Summary: A sermon that attempts to explore just what the church is meant to be in the modern age.
The hitch hikers guide to the church.
From the 1970’s all kind of hitchhikers books emerged guiding people around Europe, new Zealand and darkest Africa – There was also a radio series called The hitchhikers guide to the galaxy which follows the destruction of earth as we know it.
At the end of the book of Revelation we read of a coming event that involves the passing away of earth and the creation of a new world centered on God and which is of such incredible beauty that the mind can scarcely comprehend it.
Between the amazing scenes that God paints for us in splashes of living colour is the church.
Listen to these amazing words from the book of revelation:-
Revelation 21 Good News Translation (GNT)
The New Heaven and the New Earth
21 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth. The first heaven and the first earth disappeared, and the sea vanished. 2 And I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared and ready, like a bride dressed to meet her husband. 3 I heard a loud voice speaking from the throne: “Now God's home is with people! He will live with them, and they shall be his people. God himself will be with them, and he will be their God. 4 He will wipe away all tears from their eyes. There will be no more death, no more grief or crying or pain. The old things have disappeared.”
5 Then the one who sits on the throne said, “And now I make all things new!” He also said to me, “Write this, because these words are true and can be trusted.” 6 And he said, “It is done! I am the first and the last, the beginning and the end. To anyone who is thirsty I will give the right to drink from the spring of the water of life without paying for it. 7 Those who win the victory will receive this from me: I will be their God, and they will be my children. 8 But cowards, traitors, perverts, murderers, the immoral, those who practice magic, those who worship idols, and all liars—the place for them is the lake burning with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.”
The Golden Gate Bridge is a suspension bridge spanning the Golden Gate, the one-mile-wide (1.6 km) strait connecting San Francisco Bay and the Pacific Ocean. The structure links the American city of San Francisco, California – the northern tip of the San Francisco Peninsula – to Marin County, carrying both U.S. Route 101 and California State Route 1 across the strait. The bridge is one of the most internationally recognized symbols of San Francisco, California, and the United States. It has been declared one of the Wonders of the Modern World by the American Society of Civil Engineers.
The bridge between where you are now and the heavenly Kingdom with all the qualities we read about in Revelation is spanned by the bridge to life called the cross – But the golden gate to that bridge is the church - It is truly one of the modern wonders of the world! - But imagine the cross as a bridge with no ramparts leading onto it no foundations under it – The cross and the church are mutually interdependent in order to help bring as many as possible across the bridge into the Kingdom of God.
Jesus said – I will build my church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it. Matthew chapter 18 verse 16
The word church in the Bible comes from the Greek word ecclesia, which means called out company or assembly. Where ever it is used in the Bible it refers to people.
There has been a tendency in the modern age for people to withdraw from the church and to retreat to small groups of one or more but I have observed these groups do not grow – the new testament model is for the church to be organised into a way of eldership and discernment that allows the church to move forward and grow.
The Bible tells us we need to attend church so we can worship God with other believers and be taught His Word for our spiritual growth (Acts 2:42; Hebrews 10:25). Church is the place where believers can love one another (1 John 4:12), encourage one another (Hebrews 3:13), "spur" one another (Hebrews 10:24), serve one another (Galatians 5:13), instruct one another (Romans 15:14), honour one another (Romans 12:10), and be kind and compassionate to one another (Ephesians 4:32).
I think all the denominations across the spectrum were all attempts to fulfil the call on us to be together in an assembly called church. At it’s best the church has been and is a pulsating living gathering that draws people into the love of God. At it’s worse it has dropped off important biblical calls and added in politeness and irrelevance and the result has been a failure to reproduce.