Summary: This is the sixth in a 7-part series on The Apostles Creed. I used this as a way to give folks in my new churches an understanding of my beliefs and our common ground as Believers. Teaching sheet at the end of the text.
Sermon Series “Belief and Faith Coming Together”
Week Six – “The Promised Church”
Pastor John Bright – delivered 8/18/19
Acts 2 “46 So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.”
It’s no accident that the Apostles’ Creed places the promise of the Holy Spirit right beside the promise of the Church. There can be no Church without the Holy Spirit!
The Apostles' Creed lists two marks of the True Church:
• Holy - "holiness of heart and mind" - doing the will of God
• Universal - "catholic" with a small "c" - this creed was written and used before the founding of the Roman Catholic church - includes those who hold to the beliefs we find in the Apostles' Creed - so we can’t include Buddhists or Muslims or Wiccans or Druids
Today, I want to look at the Church from a Biblical point of view – put on your “Bible Glasses”
When I was in RVA – I had 2 minor foot surgeries. When I was on crutches, I noticed others on crutches. They were always there, I just noticed. Same thing happens when we are thinking about buying a certain kind of car. We start noticing that kind of car on the road or in a parking lot.
God is at work when we don’t notice -
Isaiah 64:3 “When You did awesome things for which we
did not look,
You came down,
The mountains shook at Your presence.”
We all have our own ideas about Church – even kids. One Sunday School teacher asked her class, “Why do we have to be quiet in church?’ A little boy quickly answered, “Because people are sleeping.”
A 6 year old girl was sitting in church with her very fidgety 4 year old brother. She spoke to him with a stern voice, “You’re supposed to be quiet in church.”
So her brother asked, “Whose gonna make me?”
She pointed to the back of the church, “See those guys, they are call Hushers.”
We use the word “church” in many ways. We often say “I went to church.” In the African American tradition – they would say “We did church.” There are many styles of worship, but that is not the Church.
In Matthew 16:18 we find Jesus saying “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.” Church here is a Greek word “ecclesia” (ek-clay-see-ah) Ecclesia means “called out/separated for a holy purpose.” I took classes in Seminary on the Study of the Church – Ecclesiology.
The Church is NOT: Buildings or Denominations or even Beliefs (boundaries)
The Church is what we heard in Acts 2:47 “The Lord added to the ecclesia daily” People are the Church – specifically - saved people make up the Body of Christ. We teach kids a little rhyme and hand motions. “Here is the church and here is the steeple, open the doors and see all the people.”
It’s cute and it’s wrong.
What if we changed it - start at the end, with all the fingers up, and work backwards – “Here’s the Church – it’s really the people, so why do they hide behind the doors and under the steeple?”
I need to give you some meat this morning. Meat is different from milk. With milk you take a mouthful and swallow. What do you have to do with meat? CHEW! If this is too much – set it aside and chew on it for a while.
This is the meat - We are the physical manifestation of the spiritual church. In Revelation 2:5 we read “Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place—unless you repent.” This part of the judgement announced by Jesus upon the house churches in Ephesus. Why? They were putting God 2nd or 3rd or 4th. Told to repent – When? NOW! If they don’t – remove the lampstand. What’s that?
Revelation 1:20 “The mystery of the seven stars which you saw in My right hand, and the seven golden lampstands: The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands which you saw are the seven churches.”
The lampstand before the throne of God = the church here
More meat - Everything in the physical is a representation of something in the spiritual – 2 realms
Last week I talked about the “realness” of the spirt realm where the Holy Spirit operates. So what would it look like if God removed the lampstand (in the spirit realm) of a Church (people in the physical realm)? They could go on with nice buildings, beautiful sanctuaries, and have full pews. But do they have their first love and the fire of the Holy Spirit?