Summary: Every church needs direction, a vision that kees us from coming unglued. We find that direction in the five functions of a New Testament Church
Bible-Teaching Ministry of
CEDAR LODGE BAPTIST CHURCH
a fellowship of faith, family and friendships
Dr. Russell Brownworth, pastor
July 11, 2004
Allow me to take your mind back 4 ½ years ago. Some (many) of you were sitting in the fellowship hall. Questions were being put to a man standing in the middle of the floor. He was from Florida; he was me.
One question was asked by John Hayes; I recall the words exactly.... John said, "If you come here as pastor, what plans do you have for us?"
I also recall my reply (exactly)...."I don’t have any. I don’t know you yet, and you don’t know me. When we get to know each other, God will begin to reveal Himself to us as to how we can serve Him as a body of believers. When (and if) we get that far....and if we are obedient to His voice and His revealed will...the plans will unfold. For the meantime, my "plans" are to study His word, pray, preach the basics of the faith and visit each of you to get the process started."
We have served together for nearly five years. Together we have had some successes and failures. There have been misunderstandings, ministry and mystery – times of high worship and times of low commitment.
We have seen some folks come into the Kingdom by faith in Jesus.
We had a great time presenting Bethlehem to our community one Christmas.
We have seen some folks leave; some to serve, some in a huff.
We have had some times of difficulty, as well as some real mountain-toppers!
In all, we’ve had the expected “ups and downs” of church life. There is definitely one thing that can be said of these last five years; all of it has produced strength in one way or another. The Word of God says that He is working all things together for good.
These past five years we have, I believe, come to know each other better. I also believe it is time for us to get down to the “brass tacks” of being committed to God’s purposes for the future of Cedar Lodge Baptist Church.
There are precious few things that touch my heart more profoundly than the desire to see this church in the very center of God’s will.
It is my heart’s conviction that a church is not…
· a building with a collection of pews
· a group of people who meet for social purposes
· a dinosaur with little or no relevant impact on life…
Rather the church is the body of the living Christ, empowered by the Holy Spirit of God, working daily to accomplish the will of the One True God.
Now, friends, that is a description of THE CHURCH; the evaluation of whether or not it is a description of this church is tied to one question – are we doing the will of God?
21“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter.
Matthew 7:21 (NASB)
The measure of being the church of God is a matter of doing the will of God! And to determine if you measure-up you must match your activities and heart’s direction with the Word of God. Consider these references to the will of God:
1. Jesus gave himself to the cross for our sins by the will of God (Gal 1:4)
2. In family life and business we are to live honorably and obediently by the will of God (Eph 6.1-6)
3. It is God’s will that we abstain from fornication (1 Thess 4:3)
4. It is God’s will that we practice thanksgiving (1 Thess 5:18)
5. God’s will is that we live our lives in an ethical and moral manner so that unbelievers will know it is better to serve God (He 2:15)
6. Jesus told us it was God’s will to help little ones come to Him (Mt 18:14)
7. Doing kindness, rather than just talking about it, is God’s will (Mt 21:31)
8. Jesus demonstrated in Gethsemane that God’s will comes first (Mt 26:39, John 5:30)
9. Jesus taught us our prayers ought to be subject to God’s will (Luke 11:2)
10. Paul told the believers in Corinth (2 Co 8:5) that if they really wanted to understand the Christian way of living, that they needed to watch the believers in Macedonia as they set the standard. They first gave themselves to God (in surrender), then gave themselves to the work under Paul’s direction…it was all by the will of God.
Now, if the Word of God stresses the will of God that strongly, the key for any church to be in the center of that will is found in how the Bible presents the nature and purpose of the church.