Summary: This sermon explores important principles that help ensure that we are being the church that belongs to Christ
A. I like the story told of the man who was shipwrecked on a beautiful, deserted South Pacific island.
1. Five years later, he was discovered by a passing a naval ship.
2. Upon their arrival at the shore the rescue party was met by the shipwreck survivor. He said, “I'm so glad you're here! I've been alone on this island for more than five years!”
3. The captain replied, “If you're all alone on the island why do I see THREE huts.”
4. The survivor said, “Oh. We'll, I live in one, and go to church in another.”
5. And what about the THIRD hut?” asked the captain.
6. “Oh,” said the survivor, “That's just the church I USED to go to.”
B. Let’s begin this morning with some fundamental questions that all of us need to be able to answer.
1. Why have you chosen to be a part of the church of Christ that meets on Wetzel Road?
2. Do you understand who we are as a church among the many hundreds of kinds of churches in the landscape of Christianity?
3. Do you understand that we are not trying to be just another of the many kinds of churches with just a little different flavor?
4. We are not trying to be the “Burger King” of churches while others are “McDonalds” or “Wendy’s” – with all of us just being hamburger joints with different names?
5. Do you realize that there are significant and fundamental differences that set us apart that need to be understood and embraced?
6. And, of course, the ultimate question is does any of this matter to God? Does God care about the differences among Christian churches?
7. Is God’s attitude: “Variety is the spice of life?” “Whatever” “Anything Goes.” “To each his own!?”
C. Let me state as concisely as I can who I am trying to be as a Christian, and what I understand we are trying to be as a church: We are simply trying to be Christians who belong to the church that we read about in the NT.
1. Our goal is to be the people who owe allegiance to one Lord and to His instruction only, and who show that allegiance by calling ourselves by his name - Christian. We are Christ’s followers.
2. We want to be members of the church that He established.
3. The church that Christ established was just as He wanted it.
4. Christ was the founder of the church and it was purchased by his blood (Mt 16:18).
5. Christ was and is the foundation and the head of the church (1 Co 3:11; Eph 1:22,23)
6. The NT contains the instructions God wanted the church to have with regard to worship, organization, conduct and mission.
7. By following those instructions only, we are Christ’s church; the church that belongs to Christ.
D. Unfortunately, many churches over the centuries have departed from the NT teachings about many things - from sexual ethics to leadership organization; from mission to membership.
1. This should not surprise us since the Apostle Paul warned Timothy and us that this would occur (This is something we talked about last week in our first sermon from this new series): “For a time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.” (2 Tm 4:3-4)
2. History records the many departures from the NT principles and patterns that have occurred over the years.
3. As I said last week, you can find a church today that will teach whatever you want.
4. I firmly believe, but cannot historically prove, that there have always been simple, NT Christians somewhere, throughout all times since the beginning of the church.
a. These simple Christians had to meet in secrecy, and did not have the benefit of easy access to the Scriptures, yet they remained faithful to the simple, uncomplicated doctrines of Christ and His church.
4. With the invention of the printing press in the 14th century, and its ability to produce mass copies of the scriptures in the common language, people began to read their Bibles and many people realized how far their churches had drifted from the original church of the NT.
5. Leaders arose during that period calling for reformation of the church and others called for more than reformation, they called for the restoration of the original church.
E. We stand here today, as a result of God’s work among the restorers of NT Christianity.
1. Many of those restorers fled the persecution of the established church in Europe, and came to the United States of America, the new land of religious freedom.