Summary: IN ORDER TO CORRECTLY DISCERN THE WORK OF THE CHURCH, WE MUST FIRST DISCERN THE COMPOSITION OF THE CHURCH
THE WORK OF THE CHURCH
Acts 17:1-15 Now when they had traveled through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a synagogue of the Jews. 2 And according to Paul's custom, he went to them, and for three Sabbaths reasoned with them from the Scriptures, 3 explaining and giving evidence that the Christ had to suffer and rise again from the dead, and saying, "This Jesus whom I am proclaiming to you is the Christ." 4 And some of them were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas, along with a large number of the God-fearing Greeks and a number of the leading women. 5 But the Jews, becoming jealous and taking along some wicked men from the market place, formed a mob and set the city in an uproar; and attacking the house of Jason, they were seeking to bring them out to the people. 6 When they did not find them, they began dragging Jason and some brethren before the city authorities, shouting, "These men who have upset the world have come here also; 7 and Jason has welcomed them, and they all act contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, Jesus." 8 They stirred up the crowd and the city authorities who heard these things. 9 And when they had received a pledge from Jason and the others, they released them. 10 The brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea, and when they arrived, they went into the synagogue of the Jews. 11 Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so. 12 Therefore many of them believed, along with a number of prominent Greek women and men. 13 But when the Jews of Thessalonica found out that the word of God had been proclaimed by Paul in Berea also, they came there as well, agitating and stirring up the crowds. 14 Then immediately the brethren sent Paul out to go as far as the sea; and Silas and Timothy remained there. 15 Now those who escorted Paul brought him as far as Athens; and receiving a command for Silas and Timothy to come to him as soon as possible, they left.
INTRODUCTION: IN ORDER TO CORRECTLY DISCERN THE WORK OF THE CHURCH, WE MUST FIRST DISCERN THE COMPOSITION OF THE CHURCH; WHAT THE CHURCH IS.
FIRST, THE CHURCH IS NOT A BUILDING. SOME TIMES WE FALL PRAY TO THIS KIND OF THINKING WHEN WE WAKE UP AND SAY SOMETHING LIKE, “LET’S GO TO CHURCH”. THE SUBTLE THOUGHT HERE IS THAT CHURCH IS SOMETHING WE GO TO. IN OTHER WORDS WE ARE “IN” CHURCH” AND “OUT” OF CHURCH. NOTHING COULD BE FARTHER FROM THE TRUTH, SIMPLY BECAUSE THE SCRIPTURE HAS DECLARED THAT THE CHURCH IS THE BODY OF CHRIST. SO, TO BE OUT OF CHURCH IS TO HAVE AN OUT OF BODY EXPERIENCE. NOW, PAUL DOES WRITE THAT TO BE ABSENT FROM THE BODY IS TO BE PRESENT WITH THE LORD. THE BODY HE WAS TALKING ABOUT WAS HIS, NOT THE LORD’S!
SECOND, THE CHURCH IS NOT A RELIGION. ONE CANNOT HELP BUT FALL INTO THIS TYPE OF THINKING WHEN WE PASS CHURCH AFTER CHURCH. BAPTIST, METHODIST, LUTHERAN, EPISCOPAL, CATHOLIC, BIBLE. FUNDAMENTAL AND THE LIST GOES ON AND ON. PERHAPS YOU HAVE BEEN ASKED, “WHAT RELIGION ARE YOU?”, AS IF THAT WAS THE DETERMINING FACTOR. YET, ONCE AGAIN SCRIPTURE DOES NOT SPEAK OF CHURCH AS A RELIGION, BUT A STATE OF BEING. PAUL WRITES IN THE BOOK OF GALATIANS, THAT IF WE WALK IN THE SPIRIT, WE WILL NOT FULFILL THE LUSTS OF THE FLESH. THE ENTIRE BOOK OF FIRST JOHN IS WRITTEN TO DISCUSS THE RELATIONSHIP OF BEING “IN CHRIST”. IN FACT, IF WE REALLY THOUGHT ABOUT IT, THE CHURCH WAS CALLED OUT TO BE SOMETHING DIFFERENT.