Summary: This sermon outlines the three primary functions of the Church:Reconciliation, Rejoicing, and Reproduction.
Jn 3:16-21, Acts 2:41-47 THE THREE R’S OF THE CHURCH
Why does the church exist? You may have many answers to that question, but what does God think? Let’s look at His answer. It can easily be summed up in one word: RELATIONSHIP. Relationships are definitely number ONE with God. To make it clearer, we will break relationship down into three parts:
2. REJOICING &
A. How many of you became Christians at birth? I thought so; it’s the same everywhere. Even though some large churches teach that you do, it takes a re-birth to become a Christian, just as Jesus said in JN 3:7 “Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.” When we’re born the first time, we’re born dead. You see, God wasn’t kidding when He told Adam and his pretty wife that they would die if they ate the fruit from the tree of conscience. They did die. And they didn’t even know they were dead, just like so many in our day who have the same disease. Adam and Eve were expelled from the Garden because of disobedience—a major component of the deadly “S” disease. When they left the garden, they also left the presence of God. They were dead spiritually—cut off from God. Until that time, Adam didn’t need a saviour; he was already alive forever, but he blew it, and his actions have influenced every person born since. We were all born dead—estranged from God, and under the control of the spirit of disobedience. Let me prove it to you: who taught you to lie, to steal, to make a fuss till you got your own way?
My dear wife was an only child. Early in our marriage, she would ask me something and keep on asking in different ways until I gave in. Once I pointed it out, she stopped; she hadn’t even realized she was doing it. (Now, if you were to ask her about it today, she would say it was because I never gave her a straight answer, but you know me better than that!) We all lived according to the lusts of our flesh and our mind—self-centred--until the HS pointed it out to us—usually through another person. When He impressed on our hearts that we were wrong—actual enemies of God—we faced a choice, just as Lynda did. The fact that you’re here this morning is an indication that you have made the right choice, or are in the process of it. You chose to be re-born spiritually--to be reconciled to God, and at peace with Him. John 3:17 “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.” What is “saved”? Basically, it means to be in right relationship with Almighty God—re-instated, if you like—with all the benefits of being His child, just as Adam was before his sin. 2 Pe 3: 9 “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” It is God’s supreme desire to be reconciled with all humanity. But He’s God. Can’t He just do it? Yep. But He won’t do it against our will.
A circus owner walked into a bar to see everyone crowded about a table watching a little show. On the table was an upside down pot and a duck tap dancing on it. The circus owner was so impressed that he offered to buy the duck from its owner. After some wheeling and dealing, they settled for $10,000 for the duck and the pot. Three days later the circus owner runs back to the bar in anger, "Your duck is a rip off! I put him on the pot before a whole audience, and he didn’t dance a single step!" "So?" asked the duck’s former owner, "did you remember to light the candle under the pot?" Sometimes, God has to light a candle under us to bring us to a reconciliation with Himself.
B. An interesting sidelight to reconciliation with God is that suddenly we find ourselves reconciled to others as well. It doesn’t always happen over night, but as we read His Love Letter to us, and learn that He wants us to love as He does, we grow and change. We are nowhere in Scripture commanded to like others, but everywhere commanded to love. What’s the difference? Liking is an emotion; it’s semi-automatic, but loving is an act of the will. It’s an action word: doing kind things, saying right things, or saying nothing at all, sometimes in the face of severe distress. “They’ll know we are Christians by our love.” That was Ray Mills’ epitaph, and it fit. Could it be yours?