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Summary: Does today's church practise the type of fellowship we see in the NT? Do we show concern for one another, or are we simply groups of anonymous worshippers. We'll look at factors in society tempting us to be self-centred, so foreign to Christ’s teachings.

AN INTIMATE HOUSEHOLD - PART 2 OF 5

1. INTRODUCTION

A. IN THE FIRST MESSAGE IN THIS SERIES:

1) We looked at whether churches today practise the type of fellowship we see in the Church of the NT

2) We asked questions as to whether today’s churches:

* Are communities of believers expressing a sense of concern for one another

* Or, are they simply groups of anonymous worshippers

3) We considered:

* Factors in society which tempt us to be self-centred

* How an attitude of self-centeredness is foreign to Christ’s teachings

B. IN THIS THE SECOND OF THE CURRENT SERIES, WE WILL LOOK AT:

1) Christ’s teachings concerning the nature of the church He said He would build

2) How His teachings ought to shape the type of fellowship He wants the members of His church to experience

2. DIFFERENT VIEWS OF THE CHURCH

As we begin, let us consider two main contrasting views of the church.

A. MODERN MAN’S VIEW

1) ‘Church’ is an institution or organisation - terms that are found in businesses or corporations

2) So, we find terms used like:

a. ‘Associate Minister’

b. ‘Superintendent of Education’

c. ‘Chairman of Deacons’

While the church was divinely instituted by God, and does have some organisation, it seems that many have moulded the local church into a business-like structure … ‘God Inc.’

B. JESUS’ VIEW - VERY DIFFERENT

1) He viewed church as a family who would do the will of His Father in heaven - Mat 12:46-50

2) Indeed, both Jesus and His apostles often used the example of the family in speaking of the church.

a. Jesus would speak of:

* God as His Father (John 2:16)

* His followers as family relatives – brothers & sisters (Mat 12:50)

* And teach His disciples to address God as our Father (Mat 6:9)

b. The apostles referred to the church:

* As a brotherhood - 1 Pet 2:17

* As the house (family) of God - 1 Tim 3:15

3. FAMILY INTIMACY MUST FILL CHURCH LIFE

The church Jesus established was to be ‘An Intimate Household’, allowing a closeness not usually found in mere organisations or institutions. In fact, every aspect of the life of God’s people should show the closeness of family intimacy. Let us look at five key points:

A. OUR RELATIONSHIP WITH EACH OTHER

1) We are to be like little children - Mat 18:1-4

2) We must not strive for dominance over each other. Instead, with humility, showing submissiveness, we become dependent upon each another.

B. OUR CONCERN FOR EACH OTHER

1) We are to be concerned with protecting the members of our family from harm (esp. spiritual harm) - Mat 18:6

2) And be equally concerned with the one who strays, as we are with the one who continues in the fellowship - Mat 18:12-14

C. OUR DISCIPLINE OF ONE ANOTHER

1) We are to remember that we are family

a. Follow a procedure that draws on our relationship as a family - Mat 18:15-17

b. Treat the one disciplined as a brother - 2 Thess 3:10-15

2) If the brother in error is not responsive, we are to take advantage of the family relationship that we have enjoyed, by depriving this brother of that relationship.

3) Indeed, the failure of much discipline is due to the lack of proper fellowship to begin with.

D. IN FORGIVING EACH OTHER

1) Realising the value of this intimate, family relationship:

a. Forgiveness is to be automatic upon repentance - Mat 18:21,22

b. We are not to keep a tally of our offences, for this would hinder our relationship as family

2) We are to keep in mind:

a. How our Father has forgiven us

b. That our forgiveness by God depends on us forgiving our brothers & sisters in Christ! - Mat 6:14,15

E. IN SERVICE TO ONE ANOTHER

Our ‘older brother’ came to serve (Mat 20:25-28); so we are to serve one another as we would in our physical family

4. THE CHURCH, OUR TRUE HOME

All these things are emphasising an important spiritual truth. The church is to be such a fellowship of believers that it can be rightly considered as:

* A home away from home

* A home that is our true home

Consider three points:

A. THE COST OF DISCIPLESHIP CAN BE GREAT

For some, it may even mean forsaking their earthly family - Mat 10:34-39

B. YET CHRIST INTENDS FOR HIS CHURCH TO MAKE UP FOR ANY COST

1) Whether it is:

a. The cost of putting Christ before family

b. The cost of leaving family to serve Christ (e.g. YWAM, OM – ‘Logos’ & ‘Doulos II’ ships)

2) Christ has promised a hundredfold in replacement - Mark 10:28-30

C. THE CHURCH CAN BE A HOME (FAMILY) FOR ALL

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