Summary: Purpose Driven Concepts. This is the first of three sermons I plan in this series. This sermon is a reworking of another of my sermons "What Is The Church."
God’s Committed Community: The Nature of The Church
Did you know the word church is not found in the Old Testament? The concept may be there and the foundational ideas for the church are there but the word church is never used in the Old Testament. The Old Testament talks about “a holy people”, a nation set apart for God. But the first person to use the word “church” in the Bible is Jesus himself. He is the one who initiated the church. In fact the Church belongs to Him. Follow along with me as I read our text this morning.
‘But who do you say that I am?’ Simon Peter answered and said, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’ Jesus answered and said to him, ‘blessed are you Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my father who is in heaven. And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.’” Matthew 16:15-18(NKJV)
Circle the words – My Church. The church belongs to Jesus Himself. That means that He considers the church to be important – in fact – it is so important that I am willing to risk this saying this statement. “You can not grow to full Christian maturity – with out involvement in God’s church.” You may ask the question, “Pastor Tom, how can you make such a statement? How can you say that unless a Christian is involved in the church that they will not reach full spiritual maturity?”
Let me respond by asking you a question. Can a person reach full spiritual maturity if they ignore the commandments of Jesus? Can a person be a follower of Jesus and ignore His teachings? Do you think a person can become an obedient mature Christian without doing what Christ has asked them to do?” What did Jesus ask us to do? He asked us to follow the teaching found in the Bible. Did you know there are over 35 commandments in the Bible that you can not fulfill with out being involved in God’s church? They are commandments like, “Love one another, encourage one another, serve one another, accept one another, greet one another … and the list goes on and on. Who do you think the “one another” is? When the scripture speaks of “one another” it is speaking of fellow believers – The Church. The point is you can not fulfill the commandments of Christ without being involved with His people – with being involved in The Church.
In the New Testament the word church is used 73 times. It is a New Testament concept. If the New Testament puts that much emphasis on The Church we need to have a clear understanding of The Nature of The Church. This morning we are going to examine The Nature of the Church.
Before we look at what The Church is – let us understand what The Church is not. It is not a social club. It is not a business. It is not a museum. It is not a fraternity. The Church is not even a building even though we often speak of it in tat manner. The Church is not a man made institution.
What then is the Church? It is a creation of God – founded by Jesus Himself.
The Bible gives us several metaphors of what The Church is. This morning we are going to look at four of them. From these metaphors we can gain a greater understanding of The Nature of The Church. The Bible tells us that The Church is:
1. A FELLOWSHIP.
2. A FAMILY.
3. A BODY.
4. A FLOCK.
1. The Bible says The Church is a FELLOWSHIP.
Fellowship is not just something the church is - it’s something we do. In the dictionary the word “fellowship” is both a noun and a verb. In our church fellowship is both a noun and a verb also.
What is fellowship? The best definition is "Two fellows on the same ship." You’re headed in the same direction, so you get to know each other and you associate because you’re going in the same direction. That’s what fellowship is. Fellowship is all of us together heading in the same direction. As Christians, we’re all headed to heaven.
A top priority in fellowship is HARMONY.
If we are going in the same direction, if we are going to be together for a long time – we need to live together in harmony. This means that:
We need to GET ALONG WITH EACH OTHER.
The Bible teaches that anything that causes disunity is sin. There are a lot of verses that say anybody that causes conflict in the church is sinning. When you cause conflict in church – when you get Christians mad at other Christians – what you are doing is disobeying God’s word – what you’re doing is destroying the fellowship – what you are doing is sinning. If you destroy the fellowship, you don’t have a church. Follow along with me as I read from 1 Peter.