Summary: This sermon unpacks the Marks of the Church - what constitutes a Church? What are its marks?
MARKS OF THE TRUE CHURCH
Last week we look at the nature of the Church, We saw that it’s not an institution made up by man but by God. We saw that the Church is not a denomination, nor is it a building, but actually a community of believers made up of people. The Church is visible yet also invisible that God alone knows truly those who are His and the Church is local universal & eternal made up of believers of from the entire history of life and into eternity
• Today we are looking at the Marks of the True Church
Imagine your house is being burgled whilst you’re in bed, you come down the stairs and catch the culprits red handed but they escape. The police come round and take statements. After a week the police call you up and ask you to come down to the station for an identification parade to see if you can identify the villains ~ there will be certain Marks about them that you will probably remember to distinguish for instance accent, size , weight , distinguishing marks and so on, which will enable you to mark out the real criminals in the line.
Turn this picture to the Church say a group of Churches were in the identification parade you’ve got the Baptists , Methodists, Anglicans, brethren, Jehovah witnesses, Free Churches, Presbyterians, Mormons, Catholics, 7th day Adventists, Christdelphians, The Universalist, The Quakers, The Pentecostals and we could go on .. But time permits……
How would you identify a true Church, amongst that Lot? Well as you recalled certain marks or characteristics with the criminal who robbed your house so in the area of spotting the true Church we will be seeking tell tale Marks from the Word of God which will give us the answer to the real Church and one which is spurious.
Article 26: 6 - 10 Read out: Article 19 of the 39 Church of England states :
• The visible Church of Christ is a congregation of faithful men, in which the pure Word of God is preached, and the sacraments be duly ministered according to Christs ordinance in all those things that of necessity are requisite to the same.
• Reformer J. Calvin said, Where ever we see the word of God purely preached and heard, and the sacraments administered according to Christ’s institution, there, it is not to be doubted the true Church exists
• In contrast the Roman Catholic position has been that the visible Church church that descended from Peter and the apostles is the true Church. It is only right as protestant non conformists we take the view of the 1689 Baptist articles, the 39 Articles & Calvin as the correct Marks .
The main marks of a true Church
1. The Pure word of God preached (Apostles teaching) in its purity. (Unaltered by human tradition or liberal theology)
No6 & no7. The Pure Word of God preached and obeyed.
2. The proper administration of ordinances Lords supper & Baptism.
No 6 no 8 . Ordinances duly administered as the Lord commanded.
3. The Correct Church Governance
Article points no7,8,9,10. Here we see the appointment of Church officers by the membership set aside for the execution of preaching the pure Word, administering the ordinances and Church discipline. (These must be Faithful men).
We see these three pivotal marks in the early Church is quite clearly practiced in the early Church Acts 2:41-42 41Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day. 42They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Acts 6:1-4 the choosing of the seven. These are the Marks we are looking for in Christ’s Church Elders & Deacons 1Tim 3:1- 13.
1. Mark: The pure Word of God Preaching of true doctrine: 2Tim.4: 1-5.
The Gospel .
What is the Church to be saying? What is to be proclaimed week by week from our pulpits? The views of philosophy, science, politics, social concerns, Ecological concerns the leading thoughts of our day in regard to religion, morality, social justice and ethical concerns our own personal views, in some measure all these areas will be touched upon when the scriptures are unpacked, but it must always be in the light of the Scriptures that is central to our preaching The pure Word of God this is the Mark of the true Church. The Gospel of our Lord Jess Christ.
The Charge given here to Timothy is the Churches charge even to this day and beyond. 2 Timothy 4:1In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: 2Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. 3For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. 4They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. 5But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.