Summary: When you think of the word church what comes into your mind? Jesus Christ told Peter, “I will build my Church.” But what does that church look like? What is the church and what is intended to be?
Introduction: When you think of the word church what comes into your mind? Jesus Christ told Peter, “I will build my Church.” But what does that church look like? A man was answering questions for a national poll. When asked for his church preference, he responded, "Red brick." While we might laugh at his response, do we really understand what a church is? Today I want you to see not only what the church is but what it should be.
I. C – The church is a congregation
A. The primary definition of a congregation is “an assembly of persons met for worship and religious instruction.
B. Many people today understand the church as a building or a denomination. The church is not a building; it is people, people with a purpose.
C. Church is derived from the Middle English word kirke. The biblical Greek word which was translated by use of the word church is ecclesia (Ecc – Out; Kaleo – Call), a called out assembly or a congregation. It is not some mystical invisible body.
D. The church is a called out body of people who having trusted Christ as Savior assemble together for worship, instruction, service, observance of the ordinances, the proclamation of the Gospel, and whatsoever the Lord directs.
E. Chuck Colson wrote “membership in a confessing body is fundamental to the faithful Christian life. Failure to do so defies the explicit warning not to forsake "our assembling together." His understanding of this prompted Martin Luther to say, "Apart from the church, salvation is impossible." Not that the church provides salvation; God does. But because the "saved" one can't fulfill what it means to be a Christian apart from the church, membership becomes the indispensable mark of salvation.” - Charles W. Colson, The Body, 1992, Word Publishing, p. 70.
F. Hebrews 10:25 “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.”
II. H – The church is a hospital
A. The church is a hospital for spiritual healing and restoration.
B. Isaiah 61:1-3 “The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon Me, because the LORD has anointed Me to preach good tidings to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn, to console those who mourn in Zion, to give them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they may be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified.”
C. Christ’s mission should be our mission. Someone has said, “Churches should all be about the business of heart care because it seems that Jesus was always about the business of heart care.”
D. In Philip Yancey’s story, What’s So Amazing About Grace, a desperate, drug-addicted prostitute is asked if she’s gone to a church for help. She replies that she feels bad enough already. Going to a church, she says, will only make her feel worse. Sadly that is how many feel about the church.
E. One person said the church “is for the broken and battered, the disillusioned and depressed. It is for the blind and the lame. It is for those who seem to walk with a limp and speak with a lisp. It is for those who have lost their ability to hear or their desire to listen if they could. It is for those who long for something more, something better, and something real… The Church is where all of these people …come for healing and restoration.
F. The Church is to be a hospital for those who are hurting, therefore we must be in the business of healing. The Church is not to be a courtroom filled with both judge and jury r but a place for restoration and reclamation.
G. Galatians 6:1 “Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who [are] spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted.”
H. "The best prescription for depression and discouragement is PRAISE." -Michael Youssef
III. U – The church is a unified body
A. John 17:20-21 “Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; that they all may be one; as thou, Father, [art] in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.”
B. “You may notice that during this time of the year that many of our men around the country are glued to the football games on television. College football is such a great part of American tradition. It all builds up to the bowl games at the end. That is what people are waiting for, to win the big bowl game. There may not be another bowl game more prestigious than the Rose Bowl. College players will dream of making it to the Rose Bowl to play under this great college football tradition. One man who actually lived out that college dream was named Roy Regal. He made it to the Rose Bowl and was able to play in this great game. He did more than just play. He got his hands on the football and he ran. He ran all the way down the field almost the full one hundred yards, making it almost all the way across the goal line before he was finally tackled. He lived out the dream. Yet this dream was not the dream he thought it was. There were two problems with the run that Roy Regal made. One is he was going the wrong direction and secondly he was tackled by his own player.