Summary: Part 1 of a series The church is Christs: by design, by intended outcome and by His resources.
Trinity Baptist Church October 13, 2002
How Christ builds the Church
It’s His Church!
Charles Schultz was one of the best social critics and theologians of our time. He didn’t write books or make speeches. He drew cartoons. For decades, Peanuts was the creative platform he used to make comment and teach truth. One classic cartoon had Charlie Brown at camp, where he took part in archery. When one of the other characters comments on Charlie Brown’s amazing ability to hit bulls-eyes, Charlie says, "well, I do it a little differently. I first shoot the arrow and then I go and draw a bulls-eye around where it hits." The point is, you can appear effective at just about anything if you draw the bulls-eyes after you shoot!
People might observe that when we moderns "do church" we also draw the bulls-eyes after we shoot. What I mean is we often make the church be anything we want it to be. We re-design it to suit our tastes and still call it by its 2000-year-old name. But unlike Charlie Brown, we don’t have that luxury. All we have to do is take a peek at the NT and we realize that when Jesus Christ founded the Church He had a defined, concrete design in mind. What grabs our attention more is a declaration Jesus made in Matthew: He said, I will build My Church, and the gates of Hell will not prevail against it.
Church is not a cozy club or comfortable place we invent or define, it’s a building work of the Son of God, in which we may participate. It’s not a meeting of believers on Sunday morning, church is a growing movement of close followers of Christ; He calls us to give up our small ambitions and play a role in that. No passes, no exceptions.
I want to begin today spending several weeks to take a hard look at How Christ builds the Church. The NT lets us know right off the bat, that it’s His Church, not ours, therefore, if we need to constantly re-align ourselves with His original design. We begin by looking at the last verses of Matthew’s gospel which Charles read for us. Look at Matthew 28:16-20
You probably know Matthew 28 records the last commission Jesus gave His followers. He had spent most of 3 years investing in these first disciples. He’s about to give them an assignment. This is the capstone of His earthly teaching ministry. To this odd assortment of people--fishermen, a tax collector, a political activist and the like, He communicates: "I’ve invested My life in yours. I have accomplished what I came to the Earth to do: die for the sins of the world. Now I want you to take My message and turn this little band of disciples into world-wide force of Christ-followers who will take on my character and my objective."
From His commission, we understand: Because it’s His Church . . .
What is His objective for the Church that would be born just a few weeks after this commission was delivered? His objective is that His Church will become a pervading, universal, cross-cultural body. Jesus isn’t content with His Church being Jewish, or later, European, or American. And He’s also not content that men and women and boys and girls in India or Africa or Asia or North America should go right on worshipping whatever gods or goddesses they already worshipped. He is the Son of God Who has come and died for the sins of all the world; He will now very rightfully receive worship, not only by these few but by people from all around God’s world. There’s no thought on His part that He will "fit in" and become one of the world’s religions.
Everyone, everywhere should hear His Name; all over planet earth, people should know that God’s Son came to die on the cross for them personally; and they should all have the opportunity to respond to His message of forgiveness of sin and eternal life.
Matthew 28 says that Jesus wants His church to make disciples -- close followers in and from every nation. The term in Greek is "ta ethne"; Jesus desires followers not just from every land mass but from every single ethnic group.
Revelation describes how that effort will culminate, when it says that in heaven a great throng of worshippers will assemble from every tribe and tongue and nation and people. God will be glorified eternally by what?s been called the culture of heaven -- people from every corner of His creation.
Look at it: beginning at verse 18-20. Jesus declares, all authority in heaven and on earth has been given Me. Go therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. And lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.