Summary: What is the church? Is it necessary for a Christian to be connected to a local church if at all possible? What are the functions and benefits of the church? Why does the Lord think so highly of the Church if we don't?
We often say that context in reading Scripture is everything. But, getting the right verse is pretty important as well.
At a wedding one of those involved was supposed to read
1 John 4:18 NASB which says,
“There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love.”
Instead they read John 4:18 NASB which says,
“For you have had five husbands, and the one whom you now have is not your husband; this you have said truly.”
This past week Pastor Karenlee started leading some classes on membership in the church.
What are the foundational doctrines of The Church of The Nazarene?
What do we believe? Why do we believe what we believe?
And, since they are looking at what and who we are we need to ask the question, “Why do we exist or for that matter, why does any church exist?”
Is the church relevant today?
First we need to define “church”. There is the universal church which is made up of all who have been born again; those who have placed their faith and trust in Jesus for salvation.
This universal church is comprised of local church assemblies comprised of people who live in the general vicinity of that church.
So, we’re going to establish a premise and see if it’s true or false …
The Bible intends for every person to be part of a local church.
So, in order to evaluate that premise statement we will look at the Bible which is where we seek all of our truth.
Of course, this is assuming that a Bible preaching, Christ centered church is available for the person to attend.
It is also assuming that the person is willing to make an exerted effort to get to such a church on a regular basis even if it involves overcoming difficulties such as distance, transportation and health.
So, in order to answer this address this premise we need a witness and our witness is the actions of the Apostle Paul in the Bible!
Was the Apostle Paul a member of a church?
Today the Scriptures will be from the Lexham English Bible. (Explain the LEB based on what THEY say about the translation and how it should be used.)
Let’s start out by looking at Acts 13:1-3 LEB
“Now there were prophets and teachers in Antioch in the church that was there: Barnabas, and Simeon (who was called Niger), and Lucius the Cyrenian, and Manaen (a close friend of Herod the tetrarch), and Saul.
“And while they were serving the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, ‘Set apart now for Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.’ Then, after they had fasted and prayed and placed their hands on them, they sent them away.”
Here we see that there was an organized church in Antioch.
We also see that Saul, later to be called Paul, was a participating member of that church.
There were people in authority in the church in Antioch.
The church in Antioch fasted and prayed for Barnabas and Saul and sent them out into the mission field.
Where did they preach?
Pisidian Antioch (13:14)
Lystra and Derby (14:6)
OK, so we see that they have preached in at least six cities and now they are headed back to the sending church in Antioch.
Did anyone come to place their faith in Jesus in any of those cities?
Were churches established?
Let’s see … Acts 14:21-23 LEB
“And after they had proclaimed the good news in that city (Derby) and made many disciples, they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch, strengthening the souls of the disciples …
“… encouraging them to continue in the faith and saying, ‘Through many persecutions it is necessary for us to enter into the kingdom of God.’
“And when they had appointed elders for them in every church, after praying with fasting, they entrusted them to the Lord, in whom they had believed.”
Also, on this return trip to Antioch they stopped to preach in Pisidia, Pamphylia, Perga and Attalia.
Acts 14:26-27 LEB
“From [Attalia] they sailed away to Antioch where they had been commended to the grace of God for the work that they had completed.
“And when they arrived and called the church together, they reported all that God had done with them, and that He had opened a door of faith for the Gentiles.”
Paul and Barnabas:
Were part of the church family at Antioch
Were sent out as missionaries from the church at Antioch
Established churches during their travels (appointing elders)
Reported their work to their home church at Antioch
Premise reminder …