Summary: The essential duties of the church
Five Marks of a Biblical Church
March 14, 2010
What makes a church great? Some churches have thousands of members; does that make them great? Some churches have doctors for pastors. Some have incredible music and worship teams. Does that make them great? Technology is the mark of some churches. They have special lighting, projectors, powerful sound systems, and so on. So, are they great?
Perhaps, instead of asking what makes a church great, the better question is what makes a church Biblical? Not all churches have all the extra stuff, but I believe every church, whether a congregation of ten or ten-thousand, can be Biblical. By default, a Biblical church is a great church.
As a side note, I think I should add that no matter how “great” a church is in size or whatever, without being Biblical there is nothing truly great. We have seen churches gather members and wealth become nothing more than a Branson-style music theater accompanied with an inspirational speech. So let’s be clear that membership, finances, and buildings have nothing to do with greatness. There are Biblical mega-churches and Biblical house-churches. Each has been given certain tools to fulfill its five-fold mission.
That’s what I want to look at with you this morning:
Five Marks of a Biblical Church
To illustrate this, I am going to use a wheel. The wheel itself represents the local church, but notice there is a hub and four spokes. This hub and these spokes represent the five characteristics of the church. A church will have a hard time being Biblical if any one of these components is missing.
Let’s start with this hub, then, and number one in your notes…
1. A Biblical Church has Christ at the Center (:42)
They were continually devoting themselves to […] prayer.
For them Christ was the hub. I like that the word “devoting” is used here. The picture is one of people who have made a commitment and they are sticking to it.
This kind of devotion brings both confidence and humility because on one hand since Christ is the hub, I’m not. Therefore, I won’t overstep my bounds, and I remember that I answer to Him. I must decrease, He must increase (Jn. 3:30). People like this don’t have unacceptable business meetings or needless complaining because they are focused on Christ as the center…when He is your focus, what is there to complain about?
On the other hand, if Christ is my hub and the hub of the church, then there is nothing we can’t do. There is great confidence in that.
Another thing this kind of devotion does is keeps us from worshiping the wrong things or people. It isn’t uncommon to find people who have the budget or the size of their church or their well-spoken and trained pastor as the hub of the church. This is dangerous because God says that He is the center of everything, and He shares His glory with no one:
He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. 18He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything. (Colossians 1:17-18)
I am the LORD, that is My name; I will not give My glory to another, nor My praise to graven images. (Isaiah 42:8)
God demands to be the hub and rightfully so.
So practically speaking, when Christ is the hub of your church it really doesn’t matter how much money you have or how beautiful your music is; Christ is the focus.
Yet, if Christ really is the center, then He’ll take care of everything else.
On a more personal level, let me ask what is the hub of your life?
2. A Biblical Church Disciples (:42)
They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching.
Devoting oneself to Biblical teaching is more than following a teacher or listening to interesting sermons. The kind of devotion we’re talking about results in the student being shaped by the material.
The early church members were influenced to think and act as disciples of Christ. When we read Scripture, we too are supposed to have a change in our worldview and our way of thinking.
Concerning our attitude towards government—we are to fully obey while remembering God is the final authority.
Concerning our responsibility as a parent—it’s not only about raising productive citizens; it’s about raising Christians.
Concerning our obligations as a spouse—we’re not engaged in a simple contract; it is a covenant before God.
Concerning our possessions—it isn’t how much we acquire; rather it is how much we let God use.
Concerning the workplace—we no longer work simply to provide; now work is an outlet for ministry and we work as unto the Lord.