Summary: what kind of church would God design? How does it match up with the 21st Century, Americanized church? Give it some thought.
God’s Kind of Church
* If you have ever built a house for your family, then you know a little about decisions, frustrations, and more. In the process, you may well discover that ‘what you want is beyond your ability to provide. We lived in Yazoo City, Mississippi, for a couple of years in the 1970’s & I loved hearing Jerry Clower say, “I built my house as big as First Federal would let me.”
* What if you were building your place and the money-resource thing was not an issue? What would your place look like? Candidly, it would be everything YOU wanted & quite likely, you would not settle for less.
* The very basis of this series of messages is that our Lord has a great plan, an architectural drawing, for HIS church. He has all the resources that are needed and has spared no expense to build HIS church, yet (at least it seems to me), the local church in the USA today, doesn’t measure up to the standard which the Father’s had in mind when He designed it.
* The natural defense heard from many of us is; ‘well we are only humans so, it will never be what He desired.” For those who offer this defense I ask, “So you don’t believe God knows that we are human? Do you think creator God expects more of us than we are capable of being?”
* Let’s take a look at a church in the Bible which seems to be the “model’ church,” it is the church at Thessalonica. (TEXT)
* Many call the church at Thessalonica ‘the model church’ and we all know what the term model means. It is the example, the standard, & even the pattern. Let’s discern some reasons they are considered God’s church.
1) Established the Right way – In Acts 17 Paul spent 3 weeks preaching & teaching. Scripture tells us that ‘some of them’ were saved. We are also told that those who were saved were so radically change that it started a riot. People became jealous & caused trouble for the church. Not to worry, they were not seeking popular opinion, but a powerful outpouring.
a) Salvation was their foundation – To begin with, Paul sensed these members were, in fact, SAVED. This makes a huge difference. Reading Dr. John MacArthur one hears these words, “Part of the problem within the modern day church is that we have too many “tares among the wheat”. He goes on to say, ‘that when unregenerated people are in leadership in the church, spiritually alive work does not happen.” The member of the church at Thessalonica had been proven by the first of resistance and proved to be authentic. Because of this, Paul referred to them, multiple times, as “IN CHRIST”. This is the symbolism which Paul uses over 100 times in the Pauline Epistles. Watch how this concept is sprinkled through this chapter. In verse 3 Paul speaks of the “Work of Faith” (salvation), verse 5 speaks of the gospel coming in power, and verse 9 speaks of ‘turning to God from Idols”. There were all about salvation.
b) Service was their function – To get this picture let’s join verse 3 and verse 9 like this; ‘labor of love’ and ‘serving the true & living God.’ The church that is God kind of church is the one willing to ‘labor’ in God vineyard. The word “labor” in the Greek language means ‘until exhaustion’ & should convict us in the modern day church. God is looking for men & women who will serve Him in all things. Scripture tells us to ‘Serve the Lord with gladness” and ‘based on the gift we have received, let us serve others.’ Here was their secret of success, they served the Lord and they served other people. It would serve us well to learn from the first century churches & believers about service. Jesus came to serve not to be served and then He said, “As the Father sent me so send I you” which means we should become His hands. Believers, in service, create the kind of church which pleases God. Watch how this works together; the church begun right has salvation as her foundation, service as her function, and
c) Sharing was their focus – They share together in prayer as they remember each other in their prayer. Marry this text to Acts 2 and discover that sharing extends to praying, need, study, and much more. Isn’t it interesting that the Bible message about God’s church has little to do with numbers, budgets, building, and even ‘named’ ministries. In fact, most of what the modern day believer thinks to be important for the church does not even register on God’s scale.