Summary: There was a question posed to a few of the ministers some weeks ago as we sat around the dinner table during the Holidays. The question was asked of us, “How Do We View the Condition of the Church?”
TITLE: HOW TO BE A MEMBER OF THE CHURCH
SCRIPTURE: ST. MATTHEW 16:16-19
There was a question posed to a few of the ministers some weeks ago as we sat around the dinner table during the Holidays. The question was asked of us, “How Do We View the Condition of the Church?” It was a challenging question we thought about and eventually responded. We ultimately came to a consensus that the Church as we perceive it today is not the Church Jesus birthed during the First Century. Therefore we had a dual response to this challenging question.
• Firstly, the Church as we view it today does not appear to be in very good shape at all. It appears to be on the decline and not spiritually sound or strong
• Secondly, the Church which has been established by Christ and still in existence today is Strong and on Good Ground. Remember the text Jesus calls to our attention the Gates of Hell Cannot and will not be able to prevail against the Church.
• Therefore, the Church established by Christ is solid today and Spiritually Powerful
I want to focus our attention on one particular part of this text found in VS. 18 - where the Lord says, "I WILL BUILD MY CHURCH."
• Men can build Buildings
• Men can build Organizations
• But only Jesus Christ can build the Church
There are churches built by men, some of them you have attended, no doubt, as I have. But here our Lord says, "I will build My church," the only one approved by God and supernaturally constructed. It is my desire here at PPWC to see Christ build His church. I want this church to be the church that Christ is building. That's why we resist the gimmicks and techniques and manipulations and all the rest that people use to increase attention or numbers, all we want to do is get out of the way so the Lord can build His church His way. Christ will not build MY Church, but He will continue to build this HIS Church.
This particular passage of Scripture, I think, is the most hopeful one in all of the NT with regard to encouragement for those in the ministry because it gives us the promise of God that He will build His church. There are many false views of Jesus’ church in the religious world today. These false views take away from the truth that Jesus is the architect – builder - owner of His church. A Pastor is very inaccurate whenever he or she states:
• I was telling my Church
• I was telling my People
• The Church is and will always belong to the Lord
• Members are not my people
• We are the Sheep of the Lord’s Pasture
Before we continue to march forward through this series it is important to point out four things the church is not. FIRSTLY – THE CHURCH IS NOT A MATERIAL BUILDING. Of the 140 times the word church is used in the NT, not once does it refer to a material building. The language used to apply to the church could not refer to a material building.
• “The Lord added to the church”
• “The church was persecuted”
• “Paul saluted the church”
• “The church had rest”
• The church is the body of believers which might meet and worship wherever possible
• The church is not the building
The SECOND thing – THE CHURCH IS NOT A DENOMINATION - Christian denominations in many ways are evidence of divisions among believers. Usually denominations are formed around a doctrinal emphasis or influential leader. I am not opposed to Christian denominations but we should encourage unity and working together as the church, the body of Jesus Christ. People who are a part of different denominations are our brothers and sisters in Christ and we are one body.
• Denominations divide us
• Church designed to unite not to divide
• People talking about I am so glad I am Pentecostal
• People talking about I am so glad I am Apostolic
• People talking about I am so glad I am Holiness
• People talking about I am so glad I am Baptist
• We need to talk about I am so glad I am Saved
• We are living in a generation where denominations are trying to come together more
• We need to come together with the understanding we are all Children of God
Whenever we look at the religious landscape today that is known by the word “Christianity,” it seems clear what we see is so different than what we see in the Bible. We see multiple denominations that teach different, and at times, contradictory things. Of course, when teachings contradict, we know that they cannot both be true. Either one of the two teachings is correct (Biblical) or both are wrong. All of these groups cannot be right. This is not the Church which Christ birthed.