Summary: The church (universal & local) is worthy because of the PERSON who is its head; the PURPOSE for which it was founded and the PRICE paid for it. Therefore it is worthy of our 1. being united with it; 2. our faithfulness; 3. our service; 4. our support.
The Church Is Worthy
Sermon 1 in the series “Church Matters"
June 23, 2013
NOTE: A PowerPoint presentation of this sermon is available upon request by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
TEXT: 1 Timothy 3:15 – “But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.”
Illus. – A pastor in a mid-sized town wrote the local newspaper explaining ten reasons he stopped going to athletic contests. He said…
1. Every time I went, they asked me for money.
2. The people with whom I had to sit didn’t seem very friendly.
3. The seats were too hard and uncomfortable.
4. The coach never came to talk with me.
5. I was sitting with some hypocrites—they only came to see what others were wearing.
6. Some games went into overtime, so I was late getting home.
7. The band played some numbers I had never heard before.
8. The games are scheduled with I want to do other things.
9. My parents took me to too many games when I was growing up.
10. Since I read a book on sports, I feel that I know more than the coaches, anyhow.
It’s easy to see the parallels here with excuses for not going to church…and how silly they are.
The fact of the matter is that many people don’t like church, or going to a church, or committing to a church or getting involved in a church or supporting financially a church.
To some, church is:
• A bother rather than a blessing.
• A nuisance instead of a need.
• A ritual rather than a refuge.
But today I want you to see that the Church is worthy of our support and participation and commitment.
Today’s sermon is the first in a series titled “Church Matters: All Things Church, and Why It Matters.”
In our text, the word “church” (ekklesia) clearly refers to the local church Timothy pastored.
Ekklesia is found 113 times in the New Testament….
• Only a few times does it clearly mean the “universal church,” sometimes called the “invisible church”—that is, the body of Christ, consisting of all born-again believers from all faith traditions and all eras of Christianity from Pentecost to the present.
• About 90 percent of the time ekklesia refers clearly to LOCAL churches—the VISIBLE manifestation of God’s people gathered in local assemblies for worship, witness, fellowship and service—like Grace Baptist Church.
God places a very great degree of importance upon the local church. Today, let’s see how “The Church Is Worthy.”
I. FIRST, IT’S WORTHY BECAUSE OF THE PERSON WHO IS ITS HEAD.
The church, both universal and local, is referred to in a variety of ways in the Bible.
Let’s look at three word pictures the New Testament uses to explain the church to us:
• First, it is referred to as a BUILDING, with Jesus as the chief cornerstone.
In Matthew 16, Peter had just stated that Jesus Christ was the “Christ [or Messiah], the Son of the living God” (verse 16).
It was right after this statement, in verse 18, that Jesus said, “And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”
Jesus wasn’t making Peter the first pope in this as Roman Catholicism teaches. Rather, this was a play on words, which the original Greek clearly shows.
> Peter’s name in Greek is petros which means “a stone,” by which is meant a detached or small stone that might be thrown or easily moved.
> The word “rock” in this verse is petra, which means a mass of rock; a huge, unmovable, massive piece of rock, such as you would see on a mountain, or as the Rock of Gibraltar is often described.
So Jesus was using Peter’s name to get across a point: that the church would be built upon HIM, the Christ, the Son of the living God.
Paul takes up this theme of Jesus as the strong foundation of a vast spiritual entity called the church in Ephesians 2:20-22 – “And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; 21 In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: 22 In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.” – So Paul refers to the church as a BUILDING and the Lord Jesus Christ as its chief corner stone.
• The New Testament also depicts the church as a BRIDE with Jesus as the Groom.