Summary: I have met a lot of people who tell me that they believe in God, but they don't believe in organized religion. In other words, they don't care about going to church. Why does Christ love the church, or in our case, why does Christ love Bethel?
Purpose: To describe Christ's intimate connection with the local church.
Aim: I want the listener to have an exalted view of the church.
INTRODUCTION: I have met a lot of people who tell me that they believe in God, but they don't believe in organized religion. In other words, they don't care about going to church. There are several popular books that are pushing this anti-church message including one titled, "Love Jesus, Hate Church."
In verse 32 of today's text Paul makes a startling statement. The mystery of marriage is great, but the most important truth he is teaching is that marriage is a picture of Christ=s relationship to His followers.
When Paul refers to the followers of Christ he calls them the CHURCH. Why does Paul use the word CHURCH instead of believer all through this passage? Look at verses 23, 24, 25, 27, 29 & 32.
In the NT the word CHURCH describes the followers of Christ in two different ways. Sometimes this word refers to the invisible church which means all the followers of Christ everywhere. Sometimes this word refers to local groups of believers. Of the 110 times that this word is used in the NT only 17 are clear references to the invisible church.
So, most of the time that the Bible talks about CHURCH it is referring to local groups of believers who are organized the way the NT teaches. This would include Bethel Chapel Church so I want to drive home a point today by personalizing what the Bible says to us this morning.
The Bible says that ... Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her (Ephesians 5:25 NAU). Why does Christ love the church, or in our case, why does Christ love Bethel?
I. Jesus Loves Bethel Because He Made it
We have the most affection for the things that we make with our own hands. Maybe you have a plaque that you made years ago and it is still hanging on a wall at home. Perhaps you have a quilt or a sweater at home that you made that is very special to you because when you look at it you remember the hours of effort you invested in it. God looks at the church the same way.
God has invested a lot in order to make the church.
A. God the Father chooses the church
God the Father chose the "materials" that make up the church: Ephesians 1:4--5 just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, (NAU)
John 6:37 "All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out. (NAU)
Acts 2:39 "For the promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call to Himself." (NAU)
Acts 2:47 ... And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved. (NAU)
Being added to the church is the same as being added to Christ. Acts 11:24 ... And considerable numbers were brought to the Lord. (NAU) Acts 5:14 And all the more believers in the Lord, multitudes of men and women, were constantly added to their number, (NAU)
Before his conversion Paul was persecuting Christians, but Jesus said he was actually persecuting Him: Acts 9:4 and [Saul] fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?" (NAU)
B. God the Son assembles the church
Matthew 16:13--18 Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, He was asking His disciples, "Who do people say that the Son of Man is?" And they said, "Some say John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; but still others, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets." He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?" Simon Peter answered, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." And Jesus said to him, "Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it. (NAU)
Jesus did not say He would build a big church. In fact He said that His followers would be few in comparison to the world. Matthew 7:13--14 "Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it. (NAU)