Summary: An introductory sermon on Ephesians
Sermon for 1/4/2009
Make This Church the Best We Can
I was talking with the guys installing my satellite. Knowing that I was a preacher, one asked, “Can you be saved and not go to church?” I said, “Sure, the same way that you can be a soldier and not be in the military.”
A. In 2002 the Gallup Index of Leading Religious Indicators reached its lowest level, demonstrating the public’s most negative overall rating for organized religion since the index began in 1940. The poll found that confidence in organized religion had declined. In 2002, only 45 percent of Americans said they had “a great deal” of confidence in organized religion, compared to 60 percent in 2001. The index reached its peak score in 1956. Since then, American’s perception of “organized religion” has been in steady decline.
B. We hear many say, “I have no problem with Christ. What I have a problem with is the church (organized religion).” I have been there.
C. In the United States there is a growing phenomenon of Christians unconnected to any church. They float from this church to that church if they attend any at all.
D. Does the church have problems? Yes! The church is made up of people and because of this the church is very human.
E. We are starting a series in 2009 on the book of Ephesians. The book of Ephesians was written by Paul while he was in prison in Rome. He did not write this letter in response to any problem, sin or false teaching. The main reason he wrote it was to lift high the church. Ephesians reminds us that the church is people- redeemed people. Ephesians is calling upon Christians to live as the new humanity which God has brought into being through Christ.
F. Jesus is telling us from Ephesians, “Don’t give up on the Church.”
Thesis: Why is it necessary to commit myself to a local church? Let me give 5 reasons:
1. Every person who accepts Jesus as Lord and Savior gets a family! Like it or not, the Church is our family.
A. We have God as our Father. Ephesians 1:5 says, “Adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ.” In Ephesians 2:18 says, “For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit. Also Ephesians 3:14 says, “For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name.”
B. We have brothers and sisters. Ephesians 2:19-20, “Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household.” Also in concluding this letter Paul said in Ephesians 6:23- “Peace to the brothers, and love with faith from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”
C. These terms all indicate a close relationship. IT may be a relationship which we would prefer to deny, but we don’t have that option. We are family, we are related to each other, and we should be in relationship with one another. To cut ourselves off from our family is not good for us or for them.
D. Richard Clark, “I feel like I have lost a member of my family.”
2. Every Christian is included in the Body of Christ
A. God’s purpose does not end with our salvation. It is one of His goals to knit His children together into a working organism, a living body of believers.
B. all over Ephesians. Ephesians 1:22-23: To be head over everything for the church, which is his body. Ephesians 3:6- Members together of one body. Ephesians 4:4- One body. Ephesians 4:12- So that the body of Christ may be built up. Ephesians 4:16- From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work. Ephesians 4:25- We are all members of one body. Ephesians 5:30- We are members of his body.
C. A preacher tells of a man who wanted his letter of Church membership back. The man stated that he was quitting as a Church member, but was not quitting as a Christian. The man explained that he just didn’t feel any need of the Church and so he was simply going to belong to Christ. The preacher told the man that he could not give him his letter of Church membership back, because he would not and could not participate in such a bloody amputation! We need each other.
3. God’s purpose is not just to save us. He is also building something.
A. Ephesians 2:20-22: Built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.