Summary: Dealing with the part of our church vision statement that says we are supposed to work toward a biblical worldview, beginning with the church
Text: Matthew 28:19, Title: RRB 4: Biblical Church, Date/Place: NRBC, 7/12/09, AM
A. Opening illustration: John Smyth was a Cambridge-educated Anglican priest, who came to be convinced of the illegitimacy of infant baptism in about 1605. And after much persecution of the “Anabaptists” views (which stretched back to 1525 with Zwingli, Grebel, Hubmaiaer, and Simons), Smyth fled to Amsterdam whether religious freedom could be found. There he bumped into the Mennonites, and adopted some of their views, got together with Thomas Helwys and 40 others, and baptized himself, and the others, and began the first official “Baptist” church in 1609. It would eventually cost them their lives as it did hundreds, maybe thousands of earlier Anabaptists. “The martyrs (of the Anabaptists) were many—probably more than those who died during the first three centuries of persecution before the time of Constantine. The manner of their death varied from region to region, and even from case to case. With ironic cruelty, many were drowned. Others were burned to death, as had become customary with heretics centuries earlier. Some were tortured to death, or drawn and quartered. The stories of heroism in such difficult circumstances would fill several volumes. And still, the more fiercely it was persecuted, the more the movement grew.” –Gonzalez,
B. Background to passage: There are many components of a biblical worldview. Academically, there is how one thinks about God, knowledge, reality, anthropology, origins, etc. Practically, we would include what one thinks about creation, theology, purpose of life, even down to education, the family, and finally the church, and how all these things intertwine together. Obviously, we couldn’t deal with all of these things this morning (you think I preached long last week?), so I what to deal with the last of these—the church. The first thing that Jesus mentions after the command to make disciples of all nations is to baptize them. In essence He gives a lesson on the church, a concept that He has only used twice in the gospels. Review those.
C. Main thought: Getting “church” right is a very important part of having biblical worldview
A. Too Low a View of Its Significance
1. If we simply based our conclusion on the percentage of the population that regularly attends church, I think that we would have enough evidence. With their feet, people are voting that the church and church attendance is really not that important. And of course, the reality is that meeting with the rest of the local body is not important, therefore people are not important. But the church in the eyes of God is precious.
3. Illustration: - 75% say they sense that “God is motivating people to stay connected with Him, but in different ways and through different types of experiences than in the past.”- 64% say they are “completely open to carrying out and pursuing your faith in an environment or structure that differs from that of a typical church.”- 71% say they are “more likely to develop my religious beliefs on my own, rather than to accept an entire set of beliefs that a particular church teaches.” –Barna Research, 37% of Southern Baptists attend church on a regular Sunday in America. That is about 10 million people that miss church each week, “The church of Jesus Christ is the most important institution in the world. The assembly of the redeemed, the company of the saints, the children of God are more significant in world history than any other group, organization or nation. The United States of America compares to the church of Jesus Christ like a speck of dust compares to the sun. The drama of international relations compares to the mission of the church like a kindergarten riddle compares to Hamlet or King Lear. And all pomp of May Day in Red Square and the pageantry of New Year’s in Pasadena fade into a formless grey against the splendor of the bride of Christ.”
4. Of course, I am preaching to the choir today, you are here. But I think even us who are here regularly fall victim to this ploy. How often do we think about not coming, because of this or that? Church regularly takes second place to family, job, recreational pursuits, sleep, you name it. Church attendance isn’t the only matter in consideration, in fact, it is only an indicator. But you can also “despise the church” by coming and acting like unbelievers. We must endeavor to raise our opinion of the church of Jesus Christ. Because Jesus cherishes the church, we are too. Knowing that it is not a building, but a people; it is not a social club, but a band of brethren; it is not an institution to be maintained, but a fellowship to advance the gospel upon the universe! Speak about how the church is supposed to advance against the gates of hell, rather than simply hold our ground. The Land of the Dead cannot stop the advance of the gospel/church. “Stop circling the wagons, and live in the mission!” –Stetzer,