Summary: An introductory message for a new series dealing with church related issues.
God’s Glorious Church
The Master Architect
Woodlawn Baptist Church
February 6, 2005
In Matthew 16, beginning in verse 13, we read the following words:
“When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am? And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets. He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. 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. And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Then charged he his disciples that they should tell no man that he was Jesus the Christ.”
Today as I begin a new series of messages that will deal with the church, I want to briefly explain to you what has led me to do so. All of my life there have been churches. For all of your lives there have been churches. If you want to think about it this way, there has always been “church,” at least dating back to the days of Christ.
Church: you get up on Sunday morning, put on your church clothes, go to church, you have church, then go home and get on with your lives. Now I realize that it is more than this for some of you, but for now I am speaking in very general terms about church and our culture at large. Drive through any town in any state across our nation, and churches will dot the landscape. Some are large, some are small. Some are Baptist, many are not. There are churches of all shapes and sizes, both new and old, some warm and others very cold, and as the song goes, “Red, yellow, black and white…” churches come in all colors too. I don’t have any idea how many churches exist in America today – thousands and thousands to be sure.
Now, let me ask you this about all these churches, including ours: How are we doing? I mean really, when you consider all the thousands of churches across our country, no matter who or what they are, how are we really doing? I was speaking with a good friend of mine some time back when the question began to formulate in my mind. We were talking about the religious culture of Jesus’ day, and about how He would enter a community and try to worship with the Jews on the Sabbath. The religious folk of Jesus’ day were so lost, so far from God because they had found a form of religion, but it was powerless. As the conversation went on, he asked me this: If Jesus were to come to America today, do you think He would enjoy our churches?
I can’t tell you how that question has loomed in my mind. Would Jesus enjoy church as we have made it in our culture today? The people in Jesus’ day thought that what they were doing was pleasing to God, but He hated it! It was empty, dead, worthless, and in fact Jesus said that the Pharisees were not leading people to God at all – but instead were leading them straight to hell!
If there is a comforting thing in these thoughts, it is that we are not responsible for what Jesus thinks about “church” in America. However, we are responsible for what He thinks about this church. Would He enjoy our church? If Jesus were to pay us an extended visit, would He delight in who and what we are? Would He take great pleasure in our worship services? Would He be filled with joy in our ministries? If Jesus were a student in your Sunday School class, would He be impressed with your efforts? If He were to spend a week with us, would He see a zeal for the lost? Would He sense a passion for His Word? Would He rejoice over our commitment?
If Jesus were to visit this church, would He enjoy Himself? Now, I am still relating why I am going to preach this series of messages. You may have already formulated an answer to my questions, but God has laid it heavy on my mind, and even after weeks of thinking and praying and seeking, I still do not know how to answer.