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Summary: A study about the church and a challenge to be a part of it.

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Two friends were coming out of church one day, and the preacher was standing at the door as he always is to shake hands. He grabbed one of the friends by the hand and pulled him aside.

The Pastor said to him, "You need to join the Army of the Lord!"

The person replied, "I'm already in the Army of the Lord, Pastor."

Pastor questioned, "How come I don't see you except at Christmas and Easter?"

He whispered back, "I'm in the secret service.”

A cute little joke, but the truth is, there is no such thing as the secret service when it comes to your relationship with God and the church.

Last week we learned three important aspects of the church. They are why the church exists.

1. The church exists for the glorification of God.

2. The church exists for the edification of the saints.

3. The church exists to evangelize the world.

We also learned that if we love God we should love His church. The more we love the church the more willing we are to give ourselves to the purpose of the church.

There are many people in our world who just do not understand the church. That is why today I am going to give you a brief history lesson of the church and point out some essential facts regarding the church.

Before I get into that, how many of you saw the reports about the atheist church?

They are singing songs, clapping hands, praising acts of giving and community work – all the things present in a Church have now found an official home in so-called ‘atheist mega-churches’, a quirky idea spreading like wildfire across the Western world.

They are wanting what the body of Christ has but they are missing one very important ingredient! God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit!

PRAY

Heavenly Father,

open our eyes so we can see Your truth.

Open our ears so w can hear Your voice.

Open our mind so we can understand Your Word.

And open our heart so we may receive all that You want me to receive. AMEN

The church as we know it began 50 days after the resurrection of Jesus Christ as the disciples and some of their friends were gathered together in Jerusalem in an upper room.

It was on the Day of Pentecost and it was the day that God gave His Holy Spirit to His people.

This was the beginning of the church.

Shortly after the Holy Spirit was given to the 120 gathered in Jerusalem, the Apostle Peter addressed a skeptical crowd and about 3000 people accepted Jesus as God’s Son and Savior.

From that point on the church continued to increase expeditiously. The message of the Gospel spread throughout the Roman empire. It began to impact men and women from every walk of life.

The church continued to grow in villages, towns, and cities. The leaders of these churches taught the Gospel truth of Jesus Christ resurrected from the grave. They talked the talk and they walked the walk. They even continued on with the threat of death and martyrdom.

And when they died for their faith, someone else would pick up mantle and lead their congregation.

This was the start of the church and it was a bloody start. Many believers gave their lives for the sake of the Gospel message. And yet the church carried on.

This persecution carried on for three to four centuries until Christianity became the official religion of the world.

That happened when the Roman leader Constantine accepted Christ in 312 AD.

The church began to take on the marks of an organization. The leaders of the church increased their roles of authority and began to insert themselves as the voice of the church.

The leaders during those times would often use manipulation and intimidation of others and sadly the church began to lose its way.

Between the years of 500 AD and 1000 AD the zeal and excitement of the church waned away. These were called the Dark Ages.

It was during this time that the church replaced the divine power of God with the corrupt power of human authority. God’s truth that was meant for all was controlled by only a few.

The church was lifeless because the Truth of God was not being taught.

In the 14th Century a reformation took place and lasted through the 16th century. A group of straight thinking, tough minded Bible believing men emerged. They were called the reformers.

These men stood against the power block of the official church and they broke with tradition of the church and began to share the Biblical truths with all men and women throughout Europe and England and eventually into the new world, the United States.

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