Summary: This sermon as part of the series on the covenant relationship of God and His people, explains the form and function of the church as the people, not the steeple.
INTRODUCTION: C.S. Lewis’ Screwtape Letters, writing, of course, as an elder devil to a younger devil,
"One of our great allies at present is the Church itself. Do not misunderstand me. I do not mean the Church as we see her spread out through all time and space and rooted in eternity, terrible as an army with banners. That, I confess is a spectacle which makes our boldest tempters uneasy. But fortunately it is quite invisible to these humans. All your patient sees is the half-finished, sham Gothic erection on the new building estate. When he goes inside, he sees the local grocer with a rather oily expression on his face bustling up to offer him one shiny little book containing a liturgy which neither of them understands, and one shabby little book containing corrupt texts of a number of religious lyrics, mostly bad, and in very small print. When he gets to his pew and looks round him he sees just that selection of his neighbours whom he has hitherto avoided. You want to lean pretty heavily on those neighbours. Make his mind flit to and fro between an expression like “the body of Christ” and the actual faces in the next pew. It matters very little, of course, what kind of people that next pew really contains. You may know one of them to be a great warrior on the Enemy’s side. No matter. Your patient, thanks to Our Father Below, is a fool. Provided that any of those neighbours sing out of tune, or have boots that squeak, or double chins, or odd clothes, the patient will quite easily believe that their religion must therefore be somehow ridiculous. . . . Keep everything hazy in his mind now, and you will have all eternity wherein to amuse yourself by producing in him the peculiar kind of clarity which Hell affords."
1. The Blueprint of the Church
Signs read, Worship at the Church of Your Choice this Sunday - They should read, Worship at the Church of His Choice! We are under obligations to Follow the Blueprint of the Church in building it - It is His. He is the architect. Listen to the key assertions about the church from Scripture:
- The church is powerfully sustained by Christ. “the gates of Hades shall not overpower it” (Mat 16:18).
- The church is preciously redeemed by Christ. It is “the church of God which He purchased with His own blood” (Acts 20:28).
- The church is principally related to Christ.“as head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fulness of Him who fills all in all” (Eph 1:22-23). Christ “nourishes and cherishes” the church (Eph 5:29).
- The church is primordially based in the eternal purpose of Christ. This great purpose is “made known through the church to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly places” (Eph 3:10). The church is “predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will” (Eph 1:11).
- The church is the pillar of truth of Christ. “The household of God, which is the church of the living God,” is “the pillar and support of the truth” (1Ti 3:15).
2. The Form of the Church