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Summary: An expository sermon designed to show the true nature and character of the Church as Jesus designed it.

THE NATURE OF THE CHURCH

Matthew 16:18

INTRODUCTION: One Sunday morning a stranger wandered into a small country church in the middle of the sermon. The man was unkempt and dirty, and clearly smelled of alcohol. The usher tried his best to seat him off in a far corner but instead the man walked to the very first pew and sat directly in front of the preacher. Then to the congregation’s horror the man began to shout, "Amen. That’s right! Preach it brother." The minister cut his eyes at the man, but that didn’t work. The stranger just continued, "Praise Jesus, Hallelujah!" Finally the usher went to the man and whispered in his ear, "Sir, we don’t act like this in church." "But I’ve just got religion," said the stranger. "Yes sir," said the usher, "but you didn’t get it from here."...

As funny as that story is, unfortunately it is all too common in churches all over this country. In far too many places there is a drought of spiritualuality and a desperate need for God’s people to rediscover the foundation of the Church. We all know that practices and characteristics differ from church to church. Even the most conservative Christian Churches have their differences in methodology and even ideology. But the most disturbing difference is found when the Church deviates from it’s identity. READ TEXT There are two powerful lessons in these few short words of Jesus, two that we who profess to be His people so desperately need to relearn and powerfully embrace.

I. IT IS THE LORD’S CHURCH

A. A minister friend of mine named Jerry Taylor tells a story about taking his grandfather riding one day in his hometown of Brownsville, TN. He said that as they were taking their leisurely cruise, they came upon a church building with a sign out front that read "Church of Christ." He said, "You know how your heart swells when you see that name? There’s just something about seeing that name on a sign, some sort of connection." So he said to his grandpaw, "Look there’s a Church of Christ." To which grandpaw replied, "Yes it is!" A little later he came across another church building with a sign out front that read Church of Christ, and so he said, "Hey grandpaw, there is another Church of Christ." Grandpaw replied, "Yes is it!" A few more miles down the road, he spotted a third church building, but the sign was a little different. It read, "Church of Jesus Christ." He decided to test grandpaw and said, "Grandpaw, there’s another Church of Christ." Grandpaw squinted his eyes and said, "No it’s not! It’s got Jesus in it."

B. Folks, there is something fundamentally wrong with that statement. The church is the Lord’s Church. It belongs to Him. He bought and paid for it with His life and His blood. It is not my church, it is not your church, it is not the apostle’s church, it is Jesus’ Church. And you know what, we need to put Jesus back in His church!

1. For too long we have used the Lord’s statement from Matthew 16:18, "I will build my church," as the basis to argue about the name of the Church and consequently the name painted on the sign out front. Folks, there are a dozen or so names in Scripture by which the New Testament Church is identified. And every one of them would do just fine.


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