Summary: Based on the Southern Baptist Vacation Bible School theme for 2003, this sermon is about character building to strengthen a church.
Cracking the Character Code
(How I can Help My Church)
Colossians 3:12-17, NIV
Our Vacation Bible School begins tomorrow. The setting is London and the theme is "Cracking the Character Code." It seems the coat of arms at Yorkshire Hall is supposed to represent the traits of Christian character for that family. However, some pieces of that coat of arms are missing. A local student makes it his term project to find the missing pieces, and he enlists family members to help him search. They’re looking for the character traits which once characterized the family. Our VBS children will join in the search to help crack the character code. They will meet each day to investigate the problem; then they’ll follow the clues to see where they lead. At the end of the day, they will meet again to examine the evidence they have discovered and find the missing pieces of the family’s coat of arms.
A couple of weeks ago, one of our ladies’ Sunday School classes asked me to preach on what each member can do to strengthen our church. I appreciate their concern for our church to be strong. I originally started writing this sermon to introduce our Bible School theme, but I soon realized it could also tell us how we can help our church. However, there’s so much to tell that I can’t say it all in one sermon. Ladies, I need you to come back tonight and let me continue to remind us how each of us can help our church.
From my text I draw 4 points to strengthen our personal characters and our church. Paul is writing to the Church when he says in verse 12a...
I. Church: Remember Who We Are (v. 12a)
The King James says we are the elect of God, holy and beloved. The New International says we are God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved. In the Old Testament God’s chosen people was the nation of Israel. They entered into a covenant with God at Sinai to be his people, distinct from all other nations. In the New Testament, Jesus made a new covenant with his Church. His Church is made up of Jews and Gentiles, people from all nations, who become God’s people through faith in Jesus Christ.
Do you realize you are a part of the New Testament? That story is still being written. It started with the gospels and Acts; but Acts doesn’t end the story! Look at the last 2 verses in the book of Acts. Does that sound like the story has ended? No, it just pauses. It stops right in the middle of Paul’s life story! The New Testament epistles just record love letters to us, the Church. We have an interlude after Acts until the story picks up again in the future with the Book of Revelation, where Jesus gathers his Church to himself. In the meantime, you and I are the main characters of that continuing story. We are the New Testament being lived out today! The story of the Jews was written on earth for us to profit from their examples and learn from their mistakes. Our story is being written in Heaven today for all Creation to see our dedication to Jesus.
Just as the Jews were different from all other nations, holy and set apart for God’s purposes; we are his people today. We look at the Jews and see how they failed God and broke their covenant with him. But, God isn’t going to let us fail him! Jesus took all the requirements of our covenant on himself. We can’t fail because Jesus has already fulfilled our covenant for us!
Look at verse 12. We’re not striving to be holy; we’re already declared holy. We’re not trying to earn God’s love; we’re already his beloved. On the Cross he spread out his arms to show us how much he loved us and let them nail them permanently in that position. We are his Lover, his Bride. All God requires of us is that we honor our Groom and remain his faithful Bride.
Just as we study the Jews in the Old Testament, the world is studying us today to see if we act like God’s people. One thing you can do to help your church is be sure you are fulfilling the role of God’s Sweetheart, set apart and faithful to Jesus. Just like a husband and wife who are truly in love would never do anything to bring shame on their spouse, be so in love with Jesus that you never disappoint your Heavenly Companion. Paul continues in the last of verse 12 to say...