Summary: The church is the people of God and we should strive to simply be the church that Jesus built.
A. Introductory comments.
B. Today’s sermon begins a series of lessons that I plan to deliver in the coming weeks.
1. I’ve titled the series UR Church – Be the church of Christ.
C. The story is told of a young girl was sitting with her grandmother, who had presented her with her first little children's picture Bible, in an easy-to-read translation, when she was very young.
1. Now, several years later, her grandmother was ready to spend a few sweet moments handing down the big old family Bible, in the time-honored King James Version, to her only grandchild.
2. Understandably excited, the young girl was asking a number of questions, both about the family members whose births and deaths were recorded therein, and about various aspects of the Scriptures themselves.
3. Her grandmother was doing her best to answer all the child’s questions in terms she could understand, but the one that caught grandma by surprise was this sincere question: “Which Virgin was the mother of Jesus? Was it the Virgin Mary, or the King James virgin?”
D. Truthfully, there is a lot of confusion, caution and indifference in our world regarding religious things.
1. Did you know that a huge percentage of Americans wake up on Sunday morning and say, “Church? Why Bother?”
2. Millions of those Americans are not Christians, but have concluded from observation that church doesn’t seem to make much of a difference in those who do attend. So, why bother?
3. On the other hand, millions of Americans who claim to be “Christian” also do not find themselves in churches on Sunday.
4. Studies have shown that 40% of Americans claim to be Christian, yet less than 20% are in houses of worship on any given Sunday.
5. So, why are these professing Christians also saying, in essence, “Church? Why Bother?”
E. There are many different answers that can be given, and many would have some validity to them.
1. One answer that is sometimes given is an answer that will never be true. It is this: Many people say they don’t go to church because: “the Church is an archaic organization whose time is past.”
2. The truth of the matter is that the church is the creation of God, and it will always have a central place in will of God, and in the work of God in the world.
3. Paul declares in Ephesians 1:22 and 23: And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.
a. The church is the body of Christ, and Jesus is the head of that body.
b. The fullness of God who fills everything does so through the church.
c. We have been saying for centuries that the church is a collection of people. The church is not a building or an organization. UR church!
d. One church in England tried to communicate that truth on their sign, which read, “The church is ordinary people. The building just keeps the weather out.”
e. The profound reality is the fact that we are the church. We are the body of Christ.
4. Paul also declares in Ephesians 3:10-11: His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, according to his eternal purpose which he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord.
a. Doesn’t that blow your mind? We, who make up God’s church, are his agents for proclaiming his eternal purpose and wisdom.
b. What a marvelous privilege! What a sobering responsibility! Amen?
F. In Matthew 16:13 and following, we have the record of a conversation between Jesus and his disciples.
1. He asked them two questions:
a. Who do people say the Son of Man is?
b. And, Who do you say I am?
2. Peter answered the second question, and surprisingly, he had the right answer.
3. Peter said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” (16:16)
4. Jesus was very pleased with Peter’s answer, and replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven.”
5. Then Jesus uttered these marvelous, revolutionary words, “And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.” (16:18)
6. Here Jesus predicted that he would build his church on the belief and confession that He is the Christ the Son of God.
G. About one year later, on the day of Pentecost, Peter stood in Jerusalem before a crowd of people, and proclaimed that Jesus of Nazareth, the crucified and resurrected one is the Messiah, the Son of God (Acts 2:36).