Summary: What is our purpose? What are we trying to do? When we come together to worship, who are we worshiping? Why do we believe what we believe? Who is our Lord – our Guide? To whom or what do we show our loyalty? (Powerpoint available - #160)
MELVIN NEWLAND, MINISTER RIDGE CHAPEL, KANSAS, OK
(Powerpoints used in this message are available at no charge. Just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and request #160.)
Who are we as a congregation? What is our purpose? What are we trying to do? When we come together to worship, who are we worshiping? Why do we believe what we believe? Who is our Lord – our Guide? To whom or what do we show our loyalty?
These & similar questions we will be considering in coming weeks – in our Sunday morning sermons, our adult Bible Classes, & during our Wed. evening Bible Studies.
I urge you to be a part of each of these opportunities to grow in your knowledge & your faith as we discuss these subjects & more in the weeks ahead.
Now why are we so concerned about our purpose as a church & what we are trying to do? To answer that, let me tell you about something that happened here about 2½ 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 ago. 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 the service.” 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.
Yet, Jesus is the reason we’re here! Now having told you this, I call your attention to my Scripture text this morning. It is about Jesus, my Savior & my God!
Listen to this passage in 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. Seventy-four 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 I, & 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 the standing room was gone. 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
402 times in the N.T. you will find some form of the word "Lord" used in regard to Jesus Christ.
Take the text that we’re using this morning. It was a significant tribute that Thomas paid to Jesus when you consider what Thomas was like. He was a man who had to be shown - who said he wouldn't believe unless he could see & touch the wounds & put his hand into the gash in Jesus' side.