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.