to Israel)
v. Hopeless (v. 12)
vi. Without God (v. 12)
d. I think it is good for us to be reminded from time to time from where it is we came in relation to our salvation so that we don't take it for granted.
II. WHERE CHRIST HAS BROUGHT US (Brought near...)
a. Paul also wanted them to see just what Jesus had done on their behalf
b. In relation to God, scripture says that through Jesus Christ, believers have been...
i. Made alive together with Christ. (v. 4)
ii. Saved by grace (v. 5)
iii. Raised up with him (v. 6)
iv. Seated with him in the heavenly places (v. 6)
c. In relation to the family of God, believers have been...
i. Reconciled to God and the family of God (v. 16)
ii. Granted access to the father by the Spirit (v. 18)
iii. Made fellow citizens with the saints (v. 19)
iv. Made members of the household of God (v. 19)
III. HOW WE GOT THERE (by the blood of Christ)
a. Paul also wanted them to see that it was not of their own efforts that there where in this new position. (Ephesians 2:8-9) (Can't earn it, can't buy it, and you can't get it any other way.)
b. It is only by the shed blood of Jesus Christ that we find ourselves in this unique position.
i. Reconciled to God in a right relationship (Oh! precious is the flow, that makes me white as snow;
No other fount I know, Nothing but the blood of Jesus.)
ii. Reconciled to the family of God (I'm so glad I'm a part of the family of God, I've been washed in the fountain, cleansed by His blood!)
c. Salvation is a free gift and along with it comes the gift of church membership. When we are saved, the Spirit of God places us in the body of Christ and makes us a part of the family.
i. 1 Cor. 12:13
ii. Galatians 4:4-5
iii. John 1:12-13
d. Someone might be tempted to say that this refers to the Universal Church and not the local church. True, but membership in the Body of Christ and in the Local church are never mutually exclusive. in fact, most of the New Testament letters were written to local churches.