Summary: Why are we concerned about our purpose as a church, & what we are trying to do? To answer that, let me tell you of something that happened here about 9 years ago. (Powerpoints available - #160)
MELVIN NEWLAND, MINISTER
RIDGE CHAPEL, KANSAS, OK
(Powerpoints used with this message are available for free. Just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and request #160.)
TEXT: John 20:24-28
As most of you who are present here this morning know, our Wed. Evening Bible Study group, before we had to stop meeting because of the Covid regulations, was using Rick Warren’s book, “The Purpose Driven Life” as a study guide.
Well, our Wed. Evening Bible studies have resumed & we are now considering the 3rd Purpose, “We Are Created to Become Like Christ”.
Why are we concerned about our purpose as a church, & what we are trying to do? To answer that, let me tell you of something that happened here about 9 years ago.
ILL. Among our visitors one Sunday morning was a lady who told me that she had been one of the early members of Ridge Chapel about 25 years before. She had long since moved away, but having come back to visit a friend, she decided to attend our service that morning. And we welcomed her warmly as we do all our visitors.
But after the service was over she approached & angrily informed me that she was not happy with us at all. Why? “Because,” she said, “throughout the service & in your sermon you mentioned Jesus.” And she felt that was absolutely wrong!
“After all,” she said, “Ridge Chapel is for all the people in Flint Ridge, & nothing controversial should ever be mentioned in our services. And since there are people in Flint Ridge who don’t believe in Jesus we should never offend them by mentioning Him at all.
I suppose that in her mind Ridge Chapel should be strictly a club specializing in social gatherings & doing good deeds within our community.
You might be interested to know that Ridge Chapel’s By-Laws begin with these words in Article 1, Sec. 1: Statement of Purpose:
“The Ridge Chapel Association is a not-for-profit Oklahoma corporation that exists for the sole purpose of glorifying God by the making of disciples – bringing people to a saving faith in Jesus Christ & teaching them how to grow in their walk with God & their fellow man.”
Folks, Jesus is the reason we’re here! Now having told you this, I call your attention to my sermon this morning. It is about Jesus, My Lord & My God! Listen to John 20:24-28 where Jesus appears to Thomas after His resurrection. The rest of the apostles had already seen him, but Thomas had not.
“Now Thomas, (called Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, ‘We have seen the Lord!’
“But he said to them, ‘Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it.’
“A week later His disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you!’
“Then He said to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.’ Thomas said to Him, ‘My Lord and my God!’”
ILL. Eighty-one years ago, Adolph Hitler was Chancellor of the Third German Reich. He had sold the great mass of German people on the idea of a "Fuehrer," one supreme leader whose authority was not to be questioned.
His orders were to be followed implicitly. The people were to love him, to obey him, virtually even to worship him. "Heil Hitler!"
Soon, in their devotion to him, terrible atrocities began to happen. Those who questioned his edicts were silenced by storm troopers. Opponents were sent to forced labor camps. Jews were sent to death camps. Preachers who dared to protest were beaten & imprisoned. Church buildings were burned. It was a time in Germany when terror reigned supreme.
But in Berlin there was a German preacher named Martin Niemoeller who was small in size, but big in other ways. He had been a U boat captain in World War 1, & he had courage. So one Saturday he had emblazoned on billboards all across Berlin the subject of his Sunday morning sermon.
The service was advertised for 11 a.m., but by 7 a.m. every bit of seating & even the standing room was filled. Following his sermon he was arrested, & spent the remaining years of Hitler's reign in a labor camp, denied all contact with the outside world.
What was his sermon title? What was his message? It was simply this, "Christ is my Fuehrer, Christ is my Leader, He is my Lord."
I. HE IS MY LORD!